Enterprise Mobility – Data in the Driver’s Seat – Part II


This is the second half of a two part series examining data’s central driving role in enterprise mobility. Part Iexamined the aspects of data management. Today we’ll look at how a robust enterprise app ecosystem is derived from the data requirements.

There are many apps and services available that target enterprise users – almost too many. In assessing if an app or service is the right fit for your organization what do you use to inform your judgment? How do you go about assembling your enterprise mobile app ecosystem? What steers your strategy? Data is the cornerstone of a robust enterprise mobile ecosystem. If you have a robust data management process in your organization it will provide the clarity required to select the right apps and services, as well as understand the boundaries for your ecosystem.

Required Capabilities

Once you have done the legwork to develop a data inventory and management practice, you will have a sense of not only the data itself, but also the process that drives this data. This is invaluable in developing an enterprise mobility strategy and ecosystem because you are able to eliminate the noise and distraction of that ‘shiny new functionality’ in any given app. You will be able to zero in on capabilities that support those data processes. App/Service evaluation is less about cool and more about capable. It is important to ask – does this app have the flexibility to fit within my current and future processes?  Knowing how data moves about in your organization will allow you to tightly focus your ecosystem to provide just the right level of functionality to your users. The apps you chose for your enterprise ecosystem need to fit your data processes.

Access & Control – Getting at the Data

When evaluating apps or services, the insights you gain from your data management process will also drive the access and control questions. What sort of data access privileges do you require as an administrator; a power user; a common user? Does an app or service even provide the level of granular access control? It is also important to understand how easy or difficult it is to control data access. An app or service may allow you to fine-tune access permissions, but if it is clunky you could end up wasting a lot of time.

As well, are you able to access the entire data set easily? Are you able to import and export the data? This is particularly important for several reasons. First, if you want to use a service but have existing data you want to leverage, without being able to import it you are DOA .Next, if you are unhappy with an app or service and you want to change, you will need to export the data.  If you can’t export the entire data set you could be stuck or have to start over and heads may roll. Lastly, don’t underestimate the power of manipulating data, especially sales data, in applications like Microsoft Excel. I have seen companies select cloud services with poor import/export capabilities and pay dearly later when they need to access it in entirety.

Data Sensitivity

Data is also in the driver’s seat because many organizations are wanting to mobile-enable existing data sets. Many of these data sets are considered sensitive. This alone is often the deciding factor of leveraging a public cloud service or app vs needing to build a custom one that is on-premise. Data sensitivity often determines an organization’s appetite for risk.

These are just a few of the key high-level considerations that data influences in the assembly of an enterprise app ecosystem. Data is the understated driver in a sound enterprise mobility strategy. Data will determine a number of key directions.  Apps may possess the ‘coolness’ factor, but it is in the data that enterprises will find a ROI with mobility. How else do you see data driving the ecosystem? Post a comment and let me know!

Benjamin Robbins is a Principal at Palador, a consulting firm that focuses on providing strategic guidance to enterprises in the areas of mobile strategy, policy, apps, and data. You can follow him on Twitter or connect on LinkedIn.

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