Mobility Energizes the Digital Enterprise

By Samuel Greengard  |  Posted 02-28-2017
Mobility and Digital Business

Mobility Energizes the Digital Enterprise

Mobile technology has taken a quantum leap forward during the last few years. Today, businesses, government agencies, educational institutions and even consumers have access to enormous volumes of data, information and knowledge at the tap of a screen—almost anywhere, at any time.

Yet, increasingly, mobile technology intersects with other digital tools and systems, including connected machines and the internet of things (IoT), geolocation data, social streams, and speech and visual processing systems. "We are witnessing an incredible evolution of the technology," says Sei-Myung Chang, managing director at Accenture Digital.

For CIOs, it's the best of times and the worst of times. On one hand, mobile frameworks—and their role in the digital enterprise—create enormous opportunities, as well as the ability to disrupt a business or an entire industry. On the other hand, navigating mobility is increasingly challenging.

"The line where mobility begins and ends is increasingly blurry," Chang points out. "There's not only a need to address mobile hardware and apps. It's all about building a connected framework that drives human interaction and the business."

How can CIOs best navigate this space and maximize mobility and digital transformation? What should business and IT leaders be focused on as mobile advances further? There are no simple answers but, amid all the changes, one thing is certain: The need to develop a clear mobile strategy and manage the framework of technology associated with it is greater than ever.

The convergence of various digital technologies is forcing organizations to adapt. Only a year or two ago, the focus was primarily on user interface issues such as "mobile first" or "mobile only."

Today, there's a growing realization that mobility and mobility management now extend to just about every other technology within the enterprise—and beyond. This, of course, spirals into apps, workflows, cloud frameworks, data repositories and more. Within this framework, "Mobility becomes the central point of access and the management tool for embedded intelligence," Chang explains.

Tackling the Mobility Challenge

One organization tackling the challenge is Medical Center Health Systems (MCH), the largest provider of trauma care and other services in West Texas. The facility, which spans 17 counties and treats approximately 100,000 patients annually, has embarked on an ambitious upgrade of mobile technology over the past year.

In the past, doctors, nurses and technicians could text and handle basic mobile functions. Now, the facility is now rolling out secure messaging, the ability to view and exchange files—including radiological images—computerized physician order entry (CPOE), device tracking and additional capabilities.

Moreover, the staff and health care practitioners will be able to access data and files on smartphones, tablets and other handheld devices. "We want doctors, nurses and technicians to be able to pull up data wherever they are, without having to find another device," states Gary Barnes, senior vice president and CIO.

As a result, MCH spent nine months developing a more advanced mobile strategy using a cross-functional team. It revamped upward of 1,500 workflows and embedded best practices into a new mobile infrastructure that's built on Aruba technology. The network supports about 2,300 employees and incorporates as many as 6,000 users every day.

Mobility Energizes the Digital Enterprise

"The network required seamless integration and strong security," Barnes says. Consequently, the IT team, along with consultants and vendors, carefully mapped out all the physical locations to ensure that the wireless network would work effectively.

"We have multistory buildings and complicated structural issues that lead to bleed through on wireless from floor to floor," he explains. "We had to make sure that the devices and systems wouldn't drop off or deliver inconsistent results." After a proof of concept and tweaking, the new system went live at the start of 2017.

MCH introduced three network segments: one for guests, another for medical devices and a third for critical apps. It is now rolling out tiered wireless service that allows patients and visitors who want to watch films and video on their devices to purchase premium service.

The health care facility is also rolling out an array of digital improvements for medical systems. For example, it has developed mobile X-ray units that transmit the data immediately, so that a patient's results are available by the time he or she re-enters a room and sees the doctor. MCH is now looking into tagging patients with RFID in order to track their location dynamically.

"Mobility is the wave of the future," Barnes points out. "It's at the core of a successful organization."

Embedding Mobility Into a Digital Strategy

How can CIOs best approach the changing face of mobility? What is the best way to fuel mobility in the workplace? A broad, multidisciplinary focus is a starting point, according to Tony Fross, Capgemini Consulting's vice president of digital strategy.

A mobility initiative must be embedded deeply in an overall digital strategy and IT framework. It must also focus on how IT can manage mobile technologies in a broad way. "CIOs must identify their strongest business partners, the areas of the business where they need to get truly deep, and whether they are helping to make the business digital or moving into more of a service role," Fross advises.

Ultimately, "Mobile cannot be done in a vacuum," he adds. "Companies that run off and develop a mobile app without taking a look at their native web strategy and other digital intersection points are going to end up in trouble."

This, Fross explains, means tying in speech and visual processing, geolocation data, IoT data, mobile payments, social streams, artificial intelligence (AI), analytics and more to create an entire loop or ecosystem. It also means adapting IT, governance and security to fit the specific requirements of an organization and its mobile strategy.

The goal, he says, is to introduce context to business and make smarter, better decisions based on mobility and digital transformation. It's also to create frictionless interactions with partners, employees and customers. For example, one of the things that makes Uber so disruptive is the fact that a user pushes a button on a smartphone and virtually everything else happens after that with near zero interaction.

In the end, Accenture Digital's Chang says that it's important to focus on innovation and to use mobile technology to deliver value to the business and its customers. "It's not about the technology," he says. "It's about stakeholder alignment, faster decision making and creating value for users."