CITE 2014: Translating ideas into mobile innovations

The theme of this year's CITE Conference was struck by the opening keynote speaker, author Steven Johnson, who described how ideas are translated into innovations in a broad range of fields.

The theme was carried forward by Sundhar Annamalai, executive director of AT&T Advanced Mobility Solutions. He related how AT&T undertook a massive BYOD program and learned a number of valuable lessons for enterprises considering or implementing BYOD, such as the need to protect employee privacy.

Joseph Pucciarelli, vice president and IT executive advisor at IDC, explained how mobile technology is revolutionizing the IT skill set.

"Mobility is really a new platform that allows us to project our business processes out to the point of transaction more effectively," explained Pucciarelli. "I think with mobility we are not quite as far along. A lot of IT and business professionals don't quite grasp the potential revolutionary impact of mobility," he said.

The conference offered a number of case studies where firms translated ideas into innovations by developing and deploying mobile apps that improved productivity and served customers' needs.

Michael Weeder, retail systems architecture at True Value, explained how he tackles the challenge of developing and launching an app for a cooperative made up of 3,200 independent hardware store owners who could take or leave his mobile app. Weeder had to persuade the owners that the app would be useful for them to use.

From the feedback he received from the True Value members, Weeder built a mobile app that allowed in-store personnel to get immediate access to their inventory to answer customer questions and order products.

Cary Sylvester, vice president of technology innovation and communications with Keller Williams, faced a similar yet ultimately different problem. Real estate agents under the Keller Williams banner are independent businesspeople, so she had to develop a mobile app that would meet the agents' needs or risk wasting money on an app that nobody used.

The real estate firm decided to develop a responsive design app for the agents, so that they could get access on their mobile device to information needed quickly, such as contact lists and closing schedules.

In addition, Keller Williams worked on an Android and iOS native mobile app for the home buyers and sellers that they could get from the Keller Williams website or the real estate agents' website.

For IT execs at Cisco and Sanofi, innovation involved finding the right path to mobility. Cisco took the path of all-in BYOD, while drug maker Sanofi took the path less traveled, a corporately owned, personally enabled, or COPE, approach.

"Even though we have different approaches, our goal is to enable people. In the end, we know that they are going to put corporate data on those devices--that is the whole point," explained Brian Katz, head of mobility innovation at Sanofi.

I enjoyed getting the end user perspective on mobility. The IT folks in the trenches have a lot to teach analysts and journalists like me about turning ideas into innovations in the real world. - Fred