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Four CIOs Doing Enterprise Mobility Right

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Mobile, arguably even more than “the cloud,” is blowing up the traditional role of IT. Long the crypt keeper for enterprise systems of record – for providing stability, efficiency and cost control – IT finds itself presented with a new remit: create amazing, innovating mobile app experiences.

It’s a new contract entirely, and not an easy one. But the best IT leaders welcome the excitement. As proof, consider these examples of CIOs who know their mobile stuff, and are making an impact we all can learn from:

1. Josh Jewett, CIO, Family Dollar: Josh has been the CIO of Family Dollar since 2002. Since joining, the company has doubled in size, adding hundreds of new stores each year, reaching 8,100+ stores across 46 states today. One big part of the strategy behind this growth has been embracing the mobile revolution as it unfolds.

Josh ’s philosophy has been to identify and seize the biggest impact opportunities when it comes to mobile. For example, while other retailers have focused heavily on the consumer side of mobility, Josh saw a bigger opportunity in developing internal, employee-facing apps. Josh and his team deployed resources to build two mobile apps (with a third on the way) for Family Dollar’s district managers, who are typically responsible for managing 20-25 stores.

One of the apps, for example, allows these managers to quickly assess the status of a given store (including appearance, merchandise organization and a number of other factors) using an app, which is far more efficient and transparent than the old pen-and-paper method.

Feedback on the apps that Josh and his team built has been positive across executives, employees and IT, while relative cost has been low and the impact immediate (in the form of increased employee productivity). Now that’s a mobile success story.

2. Oliver Bussman, Global CIO, UBS: Oliver Bussman’s resumé and achievements speak for themselves. Before joining UBS, Bussman was the CIO of SAP, where according to Steve Rosenbush at CIO Journal, he launched an enterprise app store with 120 mobile apps, which included both third-party apps and apps developed in-house.

He recognized that development talent isn’t easy to come by, so you need to get creative with your resources, and one way is leveraging outside developers and the apps they’ve built to power your business. Moreover, giving your employees the choice to find solutions that work for them can be a huge key to a successful enterprise mobility strategy.

In that same CIO Journal interview, Bussman noted that, “We pay attention to what is going on in the consumer market and try and transfer it to the enterprise. We believe that giving people access to state of the art tools will drive innovation, will drive productivity.” This response to the consumerization of IT has helped Bussman catapult the teams he’s led to the forefront of their respective industries.

3. George Mehok, CIO, Safeguard Properties: As we wrote about back in September, Safeguard has innovation in its DNA. The company has long been an early adopter of new technologies, making the jump from paper to fax and fax to email long before their peers.

When George Mehok, their current CIO, joined Safeguard, he did so with a firm commitment to building a transformative mobile development program. The program has paid off, with employees reporting higher productivity and customers thrilled with the improved timeliness and accuracy of Safeguard’s property preservation services.

Mehok recognized that, where many other companies started with consumer apps, Safeguard’s biggest opportunity lay in re-engineering their most critical internal business processes using mobile apps. One of Safeguard’s biggest competitive advantages — a veritable army of 10,000+ field workers around the country — has also posed a significant challenge: how to improve the productivity and quality of this nationally distributed team of contractors. Mehok knew that being able to gather data more efficiently would solve a whole host of problems, and saw that mobile apps would be an ideal vehicle to do this.

Now Safeguard and its clients have more data regarding their operations at their disposal than ever before, and their contractors are also realizing the business benefits of using the apps. Mehok is a great example of a CIO who recognized the potential of mobile apps to solve business challenges and add value in a competitive manner. (You can read more about his mobility efforts in our upcoming blog on the subject.)

4. Onyeka Nchege, CIO, Coca Cola Bottling Co. Consolidated: With a busy sales team constantly on the road, CCBCC CIO Onyeka Nchege issued iPads to sales reps so they could keep their prospects’ attention. This was in in 2009, at a time when many companies were dealing with mobile devices by banning their use. But Nchege realized that tablets could give their sales reps a distinct advantage by making it faster and easier to pull out any and all reference materials they might need. They’ve seen so much success that Nchege is now looking into making it possible for them to do all of their work via iPad.

Nchege also regularly issues statements to employees when new devices are released, explaining the company’s stance on the product and whether they’ll be supporting or issuing them. He has even implemented an “Enterprise Mobility Advisory Group,” built specifically to decide which new mobile devices and apps make sense for Coke to support or implement. A pragmatic stance that’s been the opposite of the more common “First answer is No” approach taken by many other companies.

(Full disclosure: Family Dollar and Safeguard Properties are customers of the Appcelerator Platform.)

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