Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Developing the “Mobility Friendly” attitude

A few things I have learnt in the recently since I entered the field of Enterprise Mobility is how excited clients are when they hear the word “It’s Possible”.  If anything the smart phone revolution in India has done is initiate the next stage of change in terms of enterprise hardware. And yes, not to be mistaken is the idea of saving on cost that is driving the wave.

Computers on the go: Changing from a desktop to laptop devices brought in a change for people to access systems from anywhere. The penetration of internet dongles meant “all time accessible” even though it was sometimes linked to greater productivity or work from home benefits. Mobility is now looking to take this a step further and leave people with no space to say, “I do not have access, need some time to revert” or “I’m sorry, I’m away from my desk and I don’t have the data”.

We are improving efficiency: Most people who are migrating their systems from laptops to tablets/ mobiles have efficiency as their biggest claim - efficiency of space, time, device costs and operating costs. The commonly expressed views: a tablet costs less than a laptop and most people never need all the features a laptop/ desktop computer offers. For some employees who need limited data access, a mobile phone app costs less than having them a workstation to access.  Offices have WiFi connections and that eliminates the need for workstation space for people who are on the move. Tablets cost much less than a laptop and are lighter to carry; also, you don’t have to pay license fees for tablet OS. And of course, since most employees are reimbursed for mobile phone calls, the mobile data package is now a part of the same.

What about the gaps:  The above is not totally untrue... well most of it is actually a great way to save on establishment costs and trim down operating expenses. The gaps as we experience are not on the device level but more of an attitude or understanding level. Tablets and Mobile devices can access the internet via browsers like a computer, but the interface most suited for mobility is Apps. Unlike a browser, Apps are a completely different interface and functions much differently in comparison.
The biggest difference is flexibility. Apps have some areas that are set and data fields which are flexible. This is different from a browser as the entire page is pulled in on to a browser on to a server. So a change on a server can easily reflect on the browser. For an App, a change can be a new version.
The transition from a browser based system to an application based approach has its own challenges for a user perspective. For instance, the keyboard is a part of the screen and hence the screen size reduces by half. While scrolling is a no-no on a browser; it is preferred than a click on a mobile screen.
Yes, tablet is a complete device by itself, but you cannot change its configuration (processor, RAM, HDD) at will like on a computer. So if you go for the cheapest, you are also closer to being obsolete that much sooner.

The Mobility Friendly Attitude: Mobility is the way the world is fast moving and will go in the days to come.  It is soon going to be the way organization are going to get closer to their customers and internal stake holders by extending the power into their hands. But when it is the question of enterprise solutions, it is essential to understand how far and how much to expose the existing systems on a new platform. Most importantly; realize that this is a major change and will require a fresh perspective to look at things and appreciate changes rather than pull down possibilities. And yes; be judicious in what you wish for and think long term. 

Friday, March 11, 2016

Being niche is not the same as being innovative

I have met a fair number of start-up organizations over the last year with an aim to associate as a consultant. While start-up seems to be the way every person believes is the path to achieve their dreams, most people find that the most obvious ideas are usually taken. But dreams are difficult to give up on; and the urge to not let go drives people into a corner which makes them believe there is still a space they can build up on. 
Food and Travel seem to be what most people are looking to focus on. Yes, while both are most definitely booming areas, Start-up enthusiasts build an entire idea based on what they want to do rather than what the market needs. The minds are more focused on realizing the dream than building a successful business model. Most often, ideas begin with statements like, "I want to the Uber of this space..." and that is the point where I lose interest. On most occasions, that is where the idea has died and loose talk has started. Not uncommon that that was the last you ever heard of the project and it just never took off in reality. 
"I have an innovative idea; pure vegetarian hot food service with a homely taste delivered to your desk, if you book by 7 pm the day prior" - apart from people who occasionally like to order, this one statement has narrowed your universe leaving every person who occasionally likes to have meat, a bit more spice than home and isn't really sure how long he might be in office tomorrow out of the equation. In most offices have a microwave to re-heat food, so you lost on the other USP. There are services which can deliver home cooked food on demand; you lost out again. "But I want to do this and I want to have an app made for this with e-wallets and card payment facilities".   
Sadly, technology is a facilitator, unless technology is your business. Having a web-based travel website exclusively for high-end international Honeymoon couples needs an enormously strong digital marketing team to create the pull. Yes, weddings are a big market, but are honeymoons the space people like to spend the most on? How many of them go abroad and spend on a 5 Star? And if they do exist; how many choose an option off the internet to spend upwards of INR 3 lacs? 
A niche is like a happy place to separate out from the crowd, but a corner is always lonely for people to notice you. Yes, David can  be brought down by Goliath, but it will call for an agile idea which David cannot replicate with the same speed or effectiveness.  More so, ideas have to be functional as a business model and implementable within a short span of time before the others in the market can react. 
I am reminded of a case shared by Jack Welch upon his need for a business to be among the top 3 in its category or be eliminated when he undertook the consolidation of all GE businesses. While people created filters based on colour, capacity etc to prove their worth, the bigger picture is what matters.
Yes, believe in the ideas and work hard to turn dreams to realities; but also evaluate the business worthiness and the market before you take the lunge. The approach needed is to understand that success is how many people you can build into your idea rather than how many you choose to ignore to make it seem an attractive prospect.