Tag: mobility

Mobile Apps Start to Generate Real Revenue in Services | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

The mobile app space offers service providers the potential for new growth platforms. However, these are often small projects that are delivered quickly and are not a great revenue stream. But recent studies we came across reinforce our growing opinion that the mobile app space is changing.

Mobile apps are costing more and taking longer to develop; they’re far more expensive than expected. We believe there are a couple of reasons for this.

First, mobile apps are moving out of the experimental phase into the mainstream business and therefore are far more complicated. That alone requires more rigorous development and testing. But they also must be integrated in today’s IT ecosystem. So they are bigger projects that take far more effort testing. This should give greater opportunity for service providers to benefit.

Recall the early days of the Internet. In the beginning websites were simple and easy to launch. Now they are extremely important to eCommerce and branding and thus require significant resources to develop and maintain. We believe mobile apps are following the same path as the Internet.

So there is a frustrating aspect despite the fact that mobile apps are starting to generate revenue for service providers. Providers are impatient for mobile to take off and give them a new growth platform, but growth is slow.

The Surprise in Mobile Services | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

Companies’ end-user compute budgets are flat to down. Yet they’re challenged by much more complexity in terms of many more devices. This is a surprising fact. There is an explosion of devices that need to be secured and managed and that are often paid for by the corporate enterprise. Why has the explosion of mobile devices not resulted in corresponding growth in companies’ budgets for servicing end-user computing?

There are several reasons for new offers not coming into play despite the hope generated by the increase in devices. But the main reason is that the way support is provided has shifted.

The level of robustness of the support has shifted spend away from the central groups that used to provide support. Increasingly the manufacturers of the devices are taking on far more of the support responsibilities. They do this through extended warranties and service agreements attached to the devices.

The end-user compute services landscape is shifting in unanticipated ways.

Frenemies IBM and Apple Team Up to Shake Up the Enterprise Mobility Space | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

On 15 July, 2014, IBM and Apple announced a sweeping enterprise mobility-focused partnership to create business apps and sell iPhones and iPads to Big Blue’s corporate customers, thereby bringing IBM’s big data and analytics capabilities to the iOS ecosystem. The venture includes more than 100 industry-specific enterprise solutions, including native apps developed for the iPhone and iPad, targeted at the retail, healthcare, banking, travel, telecommunications, and insurance verticals. IBM will leverage its 3,000 mobile experts and industry/domain consultants, to provide cloud services and onsite support for enterprises. The two companies will collaborate on IBM’s MobileFirst for iOS solutions, combining their distinctive strengths – IBM’s big data and analytics capabilities and Apple’s consumer experience and developer platform.

The Rationales Behind the Partnership

The intention of the deal for Apple is to enable its products to become go-to-offers for large enterprises. It also principally underlines the company’s immediate need to expand its presence in the enterprise world, as consumer sales peak and competitive intensity in its core market heightens. Meanwhile, IBM hopes Apple’s mojo can help revitalize its fortunes after nine consecutive quarters of year-on-year revenue decline, as it places its bets on mobility in the workplace. It will also help IBM solve its big data and analytics growth issues (i.e., providing Watson with much needed impetus through enhanced mobile users’ data), forming a pivotal part of a new growth story. (To this point…think back three decades to Apple’s iconic television commercial titled “1984,” when it attacked IBM as an evil Big Brother figure. Talk about a 180-degree turnaround!) iPhones and iPads are already owned by employees in large enterprises but are hard to manage and govern. IBM can leverage its enterprise-wide system management expertise to make a compelling value proposition, complementing its Fiberlink acquisition (a provider of cloud-based enterprise mobile management solutions). Additionally, it will help IBM cement its reputation as a leader in the “mobile first” movement in enterprise solutions.

Implications for Rivals

Microsoft will feel most uneasy about this alliance, as while its products are ubiquitous in corporate PCs, it has been a laggard in serving the mobile workforce. This is a critical whitespace its new chief, Satya Nadella, is determined to fix. Google, Samsung, and the Android bandwagon will also feel threatened, given their recent push in the enterprise market. To allay fears about Android’s security for enterprise use, Samsung has built a system called Knox into its devices. Last month at its developer conference, Google announced that it would embed software elements of Knox in the next version of Android. They will also have to look at alliances with other enterprise-focused vendors to shore up their business case. Also, if IBM becomes the de facto champion for iOS, it will have potential ramifications for other service providers such as Dell, HP, and CompuCom.

