Unlocking Networks: The Growing Mobile Mandate

It’s always nice to be with 100,000 close friends at a mega-event like Mobile World Congress 2015 in Barcelona. With a career’s worth of trade shows under my belt, I’m still in awe of their size and scale – attendees literally need days just to make it through the building.

Here’s my big takeaway: mobile is no longer just about apps. It is about enabling a single, cohesive value chain that begins and ends with empathy for the individual user on the device of their choosing.

Everything begins with the user because 21st century mobile experiences require user-specific context as the key ingredient. We can’t unlock the value of technology if we don’t understand (and use) all available information about that individual. Where in the world are they and where are they trying to go? What are they trying to accomplish? What are their interests, challenges, likes, and limitations? All of this information is as significant for a business traveler as it is for a field mechanic on the job. This information is context – and context is the fuel that drives the mobile experience.

Once the value chain is equipped with context about the user, this is when intelligent, real-time networks can unlock the full power of connecting users, devices, and businesses.

For that business traveler, the context-driven network effect offers the promise of a personalized and productive visit to anywhere. Barcelona is the prime example. Powered by innovation from Telefonica, SAP HANA Cloud Platform and Concur, visitors to Spain’s second largest city will soon have a context-rich mobile experience. As visitors move around the city to experience breathtaking sites like La Sagrada Familia, businesses will have the opportunity to recognize each individual traveler based on their location and personalized itineraries. This will enable real-time, meaningful recommendations, promotions and other customized insights to help create a memorable experience. The traveler will effortlessly move from airport to hotel to meetings, and in the final act of simplicity, all of the associated spend shifts into a pre-populated expense report that can be automatically submitted at the end of the trip. This is the ultimate example of using the power of the network to improve people’s lives.

The same concept of contextually aware networks is fast becoming a reality in the workplace, as well. For the field mechanic, contextual information collected about her location, her expertise, and her supply inventory can help ensure that her time is maximized. The industrial equipment she maintains will communicate directly with the manufacturer, deploying early warnings about when service is necessary to prevent a breakdown. The manufacturer, in turn, is able to identify the most conveniently located field mechanic to provide the service – but only if that mechanic has the necessary part and expertise to do the work. This mobile experience is a prime example of how the Networked Economy and “Internet of Things” are dramatically revamping business processes and reshaping business models.

In each of the two examples, think about the sophistication necessary to deliver the outcomes. In both cases, the users, devices, and businesses are connected in that single, inherently mobile value chain. Data integrity, security, and privacy are all critical components in ultimately delivering an experience that, to the user, looks and feels simple.

For businesses, the sophistication goes a level deeper. To enable the this context-rich experience for the user, core business applications – like finance, point of sale, human capital management and procurement – all have to be integrated and extended into the network. We only know that the dispatched field mechanic has the right expertise if her employee profile from the human capital management system verifies that she does. For the Barcelona experience, businesses can only engage the traveler if their reservations, point of sale and social media channels are fully integrated.

Both outcomes may appear simple, but the inputs are anything but.

So if you didn’t get the chance to take a casual stroll past the 2,000 exhibitors at the Mobile World Congress, mobile is the clear standard, and the expansive opportunities it offers to create a new world are endless. The focus now belongs on bringing together the platform, applications, and networks necessary to make “simple” real for every user on any device.

This story originally appeared on SAP Business Trends.
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