The new imperatives for mobile business

Cristiano B. M. Oliveira explains how the mobile IT solutions that Spring Wireless delivers help increase sales, streamline distribution and give strategic insight into a business’s own workings


 Mobile technologies are changing how enterprises run their business processes and interact with consumers. In my experience from designing and deploying mobile business solutions to large and influential companies like Citibank, Santander, Visa, MasterCard, Itaú and Bradesco, there are five imperatives that are shaping the new mobile enterprise landscape. These imperatives will directly influence how companies will be able to leverage mobile technologies as a key competitive advantage.

Mobile is mainstream
In the early 2000s, mobile technologies were seen as a promising area with a bright future – but still not mature enough for mass use on enterprise-grade applications. Accordingly, most projects were classified as innovation initiatives and not deployed at core functions.

This picture has changed substantially over the last 10 years. Today, 30 percent of the 500 million users of Facebook (the most visited site in the world) are mobile. This means consumers are most likely already engaged with mobile technologies. Is your company ready to serve them through this new interaction channel?

Measurable investment returns
Companies which have utilised mobile technologies are capturing considerable value on automated and redesigned field processes, including marketing, sales, distribution and service areas.

For example, a leading retail bank increased the number of available sales hours by 20 percent, creating a unique opportunity to increase revenues through serving more customers with the same sales force personnel.
On the consumer front, mobile finance represents an additional area where companies are capturing significant value too. A leading financial service institution applied personal lines payment reminders and follow-ups through SMS alerts. They reduced the number of borrowers who reach 90 days past due by 10 percent, thereby reducing the overall risk to their operations.

Employee/consumer similarities
In a first wave of mobile deployments, companies used to manage employee-facing and consumer-facing applications as disparate silos running on different business and technical platforms. It’s time to change this approach. In most industries, the relevant touch points happen outside company boundaries. So consider that your mobile marketing campaigns are generating market intelligence data directly delivered to marketers, and they could seamlessly share insights with sales agents working on pushing target products.

The new mobile landscape
The enterprise market used to drive and lead the adoption of new information technologies, but not anymore. Today, the consumer market is moving first and faster, as exemplified and accelerated by search engines, social networks, cloud computing and mobile software and hardware advancements. Combine this trend with two game-changers on the mobile OS landscape, iOS and Android, and you have your users (both workers and consumers) driving which smartphone you’re going to support and deploy.

Incumbents like Microsoft and BlackBerry still have a chance to play a relevant role in this game, but they are not going to be the first choice from a user perspective – even if your IT administrator or information security expert do not agree.

Application-oriented platforms
At the end of the day, all these imperatives rely and run on a common foundation: your mobile enterprise platform. So, what are your options in terms of platform approach?

One is to select individual pre-built applications for each business process or interaction channel you want to mobilise. It works well for one or two applications, but presents significant scaling issues for both business processes and support. Disparate technical foundations increase the combined total cost of ownership and limit how common data can be shared among these applications.

A second option is to select a single development platform and build all applications from scratch. However, although this approach solves the problems above, all the advantages of working with pre-built applications – like faster implementation cycles – are lost.

A third option would be the most powerful: combining the strengths of the previous two approaches. This approach relies on a single technical platform with pre-built and configurable applications on top. The key capability here is configuration, as it enables new applications to be created much faster than on traditional ‘coding-compiling-debugging’ cycles we see on traditional software development.

Additionally, configuration enables the same application to run on different mobile devices and operating systems, on multiple screens. Business workflows and rules are represented by universal database parameters instead of source code compiled for a specific platform.

Implementing your solution
Planning a strategy for applying mobile technologies to your business is crucial, as is having an integrated vision and plan. Going further, ask: What will be your roadmap for enterprise mobility? What applications should you invest in first? How will you ensure that a common foundation and data repository will be shared? Answering such questions is the starting point to strategically engaging your company in the rapidly changing world of mobile technologies.

And don’t forget the five points above. They will enable you to set a strategy that works for the future even as technology evolves.

As a final thought, consider how much time you spend at your desk and on your smartphone today. That is the same challenge your employees and consumers face. They want to interact and transact with relevant data from your company, and they want to do that on the go, in a convenient and responsive fashion – just like you.

Cristiano B. M. Oliveira is Chief Technology Officer at Spring Wireless. Email:, or follow @cbmo on Twitter.