CIOs: Look at mobile as a business opportunity

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Brian Stevens Building Systems of Engagement on Open CIO

During the past few years, I’ve attended numerous conferences for CIOs and IT leaders, and usually when mobile is on the agenda, it’s in the context of device security, Bring Your Own Device issues, or how to manage the adoption of mobile devices by the company’s employers.

To me, that seems to be missing the point of what the chief technologist should be thinking about when it comes to mobile. CIOs shouldn’t look at mobile as an internal security problem. They should look at it as a business opportunity.

I’m not saying CIOs shouldn’t spend time making sure employees are using secure devices; I’m just saying it has received a disproportionate focus. Instead, CIOs should be the thought leaders who articulate ways their companies can use mobile to improve customer experiences and drive business results.

Mobile is about the customer experience. It's about the changing behaviors and expectations of customers. Companies have powerful opportunities to use mobile technology to reach their customers, to satisfy their needs, and to extend their brands onto this new platform.

And while this is obvious for companies like and certainly for retailers, it’s also important for B2B organizations as well. Because even in business-to-business situations, your customers expect to use mobile tools and interfaces to interact with the companies from which they’re ordering products, buying services or getting support.

It’s absolutely essential that mobile is embraced as a strategic opportunity. CIOs are in a strong position to do that. A starting point is thinking about the ways your customers experience your product and your brand when they interact with your company digitally. Get an understanding of the nature of their interactions. Then develop a strategy for enabling customers to use the device of their choice. Depending on how creative or aggressive you want to be, you can even begin identifying ways to extend your brand and service experience in new ways.

Mobile presents a universe of possibilities, but if you’re only thinking about security issues and provisioning employees, it’s like having your head looking down at the floor instead of up at the sky.

Read, "Winning in the Age of the Mobile Mindshift."

Bill Swinslow is former senior vice president and product and chief Information officer of In his role, Bill oversaw all aspects of the product and technology teams. He guided the site's development since its inception in 1997.

In his role as Senior Vice President of Product and Chief Information Officer, William Swislow oversaw all aspects of the product and technology teams. He guided the site's development since its inception in 1998.Before joining, Swislow held several roles within the Chicago Tribune, including interactive marketplaces editor.