Mark Wilson

M WilsonMark Wilson oversees Sybase’s Corporate and Field Marketing. He previously led strategic planning, product management and marketing for Sybase 365, served as Vice President and General Manager for the iAnywhere’s On-Demand Solutions Group, and as Vice President of Corporate Development for Sybase.

Previously, Mark was a consultant with KPMG’s Information, Communications, and Entertainment practice. He also served as marketing manager at AT&T and managed government affairs initiatives in California for public affairs firm Stoorza, Ziegaus & Metzger.

Mark holds an MBA and an MA in public policy from University of Chicago. He received his BA from University of California at Santa Barbara.

What does mobility mean to you?

Mobility used to mean a device or a mode, that let us be “mobile”, let us un-tether from the desktop. Now, mobility has ceased to define a thing. It has become an expectation of how we will connect to everything in our world – our enterprises, our friends, our email, our data, our colleagues – using a range of very personal devices like tablets, pads, Smartphones, navigation systems, etc.

Are we in still in mobility 1.0?

I think of mobility in the overall context of computing. We are now in the fourth phase of computing – the fourth big platform shift. The first was the shift away from manual processes to automating on mainframes. The second was client-server and the third was the Internet. The fourth phase is what you could call “mobility” and what we at Sybase and SAP call the unwired enterprise.

In each of these phases, we start by automating or replicating what we already know and do. Then, in each phase we get more strategic, developing entirely new ways to work, new applications, processes, work flows, connection mediums, etc. that take advantage of the new platform.

We are well down the path in mobility. We’ve moved beyond porting email to new devices. CIOs and enterprise mobility architects no longer look at mobility as just a way to extend what they’re already doing. They are clearly in the second phase – in mobility 2.0 – where they’re looking at entirely new ways to work.

They’re looking to invest in new areas where they can get ahead of their competitors and capture strategic gains. They are doing that with “transformational applications” which don’t just add to the traditional IT stack, but which drive business in a whole new way through mobility.

How is mobility driving business growth at Sybase?

The essence of the SAP and Sybase unwired enterprise strategy is access to information. Information makes businesses go round and gives people the ability to make decisions. We believe we are at the beginning of a “mobility boom” which will be as significant as the Internet boom. Getting information and applications to people in the manner they need and want will facilitate transformational changes in the way we do business and is going to be our next acceleration point.

Can you share an example of how your customers are seeing gains from better access to information through mobility?

Sure. We worked with a global logistics and delivery company that transformed its sales approach using a mobile device and our mobility solutions. Their drivers already meet with customers in person so they thought about how they could leverage a mobile platform to expand sales and imagined a scenario where drivers could also be sales people.
What if, through a mobile application, they could enable the driver to deliver a package and then give the customer information, like “this is the seventh package of this size and the ninth package of that size that you got in this last month”. And, “if you sign up for this package at $30 a month we could save you $210 a year”. Using the mobility app, a customer could sign up on the spot and be automatically enrolled in and billed for the program.

It took 19 months to develop the application, figure out how to get data from four different systems into the app, and handle security and synchronization. But when it rolled out, the application gave the company 2,800 additional sales people and a significant growth channel overnight.

How is the shift from getting data to a device to working through a device to interact or transact changing our relationship with customers?

I can give you a great example. A large technical supplies and services client of ours had a very manual process for managing inventories at customer sites. A driver would go to the customer site, wander around with a guest badge and manually record the items that need to be replenished on a form. A clerk would enter that information into the system, the items would be pulled and sent out on a truck to refill the customer’s supply. There were huge inefficiencies like time delays and manual data entry in this process.

The iPad application we deployed uses an automated form with SAP at the backend that provides real time visibility into product availability. Now, drivers use the app to indicate the products to reorder and a PO is immediately generated which they review with the customer while on site. The customer signs the P.O., and in many cases, the order ships that same day.

Now the company is able to tell the customer, “You’ll be replenished today” or, “These three items are out of stock. Can I offer you an alternative?” instead of calling two days later and saying, “We didn’t have that. We’re short-shipping.” They can also say, “You wanted Product B, but there’s a sale on Product C which could save you some money.”
Just two months after being deployed, the app has changed the whole dynamic of the company’s relationship with its customers, has creating a transformational opportunity. The customer now sends someone around with the driver to have a real time dialogue that is much more meaningful. Customer service is better, driving customer loyalty and revenues.

Do those customer experiences impact your product development efforts?

Yes. We can’t take an SAP application in all its desktop glory and shrink it down to a mobile device. First, all of that functionality isn’t needed on a mobile device. The interaction model is very different.

Second, the user experience matters more on mobile devices than it ever did on other computers. We’ve moved from throwing all manner of function into an application delivered on a larger screen to porting only the function that’s needed for a particular workflow and delivering it just in time on a small device. All of the functions are still needed, but the way they’re distributed and delivered to the user becomes a function of what the user does and the device they’re using. That fundamental shift has been brought on by mobility.

What should a company consider when building its mobility strategy?

The overriding statement I would make is that mobility is not something that’s going to happen. It’s something that is happening. We are in the second stage o f mobility and it’s a time when leaders will get a disproportionate share of the benefit.

I ask CIOs how much of their innovation budget they spend on mobile. The answer is invariably “very little” or, “we’re looking at the iPad.” They need to be thinking about how to build a business with mobility and who they have in the organization that’s thinking about that. They need to make mobility a formal part of the way they plan for 2011 and 2012. It doesn’t require a platform investment or any investment at this point, but you need to think about it.

Where should companies start?

There are two places. First, get a real inventory of what’s happening in your enterprise from a device perspective. A lot of customers say, “We’re all Blackberry.” When you question that they admit, “Well, Brazil went all iPhone, and these guys are doing Android.” So get a real picture. And, then, believe it.

Second, mobility doesn’t have to be a monumental corporate-wide shift. Start simple by thinking about giving your salespeople a dashboard. Then prototype a couple hundred of those. Or think about a process that you know is broken, and see if you can solve it with a simple mobile application that you develop with the Android or the iPhone SDK. Get your feet wet. But don’t get your feet wet extending email. Get your feet wet doing something really material to your business.

Once you’re committed to embracing mobility, consider these three areas carefully:

  • Security: If you’re putting enterprise data in somebody’s pocket, particularly on a device that you don’t own or control, you need to know it’s secure. You need to know that wherever that data resides, you can kill it if the employee leaves, or goes rogue, or loses their device in a coffee shop. You also need to know that the device or the data that’s in transit is encrypted at an encryption level that matters to the enterprise.
  • Platforms: Before starting your first project, think about platforms in a broad sense. Companies start simple. They’ve downloaded the iPhone SDK, and created an app. But, the minute the app is out, someone wants it for Android and then Symbian devices. Plan ahead for platform proliferation pressures and how think about how you want to handle it.
  • Policies: Corporate policies and regulations usually aren’t in sync with the use and proliferation of devices in most organizations. A company’s chosen platform may be Blackberry but they have people brining in iPhones and getting corporate email on those devices, whether or not it is installed or supported by the company. So, as part of their planning and organizational and governance models, companies need to go from limited device to broader application, behavioral and data policies which cover any device.

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