Carrier WiFi

The Big Seven

It's been 17 years since The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, the best-selling management/personal-growth book of all time, came out – the 15th anniversary edition hit the best-seller lists once again in 2004 – and it's a good time in the history of enterprise mobile services to revisit the principles of the book, and adapt them to the need of IT managers looking at rolling out new mobile devices, services, and applications.

So, with apologies to Stephen Covey (these principles are all registered trademarks, of course), here are The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Mobile Deployments.

1. Be "proactive," pardon the expression.
This is the ability to control one's environment, rather than have it control you. IT departments face increasing demands for mobile devices and services from restive employees. Don't be driven by their whims; craft a five-year-plan, win buy-in from top management, get the budget approved, and follow your plan. As scuba-diving instructors cryptically say, "Plan your dive – dive your plan."

2. Begin with the end in mind.
This seems obvious, but with the siren call of rapidly advancing technology it is easy to lose sight of actual business goals. Ask yourself not "What can this technology allow us to do?" but "How will this technology enable us to conduct our business and serve our customers better?" As Covey puts it, "By developing the habit of concentrating on relevant activities you will build a platform to avoid distractions and become more productive and successful."

3. Put first things first.
With clearly established business goals you can plan a step-by-step deployment that will enable returns on investment in year one, rather than in some nebulous future phase. Organize and implement your wireless plan in line with the aims established in Habit 2.

4. Think win-win.
Covey lyrically calls this "the habit of interpersonal leadership," in which achievements are largely dependent on cooperative efforts with others. IT departments often tend to operate in a vacuum, punctured only when crises arise. Putting out fires will always be a requirement in any new device- or service-rollout; but clearly communicating the benefits, risks, and requirements of a new mobile deployment to all stakeholders in the organization is crucial. Cooperation is always better than confrontation.

5. Seek first to understand and then to be understood.
Or, as Covey puts it, "Diagnose before your prescribe." Management-by-walking-around is as important for CIOs as it is for CEOs. Do you fully understand the processes and requirements of all departments that will be affected by the new deployment? Can you communicate effectively the practical day-to-day benefits of the new technology to people at all levels of the company? If not, you're not ready to roll out a new device or service.

6. "Synergize," again, p the e.
Okay, it's an empty buzzword. But viewing the whole as greater than the sum of the parts can be a home run (to coin a term) for mobile professionals. How can you get more out of the building's wireless LAN? Is there an added service from your wireless carrier that would bring more to your salesforce? How can RFID do more than track assets? The convergence of many different forms of wireless technology will empower (another buzzword) IT managers who can effectively symonize their mobile investments.

7. Sharpen the saw.
This is the habit of self renewal, says Covey, and it's easy to overlook in the rush to get the Next Big Thing out the door (or to douse the Next Big Fire – see No. 4). Sharpening the saw can be as simple as taking a more measured approach to a deployment, and ignoring, for a while, the cries of the other 400, or 4,000, employees who don't yet have a shiny new Treo. Like any other new technology, mobile devices and services need to filter down into a company's DNA before the real benefits – and challenges – appear.

— Richard Martin, Senior Editor, Unstrung

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