The other day, I was talking to a visiting CIO about the state of mobile development in his enterprise, a rapidly expanding B2B firm in the automotive industry. He said that although it was getting easier and less expensive to develop mobile apps for his business stakeholders, he dreaded the upcoming challenge of managing the growing proliferation of rogue apps.
He was referring to the apps built by individual lines of business using quickly hired or contracted mobile development teams, often unbeknownst to the IT department. These apps are typically outside the purview of the mobile security architecture and often don’t comply with the company’s IT guidelines. In addition to causing security gaps, they create tremendous redundancies across the organization, diminishing any efficiencies gained from the best practices being cultivated by IT’s mobile practice.
The fragmentation of mobile app development and the resulting app proliferation is pronounced in today’s global organizations. These firms began their mobile journey 10 to 15 years ago, building mobile apps without a directional roadmap that would align and evolve with changing business priorities. In many cases, they have yet to establish a common mobile reference architecture or development guidelines.
Speed-to-market is critical for business units, and line-of-business owners will always be tempted to control their mobile agenda by building a mobile “SWAT team” to create custom apps on demand. And the truth is, even with a strong enterprise architecture function, most company’s mobile development groups find it hard to be fully responsive to any one business unit’s mobile needs.
To combat this, business unit leaders must be incentivized to contribute to an overall an enterprise-wide shared mobile framework or repository where they can share the functions and apps they’re building. The IT organization can give karma points to the lines of business for every service, mobile function, mobile interface, or mobile accelerator that’s contributed to this enterprise mobile repository. The IT organization can further allot karma points to business units for publishing their mobile agenda in advance every quarter, from which an overall mobile roadmap can be created and disseminated enterprise-wide
The IT organization’s role would be to maintain and publish these functions, along with guidelines on usage. It would ensure compliance with enterprise standards and give points to business lines that create functions based on frequency of reuse in other parts of the organization.
In essence, IT would create a BYOA (bring your own application) approach, where it acts as a custodian for application functionality and an evangelist for reuse.
Business lines can redeem their karma points for preferential access to the IT helpdesk or to the mobile practice’s resources for larger development projects.
There are enormous benefits from this approach, including avoiding functional duplication, reducing overall costs of mobile app development, enforcing mobile security standards, and building more cohesive interfaces across business lines.