10 questions CIO’s should ask about their mobile platform vision

28 October 2014

Andrew Gunn

Andrew Gunn


Last week I attended the Socitm2014 annual conference in Manchester. For those who couldn’t make it, this year’s event was focused on Cloud and mobile adoption challenges within Local Government. I thought I’d note and playback the top 10 challenges I heard about when speaking to, and blowing smoke with, senior grade Local Authority delegates.

I ranked these challenges and have turned them into a set of questions focused on the challenges of mobile adoption.

1) Do you have a well formulated mobile vision aligned to your organisations business objectives?

CIO’s will find it impossible to achieve any traction with their mobile vision unless it can be articulated clearly and concisely. Your mobile vision must be able to demonstrate delivery against your business objectives. This must be with absolute focus on the delivery of transformational business benefits, rather than ‘fingers and toes’ benefits realisation.

2) Have you socialised your mobile vision with your organisations leaders?

CIO’s should socialise and refine their vision early on and should not be afraid to seek feedback. It’s important to have a great communication deck which is both simple to understand and contains the right content and context. Communicate and be dammed as they say. However, you’ll soon have an army of supporters delivering your vision and messaging on your behalf.

3) Have you proposed a governance model containing a clear mandate to lead and exploit your mobile vision?

CIO’s should consider appointing a great Digital Head who is leader of people, a driver for change and, most importantly, possesses a ruthless eye for detail combined with the ability to innovate and evangelise all things mobile. Mobile transformation will only happen when organisational business processes are turned from the ‘inside-out’ to the ’outside- in’.

Be a ‘broker of partnership and change CIO’. The Digital Head must be engaged with the corporate management team and be adept at creating and leading a governance team. This governance needs to be deeply connected to leaders of council directorates, customer services and business partner’s whist being supported by effective IT service delivery. A CIO is an enabler for this organisational governance partnership along with support from the CTO.

4) Have you determined your business case with self-funded opportunities to support your mobile vision?

CIO’s should articulate the tangible business benefit of every aspect of their mobile vision or forget gaining budget to do anything.

Putting this into context, I recently worked with a Local Authority to help with its mobile adoption. After some research and analysis, I focused on a single off-system process. By proposing a mobile app to address additional time claims (overtime), currently a paper process, it was easy to articulate a transformative business case. This had an ROI of less than 6 months with 156 days of efficiency saving per annum. A typical mobile solution development should take 30 day or less. There are many such opportunities in Local Authorities. You just need to look and you won’t have to look far.

5) Have you carried out the appropriate risk assessment?

CIO’s need to engrain risk assessment into their mobile vision formulation. It’s pointless deploying mobile technology when mobile Telco’s have patchy signals. Or is it? If you develop a good mobile strategy to support your vision you can mitigate this with principles such as HTML5 by default and Wi-Fi.

Security should also be carefully considered and appropriate risk mitigation put into place as part of your vision. Don’t kill BYOD. There are appropriate mitigation strategies available to support BYOD on PSN.

6) Are you bringing your business, your suppliers and business partners and citizens along with your mobile vision?

Don’t forget about your target audience. Mobile is great for employees however, consider these thoughts. If your vision includes an app store concept think about:

  • The net new revenue opportunities for your organisation
  • Making life easy for your suppliers to do business with you whilst being on the run.

You never know, you may just attract greater discounts with process simplification for your suppliers. As a citizen of Durham Council I’d happily pay 69p for easy access to council services on the run. Wouldn’t you?

7) Do you have the right skills in your organisation to achieve your vision?

So what skills do you need? You need a digital leader who oozes passion for mobile, is innovative and has an eye for spotting the opportunities. Don’t try to do this on your own. Hire someone to work with you on your vision and its execution. You will be surprised to learn how much faster your mobile boat will go.

8) Are you fostering your organisations ability to innovate as a key aspect of your mobile vision enablement?

