swimming and enterprise mobile strategy

What Swim Lessons Taught me about Enterprise Mobile Strategy

David Enarson | July 5, 2017 | Mobile Strategy

It only took one lesson to make me realize the similarities between swimming and enterprise mobile strategy. My goal was maximizing my efficiency ahead of a triathlon. I thought, “This will be easy, it’s only freestyle.” I was in for a big surprise. Little did I realize, swimming is complex. Did you know there are four parts to a freestyle stroke? Not to mention there’s a lot of core rotation. You don’t swim flat; you swim alternating on your left and right. And this isn’t even including the leg work. In fact, the only thing keeping me from abandoning this “learn to swim” kick altogether is my fantastic coach.

The same can be said about so many things. Any sport or industry looks easy on the surface. But once you dive into every detail with the help of an expert, you realize and appreciate its complexity. To master anything, you need to achieve this level of detail: 10,000 hours of practice and commitment. You can’t just glide on the surface.

Such is the case with Enterprise Mobile Strategy. While on the surface it may appear straightforward: “We’re going to build a few apps for our employees,” when you dig deeper you realize an app isn’t a strategy. The goals are different. First, you have to fully comprehend your business processes in order to visualize how mobile can simplify and streamline them. Then you must decide how to best leverage your internal team to execute the strategy and deliver the final product. Once you have also defined your audience and developed a thorough understanding of the problem you are trying to solve, only then can you accomplish truly transformational solution design.

Diving deeper (ugh), consider the parallels to swimming. For example, you may already be running a Software Development Lifecycle (SDLC) for a mobile or web solution. But as with swimming, just because you got to the end of the lane, doesn’t mean you did so efficiently. I only discovered my stroke needed improvement by really breaking it down and examining it piece by piece.

Think of certain components of your SDLC, such as Business Analysis, Design, Development, Testing, Deployment and Support. Are the roles clearly defined? How are they staffed? And how well integrated is the team? As you really dig in you may realize your requirements haven’t been clearly defined—from business analysis and design to development. And that’s creating churn. And maybe this goes unnoticed because your team works extra hard. But much like swimming harder eventually gets you to the end of the lane, there are far more efficient ways to achieve the same end goal without running out of breath.

This analogy doesn’t end with development. Perhaps you’re performing testing in an adhoc (or non-existent) fashion, which is straining development. It’s important to examine each discipline within the SDLC to ensure it is operating efficiently and supports mobile success.

After just six swim lessons, my stroke is already unrecognizable from when I started. But of course, this never would have happened without the lessons. Like mobile strategy, swim lessons also provide a framework for transformation. And I never leave a lesson without a plan. I perform the drills and endurance work during the lesson and then there’s homework—an assignment of drills to do on my own. This feels a lot like the mobile kickstarts we provide our customers. We fly in for an intense and engaged week or two of onsite work, after which we provide a toolkit to execute a mobile strategy roadmap, a mobile app, mobile testing, etc. We explore techniques and approaches together in our sessions and leave behind ample materials to let clients continue to apply these principles on their own time.

Further, we often engage as coaches to help companies assess their current readiness for mobility, from digging deep into the SDLC, to focusing and coaching in a single discipline (e.g. best practices for automated mobile testing or user experience (UX) design). Regardless of the topic, each kickstart is based on a proven framework and a ranked scorecard with specific next steps for improvement moving forward.

This process doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Rather, we work alongside your team to craft the best regimen for success. Our mobile strategists help countless enterprise teams through the SDLC process to build mobile apps as a component of their mobile strategy. The company sets up the enabling infrastructure of devices, deployment, network, policies, etc. We can help every step of the way—defining your audience, scoring your strengths and weaknesses, and identifying which problems are best suited for a mobile app. The end result is maximized delivery efficiency and guaranteed mobile success.

When I went for that first swimming lesson, I took a leap. I wasn’t convinced I even needed lessons, and I wasn’t sure how much I had to gain. I’m so glad I went for it! Because whether we’re talking about swimming or a new mobile project, becoming an expert means diving deep and breaking the effort down into increments, then tackling each piece before putting it all back together. True mastery comes only with time, dedication, practice and focus. Quite frankly, adopting mobile technology is the easiest and least costly way to simplify and streamline business processes for happier, more productive employees. But every journey begins with a single step. And if you don’t begin by taking a look at what you’ve got, you may miss this golden opportunity altogether.

So feel free to stop by the pool or send me a note to talk about sports training and mobile strategy, or to discuss ways to improve your existing enterprise business processes. I’m always up for the conversation!

David Enarson

David Enarson is a Mobile Strategist at Propelics. He has experience leading mobile application initiatives in the Enterprise, specifically with sales force audiences. He has worked with well known brands in the Pharmaceutical, Consumer Packaged Goods and Services verticals. David combines his ability to chart out a big picture strategy with his technical aptitude and understanding of the complexities of the Enterprise to drive value for clients. He has a true passion for startups and mobility and was a past participant and coach at Startup Weekend Chicago. David’s interest in mobility began early on when he founded a company to develop and market applications for the Palm OS.

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