There is no denying that mobility is currently a hot topic. Staggering forecasts by various analysts have made capitalizing on the mobile applications market a top priority for many organizations’ CIOs and CTOs. However, before diving headfirst into mobility projects, it is important to consider various factors in order to define a clear strategy that addresses the many opportunities and challenges that mobility presents for your organization.
During Q4 of 2010, smartphone sales surpassed global PC sales for the first time in history. This turning point arrived quicker than most analysts predicted. By 2013, it is expected that the combined global sales of smartphones and tablets will double the sales of PCs. This estimation might be conservative. With lower-cost smartphones expected to be available on the market due to Microsoft’s partnership with Nokia and with less expensive tablets like the Kindle Fire certain to arrive in the near future as alternatives to the Apple iPad, it is likely that this turning point will arrive sooner. And these devices aren’t simply meant to supplement traditional PCs and laptops; for many users, mobile devices will be the only way they will access the internet.
Organizations should view these forecasts and trends as opportunities. The revenue potential is huge and only continues to grow. With a well-devised strategy, the mobile channel can present a unique opportunity to further engage with customers, differentiate from competitors or establish a position of leadership in your market and ultimately increase revenue. As a disruptive technology, mobile devices can even be a catalyst for organizations to create new, untapped markets (for example, location-based social network applications like Foursquare1).
In order to capitalize on these opportunities and to shape your strategy, consider the following factors:
- Business Objectives– What are your organization’s top-level goals? It is important to align your mobility strategy to these goals. When selecting the mobile projects your organization will undertake, does your selection criteria include how the projects help your organization achieve its goals? For example, if your goals this year are to increase revenue and to increase brand awareness, are you utilizing mobile to its full potential as a revenue channel and do you have plans to integrate your mobile applications with social networks?
- Customer Expectations – What do your high-value customers2 expect from you? Do they expect that when they browse your website from a mobile device, they’ll get a mobile-optimized view?3Do they expect applications targeted for their specific device or mobile OS? More and more smartphone and tablet users demand mobile applications that provide a rich and compelling view of content and provide the real-time information they need while on-the-go.
- Competitive Advantage – What features do your competitions’ mobile applications provide? You can almost certainly bet that if your competition provides these features, your customers will expect similar features in your applications as well. Beyond these core features, what other features can you provide to set your applications and services apart from those of your competitors?
- Go-to-Market Tactics – How will you launch your application? What tools will you use, which platforms and devices will you target? Can you take an agile approach and launch an application quickly (i.e., get something out on the app store or your mobile-optimized website) and do quick iterations? Or do the needs of your target customer/audience require you to have a fuller-fledged, feature-rich application from the outset? And once your application is on the market, how do you plan on driving sales? What marketing campaigns are vital and necessary to the success of the application?
- Organizational Readiness – Is your company in a position to deliver mobile solutions? Does your company have the capacity in-house to develop and manage/support mobile-optimized web sites and/or mobile applications or will you have to establish a partnership with companies that are ready to do so? Do you have the appropriate infrastructure to support these applications or do you need to leverage cloud solution providers?
These factors are not meant to be an exhaustive list, but a starting point for developing a strategy for ensuring successful mobility projects4. However, addressing these factors and answering the related questions can help you establish a roadmap in delivering the appropriate mobile applications and services by your organization.
What other factors do you believe are important in ensuring successful mobile projects?
1 Can ‘location-based social network applications’ be even considered as a market?
2 By ‘high-value’, I don’t only mean to refer to customers who have spent the most money. You should also consider the social value of your customers as part of the valuation process.
3 Rhetorical question - of course they expect this. Browsing to a company’s website on my mobile device and not having it rendered optimized for mobile is one of my biggest pet-peeves. Every company should have a mobile-optimized version of their site.
4 These factors also don’t cover your enterprise mobility strategy (to be covered in a future blog post).