Multi-faceted Challenges

Apple has not targeted enterprises with any zeal in the past. Steve Jobs was infamous for his contempt for selling to enterprises, even referring to CIOs as chief information “orifices.” While the Tim Cook era has seen Apple making small but significant progress in courting corporate stakeholders, IBM’s significant experience in the space makes Apple/IBM a very unlikely pairing. Apple and IBM have drastically different people cultures. Any effective partnership will need to account for these differences. They also have very different go-to-market and channel strategies, which will result in friction over the direction the alliance takes. Their sales motions tend to be at odds, with IBM solutioning for a client, while Apple caters to essentially product categories. IBM has defocused severely from the end-user computing space. Does this alliance signal a revival in this regard? The companies’ divergent investment attitudes will make joint investments problematic. To complicate matters further, both have stark but strongly held philosophies about design, customer support, and sales, making collaboration painful. 

The Road Ahead

Partnerships and alliances such as this are notoriously difficult to manage. Both organizations will find it challenging to bring two entirely different culture sets to work cohesively as one. The alliance will need sustained resources, time, and senior leadership investments, along with a steadfast commitment to change management. Given the complicated dynamics sweeping the enterprise market, IBM and Apple have certainly stolen a march over rivals. We will need to keep an eye on the investments both are making into the alliance, the steps they are taking to mitigate the challenges, and the success stories that emerge as a result.

One thing is certain. The enterprise IT market is in for some interesting times. For further insight into the enterprise mobility space, check out our recently published viewpoint.

Banks Get the Old Adage Right: The Customer Is King | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

“A customer is not an interruption in our work. He is the purpose of it. We are not doing him a favor by serving him. He is doing us a favor by giving us an opportunity to do so.”

….Mahatma Gandhi

The above quote by Gandhi takes a whole new meaning in the current banking and financial services (BFS) landscape. There was a time when banking customers were plagued by issues such as obscure contract terms, hidden costs, and protracted complaints handling. While this may still continue to be the case, a confluence of different forces has created a new era in which all efforts by banks seem to point in one direction – customer centricity.

Exhibit 1: Key forces driving customer centricity in banking and financial services 

Key forces driving customer centricity in banking and financial services

Drivers of discretionary IT spending in BFS

In such a scenario, almost all banks are investing in one or more customer-centric initiative to enable a differentiated customer experience and servicing:

  1. Data management and customer data analytics: Aggregation and analysis of customer information lying in silos across different departments helps to personalize products/services, offer better customer service, conduct customer due-diligence, manage risk, and drive loyalty programs. Creating a 360° view of the customer has become essential
  2. Mobile banking: Banking has been brought to customer’s fingertips. Key investments include mobile payments, applications, websites, mobile wallets, etc.
  3. Omnichannel experience: Enables uniform experience for customers across different communication channels such as retail branch, ATMs, mobile, online banking, call center, etc. A customer should be able to initiate a transaction in one channel and finish it in another
  4. Front office modernization: Banks have equipped their salesforces with mobile devices and tablets to offer a unique selling experience to customers. Banks are also undergoing modernization of their core banking platforms. All of this leads to better customer service

The table below shows select examples of technology initiatives taken by banks and financial institutions to drive customer centricity.

Exhibit 2: Key customer-centricity focused IT outsourcing transactions announced in 2013

Investment theme Buyer Service provider Deal value (US$ million) Duration (years) Scope of services (Among other things)
Data management and customer data analytics Banorte IBM 1,000 10 Investment in master data management (MDM) software to create a 360-degree view of the customer
Janalakshmi FS Accenture N/A 5 Implementation of CRM software and MDM enabling customer onboarding
Springleaf Financial Acxiom N/A N/A Customer/prospect database management support, including customer acquisition, engagement, and development through analytics
Mobility ING Vysya Bank IBM N/A N/A Development of mobile banking channel to reach into untapped markets, such as remote cities and rural areas
Omni-channel experience Industry Bancshares FIS Global N/A N/A Upgrade of core banking system which enabled real-time access to customers across various channels
Large Middle East Bank Atos N/A 3 Atos implemented Backbase Customer Experience Platform enabling a multi/omni-channel environment for the bank
Front-office modernization, omnichannel experience BBVA Group Accenture 25 4 Upgrade of core technology for the bank. Improved customer service through reduced account opening time, centralization of customer account information, creation of a multichannel environment
Front-office modernization Maybank Singapore NTT,  Dimensions Data 47 N/A Upgrade of Maybank’s IT infrastructure to improve service reliability and customer user experience

Source: Everest Group’s proprietary Transaction Intelligence Database

Service providers have identified the market need for technology that enhances customer experience and have developed capability accordingly either organically, inorganically or through partnerships.

