Mobility is the 'Current Big Thing'

"What's exciting about the mobility field is the way it provides us with the opportunity to rethink how we use technologies," said Sowri Santhanakrishnan, Venture leader, Mobility, Cognizant, at the recently held NASSCOM cloud and mobility Summit 2012.

During this "Mobile Collaboration: How New Businesses and New-Look Leaders Connect" discussion, the participants talked about the opportunities for enabling mobility in order to bring about changes that the business wants.

"Mobility is the current big thing", said Saurabh Sanghoee, Head Global Services and Strategy, Orange Business Services, and one which should be "seen as a solution" by enterprises.

The officials concurred that while mobility in the Indian market is growing, one of biggest areas in the mobility spectrum i.e. mobile payments was yet to mature. They also mentioned that certain factors have inhibited its growth: the level of network evolution and associated providers in India; the fact that feature phones, as opposed to smartphones, are more prevalent in the market.

"You have to really depend on feature phones in applying Mobility to the enterprise," said Santhanakrishnan, but added that this situation would change once more android and other smartphones entered the market.

There was also a consensus that enabling mobility is a business decision, and that it is no longer just a matter for IT to be solely deciding on. While business is increasingly coming into the dialogue with IT on the implementation of mobility, there is said to be a need to interconnect the new apps geared towards mobility with the existing backend systems that are already in use so that process continuity is not disrupted.

"If you're going to implement mobility don't just look at it as another IT implementation, but look at it more holistically", said Sanghoee. One such approach, he suggested, was introducing a new position for Chief Mobility Officer, who will then handle the associated functions related to the mobility spectrum.

Sanghoee, however, added a note of caution, and said, "Though the technology is there, the main point is whether there is an ecosystem around that can leverage this functionality."

Another point raised during the discussion was how the difference in perspectives between business and IT could be bridged. This, the panellists felt, was especially relevant at time when businesses tend to get into silos with their approach towards mobility by only looking at the impact an app can have on the market, without considering IT's perspective on the issue.

Naresh Nagarajan, SVP & Head, Ecosystem Business Incubation, HCL Technologies, pointed out that in more mature markets such as the US, IT teams were in direct contact with the Chief Marketing Officer, as the latter benefits the most from B2C oriented mobility schemes.

The panel agreed that having a combined business and tech team to check whether a proposed mobility app met the necessary requirement criteria, and thereby justify the app's development, would be a step in the right direction.

Speaking on monetary returns, Santhanakrishnan said, "In certain fields such as education, which provide for a lot of use cases for mobility, one of the major hurdles is when the associated companies try to monetize on this mobile functionality."

With respect to enterprise usage, it was observed that the people working in the field were more likely to make a significant contribution to the growth of mobility in the enterprise than the management folks.

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