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February 24, 2014

Accenture Study Finds Convergence of Digital Technologies Opens Doors for Enterprise Growth

Sunny Barcelona at the Mobile World Congress was the ideal place for Accenture to issue its latest findings on the accelerating move by enterprises globally to become true “mobile enterprises.”  In fact, the Accenture Mobility Insights Report 2014 found that there is substantiated value for companies that get mobile right. 

Key findings from the study of 1,500 C-level executives from 14 countries found:

  • 43 percent of respondents ranked mobility as a top one or two priority
  • 77 percent placed it in the top five
  • Big data analytics came next with 72 percent putting it in the top five
  • This was followed by connected products at 65 percent
  • 35 percent of respondents expect the convergence of social media, mobile, analytics, cloud and connected products – grouped together as digital technologies – to increase their sales in existing markets
  • 75 percent view the adoption of digital technologies as a strategic investment rather than something to be evaluated on a case by case basis
  • 29 percent expect their adoption to generate additional revenue
  • 28 percent plan to build entirely new digital businesses or services as a result of convergence
  • 27 percent expect to penetrate new markets.

Where things really get really interesting is in on the benefits sheet side of things. And, this is not just in relation to new revenue streams as a means for investing in mobility. For example, the study also found that 10 percent reported over 100 percent return on investment (ROI) for mobility implementations in the last two years. Plus, a further 26 percent saw returns of between 50 and 100 percent. Most importantly, and a bit of a wake-up call was the finding that the greatest ROI, the leaders, shared common traits in their approach to new technologies, which are viewed as enabling operational efficiency and long-term growth.

 “Any successful technology implementation requires certain ingredients, but this research demonstrates that in the case of newer, digital technologies it’s not just about actions, but about attitude too” said Jin Lee, global managing director of Accenture Mobility. “Mobility was the forerunner to many of the digital technologies that are now being adopted, and businesses can learn from the mobility leaders’ successes what they need to do to make their adoptions of analytics, social or connected products successful.”

 Organizations with over 100 percent ROI, of whom over two-thirds claimed to have effectively adopted and deployed mobile technologies compared to 45 percent of others, shared a number of common traits:

A formal, enterprise-wide mobility strategy and measurement: Eleven percent more likely than other respondents to have a formal, enterprise-wide mobility strategy, leaders are ahead of the curve. This year, 43 percent of enterprises on average were found to have developed a formal mobile strategy, a vast improvement on the 23 percent that claimed one in a similar survey carried out by Accenture last year. Processes and metrics also offered insight, as 29 percent of leaders have a formal process for identifying, evaluating and prioritizing ways in which mobility can benefit business, versus only 18 percent of others. For leaders and others, measurement is shown as a low priority, as only 22 percent of the former and 13 percent of the latter have formal metrics in place to measure the effectiveness of mobility initiatives.

 An aggressive, ambitious attitude: Over half the leaders (54 percent) reported having aggressively pursued and invested in mobile technologies across their business, considering mobility as a key tenet of business strategy. Compared to just 40 percent of other respondents, this was also reflected by leaders being more likely to report they have effectively adopted and deployed mobile technologies (69 percent versus 42 percent). Leaders were also more likely to believe that all the major digital technologies are a top-five priority, an average eight percent ahead of those companies performing less well in mobility projects.         

 Securing senior leadership buy-in: Leaders showed a higher likelihood to report that the CEO and the leadership team or board of directors ultimately own their mobile strategy, and that their companies’ senior leadership are highly engaged with the organization’s mobility initiatives. Amongst all respondents, 35 percent had CEOs involved in formulating mobile strategy, with 30 percent of CMOs or equivalent also having a say.

 The influence of digital technologies has clearly changed the way organizations operate, with the CEO and leadership teams increasingly having responsibility for technology decisions, as they become ever-more entwined with business growth,” continued Jin Lee. “There are still many challenges that businesses must face: the need for enterprise-wide technology strategies is key, but companies also need to harness today’s technology with an eye on tomorrow. Businesses must be agile enough to quickly adapt, with a strong enough technology support system to enable that, but also to fully exploit the capabilities of digital technologies already in place. Mobility came before the digital technologies it’s now converging with, and as such enterprises can learn real lessons from mobility implementations. If they are to take full advantage and see the market growth they expect from digital convergence, it’s more than a suggestion to learn from peers; it’s an imperative.”

The study found that only 30 percent of respondents believed they had the right talent and skills to properly plan and execute their mobility initiatives, which goes part way to explaining why only 27 percent feel they keep pace with new mobile devices, systems and services, adopting them as necessary to improve their businesses. 

I had an opportunity to talk with Craig McNeil, managing director, Global Mobility Strategy & Corporate Development and North America Mobility Practice Lead, about the report and he emphasized, “Realities are that when you connect more things to the network, which mobility has done and will do at an exponentially increasing rate as a result of the Internet of Things (IoT) it creates more opportunity. We are still early in the learning curve. However, Accenture has been doing the study for several years and in the last three or four what we have seen, and the study confirms, is that mobility is not just something to think about companies are showing great ROI on their mobility investments.  In short, it is creating real value for our clients.” 

McNeil also noted that those who are succeeding the most have all three attributes describe above.  They have a formal strategy and metrics to measure it, have pursued mobility aggressively rather than “suffer from paralysis by analysis”, and have strong executive buy-in. 

The last point was one that is critical. Realities are that most enterprises today have C-levels who want to run their companies with a real-time view of their operations, i.e., are doing so via their smartphones and tablets. They also want their colleagues and their staves to be aware and responsive 24/7/365.  Indeed, while many of the headlines like to tout the “consumerization of IT”, there is as much pressure coming from the top down as there is from the bottom up with BYOD driving the transformation toward becoming a mobile enterprise. 

McNeil did caution that just saying you are going mobile is not a path to success.  He noted that, “The biggest inhibitor is not having an organized approach.”  He added, that the goal, given the speed and importance at which this is happening, along with how inexpensive it is to create and disseminate mobile apps and the need to get it right, is for enterprises in partnership with companies like Accenture to create mobile centers of excellence.  “What that means is having central governance over mobile,” he added. 

McNeil noted that while there remain concerns about security for which there are emerging good solutions, the companies that are succeeding are ones that do not look at measuring things on a project basis in evaluating ROI but how mobilization provides positive effects on the rest of the business.   

Finally, McNeil did highlight what everyone dealing with mobile solutions needs to be keenly aware of, i.e., “If you don’t get good user experience you will not get user adoption.  That is why a holistic approach is table stakes for success.”

One major pullout from the report which is a call to action to everyone in the mobility space is the finding that there is a lack of talent in enterprises for implementing solutions at the speed at which vendors and customers, and end users, would like to see mobility solutions made available.  This tracks with findings in the closely related area of security that there is a large and growing shortfall of skilled people in that area as well. 

We live in an era where the customers are actually out in front of IT in terms of the utility they see in using mobility solutions. It would be a shame if the biggest impediment of achieving the maximum value of mobility ends up being gated by the inability to have the people necessary implement the valuable technologies already in the market and on the way. It is why investing in mobility success is not just about the latest and greatest tech, it is also about investing in people and having executive buy-in about having a strategy that can be not just implemented, but measured and championed.

Edited by Rachel Ramsey

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