Making wireless work

As mobility becomes a fundamental aspect of an enterprise’s IT, ensuring value has never been more important. This article outlines a methodology companies can use to integrate mobility into the enterprise and prove the bottom-line value of their mobile solutions.

As mobile solutions move from over-hyped and failed pilots to mainstream technology, CIOs are under increased pressure to guarantee the success of corporate mobility initiatives. Despite the many theories about how to achieve this success, it can only truly be realized when a wireless/mobility project is linked directly to a company’s overall business strategy, where its value can clearly be measured against business objectives.

With mobility prices falling and technology advancing, the “sweet spot” for mass entry of both private and public sector organizations is now here. In fact, Gartner estimates that by 2005, fully 65 percent of enterprises will have experience with wireless and will use wireless connectivity for one or more user groups.

In a nutshell, every company should be considering the role of mobility in the organization today. The challenge is to ensure that it will succeed and add bottom-line value to corporate objectives.

So how does a company create the right plan to deliver the value they are looking for? The answer lies in the concept of Enterprise Value Management (EVM), a methodology that can be used to determine the full scope of value of a project. EVM revolves around the notion of doing the right things, doing things in the right way, getting things done, and measuring the results. Using EVM, companies can effectively prove the bottom-line value of a mobile solution, and even compare it to other IT solutions that may also be vying for a share of the corporate IT budget.

When rolled out correctly, EVM can help organizations overcome their hesitations about mobility projects, and can help them create a framework in which additional mobile solutions can be added down the road. In addition, EVM helps prove that a mobility investment is the right move, and establishes a platform through education in mobile technology. The end result is the long sought after ‘success in mobility’ that has historically eluded more than 80 percent of all mobile solution pilots.

To ensure your company succeeds where so many have failed, an EVM strategy should encompass three phases:

1 Assessing your organization’s mobile maturity;

2 Developing an Enterprise Mobility Strategy (EMS); and

3 Leveraging and integrating value management into IT

Steps to ensuring success

Phase 1: Assessing Maturity

The first step to success — and the one from which the other two will evolve — is assessing mobile maturity. Mobile maturity relates to how experienced an organization is with respect to integrating mobile solutions into their overall enterprise strategy. Typically within an organization, mobility has been driven from the grass roots by different departments. The result is the lack of an all-encompassing view of how the enterprise uses, or should use, mobile solutions. To assess mobile maturity, you need an inventory of all current mobile solutions (technology and standards), and an understanding of how much internal knowledge exists regarding mobile technology.

Once complete, this maturity assessment provides enterprises with a clear view of how mobility is integrated into their organization, and how it currently contributes to the overall corporate strategy. This assessment also allows enterprises to better plan for resources and standards that support future mobile initiatives. In short, assessing mobile maturity is about understanding your current mobile abilities, its contribution to the corporate direction, and future potential.

Most organizations today have simple voice and data mobile solutions with no real tie-in to overall IT or corporate strategy. This is Level 1: Base Administrative, which is illustrated in Figure #1 below. Those who do have more complex tactical solutions (Level 2: Tactical) may find it hard to explain just how their mobile solutions contribute to the bottom line. For all, the ultimate goal is to attain Level 3: Strategic, a state where mobility is a fundamental aspect of an enterprise’s IT and corporate strategy, and directly supports corporate objectives.

At each stage of maturity, the mobile solutions increase in complexity and cost, as does the associated risk. The promise of high ROI/VOI (Value On Investment, the strategic value that technology can add to the business) has lured many into trying to adopt costly complex solutions, only to meet insurmountable risk and failure. By assessing their mobile maturity and working to evolve through the various levels, organizations can better balance risk of complexity and return, thus ensuring success. Or, simply put, they learn to crawl before they walk.

At some point, each enterprise will pass through these levels of maturity, each at their own pace. Passing through these phases is an effective way for enterprises to develop a sound base for an Enterprise Mobile Strategy (EMS) and better assess the use of mobility within the context of their own organization. The EMS helps direct future mobile solutions, and helps develop the corporate knowledge base of mobility. In turn, the experience and knowledge from new projects will help refine the EMS. As experience builds, the enterprise will eventually attain maturity level three. At this point, mobility within the organization and its contribution to corporate objectives is an integral part of their corporate strategy.