But we challenge the providers to further think how they can become partners in achieving business outcomes for their clients. As for the banks, how successful have they been in implementing these initiatives? In the current whirlwind of regulatory compliance and governance, are some finding it too difficult to innovate customer facing functions?

Photo credit: 10ch

Don’t SMAC Your Customer! | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

The service provider community is very fond of clever terms, and SMAC — standing for Social, Mobile, Analytics, Cloud — is a good example of that. However, if you’re a service provider looking to sell to new or existing clients, talking about SMAC may not be the most productive way to hold the conversation.

The most productive way to uncover a significant opportunity is to talk to your customers in their language about the business issues they have. Sure, they’re looking for technology answers to their issues, but very few of them use the term SMAC of their own volition.

So if you’re talking to a retailer about their out-of-stock condition, for instance, talk about the practical ways that your solution will help them identify where they’re out of stock and how you can help them prevent that from happening.

Software tools can be very powerful. But as I’ve blogged several times in recent months, decision rights and buying influence are flowing toward the business users rather than CIOs. Providers must change terminology and communication to successfully capture their attention and serve them well.

Use simple business terms to communicate what you can do for a customer. If you use clever technology terms, you’ll probably just marginalize your impact and consign yourself to the realm of being a geek.

My advice: Keep the acronym out of your sales toolkit. Don’t SMAC your customer!

Enterprise Mobile Apps – Are We Done? | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

The state of today’s enterprise mobile apps industry is akin to the dark side of a jungle: a dense forest and tangled vegetation, inhabited by hundreds of largely unfamiliar animals and plants that rely on its delicate ecosystem to survive, perhaps to thrive. This is creating frustration among stakeholders including the CIO, CFO, CMO, and CEO, who believe they might have over-invested in mobility initiatives.

However, this is far from the truth. Mobile apps have a long way to go in enterprise. Yet, to avoid the earlier pitfalls, enterprises and technology providers need to be fully aware of the following dangers in the mobile apps jungle:

  1. Business process transformation: Few enterprises or technology providers even consider that enforcing mobile access to an existing business process may be a poor idea. Making the end-user consume the same business process albeit through a different, perhaps “cooler,” app is not true mobility. User interest will not last if the business process is itself unsuitable for mobile. At the same time, not all business processes require this change. Enterprises must be selective in changing business processes while undertaking the mobility journey. Consultants, vendors, and others with vested interests will always extol the virtue of business process transformation for mobility, but enterprises should be very wary of this aggressive spiel.

  2. Line of business collaboration: In their desire to be the first movers, many line of business managers are creating all kinds of mobile apps with little collaboration with other business units. Given the increasing influence of non-CIO budget centers to approve technology funding, the tried and tested processes of application development are being compromised under a convenient, self-pleasing argument that mobile apps do not require a structured or “traditional” approach.

    Will this ad-hoc development blow up in our faces? I think it will. Can we prevent this? Unfortunately not. Business users are happy getting the needed application functionality on mobile devices, yet no one is thinking about the mobile application lifecycle. A long-term technology adoption framework is an unthinkable thought for these budget owners. They do not believe collaboration is their mandate or their responsibility. Their KPIs are linked to business outcomes, not to channelizing or seamlessly introducing mobile technology, and thus they will rarely ever have an incentive to create the needed structure.

  3. Cost of mobility: Enterprises and technology providers need to understand that while business agility, flexibility, and access is all good, the cost of these should not outweigh the rewards. Therefore, enterprise mobility should be viewed in its entirety to understand whether the incremental business has come at a greater cost of management and complexity. Yet the existing mechanisms across enterprises, where different unconnected lines of businesses are creating their noodly soups of mobile apps, does not engender great confidence that they will take a view of the broader picture any time soon.

  4. Mobility governance: It is fashionable these days to ignore any advice from someone who wants to instill structure or a governance model on enterprise mobility. Governance is perceived as “anti-growth” and “uncool.” Given this perception, few technology managers, despite their strong opinions, express any sentiments against the ad-hoc enterprise mobile strategy. This is a recipe for disaster.

So what can enterprises do to quash the mobile apps jungle’s beastly flora and fauna?

  1. Be selective about changing/transforming the underlying business process while mapping to mobile apps
  2. Create an environment that incentivizes lines of businesses to collaborate rather than compete in creating the next “cool” mobile app
  3. Adopt a lifecycle management approach to mobile apps
  4. Balance the growth objectives with the cost implications of enterprise mobility
  5. Incorporate an “eagle eye” to govern mobility projects

If you are undertaking an enterprise mobile application initiative and want to share your experiences and perspectives, please comment below or reach out to me directly at [email protected].

