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5 keys to making mobile work for you

Published: 
Thursday, August 21, 2014
Creating mobile first strategy

The mobile revolution has liberated computing and communications from the cables that once confined it to desks, and offices. Mobile users now have the freedom to connect, compute and communicate on the go. 

As the mobile landscape expands and evolves, businesses are waking up to the fact that mobile is no longer an add-on to add on to marketing or a nice to have for IT; it is the centerpiece of corporate strategy and customer engagement. Today, success in the digital era demands that businesses put mobile first.

Beyond mobile apps

For companies, mobile offers unprecedented flexibility, insight and access to audiences and personalization of services. Mobile first means much more than simply having a mobile-friendly web presence or building a mobile app. Mobile first is thinking strategically about how mobile functionality improves and enhances your customer user experience, your products and your business.

With intuitive user interfaces, powerful processing power, increasing bandwidth and a plethora of mobile apps, smartphones and tablets are the personal computers of the modern era. Unfortunately, some businesses view mobile devices as a passing fad, employee distraction or even a threat. In reality, they present a major, game-changing opportunity. 

Over 2.23 billion people worldwide, or 48.9 per cent of mobile phone users, will go online via mobile at least monthly in 2014, and over half of the mobile audience will use the mobile Internet next year. Mobile data network expansion and the adoption of smartphones and feature phones with internet capabilities will fuel growth of the mobile phone internet consumer base. 

5 keys to mobile first

As mobile uptake increases, expectations of access, convenience and service are shifting radically. Organizations have to respond. For this reason executives and entrepreneurs in every sector are rushing to develop a comprehensive mobile first strategy. 

Here are five key considerations in defining a mobile first strategy your business.

1. Have A Plan

Frame your mobile first strategy within the context of our wider corporate vision and objectives. In order to develop and effective mobile first strategy you first need to determine what you want from mobile. To get the right answers you need to ask the right questions. For example, “how can mobile first serve our business development, productivity improvement, service optimization, brand strengthening, employee empowerment or customer engagement goals?” 

2. Remove the silos

Mobile integration is just a one piece of the larger technology adoption puzzle. Since mobile represents one of the most personal forms of computing, prepare to address the cultural challenges that will attend increasing adoption of mobile in your business. If your organisation is structured around distinct business units and a centralised IT organisation, you will have to create a more integrated internal environment. Cross disciplined teams are a great way to achieve this and allow your mobile strategy to foster collaboration, information sharing, and new approaches to business development.

3. Focus on simplification and engagement levels

Companies must focus on redesigning the user experience at every customer and service provider touch-point. Look for ways in which mobile technologies can better engage your target audience and simplify their interface to your products and services. 

A good example of this approach is how traditional media houses are transforming their content delivery. Liz Heron, head of the WSJ’s Emerging Media desk, explained in a recent Fast Company article, What does mobile first mean to you, that the WSJ is changing the way it produces some of its news based on its knowledge of readers’ mobile habits. 

4. Enhance your users’ experience

One current mobile design trend involves the concept of responsive design, which automatically adjust the layout and content of a webpage depending on the type of device and size of screen. Responsive design allows companies to build online content in a way that will display conveniently for all users, regardless of which device screen-size they’re using.

5. Invest in the future

Despite mobile’s metoric global rise, in emerging markets like the Caribbean there remain serious impediments to realizing its full potential. On the technical side while device costs continue to fall, access to affordable, reliable, mobile broadband service continues to hamper adoption. 

Enacting of enabling policy to facilitate online payments and treat with security, privacy and intellectual property protection concerns also needs to be accelerated. And of course, local mobile apps need local app developers if they are to be developed in a way the benefits the local economy. 

Moving on mobile

Mobile is here to stay. The human resource potential is there; the market demand is there; what is needed is the catalyst from enterprises and entrepreneurs to create the great mobile success story. Companies will need to continue evolving their mobile strategy, building out corporate infrastructure, training employees and determining which devices and apps work best to meet their goals. But perhaps the most important strategy will be investing in the larger ecosystem of human resources; supporting policies; and affordable and reliable broadband internet access necessary for a mobile fist world.

Bevil Wooding is the chief knowledge officer of Congress WBN, a Caribbean based international non-profit organisation, and the founder and executive director of BrightPath Foundation, an technology education non-profit organisation. Reach him on Twitter @bevilwooding or on facebook.com/bevilwooding or contact via e-mail at [email protected]