Author(s): Nicholas McQuire
Hype about big data and analytics has reached fever pitch over the past few years, but most businesses have yet to gain real value or practical insight from the information and assets available to them. In reality, many companies are overloaded by the data produced by the rising number of software-as-a-service and mobile tools in use in their business operations.
For example, CCS Insight's Employee Mobile Technology Survey, 2017 found that the average employee uses 4.8 connected devices and accesses 6.1 mobile applications for work purposes (see Employees Expect AI to Have Big Impact on Jobs). Our research also found that the number of applications in use is growing more than 30 percent annually. This acceleration of mobile apps and cloud services has created fragmented "siloes" in most organisations, making it difficult for the IT department to gain full visibility of the business and its processes. This has impeded the IT team's ability to improve operational processes, security and support.
Agility and Awareness
Cybersecurity is now a board-level priority and the advent of Europe's General Data Protection Regulation has prompted new compliance demands. Organisations have to improve their operational agility, and this is breathing new life into analytical tools aimed at giving IT teams greater situational awareness of daily operations.
Operational intelligence tools that monitor, report and manage activities, enabling IT and operations teams to sense and respond to emerging situations more quickly, are established and growing parts of the business intelligence discipline. But these solutions have lacked a deep focus on mobile operations. Mobility is a mission-critical technology for many organisations in field service environments, the oil and gas industries, emergency services and transportation for many years, and also forms a trove of valuable information for operations in these environments. In this context, the lack of tools has been a peculiar neglected opportunity.
Operational Intelligence Meets Mobile
This is why an announcement in June from mobile performance management software supplier, NetMotion Software, is an intriguing development. It claims to have launched the "first operational intelligence platform designed specifically for enterprise mobility". It aims to address what I call the mobility blind spot: unlike for other IT infrastructure such as networks, servers or PCs, companies lack visibility of their mobile infrastructure, estate and operations and have not had experience of analytics supporting this environment. Mobility administrators have often had to troubleshoot and make decisions without data that provides the context to incidents, for example.
NetMotion will provide real-time monitoring in an array of valuable mobility areas, including mobile networks, location, the performance of devices and applications, usage and behavior. These elements can provide situational awareness and support decision-making. In mission-critical environments where there's high operational dependency on mobility, this will be valuable data when used correctly. I expect customers will use the insight to improve the performance and experience of mobile and field workers, better anticipate downtime, lower the cost of support and mobile data, remediate problems faster and mitigate the effects of security threats.
It will be fascinating to watch the progress of this solution and others that are likely to follow. The key will be in its extensibility — customers will have varying requirements for different interfaces and exporting data into other IT systems such as ServiceNow and Atlassian tools.
At the heart of all current digital transformation strategies is the goal to become more "data driven" in operations. With mobility often being at the forefront of digital transformation efforts, NetMotion has done well to address such a critical blind spot that affects many organisations. As intelligence and mobility come together, perhaps the hype about analytics will subside as companies gain practical insight that helps improve their operations. Time will tell!