Think about the consumer technology that you regularly use today. You probably have a smart phone, maybe a Kindle or other e-reader, maybe an Apple Watch or similar device that can access information from your phone. Maybe your car can hook up to your phone to offer in-car information. Maybe you have an Amazon Echo at home so you can access the Internet just by speaking?
All these consumer devices are available today and are accepted as normal. Most consumers expect to have a device that gives them 24/7 access to all the services and information that the Internet can offer.
So why isn’t enterprise technology like this? Many companies still issue phones that are not even smart and laptops that are too heavy to really be portable. The concepts of cloud computing and app store flexibility remain conceptual in many organisations. Why?
The obvious answer is that consumers have far less to invest than large companies. When purchasing technology, a CIO needs to set the agenda for several years. If things change during that time it can be difficult to shift direction or to keep up with the change. Individuals don’t face this problem.
This has led to the popularity of Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) policies in many companies, where employees are offering cash to use their own equipment instead of what the company can supply.
But a small change in the strategic mindset can also have a major benefit to the enterprise. Commissioning new software solutions as apps, rather than desktop tools can encourage the workforce to be mobile. This can even encourage companies to create entirely new solutions for customers.
An app developed by IBA for use by a bank in South Africa allows bank employees to sign up new customers on the move. They can photograph the customer using their phone and capture details which are then shared with the central system of the bank – no forms, no waiting for an appointment. The new customers, the mobile bank employees, and the bank executives all benefit from the app approach.
It used to be that enterprise technology was years ahead of what people had at home, but now the reverse is true. It’s time for more company executives to take inspiration from the tools they use everyday – how can we use mobile devices and other common personal technology to create better business solutions for our customers?