|Topic:||Do-it-yourself platforms for social/mobile/cloud synergy|
|Title:||Chairman & CEO|
Vishwanath Alluri is Founder, Chairman and CEO of IMImobile. Mr Alluri incorporated Information Management India (IMI) Software, to develop software products for design of transmission line towers and telecom towers. When the company diversified into the development of platform for mobile data services it was re-named IMImobile. Mr Alluri started his career working as Finance Manager of a pharmaceutical company in Hyderabad.
Vishwanath Alluri is qualified as a Chartered Accountant and Company Secretary.
Mobile is the future of communications, the cloud provides the technology, and social networks offer the environment for businesses to operate in, but we need a single, simple and secure platform to bring them all together. A single platform, usable with minimal IT involvement, will be an affordable option for enterprises embarking upon social/cloud/mobile strategies. These platforms will make life easier both for large enterprises and for SMEs that cannot afford special IT assistance or the costs of in-house specialists.
More than a decade ago, the Internet changed the face of business; today, social, cloud and mobile are making traditional ways of functioning redundant and transforming the way businesses reach out to their stakeholders. The ubiquity of mobile and the large-scale presence of social networks have made them the two most important platforms for enterprises.
Younger customers spoilt for choice are putting immense pressure on enterprises today to embrace these new platforms. Today, acquiring a customer is increasingly difficult, and retaining them is a task, this is forcing enterprises to re-evaluate their approach and engage with their customers using a social and mobile approach. The cloud is a prerequisite for effective mobile engagement in a virtual environment; it makes unprecedented levels of service available affordably to a wide swath of businesses.
Although these groundbreaking forces are unsettling on their own, together they are transforming business and society, upsetting old business models and creating new leaders. Embracing the big three disruptive technologies –cloud, social, and mobile – in an integrated fashion is the way forward.
So what is it about this technology trinity that is taking the IT industry and businesses of all sizes by storm?
Mobile is the oldest, most ubiquitous, of the three technologies. The sales of mobile devices have surpassed the sales of desktops by far. Mobility means information, convenience, and social all served up on the go, across a variety of screen sizes and devices. Mobility solutions are a major force because low cost mobile devices combine the power of location, connectivity, information and user profile in an integrated manner. Innovation happens when companies build applications at the convergence of location, identity and information.
Today’s consumers are increasingly mobile and well informed and enterprises must follow suit. Customer engagement and employee productivity are the two primary drivers for increased use of mobile solutions by enterprises. Businesses from all sectors and of all sizes are using mobile solutions to connect with customers at every stage. CRM (customer relationship management) analytics intertwined with mobile initiatives help focus customer engagements to yield desirable results.
Promotional mobile communication is becoming passé, giving way to transactional and interactive engagement. Two-way communication tools are rapidly replacing one-way voice and non-voice mobile communication solutions. Not only is CRM used to enhance mobile engagement, mobile usage is analyzed to gauge consumer interests and consumption habits. Mobile has evolved as a powerful, direct, personal and cost effective channel to transform customer engagement. In addition mobile offers a range of business benefits including operational efficiency and enhanced customer interaction and engagement; it is also an indispensible part of day-to-day communication with colleagues at work.
Another popular trend amongst employees is bring your own device (BYOD) which gives employees the freedom and flexibility to use their personal devices for work. Users want to interact anytime, anywhere, with localized, contextual information. Enterprises are looking to sophisticated mobile solutions to ensure smooth functioning of operations and increased employee productivity.
Social networks are among the primary drivers of increased and varied use of mobile phones; in the U.S., six out of ten Facebook users access the site from their mobiles. Social Networks are no longer just a source of entertainment and leisure. Today, real business is taking place in public and private social networks. It has moved far beyond using Facebook for consumer marketing outreach or LinkedIn for recruiting. The benefits accrue quickly from being able to communicate and collaborate easily with extended networks of employees, partners, customers, across internal and external social networks.
Social networking is not just about B2C engagement, it is also changing enterprise collaboration tools and engagement within business apps such as CRM. Social networks are replacing professional networks at work, providing enterprises with a larger universe to connect with their employees. The most important apps are developed first for mobile platforms. In today’s business environment, real-time information is what sales, customer service, marketing, finance and HR teams look for.
