Five Takeaways from Mobile Enterprise Boston

Last week I attended M|Enterprise Boston, a conference that brought together technologists ahead of the curve in mobile application development, IT executives looking for best practices on mobile device management in large enterprises, and leaders looking to help their business gain a competitive edge by developing differentiating mobile capabilities.

My takeaways -

  • Use Hackathons to get developer adoption - Mahesh Bala of Snyder Electric scheduled a hackathon to get developers across the globe to try out his mobile development platform. It's a brilliant idea for two reasons. First, for developers that were already developing mobile apps in his organization, the hackathon provided a venue to learn, tinker, and hopefully by into a standard development tool and methodology for developing future applications. For more novice developers, it was an opportunity to learn a new skill and gain confidence to develop mobile technologies. Given how hard it is to get a decentralized group of developers to adopt a development standard and how important it is to grow an enterprise's mobile development talent pool, this approach is simply brilliant. In addition to the innovation developed at the hackathon, I am certain Mahesh got value feedback from the developers on where to make platform improvements. 

  • Use Genius bars to help users - Apple's genius bars are a huge success in getting its users everything from basic support to important training and problem solving. Why not use the same approach in the enterprise? Brian Katz @BMKatz talked about his enterprise's approach to setting up internal genius bars to help its users fix issues and learn how to better use their mobile devices. Smart to be present and make it convenient for users to find technologists rather than wait or hope that they dial into Support.

  • Day in the life of a user - There was a good amount of discussion on the importance of understanding user needs and work flow before designing applications. The best and most simple advice I heard - and apologies for not remembering the source - was to have members of the team walk in the shoes of their target users and experience a day in their life. Why? Because for mobile applications to be useful and used, they have to provide significant benefits at the right time and place and a good way to understand their needs is to experience it directly.

  • Agile development of mobile applications was debated politely. Many participants stressed the importance of identifying user persona, needs, workflows and to design the user experience while others were more vocal on agile principles. The two are not mutually exclusive and all agreed that mobile app development should target a minimal viable product but needs to be good enough so that users don't download, disappoint and drop.

  • Mobile analytics is the key to understanding user behaviors and tuning mobile applications and possibly more important than web analytics. As Adrian Bowles @AJBowles put it so well, the intersection of mobile and analytics is being "aware" so that the app is always on and collecting data and "everywhere" the user goes you have the ability to provide value and capture insights. The combination of mobile with analytics, assuming strong privacy considerations is a strategic differentiating tool. 

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About Isaac Sacolick

Isaac Sacolick is President of StarCIO, a technology leadership company that guides organizations on building digital transformation core competencies. He is the author of Digital Trailblazer and the Amazon bestseller Driving Digital and speaks about agile planning, devops, data science, product management, and other digital transformation best practices. Sacolick is a recognized top social CIO, a digital transformation influencer, and has over 900 articles published at InfoWorld,, his blog Social, Agile, and Transformation, and other sites. You can find him sharing new insights @NYIke on Twitter, his Driving Digital Standup YouTube channel, or during the Coffee with Digital Trailblazers.