Phase 2: Formalizing Your Findings while Creating a Plan — Enterprise Mobile Strategy (EMS)

After assessing mobile maturity, an enterprise can develop its Enterprise Mobile Strategy (EMS), the second key factor for success. The EMS serves as a base for the technology and standards (e.g., .NET vs. J2EE) of mobile solutions, providing a direction in which the enterprise wishes to proceed. It is meant to be a living document that guides the business and mitigates risk in selecting future mobile solutions. Given that mobile solutions are no longer simply an over-hyped technology, the time is now right for CIOs and COOs to start incorporating mobility into their overall IT and corporate strategy.

In fact, even in the early stages of mobile maturity, an enterprise should be developing standards around mobile technology. By setting the stage early for mobility growth, companies can reduce expenses down the road that stem from re-working or even replacing infrastructures to accommodate newer technologies, or “bootstrapping” solutions which may not fully fit the bill. Ultimately, planning provides the flexibility to implement new wireless tools faster and more efficiently so they can contribute to the goal of “short term success with a long term vision”.

Phase 3: Proving the Value

The third and most important factor for success is all about proving the value of your implementation. This phase answers a single yet critical question: if it’s not adding value, why are we doing it? The idea is to link the project value to the corporate objectives, and secondly, to adapt and entrench standards in mobile technology into overall corporate IT standards. Over the years, this process has saved many companies — from telephone carriers to global banks — from needlessly throwing money away. If implemented properly, a value strategy can guide the IT upgrade path by defining the value of each solution, and plotting the best solution options for maximizing value across the organization. It is not only a tool for comparing diverse IT projects that might be in consideration, but can also provide a “health-check-up” to existing IT priorities. And most importantly, this value assessment can provide a new CIO with a sanity check, leading to a better understanding of what business value IT solutions bring to the enterprise.

Mapping the value

To ensure that value is entrenched into the corporate IT strategy, organizations often use what’s known as a “value map.” The value map plots an evaluation of the solution in terms of Financial Worth (ROI), Risk Assessment and Overall Strategic Alignment. This technique provides a solid understanding and view of the key value-creating relationships of a solution, and allows the business to cross-compare each solution. Those initiatives that deliver value and should be funded end up in the upper right hand quadrant of the plot, while those initiatives that do not deliver value as defined by the organization fall below the investment curve and should be denied funding (see Figure #2). By the end of a value-mapping exercise, interactions between tangible and intangible assets are clearly defined, enabling the management team to identify “value levers” that support strategic business drivers.

If mobility has a role in the future of the company, value mapping will articulate this. As IT solutions, mobile solutions, and existing, in-progress or planned IT projects are assessed, closer ties will develop between EMS and overall IT and corporate strategies. Proving the value of adopting mobile solutions will become an integral part of the way an enterprise works, and adapting to technology changes will be a fundamental way the business adopts solutions.

New wireless technologies can provide real ROI to any enterprise as mobile workers realize benefits from enhanced mobility. And the resulting increase in productivity and business value delivered provides new ways for companies to strengthen their bottom line. As with all business initiatives, however, the best results are not generated from the hardware or software alone, but through the constantly evolving and planning efforts of an EMS.

The importance of a good IT plan

Developing a strategic IT plan that encompasses priorities based on their ability to provide value to the organization may be one of the single most important things a CIO can do to ensure that ongoing business objectives are met on time and on budget. Good IT plans are constantly evolving to keep pace with advancing technology such as mobile solutions, while providing companies with the flexibility to change course midstream should the need arise. This focus on value helps organizations keep pace with technology and the business value it delivers. Essentially, smart organizations should be working toward the ultimate goal of building an infrastructure that is both flexible and scalable, so it can be easily leveraged to meet their ongoing needs. The development of the EMS, integrated with value assessment makes the goal achievable and helps the CIO in ensuring their organization is managing IT business value and not just managing IT.

Source: “Creating the Mobile Enterprise Solution”, Gartner presentation, Mike King, March 2002

Mark Pineau is the Global Lead for Fujitsu Consulting’s Mobile Solutions Practice. He is a Principal/Director in the Canada/US Trading Areas, working throughout North America, with a focus on telecommunications and mobile/wireless solutions leveraging next generation wide-area and local-area high-speed wireless networks. Mr. Pineau shares his time between Toronto, Tokyo and Atlanta.

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