The cloud is changing the fundamental infrastructure with which a business operates. Social Networks thrive because of two major factors: constant accessibility and their large scale. While mobile makes 24×7 connectivity possible, the cloud makes scalability feasible.
The cloud has already changed both businesses and everyday life – from consumers who use it to access music to companies that harness its powerful resources. Recent mobile and social connectivity trends have created a perfect storm of opportunity for companies to embrace the power of cloud to optimize, innovate and disrupt business models.
There has been a remarkable rise in adoption of the cloud, by businesses of all sizes. The cloud lets sales, marketing, HR, customer service and other departments adopt cloud solutions without depending on IT; it offers flexible execution and reduces the time to market. The cloud often reduces long-term IT expenses while delivering higher ROI on IT spending. It also improves overall workplace productivity by supporting mobility and other next-generation strategies.
Enterprises increasingly realise the cost benefits of operations running on virtual networks. CIOs are using on-premise versus off-premise models to evaluate moves to a hybrid cloud environment. The cloud is paving the way for innovative services by offering solutions, using SaaS (software as a service) model, on a pay as you go basis that eliminates high initial capital expenditures for equipment and software.
Cloud computing is maturing and better broadband access is making it increasingly viable, so many local companies are beginning to adopt cloud services. Now, they are facing the complexity of adopting and integrating social media and mobility too. These technologies are game changers when the best of these three technologies work together and support each other. The convergence of these technologies changes the way businesses operate and changes their strategic roadmap to make the most of the combined synergies.
Although this trinity of technologies creates a variety of business opportunities, most enterprises continue to address them in silos; the integration this trinity is not often achieved. Most companies still are not aware of, do not understand, the power of this unified concept and what it can do for their businesses.
Given the newness of this concept, using multiple platforms to execute new initiatives is a huge challenge and there is still no single platform that can provide all that this converged technology can offer. The lack of a converged platform to facilitate the effective use of this combination creates a roadblock.
There are many challenges that businesses face when they set out extending their customer and employee communications into the mobile domain including:
• The fragmentation of platforms and networks
• The complexity of integration
• The overhead of managing change across the breadth of the technology landscape
The troublesome Cs
Given the lack of a single platform, companies require several platforms that provide standalone services, so enterprises depend upon IT professionals to handle the complex operation of multiple platforms. The multiple platforms lack a single point of control and raises security concerns. Multiple platforms also tend to be quite costly.
Today vendors only provide piece-meal solutions that miss the goal of a unified holistic approach. The essence of the social/cloud/mobile trinity is its potential as an integrated service on a single platform supporting an overall growth strategy; it does not help much in bits and parts.
Single, do it yourself, platforms
Mobile is the future for communications, the cloud forms the technological backbone, social networks offer the environment for businesses to operate in; it just calls for single, simple and secure platform to bring them all together.
To help overcome the above challenges and reduce the cost of ownership of mobile communications solutions, a new type of platform is required that simplifies integration of mobile capabilities and resources with those of other networks. In addition, the platform must provide essential security and management controls needed to use mobile as a trusted communications channel.
A cloud based mobile engagement platform is an important enabler of a mobile communications strategy; it removes much of the complexity, cost and risk when implementing mobile-based business systems.
A cloud based hosting model can help reduce the up-front costs of deploying mobile initiatives and make the most of emerging technologies; it also shares in the host’s economies of scale.
A do-it-yourself platform, to use without IT department intervention, eradicates the usage barriers of traditional systems targeted at IT personnel. These platforms enable the application of technology to business strategies that benefit all sectors and functions of the organization.
A single platform, usable with minimal IT involvement, will be a cost effective, affordable, option for enterprises embarking upon social/cloud/mobile strategies. These platforms will not only make life easier for large enterprises, but also come as a great relief for SMEs who cannot afford special IT assistance or the costs of in-house technology infrastructure.
The synergistic social/cloud/mobile trinity demands a new architecture that tackles all three elements in an integrated and complementary way.
It is a world of infinite possibilities that lie at the cusp of Cloud, Social and Mobile.