Building a mobile enterprise: Four strategic roles for CIOs

By Becky Lawlor

As mobile technologies increasingly dominate consumer and employee lives, businesses must become more strategic about integrating these innovations throughout their operations. Unfortunately, some organizations struggle with the concept of building a mobile enterprise. Before you can accomplish this feat, you must determine who will lead the initiative and how your company will go about setting priorities.

As a recent study by IBM points out, the CIO plays a vital role in developing and creating a mobile enterprise. In fact, the survey results indicated that CIOs were often the primary decision-makers for four out of five areas of strategic mobile activities (with the CFO taking the primary role for leading funding efforts).

The following are four things a CIO needs to do to create a mobile enterprise:

1. Establish a governance framework

In order to execute a mobile strategy effectively, organizations need to have a strong governance program in place. CIOs can lead these efforts by enlisting participation from cross-functional departments, such as marketing, human resources, finance, accounting and IT.

When a comprehensive governance team works to guide mobile strategy, all lines of business can have input in strategic planning. This type of setup can help determine the best way to allocate limited mobile resources. A strong governance program can also improve the integration of mobile technologies with other organizational digital strategies and allow the organization to act in a more coordinated, agile manner based on insights from lines of business who are more closely connected to the customer than engineers and IT employees.

2. Set priorities

In the IBM study, CIOs were categorized as primarily responsible for setting organizational priorities for mobile initiatives. A strong governance program, which gives all lines of business a voice and evaluates mobile initiatives against strategic organizational goals, can help CIOs manage this process and prioritize in a manner that fuels innovation while meeting business needs.

As such, CIOs (and the IT department in general) must move from a tactical role to one of strategic value. Instead of simply focusing on technology implementation and management, CIOs and their teams need to evaluate technology initiatives, including mobile, according to the value they have on strategic objectives and the impact they will have on overall business and revenue innovation. Like other lines of business, they need to think about the customer first.

3. Innovate

Perhaps the strongest motivation for organizations to increase their focus on mobile technologies and build a mobile enterprise is the opportunity for mobile technologies to improve innovation across the organization. CIOs can help foster these efforts, both through developing strong governance and through acting as lead sponsors on innovative ideas that put mobile technology at the center of increasing revenue or industry innovation.

4. Act as a lead sponsor

Without executive buy-in, mobile initiatives can’t get the funding or political support necessary to be successful. As CIOs set priorities and push for innovation, they must also get behind those initiatives they believe will best meet the business priorities and increase revenue or open new lines of business for the organization.

Due to their unique position within an organization, CIOs can help develop the business case, push for approval from other executives and key stakeholders and help remove roadblocks. In addition, as the lead sponsor, the CIO should look for ways to mitigate risk and increase overall agility on mobile initiatives.

Many companies continue to struggle with finding cohesion in their mobile strategies as they build out their mobile enterprise. CIOs, above anyone else in the organization, are uniquely positioned for this unifying leadership role. Now, it’s time for them to take the reins and strategically expand their organization’s mobile vision.

This article was originally published on Mobile Business Insights.