Bringing in experts to develop and guide a company's mobile application strategy is becoming more common and can give enterprises significant advantages over less mobile-minded competitors.
Mobile is a key part of the smartest businesses today in everything from apps to orders to communications and inventory, and if a business isn't managing all of these ever-evolving mobile tasks, then it probably isn't effectively serving customer needs.
Mobile devices are expected to handle a wide range of tasks and none of it can happen unless enterprises keep pace with the latest needs. These include having apps that display properly on mobile device screens of all sizes so that customers can browse and place orders, and ensuring that business apps for employees instantly serve up critical corporate data wherever they are doing their work.
For overwhelmed CIOs and IT managers, this is where a targeted expert – a mobile strategist – can be brought in to help make sense of the complexity, the constant change and the central importance that mobile today plays in businesses of all sizes.
In the last few years, companies often developed a mish-mash of mobile apps that tried to serve mismatched needs, requirements and goals, which often led to confusion and paralysis.
"Companies go mobile and do email and contacts, but then the initiatives don't go much further and aren't necessarily tackling it in a structured manner," says Glenn Gruber, senior mobility strategist with Propelics, a consulting firm.
"The role we play is to help move from opportunistic forays in mobile into developing a real strategy for mobile in the enterprise. We help them think through that process and make sure that the mobile and the IT strategies map to the business."
The key idea, he says, is to "focus your efforts on the stuff that makes the most impact as opposed to who knocks on your door first" with their latest ideas about what to do. "It happens all the time," he says.
Mobile strategists look at enterprises as mobile ecosystems and dissect how all the parts fit together so that they can best serve customers and employees while taking advantage of the mobile resources that are in place.
One common problem for businesses involves starting a mobile app project for employees or customers without considering how to design user interfaces for the smaller screen sizes of mobile devices, says Gruber. "You get someone who takes a form-based process and what they often do is make the form too tiny and hard to read," he says.
For many businesses today, random mobile projects are often already going on within their walls behind the scenes, says Gruber. "You'll find that there are pockets of activity that sometimes you didn't even know about," he says.
One team might want to build an app for iOS while another team wants to use Android, both with different approaches. While that creativity and passion is great, it's not a great strategy for accomplishing things, he says.
"These decisions aren't always being made to align the type of experience you want to drive or about the type of device you want to use," says Gruber. "They're based on what those people know about. So a mobile strategist can help make that fit the company's goals, devices and security."
Mobile Strategists Gaining Toeholds Inside More Businesses
A recent study, commissioned by Kinvey, which markets a Backend-as-a-Service app platform, found that out of 200 North American companies with more than 500 employees, about 150 now employ mobile strategists to help bring these kinds of mobile road maps together.
The January 2015 report, Meet the Mobile Strategist
, detailed the importance of mobile strategists in planning, integrating and pursuing all things mobile inside enterprises, as well as their critical roles in driving the impact of mobile in everything a business does.