Time for a chief mobility officer

With mobility changing the way companies engage with the world it's time to adopt a "mobile first" mantra. You can start by building an office dedicated to mobile strategy.

If your business hasn’t got around to hiring a community manager just yet, don’t worry, the new job of the moment is about to take over.

It’s called a “chief mobility officer” and a new report from Forrester Research argues the mobile channel is now so important CIOs must step up and establish an office dedicated to building an enterprise wide mobile strategy.

“Design for mobile first” should be the new mantra, write Ted Schadler and John McCarthy, who say mobile is not simply a device for IT to support, but part of a much broader shift to new systems of engagement.

The case is supported by the skyrocketing growth of tablet device use in Australia, with analysts at Telsyte predicting around half of the Australian population will be using a media tablet by 2016. More than 1.4 million media tablets were sold in Australia in 2011, representing an annual growth rate of more than 330 per cent.

Telsyte expects Microsoft’s impending introduction of its Windows 8 operating system and new 4G-enabled tablets will also accelerate business market take-up.

More broadly, Forrester is predicting one billion consumers will have smartphones by 2016, 350 million employees will use smartphones and 200 of those will bring their own to the workplace.

For businesses, spending on mobile projects is expected to grow 100 per cent by 2015 as consumer demands shape the mobile market for devices, access and apps.

The shift is already well underway in the telecommunication sector where declining smartphone prices are boosting demand for data, forcing telcos to rethink their business structure. 

But for most corporations, at least in Australia, the idea of putting mobile first is yet to take hold. Banks are still spending much more on branches, retailers are still coming to grips with basic eCommerce ahead of mobile, and the media sector has tried to pick winners rather than build a holistic mobile strategy.

If your company falls in this list, here are some sobering statistics.

Forrester says 25 of the top 30 online US retailers have native iPhone apps that by 2016 will see mobile retail revenue grow from $US6 billion to $US31 billion.

The Commonwealth Bank says 30 per cent of its online transactions now come from mobile devices, compared with just two per cent two years ago. 

And IBM has told Forrester employees empowered with personal mobile devices use social collaboration tools to cut proposal development times in half.

Deloitte has predicted five million tablets will be sold in 2012 to people who already own one – that’s right, one table is no longer enough for a growing group of people.

More than 25 per cent of tablet sales in the year ahead are expected to be to companies for their employees.

All of this is creating new challenges for CIOs as they manage new ways of working, connectivity and data issues. 

Last year Gartner analyst Nick Jones said there are some CIOs that think in five years time they will have nothing to do with personal IT – employees will simply be given money to buy and manage their own.

This is a somewhat limited view given the way mobility is permeating the consumer and corporate world. It’s time for the mobile first mantra to be taken more seriously.

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