Mobility

Is it time to add a mobile strategist to your team?

As enterprises look to more mobility and BYOD in their technology futures, it might be time for them to add a mobile strategist to their team.

As enterprises move towards mobile first, Choose Your Own Device (CYOD), and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) have led to the rise of a new job role called the mobile strategist according to Jikku Venkat, vice president of product at Kinvey, developers of a Mobile Backend-as-a-Service (MBaaS) platform.

Venkat and Kinvey are encountering more enterprises appointing this role. He told me that sometimes the role is even at the CxO level serving as the chief digital officer tasked to lead the digital transformation of the business. He finds the role draws on people from a product management background.

"It's increasingly becoming a persona that is responsible for making a lot of decisions around mobile technology strategy in these companies," Venkat said. In fact, Kinvey as a company is finding the mobile strategist and interesting persona to target as part of their marketing and sales.

I've seen and heard the full range of mobility governance since writing for TechRepublic, so I asked Venkat where Kinvey sees the role in the corporate org chart. He told me they are seeing the role coming from the technology side of the house but sometimes from the business as well.

Mobilization of apps

A key area where I would see the role of the mobile strategist is the mobilization of legacy enterprise apps. Venkat explained, "This is the person responsible for coming up with the mobile strategy which includes the delivery of mobile applications for the business."

"They are responsible for gathering requirements across the business about what mobile needs are," he added. "Selecting and making choices on the right strategy to meet those requirements including making technology choices, influencing technology choices, and working with the business stakeholders."

BYOD and the mobile strategist

Venkat wasn't able to share much with me as to what Kinvey is seeing about the mobile strategist and BYOD initiatives outside that BYOD intersects with the strategist's role.

The mobile strategist can become a useful conduit for measuring the impact of mobile apps is the impression I get from my conversation with Venkat. As enterprises face tighter budgets, and the "bill is coming due" on some BYOD and mobile efforts, a mobile strategist could be the right sort of leadership to deliver mobility projects on time and budget.

Venkat said, "applications are typically categorized across business to employee, actually working to improve the productivity of the employees or making it easy for their employees to access business resources in order to do their job."

"Or B2B applications where you are working with your partners or B2C where they are reaching out and engaging their consumers in meaningful ways including actually looking at new channels for revenue," he said. These apps improve business upside.

"From an employee viewpoint, it's really that first class of applications, business to employee, where either there are business processes that the employees are involved in being greatly improved by introducing a mobile app," Venkat said.

With a mobile strategist working with IT and business units to identify app needs, the necessary process changes, and productivity improvements, management, and decision makers can have more transparency into the progress of their mobility investments.

CTO vs. CIO and the mobile strategist

Unfortunately there can sometimes be a disconnect between the chief technology officer (CTO) and chief information officer (CIO). One is focused on the technology strategy while the other is focused on technology implementation and operations according to Venkat thus causing some friction because their outlook is short or midterm problems versus longer-term issues.

The mobile strategist could be a key linchpin to help bring enterprise mobile strategy together despite the friction (if any) that might exist between the offices of the CTO and CIO.

"Mobile strategy kind of comes together because the mobile strategy person having to deal with both," Venkat said. "Immediate term things like business users clamoring for mobile apps and wanting apps quickly or having apps and wanting access to data that is locked up and controlled by IT and therefore the CIOs office so the mobile strategist has to play the role where they are bringing those requirements in and trying to balance that with the short term implications across the IT organization."

Venkat gave the example of two speed or bi-modal IT that has been discussed by Gartner and others. Backend data and information are typically slow changing and locked down. Mobile users want access to this information using technologies and apps.

"The mobile strategist has to balance those needs by saying OK," Venkat explained that the mobile strategist can work with IT to manage risk, introduce new standard, and analyze the elements that need to come together to open mobile access to that data.

Measure success of the mobile strategist

As goes with any new role or technology rollout, an enterprise needs to measure the success of the mobile strategist role. Venkat outline the following success factors for the mobile strategist:

  • Months 1 to 3
    • Take stock of the situation
    • Work through existing systems
    • Determine current apps in place in the enterprise
    • Determine the costs to keep those apps running
    • Determine what new app requests are being made by the user community
    • Put new requirements in place
    • Put a plan together including business impacts and deliver it by the end of month three
  • Months 6 to 12
    • Implement more of the strategy
    • Build a platform approach
    • Standardize access to backend services from mobile devices
    • Build a roadmap for mobile strategy going forward
    • Decouple front end development and what the app can do without encumbering IT

Final thoughts

Based on the scattershot approaches I see and hear around enterprise mobility and BYOD, the time to appoint a mobile strategist is probably here for the average enterprise launching mobile first, CYOD, and BYOD strategies.

See also:

Mobile app development: The state of play

10 ways mobile apps are bringing breakthrough technologies to business

Streamline mobile app development with Kinvey MBaaS

About Will Kelly

Will Kelly is a freelance technical writer and analyst currently focusing on enterprise mobility, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), and the consumerization of IT. He has also written about cloud computing, Big Data, virtualization, project management ap...

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