Making money in a mobile world

The challenges and opportunities for businesses in this mobile age are enormous but without a clearly defined mobile strategy there's no point.

Modern businesses operate in a mobile-dominated market fuelled by the download of more than 75 billion apps. People are using their mobiles to find information, search for deals, compare prices, buy products and work remotely.

With mobile commerce becoming a key growth driver for many industries, the pressure is on for businesses to get their mobile strategy right. Yet some companies still view their mobile presence as part of the marketing function, launching campaign driven apps or following the latest trends. They are quick to release apps to market as a knee jerk solution in response to a competitor’s app, only to scrap it six months later. This can be extremely costly and divert the team’s attention away from more productive activities.

To remain competitive, organisations need to have a strong, long-term mobile strategy in place that is less about how many apps they will launch each year, and more about what is right for their business, their stakeholders and most importantly, their customers.

For many companies, especially those in the banking, health and retail sectors, mobility is instrumental to the future of their organisation. It goes beyond IT and marketing, with mobile strategies being formulated and set at the very top of the organisation.

One example of an organisation that is using mobile to engage successfully with customers is ANZ Bank. ANZ’s latest app, Grow, developed by Outware, has a five star customer rating in the app store and provides ANZ’s customers with the ability to keep on top of their banking, no matter where they are.

At Outware, we’ve found that these three essential elements are important to determine a successful mobile strategy.

Start with the end goal in mind

Before you begin design and development, it is imperative that you decide what role mobile will play in your overall business strategy and how you will measure its success. Ultimately, you need to determine how mobile will benefit your customer. This will help guide the budget, internal efforts, design and development timelines needed to support your mobile initiatives.

Is your primary objective to give your customers more access to information about your products and services? Is it to increase customer loyalty? Or do you want to sell more products? Will you measure success by the number of downloads or by in-app purchases? Setting these benchmarks early will help provide the roadmap to keep you focused on the end goal and not get side tracked along the way.

Choose the right environment

Next, you need to select the mobile environment that you are going to invest in. To help do this you will need to understand how, and on what devices, your customers are currently accessing your website or app.

You will also need to define who exactly you want to target with your mobile strategy. Are they iPhone users or Android users? Will you develop a different app for each type of smartphone or mobile device or focus on just a few platforms that are most widely used by your target audience? Do you need a mobile optimised website or a native app? Both have benefits, so you will need to make a decision based on your strategic goals and your customers’ preferences.

Rather than build everything from scratch, look at what existing technologies exist in the marketplace that you can use. Have you already got a content management system that can be repurposed to work with an app? Selecting the optimal infrastructure and resources needed to support your strategy at the beginning will save you time and money in the long run.

Think about the big picture

Finally, there is no point rolling out app after app without having a plan for how you will manage them in the future. You need to decide how many core applications your organisation wants to have and which ones you will continuously update and which ones you will delete once they have reached their use-by date.

The other big question to ask yourself is whether you start investing in an in-house team of developers and technologies to implement your mobile strategy or if you need to look outside the company for a strategic partner.

A fully outsourced approach can be just as cost efficient as a home-grown solution and offer more flexibility. There’s no right answer or single solution. Ultimately, the decision needs to best support the long-term objectives and growth of your organisation and your customers.

The challenges and opportunities for businesses in this mobile age are enormous. A clearly defined mobile strategy will ensure you evolve with your customers and employees and deliver innovative services more quickly, while avoiding the pitfalls of overspending and wasting valuable time.

Danny Gorog is the co-founder of Outware Mobile