Why Mobilize?

One of the issues that came up after the acquisition of Sybase by SAP focused on our overall approach to mobility. We (Sybase) were approaching the market under the assumption that a mobilized enterprise was a given—that is, everyone understood the imperative, and it was really just a matter of execution. We were quickly bought up short by a number of our cohorts at SAP who said “Why would you make that assumption? The world at large doesn’t have the same perspective on mobility that you guys have. You need to be asking the question ‘Why mobilize?’ Rather than ‘How do you mobilize?’”

This was, of course, an excellent point. I’ve been involved with mobility since the technology first became commercially available, and have therefore spent my entire career surrounded by experts. This naturally creates a reality distortion field that can often be hard to recognize. So therefore, asking a question that was so obvious I missed it, why indeed should an enterprise mobilize?
There are two questions that need to be addressed at the beginning of any conversation about enterprise mobility. First, what does your company do for a living? That is, what is the value your company delivers to its customers in the form of goods or services, and how can a mobility solution increase that value? Second, what do your employees do while sitting in front of a computer at work, and how can mobilizing them and their functions make them more effective at what they do? Approaching the issue of mobility from this perspective shifts the driving rationale towards the value associated with transforming the enterprise, and creates a much more strategic and holistic view of mobility.

This approach, however, triggers the next question, what does ‘transforming the enterprise’ mean? The best example I can think of is looking back to the last time enterprises went through a pervasive, fundamental transformation. This started back in the mid 90s, when a broad range of businesses transformed and subsequently extended their delivery model from brick and mortar to on-line. Think about the relative efficiencies of an on-line model compared to a brick and mortar model (one-click and a gift wrapped package shows up two days later, vs. the staggering hassle of “traditional” holiday shopping). That level of efficiency-on-steroids is happening again as companies begin to evolve towards a mobile paradigm, and the relative scope of opportunity is at least as large as shifting the brick mortar world on-line, and probably much greater.

So back to the earlier question, why mobilize? If done correctly, everything will move faster; your employees are more responsive, your transaction rate increases, your customers are happier, you gain a non-trivial competitive edge over the slackers who don’t mobilize, and all of this accrues to both top and bottom line revenues. And this is just if your enterprise mobilizes. What happens when your entire supply chain and distribution channels mobilize?

Are you still wondering why to mobilize?

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