By Ted Suen, Head of IT, MTR Corporation Ltd.
Carrying an average of 5.4 million passengers every weekday across all of our services, the MTR is regarded as one of the leading railways for safety, reliability, customer service and cost efficiency. Grounded on the latest corporate customer service vision, MTR Mobile aims at serving in much information & accurate manner.
Central to the MTR Mobile App design is a set of user-friendly, practical and convenient tools to consumers in Hong Kong and visitors overseas. These tools include a journey planner, MTR loyalty club access and station information search. In addition, for such established brand as MTR, we believe that an innovative user experience would strengthen the caring image. Hence, we aim high by setting out to build the largest Augmented Reality (AR) browser App experience in HK, potentially in Asia, with over 20,000 points of interests (POIs).
MTR Mobile also provides real time traffic information to users – a big leap to achieve higher operational transparency. It gives the most timely and reliable train service information easily accessible on the hands of passengers, such as the arrangement under tropical cyclone and severe service disruption. MTR Mobile employs different emergent technologies such as mobile technology and cloud technology for providing better experiences to passengers.
Following MTR Mobile, MTR has further implemented quite number of mobile apps for external customers and internal enterprise users. For external mobile apps, the main objective is to provide better experiences to passengers while the main objective of internal enterprise mobile is to improve operational efficiency and productivity.
Emergent technologies, such as mobile technology and cloud technology, are evolving at an unprecedentedly rate which is totally out of our prediction and imagination. It is imperative for organization to look into the benefits of employing emergent technologies for generating more business benefits or better customer engagement.
To provide better customer experiences to customers, mobile app is definitely a perfect channel in today world as mobile device has become one of the most important parts of our life. Moreover, other emergent technologies could be fully integrated with mobile technology and this make mobile device become something more than just a mobile phone.
However, IT organization should not rush to develop any mobile application without a clear enterprise mobile strategy roadmap. IT organization should develop an enterprise mobile strategy by layongrft out a clearly defined mobile strategy roadmap in order to really crystallize the benefits of mobile technology and evolving user behaviour.
Several key factors should be taken into consideration in IT mobile strategy:
1. Articulate IT mobile objective
The mobile strategic roadmap must be in line with corporate strategies. Corporate strategies may be focusing on revenue generation, customer engagement, employees’ productivity or even company branding. Hence, mobile initiatives must be able to help corporate to achieve those focusing pillars.
Moreover, there should be a IT strategy committee with key stakeholders as members. The committee should oversees the mobile initiatives and ensure those initiatives can support corporate strategies.
2. Bring Your Own Device / Apps policy
No doubt that corporation will see cost savings and other benefits by allowing employees to bring their own mobile device to work environment, however there will be other potential issues coming out from this. Corporate confidential information such as confidential email or financial information will be downloaded and saved on mobile devices. Enterprise Mobile Management (EMM) solution should be deployed in order to protect confidential corporate information.
The model of mobile device and version of mobile device operation systems which will be supported should be stated clearly in the policy. Furthermore, liability of corporation and individual employee should also be stated in the policy in order to avoid future dispute.
3. Corporate Mobile Application Development Lifecycle Management Policy
A corporate policy to strengthen the quality, effectiveness, compliance and security of corporate mobile applications, such that corporate information and reputation shall be protected with reference to corporate security policy and government privacy ordinances and reinforced security measures should be implemented.
The policy should also define the enterprise mobile application development platform in terms of technology used. This helps to ensure all enterprise mobile applications are centrally managed under the same governance framework for better user experiences, protection of confidential personal customer information as well as a cost effective solution development approach.
4. Value Assessment Model
To develop a mobile application, the initial investment or development cost might not be too much. However, as mobile technology and other emergent technologies are evolving at an unprecedentedly rate, additional cost in catching up the new technologies and new version of mobile devices operating systems will be unexpectedly high. Moreover, demand and expectation of customers are also another area that drives the evolution of mobile application on different user experiences.
In order to ensure the right amount of money is invested in enterprise mobile application appropriately, an enterprise IT mobile application valuation assessment model should be developed. The model should consist of several determining factors such as the Return on Investment, Net Present Value, Government regulatory requirement, Customer Satisfaction, or even Branding. Again, all mobile application initiatives must fit into corporate strategic pillars or values.
Every organization needs to start working on its own enterprise mobile strategy and it is inevitably not to transform its IT organization or IT infrastructure for that. A close working partnership relationship with key stakeholders is one of important success factors to build enterprise mobile solutions and platform. With good understanding of emergent technologies, an IT organization still needs to work closely with users on prototyping of new technological solutions. Never hesitate to give up proof of concept or prototyping projects otherwise the future on-going maintenance cost will be very high or even cannot generate the expected benefits.