CIOs and Mobility: Present Concerns Still Trump Future Vision

 

I recently hosted an Executive Roundtable in Singapore along with my colleagues Dane Anderson and Tim Sheedy. The theme of the session was “From Systems of Record to Systems of Engagement - Understanding the New Mobile Imperative for IT Leaders".

The discussion centered on the fact that mobility doesn’t simply mean another device for IT to support. Instead, mobility is driving a clear and permanent link between virtual services and physical activities. In other words, mobility is part of a broader set of technologies – including social, cloud, and advanced analytics – that are creating ubiquitous and information-rich Systems of Engagement.

The above broad themes made for great discussion. And there was general agreement among the CIOs present that mobility would drive significant business transformation. But there was also a common set of concerns that emerged among the group:

·         Deploying new technology (including mobile apps) with limited budget or relevant skills. And more broadly, how to prioritize mobile strategies relative to other IT (and business) initiatives. Ultimately the challenge for CIOs is how to align business requirements with budget realities, particularly as user expectations continue to rise and change management becomes a critical issue due to condensed release cycles. A critical first step is to better define your mobile strategy using a simple framework for prioritizing mobile applications and features.

·         Extending and modernizing critical legacy systems to support mobility. CIOs in attendance were particularly concerned with understanding how best to identify the most logical existing applications to extend to a mobile platform. While discussions involved the likely changes in processes, tools and skills necessary to develop new mobile applications, broader concerns centered around integration of legacy applications, software license management, application portfolio management and cross-platform support.

·         Meeting user requirements in a well-managed, cost-effective and secure way. This concern centered on the need to manage user expectations and positively impact business value while also ensuring security and control – heightened by an awareness that the number of access points for many systems will continue to increase. A closely related concern is managing access to cloud-based services, especially as the link between personal clouds and enterprise applications becomes more widely understood. At a more operational level, CIOs also highlighted ongoing struggles to manage the basic mechanics of BYOD such as potentially high roaming costs and migrating between mobile platforms (typically from Blackberry to other devices/platforms, including iOS, Android and Windows 8).

·         Ensuring information security and controlling access to corporate data. CIOs are still struggling to understand the impact of mobility on information and data security, specifically how to control data access across multiple devices and ensure separation of corporate versus personal data. Ensuring data integrity and security when systems are accessed from different countries/regions is also top of mind among APJ CIOs. This focus extends to network security as well as managing offline access requirements against the growing requirement for realtime data access.

Business leaders I speak to are very clearly focused on delivering systems of engagement to meet changing customer requirements; and the business transformation this implies. CIOs, however, are currently far more concerned with managing device usage/access. Reconciling these very different business visions and IT concerns is the first step towards implementing a strategic mobility strategy.