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A CTO's take on mobility strategy launch time, outsourcing and more

A chief technology officer answers some of CIOs' lingering questions about mobility strategy rollouts, outsourcing and rogue app development.

As with any burgeoning technology, there are many questions on the minds of CIOs when it comes to the right mobility strategy. Steve Tack, chief technology officer at Detroit-based Compuware Corp., offers his opinion on questions posed to him by attendees during his presentation at last week's Fusion 2012 CEO-CIO Symposium in Madison, Wis.

What is the time horizon for launching a mobile strategy?

Tack: This isn't like when you put the ERP system in and hope for value five, six, seven years from now. This is like, we need an app in the app store, it's important for our brand, it's gotta be there in the next six months. [Companies] are looking at things in almost six month increments because their strategies are changing very rapidly. Also, the technology underfoot is on such a path where I don't think anyone can say they've got a direct strategy more than 18 months out.

Would you recommend a separate leader for mobile?

I would not. I say this because … however your consumer is engaging with you, you want to provide that seamless experience. If I'm on my iPad and I go to my smartphone or from the Web -- as much as you can keep that a single look-and-feel and context, the consumer experience is better. I realize [that] with where we're at in terms of maturity curve, we see a lot of spot teams created. There are a lot of special projects, but still within the same strategy to avoid fragmentation.

Is it a good idea to outsource some mobility strategy elements, and are there vendors in those spaces?

I've seen companies do both. They've created the investment strategy internally, as well as outsourced any element of that. There's [vendors] who build mobile apps, if you need help with that; and there's people who do full outsourcing, run the apps, build the infrastructure and so forth. That's more of an implementation strategy than part of the business goal. So, even if you do benefit from other people's technology and skills, you still direct the process … the strategy still needs to come internally.

Are you seeing a proliferation of BYO apps, and do CIOs become gatekeepers or facilitators of this?

It's more of a facilitation role. You don't see it as much, like with departmental server sprawl. But there is a little more of a push around actual app deployment and the processes you need to go through that. So, there's a little bit more of friction there … but that's where the collaboration and strategy need to be aligned, because you need someone that's got the handle for the overall strategy. That person [and] others who help facilitate the deployment and other aspects can work together.

Let us know what you think about the story; email Karen Goulart, Features Writer.

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