In the prologue of their excellent book from last year, the authors of Transforming Business: Big Data, Mobility, and Globalization describe an extraordinary moment at a run-of-the-mill IT conference in 1980.

William Synott, Senior Vice President of First National Bank of Boston, stood at the microphone and single-handedly invented a title that would come to define a new era of business.

“The job of the chief information officer (CIO)—equal in rank to chief executive and chief financial officers—does not exist today,” he stated, “But the CIO will identify, collect and manage information as a resource, set corporate information policy and affect all office and distributed systems.”

Information technology was fundamentally changing business and this new role acknowledged that change. But this was just the start.

While Synott was delivering his ground-breaking speech, the technology company that would eventually become the largest in the world was preparing its historic IPO—the largest in nearly 25 years.

Apple’s contributions to the evolution of IT can’t be overstated. While their greatest success has come directly from the consumer market, ultimately they would come back around to finding vitality in their original, business-oriented domain… not by way of the executive, but through the employees.

The next-gen engine is mobile

The generation of Millennials who fully embraced the digital shift and drove Apple’s success in the consumer market now represent one-third of the workforce, and they’ve brought their iPhones and iPads with them. This has affected the role of the CIO in a way that Synott couldn’t have predicted.

The authors of Transforming Business continue: “The CIO, once a position conceived by a visionary speaker at an industry conference and now an essential role within most private enterprises, finds herself in the eye of a perfect storm—a changing workforce with radically different work habits colliding with consumer companies that have become the gold standard in shaping how technology is used.”

As these tech-happy employees exert their influence on company culture and start to demand full access to the range of technology options available to them (as well as the fluidity and flexibility those technologies offer), businesses are exploring what mobile-enabled IT systems can do. The answer, of course, is a lot.

Mobile technology hasn’t simply allowed people to stay connected more often or more easily; it’s fundamentally altered three major workplace expectations.

  • Accessibility: what information we can find and use from any location
  • Interaction: what we can do with that information for analysis and comparison
  • Presentation: how effectively we can share our inputs and outputs

Internet mobility began in the consumer market, but those consumers go to work, and they bring their habits with them. Connected users understand the advantages of mobility, and companies that embrace the opportunities for mobile productivity are much more likely to meet the demands of their consumers, both on and off the payroll.

To see how interactive analytics can meet your company’s need for mobile productivity, try a demo of Askuity’s retail intelligence platform.