Have you ever considered having an open competition across your organisation to spot talent or discover great ideas? Or have you ever asked your citizens (via Twitter) what they want by way of mobile enablement? After all you’re serving the citizen and they’ll be best placed to tell you what needs to improve. Go on, surprise yourself! I once worked in a Local Authority where a 79 year old lady sent in a comment on how wonderful her very first experience online with the Council was from her arm chair!

9) Have you considered how you will drive net new revenue as part of your mobile vision?

I found this challenge quite interesting. Imagine the following.

You are the CIO of a fairly large public sector organisation and I want to do the right things to support the smaller councils in your region as part of your mobile vision. This is aligned to your business strategy of providing shared services and supporting localism.

So, your mobile vision might include a mobile platform capability based on OpenSource (free) which you can provided to smaller Local Authorities and be hosted by your organisation. You might charge them 69p per app download and a small annual support and maintenance charge. The mobile data may get written to their own back or front office systems from your hosted infrastructure. Have you thought about how you could extend this deployment model further a field?

10) Are you fostering effective relationships with mobile suppliers, rather than simply fuelling apathy?

One of the challenges I heard quite a lot of was on the supply side to Local Authorities. For example, supplier apathy with Local Authorities who wanted everything for nothing. I also heard a lot of moans from suppliers about Local Authority financial pressures killing or delaying projects.

I am not surprised having been through a few mobile projects with larger System Integrators. Large SI’s and Consultancy’s will charge large sums to work with CIO’s on mobile visions, strategies and delivery programs. Most mobile apps should be delivered using agile methods with onshore skills placing the customer at the heart of every aspect whilst transitioning skills from the supplier to the Local Authority. This approach supports localism. I believe this is the right approach for Local Authorities to take. This also stimulates local sustainability and growth.

CIO's should choose suppliers who will not progress unless there is a robust business case in place. SME suppliers are ideal to engage with in terms of value for money and quality. There are plenty out there as evidenced at Socitm.

Finally, a quick retrospective on the political landscape

I thought I would check in with some of our political leaders at this event. I listened very carefully to what they had to say. The messages, or lack off, did not surprise me. I wasn’t surprised by hearing about the lack of clarity on direction or policy from any of the main political parties in attendance. Personally, I don’t believe that waiting for a change in Central Government politics will deliver any short term advantage for Local Government. My instinct tells me that waiting for change in Central Government politics or policy would be a bad move for Local Authority CIO’s who have a mobile vision. My advice would be to crack-on with your mobile enablement to support 2016 and beyond as best you can. Carpe diem Local Authority CIO’s.

Next up I'll be writing about the 10 things Local Government CIOs should be doing to support the vision across their organisation.

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About the author

Andrew Gunn


Coming from Newcastle my simple analogy to my entire career is to think about the many marvellous bridges across the River Tyne. I have spent over 24 years bridging the gap between client’s business challenges and technology helping my clients spend wisely. I am a highly experienced Digital Transformation evangelist specialising in the field of Information Management using Big Data and Mobile technologies delivered through the Bluefin Solutions Public Sector and Services business unit.

Simply speaking, I work for my clients in local government in either Customer services, Finance, Procurement or HR, helping them to get more value from the right data at the right time. These challenges are not new, they are simply bigger because there is more stuff to process.

I have worked on more than 15 projects in Public sector over the years - ranging from client side digital strategy engagements (£20k+) to forming an integral part of larger teams delivering mega projects (£500m+) for my clients in various roles such as Technical Design Authority, Digital Strategist, Business Architecture Design and Programme Management. A key aspect of my Digital Transformation passion is to ensure that I identify and deliver real transformational led savings with examples ranging from £0.5m to £20m per annum saved across a wide range of organisations.

What frustrates me is that many firms bamboozle their clients with complexity. Often recommending unnecessarily overly engineered solutions costing in excess of £5m. Big data challenges are not new, it’s about the right data at the right time in the right format, managed properly. I believe that working collaboratively with our clients to deliver complex Enterprise Information Management challenges simply is vital to achieving sustainable results. This, rather than doing transformation to our clients, as adopted by certain organisations, is the way I like to work.

Bluefin and SAP S/4HANA - welcome to the one horse race

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