Why User Profiling Should Be Part of Your Mobility Plan
IT departments are under pressure to deliver wireless mobility solutions that serve an increasingly diverse, and rapidly expanding, user base. To meet these demands,
many IT professionals are turning to user profiling for a deeper understanding of user requirements, higher adoption rates, and higher ROI on
mobility deployments. This article provides an orientation to user profiling, and explains the five-phased approach to user profiling developed
by RIM Professional Services.
What is User Profiling?
User profiling involves an in-depth analysis of a group of workers (usually by function) to clearly understand the work activities they perform when mobile.
User profiling gives IT directors, and others involved in mobility planning, a very specific understanding of actual mobility needs of each worker group. This makes it easier to identify mobile applications that will deliver optimal value to the organization.
Although this seems like a straightforward concept, user profiling has traditionally been absent from many enterprise mobility plans. Adele Falco of RIM Professional Services explains why, saying, “In the past, in many companies, decisions on who received BlackBerry® smartphones were made on the basis of rank, title, or tenure and without considering that different users would need different mobile tools and access to data.”
This creates a problem as mobile deployments increase. By 2009, 70% of knowledge work will occur from remote locations (according to Gartner Group). With a clear need for a more strategic approach to mobile planning, user profiling is a hot topic.
“At the Wireless Enterprise Symposium 2007 we saw a lot of interest in building the business case justification for mobile applications based on user profiling,” says Falco.
This knowledge-based approach to mobility planning helps IT departments avoid the danger of deploying wireless solutions based on instincts and assumptions alone, and then suffering when adoption rates and ROI fall short.
“We’ve seen high failure rates in scenarios where a company decides to take an existing application, like CRM for example, and merely provide a simulation of the desktop environment on smartphones,” says Falco.
“Companies instinctively assume that since CRM is good, mobile CRM will be even better. But this assumption fails to recognize that mobile work activities are very different than activities performed in the office,” she says.
“For example, salespeople, field service, executives and other user groups often need specialized levels of access to different parts of a CRM system when mobile,” says Falco. “But to realize this after you’ve deployed a basic desktop replication that doesn’t match user needs is too late.”
Averting such deployment issues is accomplished by conducting user profiling early, to gain a comprehensive understanding of mobile work for each user group.
Falco says user profiling analysis begins by looking at each user group and asking questions like:
- What kind of work does this mobile worker do?
- How do they do it?
- What kind of mobility tools would enhance this work?
- If we did provide these mobility tools, what would the impact be?
According to Falco, comprehensive user profiling ultimately results in a much more strategic mobility plan, and makes the development of the plan much easier for IT. “Rather than trying to make assumptions about what applications might work well for diverse groups of users in different mobile settings, IT can focus on matching available applications and tools to the mobile needs of each user group,” she says.
Five-Phased Approach to User Profiling
Falco explains the five-phased approach to user profiling developed by RIM Professional Services:
Summarize the workforce by role and location.
Where are they mobile? On the campus? As a telecommuter? In the field?
Are they mobile 20% of the time? 15%? 60%? Are they mobile consistently, or periodically?
What are the mobile activities, specifically? How often are they performed?
What tools fulfill those needs? Generalized tools? Email? IM? Or process-specific tools?
“This five-phase approach delivers an earlier and more accurate prediction of what kind of ROI will be realized because it’s based on an analysis of how user groups spend their time and activity,” Falco says.
This provides a much more strategic way of deploying mobile technology, which many companies lack, as revealed in the Yankee Group’s report, “Setting a Strategic Road Map for Enterprise Mobility” (July 17, 2006).
The report observed that most companies were engaged in “opportunistic mobility”, defined as “the use of some wireless or mobile technology that addresses a specific set of workers or a specific business application” and yields benefits to the organization that are “often limited in scope and not scalable.”
According to the 2006 report, “The next 3 years represent an acceleration point—a transitional period when companies should begin to transform their limited opportunistic mobility initiatives toward strategic mobility initiatives.”
“User profiling is one way to make this transformation, and this is where RIM Professional Services excels,” says Falco.
RIM Professional Services guides IT professionals and other mobility stakeholders through the five-phase user profiling process using industry best practices. For more information on best practices in user profiling, contact RIM Professional Services.
RIM Professional Services
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