Arguably, mobile is currently the hottest trend driving both business and technology strategies for executives. If you need any additional evidence, just look at all of the enterprise buzz Apple has generated with the iPhone 5 launch. Unfortunately, today’s business and technology leaders continue to respond to the mobile opportunity with the wrong answers. Business leaders respond to mobile with, “Let’s build a really slick mobile app, put it up on iTunes and we’re done!” Technologists respond to mobile with, “We need a strong BYOD policy and to put device management tools in place!” Both of these responses completely overlook the fact that underlying legacy applications and business processes need optimizing for the mobile experience.
We run into examples of this “lipstick on a pig” approach to mobile all the time. In fact, I ran into a perfect example of this recently when I needed to order a pizza for my family after a very hectic Saturday afternoon. When I picked up my mobile phone to call the pizza delivery place, a light bulb went off over my head. Instead of dialing the pizza delivery company and waiting on hold for 15 minutes, why not download its mobile app in two minutes and order my pizza within another two minutes. I figured I could shave off ten minutes of wait time by simply downloading the pizza delivery company’s mobile app.
I listened to the Mark Zuckerberg interview from the TechCrunch Disrupt event in San Francisco this week.
There were a few choice quotes (I'll paraphrase them here - these are not literally a transcription. You can find the video/audio on the TechCrunch site):
"The biggest mistake we made (with our mobile services) was relying too much on HTML5 and for too long."
"We finally realized that a good enough mobile experience would fall short. We needed a great mobile experience. The only path to great is native on iOS and Android."
"Our mobile users are more engaged and use our services more frequently."
"All of our code is for mobile."
"We'll build native code for iOS and Android." (And it is building for iOS first)
"Ads can't be standalone on a sidebar in mobile. They need to be integrated into our product."
"We reorganized. A year ago, 90% of the code check-ins were from the core mobile team. Now 90% comes from other parts of the organization."
"We reorganized. We were in functional silos. We now have product teams (responsible for delivery)."
"A Facebook phone doesn't make any sense."
Some context. Certainly, Facebook is unique with it being a media-centric company and very global. It does need mobile Web to reach much of its audience - now nearing 950M. For many companies, mobile Web will continue to be a relatively low-cost, broad-reach play to get to most of the phones. Mobile Web doesn't go away, but it is not where the differentiation will happen - at least in the near term.
I discuss mobile enablement of enterprise apps every day with our clients. The common trend is that it needs to be done now and in the most cost-effective manner (shocking, I know!). The good news is that meeting these expectations is quickly becoming easier. Recently I published a blog post about back-end-as-a-service (BaaS). I've recently published my latest research on these BaaS platforms. During this research, three things became very apparent:
BaaS enables mobile apps to be written in hours, not days. Nearly all BaaS platforms that I investigated had a web-based step-by-step approach to setting up your mobile back-end services, and some even offered a pure command line interface. Depending on preference, either approach allows for the mobile app back-end scaffold to be available in a matter of minutes. Add in some business logic for connecting to your line-of-business (LOB) applications (in your language of choice, no less), and you're ready to focus completely on the mobile interface of your app! At this point, the biggest challenge is how to manage your development vs. production back-end environments. Not surprisingly, some vendors (StackMob and FatFractal, for instance) already have a solution for managing this as well.
The pace of business change is accelerating. The reason why it is accelerating is the mushrooming of disruptive factors: your customers expecting anytime/everywhere access to you through their mobile devices, competitors leveraging big data technology to rapidly execute on customer-centric value propositions, and new market entrants with lean business models that enable them to outmaneuver your business.
Most companies deal poorly with disruptive change. If they are the “disruptor,” seeking to use these disruptive factors to steal market share, they often run without a plan and only after, for example, a poor mobile app customer experience, realize what they should have changed. If they are the firm being disrupted, the desire for a fast response leads to knee-jerk reactions and a thin veneer of new technology on a fossilized back-office business model.
