The Advanced Practices Council of the Society for Information Management has just published my report, Mobile App Development in Highly Regulated Industries: Risks, Rewards and Recipes. I co-authored the report with my former graduate student, Paul Simons, who serves as the CEO of iHear Network.
Mobile computing has the potential to be as disruptive to the status quo as the Internet in the 1990s or the Model T in the early 20th century. A driving force behind mobile computing is the adoption of mobile apps, which increase revenues through new and refined business models, greater brand awareness and customer loyalty, and tools that increase employee productivity. However, not all organizations that launch mobile apps end up with successful products. The rewards may be lucrative, but there are risks of entering the marketplace with new products. In highly regulated industries, the risks are compounded by additional constraints for developing mobile software related to protecting and communicating information. Firms in such industries must implement comprehensive security solutions that go beyond standard industry regulatory systems. Since regulations always lag behind technological advancement, organizations must anticipate how their actions might trigger future legislative responses and the impacts on users’ expectations of privacy and trust. Another risk that stems from rapid growth of mobile software is the reduced barrier to entry for emerging companies, especially from startups that circumnavigate existing regulations on the use of mobile technology.
Due to the rapidly changing nature of mobile apps, design thinking has emerged as a methodology to help guide an organization through the process of developing mobile apps. Traditional linear modes of development are not sufficient or flexible enough to keep up with innovation in mobile hardware, software, and mobile operating systems. Design thinking has grown beyond just a methodology for developing software products and experiences to a means of developing business strategy. This non-linear mode of strategy development is better suited for mobile strategy because it provides greater insight into the needs and desires of end users, fosters innovative and creative solutions, and provides greater flexibility to adapt to the changing circumstances caused by disruptive forces of the mobile revolution. This enables the Chief Information Officer (CIO) to provide greater leadership in exploiting internal and external opportunities. This report provides a number of recommendations to CIOs in mobile app development.