In my last blog post, “The Enterprise Mobility Stakeholders & the Mobile Center of Excellence,” I pushed hard for businesses to establish internal or Managed Mobility Services (MMS)-managed Mobile Centers of Excellence (MCoE). I want to clarify that MCoEs can go by other names such as Mobile Committee, Office of Mobile Operations. There isn’t any reason to actually refer to a MCoE as such, but what is important is to establish the team that delivers on the full functionality I ascribed to it in the earlier blog post.
Also from that blog post – and this goes specifically to what I will cover today – I referred to both short-term mobile projects, or “fixes,” and longer-term enterprise mobile strategies. The term “short-term mobile fixes” is clear enough and I use it as a descriptor for hastily and typically poorly conceived and planned out mobile efforts that are often driven not by original internal ideas but as reactions to what competitors are up to. Mobile efforts as “fixes” are never a good idea.
On the other hand “longer-term mobile strategies” may be a bit misleading. In today’s mobile world, enterprises need to build, update and maintain a mobile-specific plan and infrastructure to support mobile initiatives that scale to meet the needs of the enterprise as well as Lines-of-Business (LOB) goals. That effort begins in the MCoE and involves the C-suite, Finance, LOB and IT – with support from the selected MMS provider. This team will collaborate on needs and requirements to create a mobile plan that spans across the enterprise – a much different deliverable from a mobile project plan that deals with a single deployment. Rather than use a MMS provider to rollout a mobile project, MMS are best tapped to advise and help lead the effort to create the mobile plan for the enterprise, and to deploy, manage and support subsequent mobile initiatives that scale across the enterprise in support of that plan.
The MCoE’s enterprise mobile plan needs to clearly spell out the business drivers shaping each of the mobile initiatives under consideration, along with the specifics on how success will be measured. For example, mobile KPIs can and should expand beyond the typical “on budget, on deadline” mandate to include benchmark targets to address uptime and reliability; issue resolution on the first support call; service, warranty and repair trends; and device-specific cost management – from acquisition to retirement – which rolls up to enterprise mobile’s Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).
Once the enterprise mobile goals and KPIs are established, the next step is to assemble the MCoE and develop the strategic implementation plan which contains all identified mobile projects which support the company’s overall mobile plan. These mobile projects address a single LOB’s need (e.g. new tablets for line workers), or they can be broader projects which span across LOBs (e.g., a new MDM provider). At this stage, both the LOB and finance stakeholders have established their mobile business outcome priorities. The project then generally shifts to IT, and MMS partners to build and deliver the project plan.
Setting Goals and Measurement Points
A general rule to follow, based on a consensus I’ve gathered over the last few years, is that a new mobile project shouldn’t take more than 90 days – from initial configuration and field testing to proof of concept (POC) and enterprise deployment.
The development of mobile applications is a topic for other blog post series. Aside from noting that a DevOps and agile app development methodology should be employed, I’ll leave it at that. The MMS partner will be able to assist IT in determining the most appropriate tools and development platforms to use and the best suited means to ensuring that the workforce itself weighs in on user interfaces and a steady stream of software features can be delivered and tested during POC and deployment phases.
The MMS partner at this point becomes the critical cog in all the moving parts that need to mesh to ensure a company can meet the informal 90 day delivery deadline. To get a better sense of what an enterprise should expect – or in fact demand – from its MMS partner, let’s set up a hypothetical that creates some rather demanding requirements.
Let’s assume mobile needs to be rolled out to 10,000 employees. And let’s further assume there are three different groups of employees who require three different device configurations for the smartphones and tablets they will use in addition to a mixture of rugged devices used in various warehouse locations. To keep the example simple, we’ll ignore the “real world” complexity normally found where BYOD devices are part of the deployment mix, and we’ll assume the enterprise will deploy using the latest versions of iOS and Android, including Android on all rugged devices.
Even with the standardization on Android and iOS, the different device configurations for smartphones and tablets, combined with a mixture of rugged devices, leads to numerous permutations of hardware and software that will require testing, evaluation and internal certification for initial use. In addition, continuous retesting and certification will be needed as operating systems update, applications change and new devices become available. Further, the spare-pool inventory that replaces user-returned devices must reflect the latest versions used in the field – including applications, operating systems and device types. This is a daunting task simply because of its scope and one that many enterprises fail to grasp. Even if our hypothetical deployment focused on a smaller SMB deploying to 500 or 1,000 employees, meeting the challenge internally would prove impossible – it is one of the common and typically insurmountable roadblocks that fast and furious mobile efforts focused on catching up with competitors run into. There’s no need to belabor this, but I am consistently amazed by how often this seemingly simple issue stalls mobile projects and often kills them.
Do it yourself (DIY) mobility often allows a project to move to POC but will lose momentum as the needs of the enterprise quickly outpace the ability for internal teams to deliver. DIY mobility doesn’t work!
My experiences here strongly suggest that only an MMS partner will be able to fully scale quickly and effectively to an enterprise project that needs to deploy to large numbers of employees. Keep in mind as well that the smaller SMB deploying to 500 to 1,000 employees will often have no IT resources on hand to enable scaling to full project deployment.
As I’ve underscored in my earlier blog posts, there are numerous other issues associated with a mobile deployment. Simply getting a mobile project through a POC and then deployed within a 90 day window is critical. But the next step is probably the toughest – maintaining initial momentum, ensuring that end users are delighted and actually use mobile, assuring that mobile devices and their applications happily (yes, happily) operate in concert, and delivering effective support are the keys to real mobile success.
Workforce support includes easy and typically pre-configured onboarding, a straight-forward path to upgrades (including software, operating systems. MDM platforms and mobile devices), and support staffed with mobile experts so that any employee – whether a VP or a truck driver – can have issues or problems resolved quickly – preferably on the first call.
Finally, the finance team that helps to kick off any mobile project will come back prior to deployment at scale and demand a full cost accounting. This includes of course demand for a rock-solid and predictable hardware procurement, software development and ongoing maintenance and support budget. There is nothing simple or easy to accomplish here. In most cases, poorly managed budgets have been based on uninformed assumptions (by which I mean uninformed through a lack of hands-on experience).
The right MMS partner will be able to meet every one of the challenges/goals I’ve skimmed over here. Finance and IT professionals will directly understand the deeper implications at ground level. Meanwhile, the LOB stakeholders and the CxOs will only care about one thing – that mobile works as intended, has full workforce usage, and meets and possibly exceeds their desired business outcomes and KPIs.
An overarching conclusion we can come to in seeking to make the case that all enterprises and larger SMBs need to turn to an MMS partner to ensure the viability and success of their mobile projects, especially those operating under the burden of fast and furious mobility. As we leave 2017 behind and look ahead to the next year the notion of Mobility as a Service – MaaS – needs to become the guiding principle for all large scale mobile projects. MaaS eliminates upfront capital spending on new devices by bundling all device costs and mobile services into a flat monthly fee. MaaS will deliver on all the issues I’ve noted throughout this blog series.
Find an MMS partner that can deliver on MaaS and whether your company is a mobile pioneer or a business finally moving to deploy mobility you will succeed and remain highly competitive – and successful – in today’s fast and furious mobile world.