This is where the value of business architects and business process professionals comes to play: you help your company plan and execute coherent responses to disruptive factors. That’s why your company needs you to attend Forrester’s Business Architecture & Process Forum: Embracing Digital Disruption in London on October 4 and Orlando, FL on October 18–19, 2012.
We’ll start with James McQuivey describing how technology is changing the playing field for disruption in his keynote: The Disruptor’s Handbook: How To Make The Most Of Digital Disruption.
We’ll look at how firms have used technology to rethink their operating models, eliminating low-value activities to focus on what their customers value in Craig Le Clair’s Implementing The Different In The Age Of Digital Disruption.
At a CIO roundtable that Forrester held recently in Sydney, I presented one of my favourite slides (originally seen in a deck from my colleague Ted Schadler) about what has happened r.e. technology since January 2007 (a little over five years ago). The slide goes like this:
Source: Forrester Research, 2012
This makes me wonder: what the next five years will hold for us? Forecasts tend to be made assuming most things remain the same – and I bet in 2007 few people saw all of these changes coming… What unforeseen changes might we see?
Will the whole concept of the enterprise disappear as barriers to entry disappear across many market segments?
Will the next generation reject the “public persona” that is typical in the Facebook generation and perhaps return to “traditional values”?
How will markets respond to the aging consumer in nearly every economy?
How will environmental concerns play out in consumer and business technology purchases and deployments?
How will the changing face of cities change consumer behaviors and demands?
Will artificial intelligence (AI) technologies and capabilities completely redefine business?
Engaging with users via mobile is now unavoidable - no surprise there. By 2016, smartphone subscriptions in the US will likely outnumber people and in Europe, almost 70% of the population will own smartphones. Consumers want simple, immediate, and contextual mobile services.
Mobile offers additional contact options that go beyond the traditional touchpoints you have with a consumer, further embeds your brand into your customers' lives, and, perhaps most importantly, can serve as the central connector between all your touchpoints. The flexibility and immediacy mobile provides enables you to drive customers across and within channels and, at the same time, comes with greater complexity and more need for speed.
eBusiness professionals are at the forefront of this evolution. In order to drive value for your business and your customer, it is critical that you have a systematic, end-to-end approach to support and connect with customers through this critical touchpoint.
After years of fighting for a voice in the organization, eBusiness leaders are finding themselves in the spotlight. Some all-stars command total compensation packages of more than $1 million and others -- like this example from retailer FinishLine -- step into new roles like Chief Digital Officer. We believe that in the next few years many eBusiness professionals will graduate to titles like VP of Digital Strategy and VP of Multichannel Strategy, reporting directly into CEOs or to VPs of Distribution/Channels.
What's driving the graduation of eBusiness out of the halls of IT and marketing and into the C-Suite? Two words -- mobile and multichannel. This is about so much more than apps and in-store inventory lookup. Mobile is finally enabling many of the multichannel programs that eBusiness professionals have evangelized for years. Some eBusiness teams were already serving as digital centers of excellence for business units and product lines and taking ownership of mobile strategies: In a survey of eBusiness professionals, the majority -- more than 70% -- reported that they have responsibility for the mobile channel. But suddenly, all eyes are on eBusiness teams to develop the firms' digital strategies for what were traditionally considered offline channels as well.
Think you developed a secure mobile app? Think again. Many mobile app developers have a naive notion of app security that leads them into believing their apps are secure when they are not. Some developers authenticate users and encrypt passwords and think that they’re all set, but there could still be security holes so wide you could sail a ship through them. The results of releasing an insecure app can include financial loss, reputation tarnish, lawsuits, and Twitter shame.
When designing your mobile apps and mobile backend services, be sure to consider the six security properties of confidentiality, integrity, availability, authentication, authorization, and nonrepudiation (see Figure below). Simply considering how each security property applies to your app won't make it more secure. You will need to perform threat modeling on your design and find solutions to secure your app based on your specific technology and use cases. Don't forget that the mobile backend services must be secure too.