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In the past year, Mobile usage has skyrocketed and the forecast for growth is only accelerating.  Gartner predicts that mobile web use will outpace desktop web use by 2013 while Morgan Stanley predicts this will occur by 2015. Closer to home, our clients continue to experience significant and steady growth of mobile web usage – with various mobile browsers representing as much as 15 percent of total site traffic in some cases. Alongside all of this growth, we see two common trends: 1) A lot of enthusiasm and desire for organizations to make tangible improvement  (and who’s to argue… mobile delivers a fair amount of visible progress and sense of innovation at a relatively low cost) 2) Lack of a plan for mobile activities We’ve consulted with many of our clients to develop a mobile roadmap that helps answer the most common questions:  Where to start?  Where to invest?  As well as the classic/long-standing questions:  App or website?  Web app or native app? Acsys has a clear and simple POV on this, and we believe that developing a well-defined mobile roadmap is the best way to get the ball rolling in any organization. To begin, as with any marketing or digital initiative, you must start with business objectives, audience behavior/needs and location context.  We certainly don’t want to be creating solutions looking for business problems.  So, first off, clarify what the need is, who the solution is being designed for and where the user is located.  Some questions to inspire your thinking:
  • Have you noticed a significant uptick in mobile traffic to your website?

mobile traffic

  • Have you received (negative) feedback from mobile visitors to your site?
  • Are there important aspects of your customer experience that could be greatly enhanced via mobile?
  • Do your customers and users overindex for mobile usage?  Do they prefer mobile apps or websites?
Once the Who, Where and the Why are clear, it is time to start talking about the What.  Most often, our recommendation, to get momentum going, is to start off with a solution(s) that will:
  • Provide the biggest bang for the buck
  • Offer tangible value to widest number of priority users/customers
  • Not break the bank
  • Demonstrate tangible progress
  • Create a base that enables scalability for future evolution
This often leads us to exploring solutions at the foundation of the ‘Mobile Pyramid’, specifically the development of a Mobile Website and the use of Text/SMS to enhance communications:

mobile pyramid

These solutions offer wider reach at a lower cost, and while they may not offer as much sizzle as a Web App or Native App, they are often the smartest first step to entering the mobile arena.  For many of our clients, such as Yale-New Haven Hospital, this is where we start and you can see an example of a foundational mobile site here. Once a foundation is in place that covers the most important basic business and customer needs, the strategy can then evolve into addressing opportunities for more immersive customer and brand experiences.  So either building on the capabilities of the Mobile Site or developing a Web Application becomes a sensible next step.  Native Apps, which only work with specific Mobile Operating Systems and are more expensive to produce and maintain, should be reserved for those brands and companies that have addressed critical and basic customer needs using the lower echelons of the pyramid.  As an example, we are currently working with a top Healthcare brand (who already had a basic mobile presence in place) on creating a native app that will bring the mobile customer experience to a far more engaging and rich level. The first step in all of this is to have a clear mobile strategy and roadmap.  In recent research we conducted in the hospital industry (that will be released shortly), we learned that the majority of organizations do not have a clear mobile strategy in place at this time.   While there are a number of variables to consider in developing a Mobile Roadmap…

mobile roadmap

…there is no reason to get overwhelmed. If you do anything in 2011, we’d suggest you at least look at your analytics, understand current user behavior and feedback, get a solid plan in place for execution and, if warranted, start off with execution at the foundation of the pyramid.  The risk and cost is relatively low, the potential for impact, visibility, differentiation and learning is high.  The mobile web is here, now and certainly not going away.  It is a really good time to be on offense.