Focused on Danger?

When I meet with companies and talk about mobility, I often walk away with a clear impression of whether the folks I’ve met with are “power-focused” or “danger-focused.”

The concept comes from the simple observation that a new technology can represent new power for businesses – a new tool to be used to create differentiation from competitors or reduce costs to improve profits or better compete on price – but a new technology can also represent new danger for businesses – new costs, new security threats, new opportunities for workers to be distracted, etc.

The reality is that successful businesses must learn to capture the power while managing the danger.

But I get excited when I talk to companies that are really focused on the power. (That’s why my book was primarily about “The Power of Mobility” while not ignoring the danger.)

As you can imagine, my emotional response is quite different when I talk to companies that can’t get past the dangers and miss the opportunity to change the rules of competition in their industry by capturing the power.

I’m reminded of all of this by an article out of the UK at IT Week titled “What value mobility?”

The author, Guy Kewney, clearly can’t see past the dangers of mobility to recognize the potential that mobility represents to create value for businesses of all sizes.

He asks the rhetorical questions “Does WiMax or any other mobile wireless broadband technology truly offer the IT director something that shows up on the bottom line? Or is the value merely a value to the manufacturers?” The answers are clear in his mind.

But apparently, mobility isn’t the only technology he finds of questionable value: “In a business where experts are still questioning the ‘real value’ of even basic computer technology, maybe I shouldn’t be surprised to find scepticism about the usefulness of mobile.”

May I suggest that Mr. Kewney consider these rhetorical questions as well:

  • What is the value of accelerated decision making?
  • What is the value of up-to-date information wherever you are?
  • What is the value of not having to stay in the office to wait for a call or e-mail – freeing you to go and spend time with family, friends, or business partners?
  • What is the value of increased responsiveness to customer needs?
  • What is the value of knowing exactly where your employees and other valuable assets are when you need them?
  • What is the value of an employee being able to complete a task immediately without having to return to the office?
  • What is the value of reducing return visits to a customer or business location because you can resolve the problem immediately?
  • What is the value of having the information you need at your fingertips to solve a problem or complete a task?
  • What is the value of understanding and managing your costs of doing business?
  • What is the value of knowing exactly how long workers spend at different locations performing different tasks for different customers?
  • What is the value of reducing wasted efforts?
  • What is the value of reducing data entry by capturing data such as the time a task is performed or the location?
  • What is the value of eliminating paper-based processes that require data re-entry?
  • What is the value of reducing keying errors by reducing data entry and re-entry?
  • What is the value of accelerating the flow of information through your business?

I’m sure there are many other questions that would be valuable to consider, but this should be a good start. And perhaps Mr. Kewney should consider trying a Blackberry and other mobile technologies rather than just criticizing them.

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Now playing: Paul Wright – Sky Falling Down [Acoustic]

One Response to “Focused on Danger?”

  1. Mobile Broadband – A New Revolution? - GigaOM Says:

    […] 2002, but we are probably at the equivalent of 2001 on the Internet timeline. Yes, there are again nay-sayers who argue that businesses should never pay for mobility, but we know the benefits that mobility is already […]

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