Review of iPad in the Enterprise, by Nathan Clevenger

Disclosure: I received a  free review copy of this book to use in preparing for this post.

At every client these days, mobility is a big deal, whether because increasing numbers of employees are demanding that the enterprise support their personal smart phones and tablets or because the organization is looking to gain competitive advantage through the strategic use of mobility in its core business processes.

And although most of my clients have been enabling mobility since the advent of laptops, just about every one of those clients is in more or less uncharted territory when it comes to the new wave of mobility ushered in by smartphones and tablets. increasing numbers of employees are demanding that the enterprise support their personal smart phones and tablets or because the organization is looking to gain competitive advantage through the strategic use of mobility in its core business processes.

This makes a certain amount of sense: after all, laptops are essentially portable desktop computers, while smartphones and tablets are radically new form factors that demand a reimagination of the entire end user experience. On top of which, these devices are often consumer devices, owned by employees, that therefore exist outside the reach of IT control.

Given all the urgency and uncertainty around the enterprise use of mobile devices, iPad for the Enterprise is a welcome addition to the literature available on the topic.

Nathan Clevenger has been involved in the development of mobile strategies and applications for over a decade, and the book reflects it. He begins with a consideration of iPad strategy that’s a wonderful primer for anyone involved in mobility at their organization, from developers in the trenches to executive leadership.

It sets the stage through a consideration of how we reached the current state of mobility and introduces the concept of the consumerization of IT, i.e., IT changes being driven in a decentralized way by the “consumers” in the enterprise (the employees) rather than in a centralized way by IT.

From there, it moves to more practical considerations and presents an overview of how to build an enterprise mobile strategy and application roadmap. Both are somewhat general—it’s difficult to generalize meaningfully about either of these activities—but nonetheless useful, especially for folks who’ve never participated in creating enterprise strategy before.

With the groundwork in place, Clevenger moves through all the phases of iPad app development: architecture, design, development, and deployment. And while none of this is not intended as a detailed ho- to guide or instructional manual for app development, he manages to get in enough technical detail and code samples to make this a valuable first-stop for technical folks looking to better understand what’s happening under the hood of the iPad.

All in all, the book is a strong offering. Non-technical readers will benefit greatly not only from the first section on strategy, but also from the more technical sections, which they can read selectively to gain a better preliminary understanding of concepts like sandbox security or iOS Human Interface Guidelines. Technical readers will not be disappointed in Clevenger’s treatment of app development and will also benefit from a better understanding of the context and strategy of iPad app development.

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Not technology, but management

I took a longer break than expected from my reading over the holidays, so I’m only about halfway done with Porter and Teisberg’s Redefining Health Care. But despite that, I’m still finding lots of thought-provoking passages as I make my way slowly through their work.

I came across this one right before the holidays and have been meaning to write about it ever since: “We have come to believe strongly that technology is important, but that the major problem the [health care] system is facing today is not technology but management” (p. 100).

In my experience, this is an all-too-common problem at the organizations I work with inside and outside health care. Almost daily I bump up against leaders who are willing to absent themselves from the fundamentals of management in the hopes that a new technology will solve business problems.

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Oblique influence

I just finished a long section of Getting Health Reform Right about the role of regulation in health care that was, to say the least, eye-opening. And as usual, I want to leave aside discussions of health reform and talk more about the implications for leadership generally.

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Make sure you tie your carrot to a stick

Changes in external incentives and in internal management are powerfully complementary. Giving managers incentives without also giving them the skills, authority, and resources they need to respond to those incentives is likely to be quite ineffectual. The same is true in reverse. Increased managerial authority is not likely to lead to improved care if managers have no incentive to do so. This is why various writers on organizational reform in health care have seen a need for “consistent” change (Harding and Preker 2002). It is not aesthetics that lies behind their observations, but rather the need to combine reasons to do better with this capacity to do better–in the same reform package.

Getting Health Reform Right, p. 215

I’m still finishing up Getting Health Reform Right, so a review is a week or so off. But in the meantime, I came across this passage on the plane last night and thought it held wonderful insight into leadership generally.

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Leading without authority

I was at a client recently and had a great conversation with a team member about leadership. He was an IT application owner, which in this case meant that he has the primary responsibility for both the care and feeding of a software application as well as acting as the liaison between IT and the business folks who are its end-users. In the course of our talk, he expressed a desire to move beyond his current role and become a leader at the enterprise level, so we shared our thoughts about the process we were both on to do that very thing someday.

The talk reminded me that you can’t wait until you’re given a leadership role to begin leading–you have to start the moment you decide that leadership is something you want to do, and the official title will come later.

After all, if you can’t lead without an official title, how will you do so once you get it? The mantle of authority doesn’t convey leadership abilities, it conveys the authority to tell others what to do and expect them to do it. But the vision to know what should be done and the ability to get people excited to do it–you need to be able to do both of these before formal authority is going to be of any real use to you as a leader.

For the client team member I was talking with, this meant organizing a grass-roots user group for his application so that business stakeholders from across the organization could come together and share their experiences with the technology and the business problems it helped them solve. I encouraged him to go further and evolve this user group into a more formal center of excellence (COE) focused on the core business domain of his users (in this case, customer communications). Such a COE could be instrumental in formulating policies and procedures, defining standard enterprise requirements (business and technology), and training and educating the rest of the organization about its domain.

If he succeeds at driving this kind of organizational change in his current position, think of what he’ll be able to do when he’s given a more formal leadership position. But part and parcel of why he would be able to succeed in a formal leadership role would be because he had already done so much informal leading–that’s the catch. Being a leader and having a leadership title are two different things: one has to be given to you, the other you have to decide to do, no matter what your current title is.

Speaking of Leadership – John F. Moore

John F. Moore is the founder of The Lab, a consulting firm that provides market research, consulting services, and product delivery to help small and medium businesses, as well as local governments and state agencies, implement common sense approaches to leveraging social business strategies, tactics, and tools to meet their organizational goals.

In addition to his work with The Lab, John is a Strategic Advisor to Silberberg Innovations, the Founder of CityCamp Boston (an event focused on bringing together citizens, local government officials, municipal employees, experts, programmers, designers and journalists to share perspectives and insights about the cities in which they live), and a contributor to Fortune.com.

Prior to founding The Lab, John was the CTO, SVP of Engineering, Chief Social Ecosystem Strategist at Swimfish, CTO, VP Engineering at Sonicbids, Inc., and the Director of Engineering at Brainshark,Inc.

John is also a prolific blogger, a frequent speaker on government 2.0 and social business strategies, and has grown strong, thriving communities on Twitter (19,000+), Empire Avenue (600+), and Facebook (150+).

I corresponded with John recently via email to ask him about social media and leadership.

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Words of wisdom – CIO roundtable, Oklahoma IT Symposium

I was lucky enough to attend the Oklahoma IT Symposium two weeks ago and hear a great CIO roundtable with leaders from a diverse set of organizations:

  • Dan Barth, CIO, OPUBCO Communications Group
  • Gina L. Bradford, CIO, TMA Systems
  • Scott Martin, CIO, Nonni’s Food Company, Inc
  • Gene Rindels, Director of IT, Charles Machine Works, Inc.
  • Hugh Scott, VP, Direct Energy
  • Chris Truesdell, CIO, QuikTrip

I jotted down some things that struck me at the time and wanted to share them here.

One caveat: I was handwriting notes, not recording, so the quotes here should be taken as paraphrases of what was said. And if anyone was there and remembers differently, please jump into the conversation and add your take as well.

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