Bob Egan: Building a mobile strategy as a small business

Bob Egan, chief analyst and CEO of the Sepharim Group of Falmouth (and our First Friday Breakfast speaker in February), says mobile has come a long way – and it’s just getting started.

How do you build a mobile strategy as a small business? Here are a few ideas of what to do, what not to do, and what to be aware of.

[See the presentation deck here] [Video available here]

BYOD (Bring your own device)

Many of us would prefer to bring our own devices to work. One thing to bear in mind, though, is mobile device management. The company has the right to wipe your device when you leave, even if it’s yours. By enrolling into the program, you release all your rights to the device. Otherwise, employees can still use the information running on their devices.

There’s also the matter of managing risks and protecting the brand. When people lose their phones in taxis, they wipe the data. The same goes for leaving a company.

Your phone is broadcasting digital exhaust all the time, and companies are getting paranoid. We have lots of operating systems on our own devices, not all of which can be secured in the workplace.

Think beyond the app
How do you use mobile devices to get something done?

25 percent of apps never get downloaded, ever. People download 33 apps or less in their lifetime, and use less. It’s not a good return on investment to create an app for the sake of creating an app.

Think about what you use on your phone. What we do on our desktops, we now also do on our phones. When people need information, they’re going to go to your website, not look for your business’ app.

It’s not mobile first, it’s mobile also.

What do you do on your phone, rather than on your desktop? Usually quick things, like check stock prices, or make transactions. The key is to fine tune the point of entry to be responsive to every device. We want to see certain things on certain devices.

The perfect storm

Your mobile strategy is not just about mobile, it’s about all four elements of the perfect storm: mobile devices, social media, cloud, and the internet of things.

In 2014 get ready for sensors. Sensors could allow us, for instance, to receive health care in the most comfortable and least expensive place (home) instead of the most expensive and least comfortable space (hospitals). We’re seeing sensors bridge that gap. Our phones can do what we needed a doctor’s appointment for.

There are many new applications available to make your business run well. Sensors can help your business be more efficient.

Today we store less locally, accessing more from the cloud. When formulating your mobile strategy, ask yourself if you need your own equipment or can you use what’s on the cloud.

Social engagement becomes a staple at work.

The internet of things is everything that isn’t web but uses the internet. Examples include sensors, wireless cameras, wireless thermostats. Anything that’s not a phone, tablet, computer, but uses the internet.

In short…

If you do create an app, there are a few things to think about. First, create great user experiences. Understand what you want to do, and why you want to do it.

Once the app is released, who’s responsible when it doesn’t work? Everyone must be on the same team, but they all come at it differently. Marketing is outward looking, IT is protecting the inside – their customer is the employee, and their job is protecting the brand, not promoting it.

WordPress has a good model. Its development environment is a standardized framework, with modules you can drop in for functionality. IT’s job is to find those frameworks, because this is not about the Consumerization of IT. Marketing adds the functionality.

When you do the math, with data and support, staff and training, the cost of ownership goes up. IT is being asked to support more devices. And more people are carrying multiple devices.

Mobile cost of ownership is an enterprise-wide responsibility. Strategy, user experience, technology, user adoption, investment life cycle – it all equals cost of ownership. As you formulate your strategy, balance external and internal pressures.

Bob has worked with over 2000 enterprises during his 30 years of focus on mobile and wireless, and is a globally recognized industry thought-leader on the strategic business use of mobility.

In 2000, AdWeek named him the #1 most influential analyst in North America and one of the Top 5 Most Influential Globally. In 2002, Wireless Review Magazine named him The Market Maker.  Bob has held executive positions with several Fortune 1000 companies including Digital Equipment Corp, GTE, MasterCard, Gartner, and the is founding CEO of two business strategy consulting and market analysis firms; Mobile Competency and The Sepharim Group.

He is a pioneer of Wi-Fi as one of the founding members of the IEEE 802.11 WLAN standard. His commentaries are featured in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Forbes, Business Week and Fortune magazine. His broadcast appearances include ABC Nightly News, CNBC, Canada’s BBN, the BBC TV and the MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour.

Bob’s education includes Wentworth in electrical engineering, Bryant University, and the MIT/Sloan Executive Management Program.   He has been a lecturer at Brown University about the business impact of emerging technologies.

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