Top Mobile Strategy Should Focus On People, Not Technology

Amin Al Zarouni

Across most industries, we’ve collectively accepted the value of investing in a mobile strategy from an enterprise device management perspective. But have we really designed our mobility initiatives to advocate for our progressive people strategies?

Mobility has been the leading buzzword in the public sector for the last few years, having been given an impetus with the smart government initiatives. But the push has been more technology-oriented, with a focus on porting or re-architecting regular services to be available on mobile devices – thereby delivering more quantity than quality.

This has led to a situation where organizations tout the proliferation of mobile services instead of actually simplifying them across government entities through mobile platforms.

Mobility at its core needs to be transactional in nature, and I believe it’s time to invest more in reviewing how strongly these initiatives are enabling real-time transactions for both service delivery and employee empowerment.

So what needs to underpin mobility strategies across public sector organizations today? More than looking at mobility as device management, I believe it needs to keep in step with people management. With great power comes great responsibility, as they say. And with great freedom comes even greater performance!

When freedom means performance

Having been on the side of the CIO for many years I always look back on those experiences as valuable lessons. One project always stands out as a poster child for effective mobility initiatives. Let me share a success story:

During my time at Bee’ah, we were working on a widespread plan to educate people across Sharjah on using recycling bins for collection purposes. These bins were equipped with data sensors that would measure the amount of waste being collected – green for organic waste and blue for recyclable. We wanted to measure the efficiency of the field force in collecting the material and the effectiveness of our awareness exercise.

Therefore, we began to think about how we could make them as productive as possible. During review, we discovered that the staff was actually losing time on the field because they had to report back to office for all their administrative processes and tasks. Their work itself did not require this.

So the learning was straightforward. Had we empowered staff members with mobility and facilitated these processes to be executed on the move, we could have saved valuable time and gained productivity. And that’s exactly what we did!

By making staff members’ role more performance-oriented, we set them free. We enabled a mobile strategy that facilitated them to complete all administrative processes using their mobiles and spend more time delivering awareness. We clearly saw a marked increase between time saved and higher recycling awareness success, and as a next step, we even linked their performance directly with effectiveness of the campaign itself. The greater the collection, the more effective the education.

Creating a culture of empowerment

What I’m really talking about here is linking every aspect of mobility to people and empowerment. In understanding users’ capabilities and delivering a mobile environment that supports these skill sets, we help build trust and a greater sense of responsibility, transforming the concept of being mobile rather than using a mobile.

But often this easier said than done. It requires is a cultural change and a paradigm shift in the trust we place on our employees to deliver.  And this is the core tenet behind SAP’s vision for mobility. Every aspect of the solutions – from technology to the platform and the strategy – is built to engage people with their responsibilities based on freedom and performance.

So what are my three aspects of a well-laid mobility plan? Here they are:

  • Understand that technology is the easiest step. Let’s face it: Implementing the right technology once you have the strategy in place is the easiest part of the plan. Look beyond just technology components.
  • Equip employees to work seamlessly from anywhere. Mobility is not about porting applications on the mobile platform but actually enabling the complete process or transaction to be facilitated on the go. This introduces a new style of working, which means internal processes need to be completely automated.
  • Facilitate a cultural shift. The mindset needs to focus more on performance than time or office-bound assessment of employee contribution. A strong mobility strategy enables and empowers people.

Although mobility is an overarching concept with far -reaching results, one of the main aspects is that a well-thought plan will equip organizations to cater to the needs of a highly connected workforce. Often referred to as Millennials, this group represents the next generation of a highly tech-savvy, smartphone-using young workforce for whom mobility is a way of life.

In fact, I would go an extra step to emphasize the rollout of an effective mobile strategy before anything else. It’s critical that we catch up and put true mobility on every CIO’s digitalization agenda, CHRO’s  people-management agenda, and even every C-level agenda. It’s time we learned to anticipate change early and build for the future.

For more insight on developing an effective mobile strategy, see Success With Mobility: It Demands User Focus.

Amin Al Zarouni

About Amin Al Zarouni

Amin Al Zarouni is the Chief Business Development Officer of SAP UAE, aiming to expand SAP’s support in driving digital transformation in the UAE’s public sector, especially in key verticals such as national security and defense, healthcare, and education. In particular, Amin aims to align SAP’s strategy in the UAE with national initiatives such as UAE Vision 2021, Abu Dhabi Vision 2030, Dubai Plan 2021 and Dubai Smart City, and World Expo 2020 in Dubai. Amin brings extensive experience in business information technology, previously working at Bee’ah, Sharjah’s leading environmental management company, where he held the position of Chief Information Officer for more than three years. During his tenure at Bee’ah, the organization implemented a variety of SAP solutions in support of enhancing Sharjah’s environmental sustainability. As a result, Bee’ah won Gold in the SAP Quality Awards under the Business Transformation Category, and received the Etisalat Intelligent Fleet Management award for the largest number of connected vehicles. Prior to his time at Bee’ah, Amin held the position of IT Manager with Sharjah Media Corporation, and served as Business Intelligence Team Lead with Dubai Aluminum (DUBAL). During his entire career, Amin has been named a Top 100 CIO in 2015, a Top 50 CIO in 2013, and graduated with distinction from the Sharjah Leadership Program. Amin holds a Master’s Degree in Engineering Management from the University of Wollongong in Dubai, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Engineering from the American University of Sharjah.