December 05, 2013, 1:41 PM — The majority of today's CIOs see value in mobilizing enterprise applications and in deploying mobile-related innovations such as GPS features, location-based services (LBS), mobile payments and QR codes. Many also say their organizations are already somehow increasing revenue and developing new revenue streams directly related to mobile. But nearly as many CIOs also see the cost of deploying new innovations as prohibitive and complexity as a major concern, according to a new survey commissioned by Mobile Helix, a mobile security vendor.
The survey of organizations with 1,001 or more employees, across a range of industry verticals, included responses from 200 U.S. and 100 U.K. CIOs and was conducted by independent-research firm Vanson Bourne.
More than three quarters of the CIOs surveyed (78%) say they have an enterprise mobility strategy in place, and 87% say their employees want increased access to mobile versions of CRM, ERP, SharePoint and other corporate apps. Nearly 8 in 10 CIOs (78%) also say they already believe they're currently using mobility to increase revenue in some way.
But 72% say the cost of rolling out new mobile innovations, including GPS, LBS and mobile payments, is too high when compared to the expected ROI. Another 68% say it's "too complex" to integrate these mobile innovations into existing apps, according to the survey results.
The mobile innovations CIOs are most interested in rolling out or integrating into current apps or services are secure offline access (45%); GPS/location awareness (44%); LBS (39%); on-device storage (39%), and mobile payments (39%).
Mobile Development Usually Siloed, Slowing Growth
"Part of the problem with mobile is that it is treated as a silo that, by nature, has to be different than existing IT investment. Therefore, there tends to be a raft of tactical mobile solutions deployed," says Mobile Helix President Matt Bancroft. "Taking an overview that employees use applications in a range of different contexts to do the job from the desktop to the laptop to the tablet and to the smartphone can lead to better thought-through applications. The goal is to enable employees to work and be productive irrespective of location and device they are using."
CIOs can further embrace mobile by taking a simpler approach, according to Bancroft.
"On the delivery side, IT must move away from delivering tactical solutions that are both mobile-specific and app-specific and therefore address very limited needs," says Bancroft. "This is one big ingredient in the current cost/complexity recipe."
Convincing the business that it's time to make mobile a priority is a different challenge.
"The CIO and the C-suite need to be working to the same strategic view," Bancroft says. "Business leaders must help articulate the business value of mobilizing a service or adding mobile capabilities to a current service or creating some new truly mobile specific app. The CIO must lead in creating the mobile set of capabilities that work cost effectively and at scale across business lines, employee types and device types.
"The key to understanding ROI for mobile investments is understanding the new revenue stream that is created through real-time collaboration, access to critical enterprise resources and data from the road, and the ability to get answers to customers more quickly and accurately," he says. "With this mindset, the ROI discussion becomes a driver of targeted mobile investment and not a reason to hold back."
Enterprise Apps Poised to Go Mobile
In the future, Bancroft says CIOs should expect to see more and more key mobile device features integrated with enterprise apps.
"For example, integrating location information into common enterprise application like CRM systems and contacts directories will allow employees to instantly find customers close to their current locations&or find colleagues that are physically close while in transit in order to schedule impromptu meetings to facilitate important discussion that need to take place on short notice," Bancroft says.
The Mobile Helix president also expects NFC to see more widespread adoption in the enterprise and become "an increasingly mainstream and powerful technical enabler of mobile productivity." CIOs may want to keep a close eye on this technology.