For CIOs & Senior IT Executives
The Mobile Business
Paul May, the Author
Article (Web Page)
#3 - July 2002
This is the third column
(shall we say, web page) in a series
of pages (by Paul May) aimed at helping CIOs
strengthen their m-business positions with strategic insight and
the first two parts of this series we looked at issues relating to
mobilising business applications within the enterprise.
The pressure is on CIOs to respond to emerging needs
amongst mobile workers, particularly sales people and field force
the organisation, the wireless hype machine has moved to corporate
email-on-the-move as mobile network operators and PDA vendors do
battle with RIMís BlackBerry.
Itís little surprise that attention is focused today on
mobile applications for the enterprise.
Itís here that we can make the most obvious business
cases for mobile technology.
the backdrop to the mobile movement remains the march towards
mobilisation of the consumer.
The exact mix of technologies that will bring mobile
connectivity to consumers in different markets and different
situations is difficult to call, and the mix will evolve.
CIOs donít have to make heavy consumer connectivity commitments
today. Thereís some
breathing space before the volume in any significant consumer
segment creates real urgency on this front.
Companies are still experimenting with mobile marketing
schemes, and often doing so through partners who shoulder much of
the technology risk.
CIOs are also aware that the I
in their title stands for Information, not Technology.
Their role is to ensure the information capability of the
responsibility goes above and beyond technology decisions.
It involves mapping and shaping the information environment
(see The CIOís Horizons).
1: The CIOís Horizons
best software in the world, the tidiest n-tier architecture, the
smartest lights-out data centre: none of these matter if the
applications that ride on them do not serve the needs of the
need makes up 90% of the information environment.
(The other 10% is good practice.)
how can CIOs start to map and nurture an appropriate information
environment for the mobilised era?
As we have seen earlier in this series, there are short-
and long-term actions that can ready the organisation for its own
about the impact of consumer mobilisation?
this first: the rate and style of consumer mobilisation is outside
your control. You
canít mandate whether any specific segment will embrace any one
technology, or any one mix of technologies.
Nor can you delimit the types of requirements they will
have. You can begin
to predict, and to experiment, and weíll look at experiments in
the next issue of this series.
Today, we want to introduce an issue that is going to loom
large on your board as consumer mobilisation takes hold.
CIOs need to be leading the formation of opinion and
strategy in this area. Itís
nothing less than a global sea change in the information
To Port and Starboard
that a business unit in your organisation creates a successful
mobile service for its customers.
The team exploits the power of the mobile channel to
generate deep, personal relationships with customers.
The service is easy to use, and somewhat predictive in its
behaviour. Not only
can it give the user what she wants quickly and easily, it can
also make helpful suggestions.
The team is delighted that it has built the service so
rapidly and achieved its initial goal of recruiting early adopters
from its higher-income demographic.
The technologists on the team stress that theyíve used
web services technologies in building the service, so that it will
be easier to link with other systems in the future. The team are keen to add partner offers into version 2.0 of
take away the technology, and roll this scenario again.
What youíve got is a business unit that has managed to
set up camp on the customerís shoulder.
Theyíve bred a parrot that perches on a few, selected,
pirates. Itís a
useful parrot: it tells the customer where to find buried
treasure. The next
generation of parrots will descend on all kinds of sea-farers, not
just pirates. And not
only will the V2.0 parrot point customers at treasure, it will
also offer to provide a rental boat, swimming lessons and an
consider that other business units in your organisation will be
rolling out their initial mobile services as well.
You might have tried to coordinate them and establish some
sharing of technical resources.
But has anyone looked to see whether the various services
are compatible with each other at the business level?
have some leeway for duplication and overlap in traditional
as long as you donít contradict your own prices or inadvertently
counterfeit your own brand, diversity is a good thing.
It is, after all, why you have business units in the first
the mobilised world, there is less forgiveness.
The personal nature of the mobile channel, and its
immediacy, make it a low-sufferance medium.
If you put a parrot on my shoulder and then a monkey on my
back, Iím going to be annoyed.
If Iím bombarded with confusing messages from a company,
Iím going to block them out of my life.
But not before Iíve told all my friends and
acquaintances. Remember, chances are Iím on the phone at the very moment
you annoy me.
positive way to describe the potential of the mobile customer
relationship is to characterise it as a footprint in the
customerís life. This
is not quite the metaphor we need.
A footprint, in technologistsí terms, is the locus of a
communications capability or the area covered by a piece of
everyday language, itís what Friday left behind for Crusoe to
find on the beach. (No
buried treasure for them.) In
reality, mobile technology leaves the whole foot, not a print.
Mobile services can put a foot in the door, like the pushy
salesman of legend. Is
this the way you want to make your presence felt in your
may seem way-out, but this is the fundamental issue for CIOs as
consumer mobilisation gains hold.
To encapsulate: how will your organisation acquire and
retain intimate access to its customers?
Intimate Information Environment
suggest five guiding principles for managing the newly intimate
information environment (see The Intimate Information Environment Star).
2: The Intimate Information Environment Star
it should go without saying, but ask your customers if they want
to deal with you through the mobile channel.
Donít even think about ensnaring them with passive,
prechecked boxes on forms.
for customers with the right profile, rewards in the shape of
cash, discounts or even public recognition can cement an ongoing
always give the customer the option to withdraw from the
customer behaviour patterns and be prepared to terminate the
relationship yourself - donít carry poor payers in the belief
that volume is more important
drain any excess weight from your service; make it simple,
unobtrusive and delightful
create events and physical spaces where mobile customers can
engage face-to-face with your company.
Thereís no better way to create a personalised service
than to create occasional opportunities for non-mediated contact. In the long run, it may be the only way to a customerís
five guidelines will help you establish good practice in this new
information environment. They
will also help affirm the CIOís role as a guardian of the
businessís best interests in all its channels.
© Verista 2002 - Reproduced here by
MobileInfo.Com with permission
Paul May and Verista
Paul May is a Principal Consultant with Verista (www.verista.com)
and the author of Mobile Commerce: Opportunities, Applications and
Technologies of Wireless Business (2001) and The Business of
Ecommerce: from Corporate Strategy to Technology (2000), both
published by Cambridge University Press.
Verista is an independent consultancy specialising in digital
channel strategy and management, wireless technologies, mobile
workforce enablement and mobile marketing. We work with channel
partners, systems integrators, network operators and software vendors
to bring the appropriate mix of capabilities to our clients.