Consumerization chaos: The wrong way to implement a mobile strategy

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In an interview with ZDNet's Spandas Lui, Gartner enterprise software research director Nigel Montgomery argues that enterprise resource planning (ERP) vendors must do a better job of delivering a quality business-user experience on tablets.

The problem is the complexity of ERP systems, which render the interface on tablets in a way that bears little resemblence to the ERP experience on desktops, thus confusing users. And a confusing ERP interface is a useless ERP interface.

Perhaps the most striking comment fro Montgomery was this:

"A company I spoke with last week bought 14,000 iPads for its management team, and 40 per cent of them had sent the devices back because they don't have a clue what to do with them. The company never considered what the value was and what was going to be delivered [through the iPads]."

Catch that? The company "never considered what the value was and what was going to be delivered."

In other words, the enterprise in question committed one of the cardinal sins of technology acquisition: Buying something without first establishing a business case for it.

It's actually amazing that this could happen in an organization with at least 14,000 managers. You'd think that one of them might have asked, "Hey, why are we doing this again?"

The decision to buy the iPads without determining their value proposition -- not to mention factoring in things like training costs -- may have been pushed from above, or it could have been driven by a CIO eager to embrace the consumerization of IT in the enterprise.

In either situation, however, it's incumbent upon CIOs to help prove (or disprove) a business case for new technology. This is especially critical as enterprises confront buying decisions regarding not only mobile devices and mobile management services, but social media management systems as well. As an insightful observer (OK, it was me) wrote the other day, "the most important factor in determining which SMMS platform to choose for your enterprise is how it's going to be used."

How it's going to be used. The business case, the business case, the business case.

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