Learning from mobile champions – The way to becoming a nomadic enterprise

May 07 2019 Suliman Al Awamleh

Getting the most out of barren habitats such as deserts and steppes is not everyone’s cup of tea. And yet, since time immemorial, there have been survivors who have managed to do just that: the nomads. They live “out of a suitcase”; camels, horses and donkeys are their traditional “mobility enablers”. Once the pastures have been grazed, the entire property is recharged, and the journey continues to greener pastures, which once again only provide food and water for a limited period of time. We would have to call this attitude agility today. The modern, mobile and agile working world and the archaic concept of life have some surprising things in common.

Five Aspects of Nomadism as a Blueprint for Agile Companies

Agile working, agile methods – Agility is one of the maxims that determines the future success of companies. But what is agility really? One definition would be: maximum flexibility and responsiveness to constantly changing circumstances. An attitude that has been internalized among nomads for millennia. Almost the alpha and omega of the nomadic mindset.

But what is the nomadic mindset? Essentially, it consists of five aspects that can be transferred to the nomadic enterprise: permanent mobility, small groups, “light luggage”, strict social norms and knowledge transfer. Nomadic companies must adapt these characteristics in order to stay at the ball height (or rather riding speed) of the competition.

Modern companies (= nomadic societies) must take these five aspects into account if they want to bring their employees (= nomads) into an agile working mode through mobile devices (= horses, camels). Besides, this can also mean a not insignificant cultural upheaval for the company: Nomadism means freedom of choice and design for the respective individual. They must give their employees the freedom to decide how they do their job and with which instruments. This includes, for example, a BYOD policy. The task of nomadic companies is to create optimal framework conditions that promote mobility, efficiency, productivity and collaboration.

Light luggage = light business apps

Anyone who has to be constantly on the move (= agile work) attaches great importance to carrying light luggage. Hunter and – above all – collector is not the slogan according to which he may live. Only what is urgently necessary may be taken along. Anything that has no use will not be taken away. It only hinders. The nomad knows no “legacy”.  For nomadic companies this means that they need mobile platforms with modern features and must push their possibilities to the limit. These platforms must run business applications that can be built, modified and published without the help of developers. The apps must allow personalization to create a perfect user experience. Apps are used in cloud-on-demand mode. What is not needed can simply be separated from it.

Greater mobility through smaller self-sufficient groups

What horses, camels, donkeys for nomads, these are mobile devices for business nomads. A minimum set of binding rules allows maximum flexibility in how business goals are achieved. Mobility must not be restricted. That’s why nomads travel in small groups that stick together: the Tribes. Tribes act autonomously and seek the optimum for their area of responsibility. The company as a whole is made up of various Tribes who meet and exchange ideas depending on the situation. This unhindered exchange is relevant for the progress of the company.

Knowledge transfer = enabling the use of the latest technologies

Since time immemorial, technological progress has arisen through the exchange of knowledge between groups with different experiences and insights. The nomadic style “organizationally” promotes this style of exchange by allowing Tribes to meet and collaborate with each other in situ. This style of collaboration, however, requires optimal exchange or in other words, modern and advanced collaboration platforms.

Nomadic organizations are therefore characterized by the fact that they build such future-proof mobile technology platforms, which increase the availability of employees and allow a comfortable use of mobile devices for work. One of the fruits of these platforms is increased employee engagement. A second important element is that they enrich the mobile platforms with the possibilities of new technologies such as 5G, IoT, machine learning and artificial intelligence.

In addition, these technologies enable mobile platforms to automate transactions, workflows, and collaboration capabilities. Data analytics can help companies achieve a new level of information that leads to optimized decisions and strategic directives. This relieves the strain on employees and leads to higher productivity and satisfaction. The degree of personal freedom for the assigned tasks increases.

New technical possibilities are putting mobility in the fast lane: device proximity services, face and speech recognition, high-resolution cameras, digital assistants, augmented and virtual reality are just a few examples of the rapid development and possibilities of new generations of mobile devices. In addition to higher employee productivity, they promise a wealth of new business opportunities and sales potential.

Security for mobility needs elegance

Nomads also have “light luggage” when it comes to their rules – a few, but all the stricter, codes of conduct determine how they work together and serve to protect the Tribe. Security in the choice of pastureland is one of them. But security is also the be-all and end-all, make or break, for all digital solutions. “If you can’t make it secure, don’t do it all” is the requirement. Mobile solutions have a lot of catching up to do compared to established stationary IT solutions in terms of security features. On the other hand, users demand mobile simplicity. Cumbersome security solutions are doomed to failure. Security by design, i.e. right from the start, can not only prevent gaps, but also help to keep the user experience aspect of security in mind.

Mobile technology platforms must ensure modern security standards, but they must not slow down the user. The user must have a choice, the management team must retain control over the systems. Secure data and application access on the basis of various roles and responsibilities, secure mobile certificates, encryption and multi-factor authentication are an obligatory part of the security setup.

Become a nomad – with a suitable mobility platform

Companies that take the step towards nomadic enterprises get the most out of employee productivity, satisfaction, decision-making ability and level of cooperation. On the other hand, organizations gain a sustainable “nomadic” structure: They can quickly adapt to technological change and the mobility demands of their market and their employees. Mobile platforms are the indispensable basis for the agile, nomadic company.

About the author

Suliman Al Awamleh

Offering Manager, T-Systems International

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