When mobile phones where first placed in the hands of consumers they were enormous – some of us still remember the size of the original Ericsson phones. Many more of us remember the hilarious skits by Dom Joly, where he pulled, seemingly out of nowhere a mobile phone the same size as his torso and proceeded to shout in whatever situation he found himself “HELLO? Yes! It’s me! I’m in/on/at…”.
Over time, however, devices have gotten a lot smaller and a lot more advanced. Now on trains, at theatres and in parks it’s all heads bent to the little screen—checking emails, touching up presentations or transferring funds with banking apps.
Businesses have not been immune to these changes either. Organisations have had to dramatically change their outlook and approach. Where once IT provided discrete systems that automated specific business functions, now as a result of technology becoming ever more capable and extensively used, IT has to move from a control mentality to one of accessibility and enablement—now providing the conduit through which business processes and innovation are facilitated. There have been five main indicators of this change:
With the proliferation of powerful mobile devices, there now needs to be 24-hour access to business processes from any location. While there’s the obvious convenience for staff to access systems from the train rather than waiting until they’re back in the office, there’s a significant cost benefit too.
EY recently reported that mobile devices are being used in Kenya to help collect health data, reducing costs and reporting time by 25 percent. We’re seeing this kind of rapid progress in emerging markets often due to the lack of legacy systems. It’s a lot easier to build a system from scratch when you don’t have to integrate with older software.
Adopting this new style of IT requires organisations to also embrace change. For example, the French bank Credit Agricole now has its own app store where customers can download and suggest new apps. Delivery here relies on the initiatives to “join up” internal systems, while customer steering of online service provision is clearly used to differentiate from the competition.
User Demands & Expectations
User experience has become crucial to employees as well as customers as everyone now has higher expectations of technology owing to its prevalence at home and outside of the workplace. People know how to use apps and file-sharing services, and the current generation is at ease with using IT. Graduates that join companies are sometimes shocked at how ‘backward’ they can be in regard to IT.
The Value Of Information
Businesses now have access to more data than could have been conceived only a few years ago. We’re storing more data internally than ever before—mainly of all those videos of cats and people shouting into mobile phones! Constant use of both devices and online services mean that there’s a wealth of data available that is likely to contain useful information.
Mining information from this data has become critical to business. If you don’t have a strategy to harvest the knowledge contained within this data, why keep so much of it? Organisations are already proving the value of data available to them. Gaining more customer insight enables marketing to precisely target campaigns or the ability to tailor stores precisely to consumer trends. The challenge here is actually making sense of all the vast amounts of data available.
In sum, for companies it’s a turbulent time with massive change taking place at a breakneck speed. CIOs need to be prepared to deal with all of these issues and more. Part of this will involve deciding what devices they will allow staff to connect to enterprise networks—and how much control the IT department needs to have. Another aspect will be migrating from legacy IT systems and developing new apps in a safe and sensible manner.