From my experience, most companies today will readily acknowledge the benefits of mobile applications. Business-to-employee apps can improve productivity, make processes more efficient and reduce operational costs. Business-to-consumer apps increase customer engagement and satisfaction.
But the big hit on mobile applications is that productivity is a soft benefit, customer engagement is hard to measure and the business cases eventually all end up depending on hard cost reduction. In my opinion, that’s a miss that keeps companies from harnessing one of the biggest changes in the enterprise IT stack – since probably the transition from mainframes to PCs.
But what if I were to tell you even the benefits that go beyond cost reduction were just the tip of the iceberg?
I see mobility as more than just a helpful tool – it’s the injection of real-time information and transaction into business processes, allowing companies to do what wasn’t possible before. Reinvention of key business processes around mobility can enable entirely new business models and serve as a critical asset for driving new revenue generation and competitive advantage. I’ve worked with a handful of businesses – pioneers in their fields – to enable entire mobile ecosystems.
Let’s take the example of a luxury car manufacturer to illustrate how mobility can truly transform a company – and a whole industry.
Like many businesses, the company started out with a solution that would improve internal workflows. The manufacturer installed machine-to-machine (M2M) devices into its vehicles to track maintenance and diagnostic information. As a result, mechanics and technicians could save time on service appointments by wirelessly accessing data on the cars’ performance.
With an effective solution in place, some enterprises may have considered their efforts a success and called it a day. This car brand, however, recognized that mobile technology still had a lot more to offer.
Shortly after the M2M installation, the manufacturer incorporated wireless communications into its safety and infotainment suite, a standard feature in most of its vehicles. Now its customers can connect directly to emergency and concierge call center services from their cars. They can access an online portal for weather forecasts, fuel prices, news and points of interest to download to their navigation systems.
And drivers don’t have to worry about checking up on their vehicle maintenance schedules because all of that information is transferred remotely to their dealerships.
Of course, you might be thinking that a lot of car companies have similar solutions. That’s true… today. But this deployment began back in 2007. Ever since, competitors have been trying to catch up to the early adopters.
I believe that we’ll soon witness similar transformations in almost every industry. I see firsthand how utilities, retailers, financial institutions, healthcare providers, universities and more are gravitating toward holistic mobility solutions, rather than one-off applications. In one of my upcoming blog posts, I’m going to take you through more of these new business models that mobility is enabling. And, as exciting as many of these appear to us now, I’d say that 95 percent of the innovation around using mobility to reinvent their businesses has yet to happen.
Just remember – trying to just justify mobile reinvention on the basis of cost savings is like saying “A diet will reduce the amount of money we spend on food” – overlooking the incredible benefits on health, long term health care costs, general well being and appearance. No one has ever cut their way to success.
If 2011 was the year of mobile productivity, 2012 and 2013 will be the year of mobile enablement and business model change – with companies connecting all aspects of their businesses through wireless communications and figuring out how to monetize new service and revenue streams that were beyond their reach before the mobile computing revolution!