Sourcing Dynamics for the New Mobile Workplace

Spend Matters welcomes a guest post from Henning Dransfeld of Forrester.

Mobile engagement is not about access. It's about changing the way your organization does business. Tablets are increasingly used by executives for business activities such as monitoring quality control of products, keeping abreast of important customer requests, and improving corporate decisions. The ability to create end-to-end technology solutions that align to the needs of the mobile enterprise is a key part of the second wave and an increasingly vital component of any company's strategic capabilities.

A successful mobile workplace experience is made up of a number of components that are sourced by different parts of the organization. Many stakeholders have different priorities. Sourcing professionals can start their mobile strategy by focusing on the needs of three distinct primary groups: end users, who need mobility for personal optimization; business leaders, who need to reach business objectives; and IT leaders, who focus on supporting infrastructure.

Because all three key stakeholders have a crucial part to play in the emerging sourcing landscape, a deeper understanding of their goals and their influence on sourcing activities is required.

End users expect ease-of-use, flexibility, and efficient workplace solutions. The requirements of end users differ as much as consumer tastes. Some want total freedom to source their own device and applications, while others want to be fully supplied with a corporate experience. Despite the differences within the end user marketplace, there are underlying fundamentals that sourcing professionals can focus on. Whether you deal with digital natives or elderly qualified specialists, both strive for ease of use.

Sourcing implications: The best way to prevent unauthorized sourcing activities by end users is to provide them with the tools and applications they need to do their jobs. The relevant combination of device, communication, and applications for the task at hand is key. Keep in mind that meeting the diverse needs of end users will never be easy in a sourcing atmosphere marked by increasing levels of centralization. Service technicians may need more sophisticated tablets to do their job, while a mobile information worker may need business applications on his or her own mobile phone. If these differing requirements cannot be met, sourcing professionals take the right step in advocating for a decentralized approach.

Business leaders expect much more from mobile productivity than IT currently delivers. Business users have high expectations for ease of use and flexibility, but their interest will shift toward the best solution to support broader business goals. Early cases for business value include the efficient dispatch of service engineers on client sites and mobile CRM-empowered sales representatives.

Sourcing implications: Because business leaders have specific KPIs to meet, it is easier for a sourcing professional to cater for specific use cases than for deployments aimed to please end users. However, this does not mean the sourcing process for this group will be easy. Most business leaders have a sense of urgency, and they will not accept a lengthy request for proposal (RFP) process or sourcing roadblocks when these get in the way of their business requirements. If they don't get speedy deployments delivered through IT, they will set up their own sourcing process to get what they require. As an example, we see marketing professionals that often run "beauty contests" to select an agency for a campaign, and they simply apply the same approach for sourcing mobile apps developers and services. In doing so, of course, they may expose their companies to unnecessary technology, vendor viability, or data security risks.

IT professionals are transitioning their role from controller to enabler. IT departments remain in charge of building the underlying engine for delivering mobile workplace services. Yet most IT departments are aware that they can no longer drive mobile deployments in the classic sense, deciding and delivering centrally sourced services on their own. In the new mobile environment they have two primary tasks. The first one is to ensure that device and application sourcing happens in an agile and authorized corporate framework. Their second job is to enable integration into a corporate IT and communications framework, which will be the "riverbed" for the mobile workplace. That includes integration into back-end systems; a high performance network connecting smartphones and tablets securely into the cloud; and the control of voice and data traffic flows to ensure compliance and optimize telecom costs.

Sourcing implications: The IT department's core job is to guide all sourcing decisions relating to the framework for delivering mobile workplace services. Given this mandate, sourcing professionals need to revisit all existing contracts relating to workplace services, cloud-based application and delivery services, unified communications and collaboration (UCC), voice, and data networks. Every function needs to be evaluated for its suitability for distributing what end users demand to an increasing number of devices, contexts, and locations.

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