Mobile Internet: In Or Out?
One of the features Hutchinson knows will be critical is getting that SAP information extended to mobile devices. The sales market is changing. Salespeople at a company like Maple Leaf still need the quality products, the right price, and the right personal relationships to get the company's goods into a store--but they also need data. They need to be able to show reports on how adding a product could generate new sales and improve profit margins; they need to be able to alter order volumes and show how that might affect price. And they need to be able to do it from mobile devices.
"We're not a high-tech company--we're a food manufacturer," Hutchinson says. "But we're trying to figure out how we do things differently."
The strategic question of whether to put applications on mobile devices is among the most important priorities to note in this year's Global CIO Survey. What makes it significant is how widely split opinion is on this subject. Very few companies have mobilized their core enterprise apps already--only 19% have a major implementation in place, the lowest of any of the 14 tech priorities we presented. But 29% plan a major project this year and another 27% plan one within two years, while 25% have no plans. (Last year, 33% had no plans, and only 15% had a major implementation.) No other project offers such a split outlook, reflecting the diversity of opinions on whether providing mobile apps--to customers, partners, or employees--is a "right now" kind of priority.
Hilton's Webb feels the urgency, placing mobile app development among Hilton's 17 highest-priority enterprise projects. Each of the company's 10 hotel brands has an iPad app, and now the company is expanding the app functionality and number of devices it supports. It recently tested room service, valet car pickup, and other services on an iPad app at its Orlando Waldorf Astoria.
IT organizations don't have a great track record on mobile. Most were dragged into the smartphone revolution, offering BlackBerrys as the world clamored for the versatility of iPhones. If IT leaders don't assign at least a few people to search for ways to plug their companies into the mobile Internet, they risk missing a business megatrend.