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The S.S. Enterprise Mobility is now boarding. Are you on it?

by Dave Hannon

October 6, 2010

By Dave Hannon

I feel it. I think you feel it too don’t you? I think it’s pretty obvious that someone is pressing the accelerator down on the mobility innovation curve, speeding it into its next phase and a lot of businesses aren’t sure how this rapidly approaching phase will impact them.

Yes, we were all impressed by the iPhone apps when they first came out and I’m still intrigued by the impact the “app” is having on business as a whole and the software business in particular. But the games of the “cute” mobile world is giving way to serious mobile business strategy and opportunity and it’s going to happen fast. Really fast. When big companies like SAP and the rest start digging into an area, it tends to speed things up and that’s exactly what’s about to happen to enterprise mobility.

You want more proof? My word’s not enough? Fine, here’s the obligatory analyst nugget: A recent Forrester Research report points out that “Mobile applications for business use are receiving a great deal of attention from package application software vendors and considerable interest from business process professionals…The opportunity to deploy mobile applications for enterprise business processes will change dramatically within the next two to three years. Rapidly evolving mobile technology, creating a frenzy of consumer adoption, will migrate to business use quickly, but challenges rem ain for buyers…Business process professionals and their IT colleagues need to consider what types of mobile apps can deliver business value to their organizations and what is necessary to make the technology work effectively.”

And like most of you, I’m not sure where it’s all going to end up (after Farmville exploded I gave up trying to predict what new technology will get traction), but I can pass along some advice that an SAP exec recently mentioned to me. When planning out your long-term enterprise mobility strategy, be sure to remember that it’s called “mobility” for a reason. That is, be sure to leverage the advantages that today’s (and tomorrow’s) mobile devices and solutions can bring to your company. And those advantages might be different at every company or industry. But don’t think of mobile as being able to access your email while at the airport or you might as well just help the S.S. Enterprise Mobility shove off from the dock.

No companies need to think of how mobility— mobility at your company, at your customers’ companies, at your suppliers’ companies, in your department — can change your business model. Because if don’t, one of your competitors will and then it’s lights out. I’ve pointed to Blockbuster before as an example of a big company that didn’t think it needed to be innovative and sure enough, NetFlix just blindsided them by flipping the business model on its head and completely changing the game.

So gather up your best and brightest into a room for a no holds-barred brainstorming session to solve for X in the following equation:

[Your traditional business] x % ?Mobil e customers + % Mobility in the supply chain = X.

Then put on your lifejacket and climb on board.

Editor’s Note: Ironically, the first thing I read after posting this blog is the news that SAP is selling an iPhone app for its BusinessByDesign line in iTunes. A good example of how consumer mobile innovation (iTunes) is blending with business mobility.

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