Mobility in the Insurance Industry: Insurers Move on, Customers Get their Groove on | Gaining Altitude in the Cloud

While insurers have traditionally been slow with technology adoption, they’re now jumping on the mobility bandwagon, leaving no stones unturned in devising their mobility strategies.

So what has made mobility adoption a non-negotiable choice for insurers? They’ve realized that investments in mobility are essential for keeping pace with competitors and meeting the demands of an increasingly mobile “Facebook generation,” and that mobile offers unique benefits over the traditional brick and mortar, or even online, engagement models.

Following are some innovative uses of mobility in insurance and how they are transforming the industry:

  1. Usage based insurance (UBI) through telematics: Telematics allows a sensor installed in a user’s automobile to transmit real-time information about his or her driving behavior to the insurance provider. The insured individual is rewarded for good driving through reduced premiums, discount vouchers, etc. And as the practice encourages safer driving, insurers pay out on fewer accident claims. This win-win situation for both the parties is significantly altering the auto insurance landscape.
  2. More effective claims processing: P&C insurers are investing in native apps that can be used for claims reporting. In one form, the insured individual can take a picture of damaged property and post it via the app to initiate the claims process. In another form, inventory management apps allow the consumer to take photos of belongings and catalog all with the product price and purchase date, which can be used for claims processing in case of accidental damage or theft.
  3. Better customer service and support: Many insurance providers today provide “Mobile Live Chat” functionality to enable better connectivity between the insured and the insurer, and a “when I want it, where I want it” experience for the customer.
  4. Sales force automation through enterprise mobility deployment: Most insurers have armed their sales force with tablet/mobile-based solutions that provide real-time access to carrier systems. These enable agents a convenient way to showcase their offerings to prospects, and to readily adapt per unique client needs. Further, team managers can use mobile-based performance dashboards to monitor and optimize sales performance and make commission payments to agents.

To support insurance companies’ needs for industry-specific solutions and enablers, leading service providers are investing in development of a wide range of mobility solutions. While telematics and UBI are broad areas of investment, key insurance functions in which providers are investing are sales, claims and account management. The graphic below illustrates select major investments by service providers:

Insurance Mobility Investments

To gain additional insights and perspectives on leverage of mobility, key mobility initiatives by leading insurance firms, and questions key stakeholders must have answers to, read Everest Group’s IT Outsourcing in Insurance – Annual Report 2013: SMAC is the Panacea for all Insurance Industry Problems, and IT Outsourcing in Insurance – Service Provider Landscape with PEAK Matrix™ Assessment 2013. So, will insurance customers of the future use mobile as their primary interaction channel? Our research and current industry trends certainly bode so!

Enterprise Mobility: Let’s Move BYOnD | Gaining Altitude in the Cloud

Bestselling author Nassim Taleb talks in one of his books about the anti-fragile, things that enjoy extreme conditions and thrive in disorder. Enterprise mobility appears to be a creature that loves disruptions in the technology market. With Microsoft’s recent reorganization, Amazon’s enhanced focus on Kindle, the never-ending rivalry between Apple, Google, and Samsung, and the queue of other players vying for this market, (Canonical, Dell, HP, and Lenovo), this disruption phenomenon is not going to fade anytime soon. In fact, when combined with the aspirations of organizations to allow enterprise application mobile avatars, and technology companies developing mobile enterprise application platforms, we have a perfect storm in the making.

However, many organizations still believe that allowing “toys in the workplace” is a good enough IT response to the CEO’s clarion call for employee appeasement and productivity. They are under a strange assumption that Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) = Enterprise Mobility. Fortunately, it is NOT; rather, it’s time to move BYonD it.


While mobile device/application management providers such as AirWatch, BoxTone, Citrix, Kony, SAP, and Sophos are witnessing good traction, they have not even touched the tip of the proverbial iceberg due to the limited availability of enterprise applications on mobile devices. However, despite business users’ clamouring for more enterprise applications on mobile, it is not surprising that organizations are slow to adopt.

Smartphones (e.g., from Apple, Blackberry, Google, HTC, Nokia, and Samsung), tablets (e.g., from Amazon, Apple, Dell, Microsoft, and Samsung), and their brethren indeed improve user productivity, but are largely focused on consuming information, rather than enabling performance of complex tasks beyond emailing and web surfing. Combined with the rapid pace of evolving technologies, form factors, and software, buyer organizations are unwilling to invest upfront and, therefore, continue to be fence sitters. In response, device makers show little interest in offering broader capabilities that can help enterprises move beyond BYOD (e.g., partnering with enterprise application platform providers).

