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Does Mobile Have a Seat at Your Boardroom Table?

Mon, 06/02/2014 - 10:05am
Rich Esposito, General Manager, IBM Mobility Services

Mobile devices today have taken traditional models and turned them on their heads and its impact is working its way to the corner office. Take the consumer as an example.

A customer walks into a department store and notices an invitation on her smartphone to connect with the retailer's “guest” network, thereby initiating real-time interaction. While browsing the aisles, she receives an SMS to download the store's app. She downloads the app and scans a bar-code to get additional product information and moves on to the dress department. After spending a considerable amount of time there, she automatically triggers another interaction and receives a personalized promotion for 50 percent off a dress she was admiring on the retailer's website the previous week. 

And it doesn’t end there.

During checkout, the store associate scans the customer's mobile coupon and, prompted by the app, recommends matching accessories. The customer declines and leaves – satisfied with her discounted purchase.  Two weeks later, after no further interaction by the customer, she receives a notification on her iPad that her reward points are due to expire thus prompting a return to the store.

If you've gone shopping at any large retailer or even rented a car in the past few months, you've probably had a similar experience with such targeted messaging. If you haven’t, the odds are you will very soon. 

The impact that mobile devices are having today is perhaps best exhibited by the consumer, who is turning to these devices to shop, interact with friends and conduct business. Case in point, on Cyber Monday, mobile sales accounted for more than 17 percent of total online sales, an increase of just over 55 percent year-over-year. 

Those numbers tell a story but not the complete story. What they don’t talk about is how these devices have entered the boardroom where they are impacting how the C-Suite defines their agendas moving forward.

Take the CEO as an example. Today 33 percent of IT organizations report to the CEO. As a result, today’s CEOs are being pulled into more technical discussions than ever before. What are they talking about? Well, among other things, mobile, and specifically questions around the launch of a mobile presence for clients, the implementation of an internal mobile initiative for its own employees and how the business can most effectively leverage data from this mobile environment to help drive a new wave of return on investment.

The topic of mobile data is an important one because it ties us to the chief marketing officer (CMO). Increasingly, mobile has become the customer’s first point of engagement with the enterprise. As a result, CMOs must lead a front office transformation that re-imagines client interactions through a mobile lens. This includes tapping into the data shared by customers in order to gain a better understanding of each individual’s habits and create personalized experiences on their mobile device that in the end helps to drive top line growth, similar to the example I outlined above.

The potential benefits for mobile to improve the customer experience while increasing the productivity of your team is undeniable. But none of this success can be achieved without tying in both the chief operating officer (COO) and chief information security officer (CISO). More and more businesses are looking to “transact in motion” – whether its exchanging information or goods and services, enabling employee self-service or delivering personalized customer service. As a result, CISOs and COOs are now charged with ensuring that these transactions can all be done securely and from an array of devices, from around the world, all while keeping networks safe and efficient. 

And it doesn’t end there. As discerning employees continue to demand on-the-go access to the tools that make them most effective, the chief information officer (CIO) enters the picture. CIOs must manage the mobile devices, data, applications and services that employees need and do so throughout the technology’s life-cycles. This real-time visibility and control is needed to safeguard the enterprise without driving cost and complexity.

Successful companies today require a strategic approach that allows them to put their businesses in motion. The winners will be those with executives who are untied around mobile and have it at the top of their agendas.

Rich Esposito is general manager of IBM Mobility Services. 

 

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