Your first mobile strategy, a leap into the void

Many companies today simply do not have a mobile strategy. This is the great void that needs to have thoughts moved into it. Consider a cohesive (and complete) alignment of when and what to deploy as well as what devices you should include. 

Why is planning so important in this area? Consider that left to its own, any system will grow to fill the boundaries of its container. So if you let the customers and willing developers fill in the blanks you'll end up a non-planned, non-shared, disconnected environment that fails to deliver on the enterprise promise. 

So plan for growth, plan for stability, plan for disconnected use and plan for using the mobile landscape to extend and solve problems. Although doing it because someone feels its the next "cool" thing is through wrong reason. Too often we are asked to change direction based on a hunch, a single article from the fringe or based on an analyst talk. These may be the spark for the discussion, but DO have the discussion. And that discussion is the start of the planning cycle for your strategy. 

Strategy should never be dismissed as an unneeded step. It should start with a problem (or opportunity) continue through to plan (solution), include a timeline (roadway) and some form of a vision (or big picture). The strategy drives you down the right roadway and includes signs, refueling stops as well as the occasional highway patrol to make sure you follow the right rules. Along the roadway you may decide to change direction or pickup passengers; all according to your great enterprise strategy. 

Our strategy considers many things that are discussed above, with a sprinkling of extra prescient wanderings. Why include "extra" stuff? If you are also a provider of technologies and devices you should consider consuming them in your strategy. You should also think about how that strategy can affect the market and vice versa. That's part of the planning puzzle. There is no single answer in this space. 

To help you jump start your mobilization planning, let me give you you some points to chew on. Let me know how they taste.

It is ok not to support everything

When you finally get a chance to look at the market of devices,  you'll soon realize that the landscape changes everyday. You'll never keep up. It would be better to find a series if devices or specific operating system that you are willing to support -- that helps to enhance your company. 

Mobility to replace desktop

Use cases will help to really understand if there are roles that could survive completely off a mobile device. There also will be jobs that will be completely changed with the right mobile solution. Just know that the device is not the solution; know what apostate need to be there.

Cloudsource your content

Our security guys are lining up to yell me how I'm wrong here, but we need to be less controlling in some cases. The cloud is maturing rapidly and there are great examples of devices"secure enough". Yes the paranoid do survive but its time to secure in order to enable. 

Protect the castle with remote strings

Put in place mobile device management (MDM) so that you can remotely secure and wipe devices. You should also be able to remotely provision and patch the same. The devices will be out in the wild and need to have some strings attached in order to maintain a minimum level of security control.

Communicate and train

Nothing happens in a vacuum, just know that you'll end up with more problems if you don't involve the crowds in the discussion. Put in place a strategy for starting and maintaining that dialog.  Understand the gaps in end-user consumption, and develop/deliver training. The devices should be simple enough to use but you need a little consistency in your deployment and use.

Privacy is a concern

An item that our users picked up on was that through MDM we get access to content on the device. It was part of the end user licensing agreement (EULA) that they agreed to in order to start using their own device with our content. You need to be transparent about what content on devices you'll be viewing and what you will never touch. Alleviate concerns with communication.

Abstraction of architecture

Do not hard-code applications (or devices) to data sources without abstraction. And by abstraction I mean connecting through a service that can provide both security and connection that is independent of the consumer. You can continue to alter those two items without worrying about having to touch each device when a change occurs.

Data as a service

Just know that the abstraction spoke about above is key to sharing and consuming data consistently. Reuse is a n enterprise tenet that needs to be fully adopted into the mobile space.

Know what to test and how

Test early, test often, test everything. Put a testing strategy that involves the right mix of virtual, physical and simulation testing. The landscape is immature with regards to mobile testing tools today, but that is always changing. Know what you want to do and put in place a plan to get there. 

Stores need to be singular and consolidated

Your employees use multiple devices today to do their work. Between servers, desktops, laptops, tablets and phones we do the balance today. Maintaining that mix gets frustrating. Make it more simple with a single management approach for his applications are delivered and managed. As an example, today I have a smart phone plus tablet plus laptop. To keep data and experience synchronized, I use a mix of that same applications (mobile, web, desktop). Having to go to three place to do updates is frustrating.

Roadways

These are your map to a successful future. Build it it, maintain it and publish it openly for user consumption. Roadmaps are your plan for the future.

What I've written above is not the end-all-be-all approach that many hope for, but that's alright. The biggest lesson you'll need to learn is that plans change and how you adopt to those changes will determine your success.  How is your strategy shaping up?