However, the inflexion point has arrived. We will witness device makers, enterprise application providers, and mobile app developers coming together to offer factory-fitted popular enterprise mobile apps much like instant messengers (e.g., HR management, inventory management, CRM, social commerce). Moreover, this trinity will make various enterprise applications available on mobile devices, which we cannot even imagine today. Enterprise application providers will also enable easy access to their/partner’s application marketplace via collaboration with the device and network providers. This will enable end-users to seamlessly use their personal devices to access enterprise-class mobile applications.

Enterprises may also experiment with private app stores, as they increasingly require custom-built applications and are not entirely satisfied with a public distribution model. The challenge for them will be creating a platform-agnostic, “no lock-down,” mobility store. They can also develop innovative funding models in which users are incentivized to deploy mobile enterprise applications in return for funding for their personal device. Yet, these efforts will require significant investment and management commitment. Moreover, unlike other technology initiatives, these should be led by both IT and the business users.

Without a meaningful mobile enterprise application strategy, mobility will indeed become an undesirable “anti-fragile” that thrives in disorder.

If you are planning to or already deploying enterprise mobility and want to share your story, please reach out to me at [email protected].

Is Mobile Banking the New Banking Reality? | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

Move over, Angry Birds. Your standing as “the largest mobile app success the world has seen so far,” (as stated on February, 18, 2011 in MIT’s Entrepreneurship Review) is giving way to mobile banking apps.

Indeed, apps from American Express, Bank of America, Capital One, Wells Fargo, Westpac, and others rank among the top apps on iTunes and the Android play store, with tens of millions of downloads already under their belt! And there’s little surprise about that…photograph your check and then have it deposited directly into whatever account you want, or send money to people via their email addresses or mobile phone numbers. Isn’t that cool?

Thanks to the increased adoption of smart phones and innovative technology, banking today has become so convenient. With innovations such as near field communications (NFC), mobile wallets, and a number of customized applications being developed and adopted, the mobile banking landscape has undergone a rapid transformation. In fact, according to The Federal Reserve Board, as of November 2012, 28 percent of all mobile phone users and 48 percent of smart phone users in the U.S. had used mobile banking in the past 12 months, an increase of 7 percent from December 2011.

Here’s a brief overview of the current state of mobile banking:

Current adoption and growth: 

Mobile Banking

The past year saw a number of banks expanding and upgrading their mobile banking application features to keep up with extremely strong and growing demand. For example:

  • Bank of America recently launched new services such as mobile remote deposit capture, person-to-person payments, expanded contactless payment functions, and a mobile component to its BankAmeriDeals merchant rewards program. It also recently began testing payments executed via QR codes with five merchants. In fact, its mobile banking app (Bank of America – Version 4.3.229) was among the top 10 Android apps upgraded by customers during the week of July 29, 2013. The new version allows customers to:

    1. Make payments to credit cards using checking accounts at other banks
    2. Add/edit/delete bill pay accounts
    3. Add own email/mobile number to receive money from others
    4. Send money to people and small businesses via their email addresses or mobile phone numbers
    5. Utilize the Call Me Now feature (for Platinum Privileges clients)
  • BNP Paribas recently announced that it will be launching a full-service mobile bank in Germany, Italy, France, and Belgium. Its Hello Bank is the first bank designed specifically for mobiles, and BNP aims to have 1.4 million customers for Hello Bank by 2017

  • Citibank is the first financial establishment to put up a mobile banking app in the Asia Pacific region. Initially launched in Hong Kong in 2008, the app is now available in 12 regional markets. Citi is also looking to invest in improving its mobile banking capabilities in 2013

So how exactly are people using mobiles for banking? While some of us stick to basic services such as checking bank statements and paying bills using our smart phones, “smart banks” have started using mobile banking for marketing their products and services. As mobile phones become more functional, they have evolved from being tools to enhance customer service to being vehicles for revenue growth.

But there are some barriers to adoption. Concerns about the security of mobile banking and the possibility of hackers remotely accessing consumers’ phones have been the two major reasons which have limited the use of mobile banking. While consumers are slowly building trust and becoming more open to adopting mobile banking, the possibility of a new mobile deposit fee some banks are considering might be off-putting to end users.

Having said that, Everest Group believes more customers will use mobile banking applications as the explosive growth of smart phones and tablets continues. As banks evaluate the level of investments they must make to keep pace with customer expectations, they will also need to identify key opportunity areas, use mobile channel functionality as a competitive differentiator to attract new customers and retain existing ones, and ultimately expand market share.

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