C-suite changes

Chief Mobility Officer: The Next Big IT Job?

The idea of having a chief mobility officer (CMO) isn't new in the enterprise world. But as companies now scramble to establish mobile strategies, a CMO could be one key to success, according to a new Forrester Research report.

Smartphones and tablets are "the manifestation of a much broader shift to new systems of engagement" with customers, partners and employees, Forrester said in the 30-page report.

One of the report's authors, Forrester analyst Ted Schadler, said in an interview that one purpose of the report is to help CIOs and CEOs move faster to provide mobile services and apps.

"Mobile is one of those things that bites you from behind if you aren't paying attention," he said.

Forrester studied 61 companies and found a range of approaches to delivering or expanding mobile services. Some enterprises have their eyes on mobile self-service apps; others envision an IT group focused on how people engage with smartphones and tablets.

The consultancy expects business spending on mobile projects to grow by 100% by 2015, and it expects spending on mobile apps to hit $55 billion in 2016.

According to Forrester, a CMO can help efforts to improve coordination of mobile initiatives. The research firm suggested setting up a 10-to-30-person task force to sit between business groups and IT.

Without that kind of coordinating body, Forrester said, companies will "waste time and money as marketing goes after a mobile loyalty app, sales builds tablet apps, the CFO implements mobile expense approvals" and so forth. One of the companies Forrester interviewed learned it was supporting 114 different versions of the BlackBerry operating system.

Forrester also suggested that companies allot more money to mobile projects. The average amount spent on a typical mobile app for customers -- $50,000 to $150,000 -- turns out to be just 35% of the true two-year cost.

This version of this story was originally published in Computerworld's print edition. It was adapted from an article that appeared earlier on Computerworld.com.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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