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The mobile enterprise: Killing IT's sacred cows

Tom Kaneshige | Jan. 20, 2012
It's shortly before 6 a.m. on a Saturday in Las Vegas. High-rollers and party-goers are sleeping off last night's thrill ride. Bright neon lights grow dim in the cold morning light. But an excited crowd is stirring at The Cosmopolitan.

On his watch, Duchscher bought thousands of iPads for both employees and customers. More than 100 Starkey sales reps carry iPads. Duchscher also created a three-person mobile apps group. Now Starkey has 17 iOS apps on the App Store, ranging from apps used by salespeople to process orders to apps used by audiologists to configure hearing instruments to apps used by patients to perform self-diagnostic hearing tests.

Sacred Cow: The Almighty ROI

When asked if the iPad has led to more sales, Duchscher isn't sure--and doesn't really care.

Many CIOs wouldn't embark on any major project without having a quantifiable goal for the return on investment. Yet such thinking will only delay the ball from moving forward, Duchscher says. "I wish we would have accelerated our iPad adoption curve even faster."

Sure, Starkey salespeople fire up the iPad at customer sites, access CRM apps, get real-time pricing, and take orders--all of which speeds up the sales cycle. Does this improved level of customer service translate to higher sales?

"The benefits are a little less tangible," Duchscher says.

But it's a good bet that sales are being affected. Salespeople at energy giant Eaton Corporation, who were recently handed an iPad with a similar app, told Eaton CIO Justin Kershaw that they closed several significant sales because they were in the right place at the right time with the iPad. That is, they might have lost those sales because it would have taken them longer on the legacy path of selling.

"Based on early returns of the performance of the app, every bit of our ROI is going to be achieved and exceeded," Kershaw told

Nevertheless, the point is that Duchscher wasn't overly concerned about having a concrete ROI before starting down the road to iPad adoption. Starkey executives simply knew that salespeople at client sites taking orders over an iPad instead of using a pen and paper would improve the company's image. After all, Starkey's hearing aids are technically sophisticated products, too.

Sacred Cow: Startups Need Not Apply

One of the slick-looking apps in Starkey's iPad stable is Handshake, a subscription-based sales order and catalog app created by an Australian startup. That's right, a startup.

It's an ugly word for many CIOs who've been burned by signing up with a startup software vendor only to watch helplessly as that vendor gets acquired or goes belly up, leaving them with unsupported software. Some CIOs require startups to put code in escrow so that the CIO can take ownership and continue development in such cases.

Other CIOs simply dismiss startups outright. One CIO told mobile device management vendor MobileIron, "I don't work with startups," recalls Ojas Rege, vice president of products and marketing at MobileIron, speaking at the AppNation Enterprise Summit last week in San Francisco. (MobileIron eventually won the business through perseverance.)


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