The Need for a Mobile Strategy is Now - Page 1

Jan 26, 2007

Allen Bernard

As mobile technologies continue to worm their way into businesses of all shape and sizes (what self-respecting businessperson does have a cell these days?), the need for a comprehensive mobile strategy is growing by leaps and bounds.

While the primary uses for PDAs, smart phones, and cell phones is still messaging, Pandora's Box has been open; making it only a matter of time before all manner of corporate intelligence will have to be made available via wireless.

To head off the hodge-podge, ad-hoc manner in which many new technologies have grown up over the years — leading directly to today's heroic efforts to untangle 30 years of organic growth — companies need to put in place a mobile strategy that takes into account security, new uses, current uses and a vision for how far, how deep and how wide they are willing to open up their back-end systems.

"What this means, is organizations … need to really step up and realize that there is a need to develop a mobile strategy within the organization," said Philippe Winthrop, director of Aberdeen's Wireless and Mobility research group. "It's cost management, it's technology management, it's the security issues, it's managing the integration with other systems."

It's all about control, asserts Jay Highley, president and CEO of Integrated Mobile, a Columbus, Ohio-based company that focuses on helping companies come up with an implement mobile strategies.

Highley's top three reasons for moving ahead now with a strategy as opposed to waiting for one to be forced upon you are cost, security and competitive advantage/productivity.

"This is the reason Integrated Mobile exists," said Highley. "I've looked the CIOs in the eye and the finance people in the eye and they just throw their hands up and say, 'I don't know how many devices I have, I don't know how much it costs me, I know it's growing … but where are the tools?'"

But tools are only one part of any strategy. The first step is deciding who is entitled to what level of access and who really needs a company-paid-for mobile device in the first place. That's the approach of Sue Evert, a telecom analyst for FiServ, a Fortune 500 provider of information management systems and services to the financial and health benefits industries.

She is also responsible for managing the mobility of about 350 of FiServ's employees. Evert makes her decisions on a case-by-case basis; looking at individual employees communication needs. Salespeople get the best of the best and, on the other end, an on-call sys admin might have a just a pager.

"We're controlling the fact that we're paying for them, then they take what we give them," she said. "You can't let people dictate to you, 'Well I want this, I want that.'"

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