This year's Mobile World Congress (MWC) showed that mobile is becoming a critical factor in driving product, service, and process innovation as well as in enhancing customer and employee engagement. Most B2B solutions presented at the show reflected the shift away from traditional sales and field force automation toward delivering great mobile moments for business customers. As business enablers, CIOs must meet the expectation of these business customers who today expect to get what they want within their immediate context and moment of need - something that Forrester refers to as the mobile mind shift.
From a CIO perspective, here are the key takeaway messages at MWC 2015:
The mobile cloud is a central component of enterprise mobility solutions.
Advances in digital technology - fuelled by powerful mobile computing devices connected to fast and ever-present networks - allow users to access intelligent services in the cloud. Vendors including Cisco Systems, Ericsson, Huawei, and Nokia and telecoms providers like Deutsche Telekom and Tata Communications presented detailed cloud-based mobile enterprise solutions.
What it means for CIOs: All cloud initiatives must include a mobile element - and vice versa. Mobile devices, applications, and content management form the basis for any comprehensive strategy to address the B2B mobile mind shift. To prepare for the mobile cloud environment, every CIO ought to conduct a mobile inventory and ascertain, for instance, the readiness of his organisation for a spike in mobile data traffic and mobile sign-ons.
Enterprise apps are coming of age.
What it means for CIOs: The CIO must understand the nuances of mobile operating ecosystems like iOS and Android, device types, network and API architecture, as well as programming languages that are becoming more important in the mobile context like Objective-C, C, and Java. In addition to overseeing a radical shift of in-house skill sets, the CIO needs to think beyond app development. The CIO can't address these challenges with a traditional, linear, technology-led approach. Instead, every CIO needs to iteratively work with the business to ensure true innovation during the digital transformation.
Mobile is the central enabler for the Internet of Things (IoT).
IoT is much more than wearables hitched to smartphones. Not surprisingly, Cisco emphasised - correctly - that the shift from native IP clients like PCs and smartphones to IoE devices like trucks, cars, trains, planes, switches, and sensors on any moving object, as well as people and even animals, is accelerating. Numerous sessions at MWC pointed to IoE benefits, such as reducing traffic deaths through autonomous driving. Nissan announced that it will introduce autonomous driving in traffic jam situations in 2016 and in highway driving conditions, including lane changing, in 2018.
What it means for CIOs: Intelligent sensors, machine-to-machine (M2M) connectivity, and sophisticated back-end data analysis are critical to reap the business benefits of instrumenting, connecting, and analysing data from equipment, vehicles, physical infrastructure, and customers. Connectivity is causing the worlds of traditional IT and operational technology, i.e., technology for production equipment and facilities, to merge. It is the CIO's job to ensure that technology management reflects the fact that traditional IT and operational technology share the same technology space.
Data analytics opportunities are intrinsically linked to data privacy and trust.
As expected, nearly everybody at MWC talked about data - and many about data privacy. A key question is how to transform Big Data into relevant information and then that information into domain-specific knowledge. Data analytics promises to help businesses better understand which services attract the most users and how long and how often they use the services. Yet, at MWC there were also more cautious voices. Bosch, for instance, said that there needs to be a code of conduct for personal data in smart-home solutions. In fact, eight in 10 mobile users claim that they won't download an app they don't trust. For data analytics to reach its true potential and to gain acceptance from the end user, Forrester believes that the user has to remain the ultimate owner of his or her data. Regrettably, the big question of who owns the data was not discussed enough at MWC.
What it means for CIOs: Leading CIOs will provide dashboards for business-line managers that show user activity as well as provide user insights as an information-as-a-service model. Developing control mechanisms that allow the end user to control his or her data will be a major task for CIOs in the years ahead. And of course, it is the CIO's responsibility to safeguard any work-related personal information and to manage the risks associated with business information that is stored on a mobile device.
Dan Bieler is VP and Principal Analyst at Forrester Research, serving the information needs of CIOs.