According to Forrester, 89% of companies have invested in a mobile strategy, but only 40% of those companies have defined a mobile road map for the next 12 months. This means the majority of companies do not have a clearly defined approach to how they will invest their money and resources in regard to enterprise mobile strategy.
To remain competitive in today's market, companies need to create a mobile strategy based on industry best practices and mobile business cases. While doing so, they must win the support of key business, IT and marketing stakeholders and allocate appropriate resources. To accomplish this, companies must begin to understand employee mobile behaviors, as well as align business owners to an actionable plan.
Firms today operate in a mobile application-dominated market. The influx of tablets and smartphones has fueled the development of more than 75 billion mobile apps. While launching an app is an accomplishment, focusing solely on mobile end products can lead to serious overspending and an over-allocation of teams.
A strong mobile strategy relates business goals with how mobile devices, products and services engage with users. Considerations on the mobile maturity model include:
- Research: investigation into how mobile is used in the company, industry and user population
- Requirements: scenarios describing how mobile technology will integrate into the company and user base; how users will leverage mobile
- Governance: who owns the mobile strategy and enforces company standards and processes
- Technology: definition, documentation, implementation and testing of IT methodology, processes and deliverables
- Data: storage and maintenance of back-end information
- Security: protection against data loss, data corruption, security breaches, network downtime and lost or stolen devices
- Device: supporting and protecting mobile assets as tools for the organization to help accomplish business goals
- User experience: designing intuitive and compelling mobile experiences that are in line with users' perceptions and needs
- Compliance: conforming to legal and regulatory policy
Mobile Maturity Model
The problem is not that companies are without a mobile strategy; chances are they have several well-received mobile applications. Rather, companies are lacking an effective mobile road map: a plan that realizes where their company is and what point they want to reach in a designated time and budget.
Translating the maturity model into a road map, or actionable plan, is simple. There are three steps:
Determine the starting point. To determine the road map starting point, firms should circle the cell in each capability that most accurately reflects its mobile strategy. It is rare that a single company falls perfectly into a single level of maturity.
Find the end goal. After assessing the current state, the goal of the roadmap is to set targets to move the firm's mobile strategy to a more mature state. These targets should be driven by business goals, not by aiming to reach the benchmark category. Following this principle will indicate the appropriate budget and resource allocation.
Connect the dots. By this point, each mobile capability should have two cells identified -- the company's current mobile state and its target mobile state. When creating a mobile initiative, firms must identify the steps needed to go from the start to the end goal. Doing so creates a mobile road map with milestones and checkpoints that can be estimated, communicated and evaluated.
Consider this example of how an oil company would create its road map. The firm's business goal is to empower employees to negotiate deals for the best prices as quickly as possible. It would like to increase revenue and decrease time from sales initiation to deal close. The oil company has extensively researched how its employees, competitor's employees and the industry in general uses mobile technologies.
Next, the company translated its business goals into requirements and decided which devices and technologies are most practical to support. By assigning different owners, IT managed all technology-related details and the business managed the rest. This led the company to a successful development and implementation of the application. Despite the successful launch, the firm does not have a mobile strategy of the highest maturity.
Following the success of the first application, the oil company wanted to address another business case through mobile strategy. Continuing its business goal, the firm opted to decrease the time from sales initiation to deal close. Currently, the sales team goes through a multi-channel process, interacting with its client face-to-face, on the phone and via internal or remote access.
Based on user research, the oil company concluded that it can improve its process in the time between the conception of a new deal and checking current pricing. Applying a mobile strategy would lead the firm to its ideal use case. To get to a point where such an application could be developed, the firm needs to invest in a larger mobile-focused team, protection of data and security and regulatory compliance, since the proposed application will be dealing with confidential information.
Avoiding the pitfalls
Firms that go through the process of identifying a maturity level (or two), establishing maturity goals and creating a road map to accomplish them should consider the following challenges:
Security. Mobile devices are creeping into organizations, whether IT has planned for them or not. As consumers increasingly purchase mobile devices, they bring them into the workplace and use them to perform their jobs. IPads provide interactivity in client demos and smartphones enable employees to work from trains. By assessing the benefits gained from these technological encroachments, firms will likely want to empower their employees to continue with the remote and mobile work. This requires understanding the increased security risks and developing a plan to address them.
Governance. Great plans and talented resources will only thrive within the proper organizational design. It is important to note that there are overlapping arrows, indicating that the same personnel might play multiple roles. While each team owns part of the mobile strategy, i.e. IT owns security, the key to managing a broad team is to designate a single owner. This single owner should weave together team members and ideas to ensure consistent standards, collaboration, connection to business goals and optimization of resources.
Mobile Devices. The mobile device market is rapidly evolving. Regardless of whether employees are using an iPhone 5 or Blackberry 10, firms should stand back and focus on the big picture. A well-written mobile strategy considers the firm's key objectives, not quick reactions to new technologies or competitors' initiatives. This will propel any company toward its goals regardless of which technology is most popular.
Remote Access. Employees can benefit from remote access while commuting, both at home and in the field. However, not every instance that users connect to workplace systems is considered mobile (and therefore should not be factored into the mobile strategy). If unsure, firms should try assessing the use cases to see if they can be completed on a laptop. Anything that a user can do on a laptop is not mobile; therefore, no mobile strategy budget and resources should be allocated to support it.
Today, the benefits of mobile technology are clear, yet many firms in the capital and commodity markets are deterred from maturing their mobile strategy due to higher priorities or loosely defined approaches. By creating a mobile road map, firms will have an actionable plan, complete with milestones and deliverables.
Translating this road map into a strategy will ensure that a firm's mobile initiatives are being built with standards, collaboration, consistency, connection to business goals and optimization of resources. It will also help to estimate more accurate investments of time, money and resources. And, planning within the maturity model will help firms reap the benefits of mobile -- efficiently and on budget.
Parry Rupareliais an Associate Creative Director at Sapient Global Markets,, Jennifer Evans is an Information Architect specializing in user research and interface design, and Matt Hopgood is based in London and co-leads Sapient's Visualization practice.
Join the CIO Australia group on LinkedIn. The group is open to CIOs, IT Directors, COOs, CTOs and senior IT managers.