Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Enterprise Mobile is (Almost) a Ghetto

You'd think that natural selection would move faster than it actually does in practice, especially in the business world where margins can be razor-thin. You'd think that companies would be scrambling to upgrade their processes to maintain an edge, but you'd generally find that to be wrong. As someone who worked in several very large enterprise technology environments, I can tell you that even multi-billion dollar outfits are often shown up by their smaller rivals in outstanding fashion. While many mid-sized business were transitioning to mobile in the last 5 years, enterprise has tackled mobile technology adoption as they always have: in fits and starts.

We Shrink from Change

When I worked for a very very large oil company that shall not be herein named (maybe as a contractor, wouldn't you like to know), they were horrifyingly behind the adoption curve. Data entry people handled work-order entry, time sheets were often hand-entered in the plants, and the latest and greatest technology we had onboard was at least 5 years old (we were so proud of that old jalopy). I led one effort to migrate some inspection operations into a mobile workflow... and despite the fact that the goals of the company CLEARLY STATED that migrating to mobile was a TOP PRIORITY for the year I was working on the project, relatively few people were interested in taking on the risk of implementing a new system... and this was in an organization that prided itself in hiring entrepreneurial risk-takers. While many companies pay lip-services to this idea, the company I have in mind was hardcore on this. 

Worth Fighting Over

A friend, Aaron Francis of Mantis Time Tracking fame, (Mantis is a mobile time-tracking app that your company really needs to be using right now), bemoans the same problem. He relates a story of an enterprise firm torn in two by its managers who are so tentative in migrating to new technologies that they had a knockdown drag-out fight in front of them during their sales meeting. "We were shocked, my brother and I looked at each-other like 'What do we do now?' as the argument raged" Raged, in fact, over migrating from an ill fated and underperforming paper/pencil process to a web-app that would save that business so much money, its ridiculous.

Summon the Heroes

What typically happens in large companies when decisions are actually made to move forward with adopting new technologies is that very expensive consultants are brought in to help the migration process. This is normally due to the nature of the products they pick. No one gets fired for choosing IBM, but maybe that should change. This is because departments are afraid of looking bad, of missing targets, slipping schedules (at private companies too)... so they'd rather spend a lot of the business' money salving their fears. You can spend a lot less money salving fears than is typically tossed around on these projects by any mid-grade enterprise. 

Companies like to buy Gartner Magic-Quadrant solutions from expensive companies, because the white-paper says they're the best, and it is very much akin to buying an IBM solution. Where real money is saved is in avoiding enterprise bloatware and solving a problem with a simple, highly specialized SaaS solutions. Here's where I plug Mantis again: Aaron and his small team can run circles around the ROI of any Gartner Hocus Pocus company with overhead out the wazoo. But, we like to cower in fear and choose the expensive way, because that's what our C-level bosses would love: less profit...right? 

This post is sponsored by: my years of integrating complex enterprise bloatware into simple processes, and love for a friend who is building a business to help very scared corporate IT people solve pesky problems. You go Aaron!

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