Written by Zahid Jiwa, VP UK & Ireland, OutSystems
Business is now more global, more immediate and more mobile than ever before. Mobile technology enables employees to always be in touch with the office, the customer and the business opportunity. If I’m on a train, at a client site, working from home, or travelling between meetings, I can be as productive as if I was at my desk. But today, mobility is about much more than just communication on-the-go. It’s about technology that enables the extended enterprise to connect and collaborate, linking customers, partners and employees to valuable online information services, from any device, virtually any place and at any time. It’s about opening the enterprise to value-added and innovative services that enhance its ability to reach customers.
Cisco recently published statistics that demonstrate how user demand is driving every enterprise down the mobile route whether they like it or not. In 2018, there will be 4.9 billion mobile users, up from 4.1 billion in 2013. Mobile traffic grew by 81 percent in 2013 and mobile video traffic exceeded 50 percent for the first time in 2012. Moving forward 66 percent of all mobile traffic is expected to be video by 2015. And according to IDC, total smartphone shipments are expected to approach 1.7 billion units by 2017, resulting in compound annual growth of 18.4 percent from 2013 to 2017.
While the stats are compelling, I’m not sure that the CIO is quite so enthralled. Mobility is fundamentally changing the interface of technology and is having a profound impact on enterprise IT and everything it does. The ‘bring your own device’ BYOD phenomenon in particular is causing IT considerable headaches. Right now, CIOs are being bombarded because everyone within the company wants to use the device in their pocket to access company data and processes. No one wants to lug a company laptop around anymore when they can simply bring their personal tablet into a meeting. Employees don’t see any distinction between personal and corporate information access either. They expect the same flexibility and user-friendly IT experience in the workplace that they have at home and don’t see why they should do what some old-fashioned IT director tells them.
As a result, CIOs must now consider how they are going to change the IT environment to accommodate how users wish to interact. They need to consider how they will create new mobile layers for existing applications and how they will build new applications ensuring that mobile is first and at the forefront of their strategy.
Equally, they must also consider what will happen if they don’t. Quite frankly this is where shadow IT is in danger of overwhelming the CIO as employees and departments create ‘workarounds’ sourcing their own solutions to problems. The CIO and his team will be blamed for impeding staff productivity, for lacking innovation, and for not delivering cutting-edge mobile applications to the business. Ultimately, the danger is the enterprise will disengage with IT.
Today, the whole enterprise application ecosystem needs to be multi-channel and organisations must have a mobile-first strategy. IT needs to be able to create once for all devices automatically, utilising responsive web design in their strategy. Additionally, mobile is so fast moving and with new apps constantly being developed, the CIO must create an environment where change can be managed quickly and effectively.
Over the years at OutSystems, we’ve helped hundreds of customers such as Randstad, Fidelidade, Bacardi, ISB Global and many more create mobile apps that have transformed their business. We have changed the fate of many CIOs so that they are leading rather than following. In fact, our high-productivity platform enables customers to build, manage and change mobile and web applications three times faster than traditional methods. Through our visual modelling environment, we enable responsive design and the ability to create for multi-devices and multi-channel. Here is how we helped one of our customers, ISB Global. In just two months using OutSystems Platform, business software and systems consultancy, ISB Global created and deployed a mobile application that allows users to carry the power of SAP in their pockets. With tight integration to SAP Business One, it provides remote and field employees the ability to record and monitor customer service requests via mobile and web devices. The systems highly usable user interface design increases staff efficiency and reduces training needs because it offers a fine-tuned workflow free from the UI complexities of SAP.
So back to my opening remarks – like it or not, mobile has become a de facto part of global business, and we are all completely dependent upon it. If I’ve not convinced you, just look at the stats again. Believe me, ‘use any device’ is the way forward in the enterprise, and CIOs must respond and respond fast.