Reader Forum: 3 key qualities for mobile innovation


Just 10 years ago, enterprise technology was tied to a desktop or workstation, iPhones did not exist. Social collaboration meant instant messaging. Can you imagine a world today without mobile connectivity? Without the instantaneous access to information, or the inclusive social nature of mobile apps like Facebook and Twitter that you can hold in your hand? I’ll wager that within 24 months, many of us will start to forget when all that power and connectivity wasn’t simply worn on your body everywhere you went.

The wearables revolution is coming. The smart-device-driven “Internet of Things” revolution is right on its heels. The single most significant technology trend of the last two decades has been the exponential increase in computing power combined with the continuous miniaturization of computing devices. This trend is driving entirely new innovations that are fundamentally changing industries.

Personal-health apps and “Fitbit” devices are already in heavy use. Tapping into the flood of data these apps and devices produce can improve the quality of care delivery while reducing cost. With an increasing percentage of care being delivered outside the hospital or doctor’s office, leading health providers have adopted mobility to support in-home nursing, rehabilitation and other services. On the industry’s flip side, health payer organizations are using mobility to drive efficiencies across their provider network operations – thereby avoiding spikes to insurance costs. One large U.S. health care payer uses a native mobile app for inspections of provider offices to ensure they meet regulatory standards. That means faster on-boarding into the network and better assurance of ongoing standards compliance.

Commercial trucking is generally an old-school, paper and green-screens kind of industry. Ryder Systems knows this well and has embraced mobility. The strategy: leapfrog competitors by transforming the Ryder customer experience for the digital age. Using a cloud-based application platform, the company unified the multiple systems supporting the end-to-end rental process through a set of synergistic Android tablet apps. The result is a single mobile system unifying a previously splintered set of custom applications for check-out/check-in, truck inspections, insurance forms and signatures, accident claims, and more.

The insurance industry is experiencing mobile transformation. Crawford & Co., a provider of outsourced claims management, has mobilized its operations around global catastrophes. When a hurricane, earthquake or other natural disaster hits – anywhere in the world – Crawford uses an integrated set of mobile and social applications to quickly “crowd-source” small armies of claims adjusters, and provide those adjusters with the tools they need to accelerate claim uptake via a mobile device in devastated regions.

The organizations mentioned above are true industry leaders. Most organizations are not there yet in terms of mobile strategy. They struggle to move past their legacy IT investments, much less move into mobile applications. And forget positioning themselves for wearables, IoT and whatever else is next. Look at the new Apple Watch. Wearing the device presents new interaction and monitoring capabilities not available previously. But, did you know the Apple Watch has roughly the same computing power as Apple devices from just a few years ago, like the iPhone 4S and the iPad 2?

If you are not already thinking about how that power can be put to work for your company, you are already falling behind.

To keep up, organizations must adapt their legacy IT investments to the mobile work patterns of today. As new mobile technology becomes available, rapid adaptation and incorporation of these innovations into business models is imperative to remain relevant. Choosing a static technology architecture prevents true business innovation and puts an organization at risk, especially from upstart competitors who can (and do) adapt and move more quickly.

The qualities to look for and cultivate in your business, in your IT operations and in the modern platforms in which you invest include:

Native mobility
Your customers, partners and employees are mobile. Is your organization enabled to interact with them in the way they prefer? Are you set up to capture information from these populations? Information should flow in real time so work is done more quickly and customers get what they want, right when they want it. This means all of your applications should work identically across the desktop and mobile devices. An application platform with a “write once, run everywhere” architecture is required to support this.

Embracing mobility requires embracing change. The business and IT people affected by the change need to feel they have a voice in shaping the new behavior, the new process and the new application. This will increase adoption, while also allowing you to tap your greatest organizational strength – your people and their ideas. Modern development platforms that use visual composition as opposed to traditional coding allow broader collaboration in creating effective mobile solutions.

Agility is paramount for digital transformation. If your current systems are not fully integrated and leveraged in a single environment, you will be slower than your competition. How quickly can you address change? Does your organization have the capacity to innovate, to experiment with new digital capabilities in the search for new revenue streams? Organizing to prioritize innovation and experimentation, and augmenting that focus with IT platforms that support agility and speed is a crucial strategic capability.

If building modern enterprise mobile applications is hard, ensuring your investments in new mobile technologies stay relevant is even harder. As mobility continues to overtake the enterprise on an ever-wider assortment of devices, business and IT organizations must revisit platform technology decisions. Adopting future-minded strategies and supporting technologies is essential to maintain relevance in today’s fast-paced technology market. In a world where change is the only constant, adoption of platforms designed for continuous innovation, continuous adaptation and continuous release of new mobile capabilities is the only logical solution.

Editor’s Note: In an attempt to broaden our interaction with our readers we have created this Reader Forum for those with something meaningful to say to the wireless industry. We want to keep this as open as possible, but we maintain some editorial control to keep it free of commercials or attacks. Please send along submissions for this section to our editors at:

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