Let’s start with the question you’re likely asking yourself right now: Do I need a mobile strategist? The short, simple answer is yes, or at the very least you need someone within your organisation who is focused on mobile, regardless of what job title you give them.
“A few years ago, enterprises were dabbling in the mobile space but they weren’t really thinking about a mobile strategy,” says Genefa Murphy, director, product management, mobile, analytics and user experience at HP. “Companies were creating mobile apps, but mobile had a smaller focus overall. We all knew it would happen, but nobody really expected mobile to take over to the point that it has today.”
It’s safe to consider mobility a requirement for doing business these days. It’s too ubiquitous and fundamental to how customers and employees interact with companies to be treated as an add-on. “Companies are now realising that if they want to be successful in mobile, they need to have a strategy and potentially a person, or in some cases a team, assigned to oversee it,” says Murphy.
A two-fold challenge
Mobile’s explosive growth has introduced challenges to companies both on an internal and an external level. The Bring Your Own Device BYOD phenomenon has reached critical mass as employees increasingly expect more choices in selecting the devices and apps that will help them do their jobs better. Meanwhile, customers (likely many of the same folks in the employee roles mentioned above) expect to be able to conduct online business with the same ease as using their favourite consumer-based apps and platforms.
Ultimately, however, both customers and employees are trying to do the same thing, which is access information and be more productive. “There are some nuances,” says Murphy. “But due to trends like the consumerisation of IT, which merges the enterprise and consumer worlds, you could have the same person address both your internal and your external mobile strategy.”
Note, however, that the person would be working with different groups to implement their mobile strategy. They might work with product managers, marketers, and sales for their external mobile activities (normally focused on competitive differentiation), then deal with internal IT teams to expand mobility for employees.
Three steps to mobile strategy
A mobile strategist is responsible for developing a roadmap for implementing mobile plans, policies, and tactics that align with business goals. The first step for any mobile strategist, whether internal or external facing, is to identify the business goals around mobility. What are you trying to get out of it? Are you increasing productivity? Supporting tele-workers? Making your brand more accessible to customers?
After that, a mobile strategist needs to consider where their app(s) will live: native, Web, or hybrid? Which architecture makes the most sense in terms of budget, compatibility, and support? Then they would need to identify what functionality or capabilities their users need. Since a mobile app accommodates limited functionality, you need a strategic eye to select those that will be most relevant to your users and that will differentiate your app among the many others.
Then, a mobile strategist will help identify the scope of an implementation. Is it fulfilling a short-term tactical need or does it require long-term scalability? For example, an app supporting an event might be serving a smaller user group temporarily, so you could design a native app compatible with fewer operating systems. On the other hand, an app that allows employees access to an expense management system would require long-term support, an open device policy, and cross-platform compatibility.
Are you ready for a mobile strategist?
Let’s face it. Mobile is here to stay. If you’re not overtly dealing with mobile right now (it would be amazing if you weren’t), you will be very soon. The question might be how formally you define the role of a mobile strategist within your organisation. How active a role should mobile strategy be playing and what should you be doing about it right now?
“It depends on how far down the mobile path you are,” says Murphy. For organisations early on the mobile path, the role of a mobile strategist might be simply to evangelize the need for increased mobility or to assess mobile readiness. For an organisation further down the mobile path, a mobile strategist may be building out a tooling strategy for mobile (dev, testing, management, and monitoring) or helping decide which apps to mobilize and which to leave as is.
The bottom line is this, says Murphy: “Whatever you want to call them, mobile strategist or otherwise, you need someone focused on mobility,” whether it’s on behalf of your internal or external customers, or both. So the only question that remains is what is the next step you’d like to take on the path to mobility?