Five tips on developing a mobile app strategy

A power shift happens when a billion people use mobile devices to engage with brands, information, and each other: Your app is in your customer's pocket. Now what are you going to do?

Mobile apps empower customers, partners, and employees wherever they are in the context of that moment. But mobile is not merely another chapter in the smaller-faster-cheaper device story.

And it's not tiny web or screen-scraped PC applications. Instead, mobile is the flash point for a much more holistic, far-reaching change.

Figure 1

We believe that mobile apps are the front-end of what Geoffrey Moore has termed new systems of engagement that "empower customers, employees, and partners with context-rich apps and smart products to help them decide and act immediately in their moments of need."

Systems of engagement are different from the traditional systems of record that log transactions and keep the financial accounting in order. They focus on people, not processes (see Figure 1).

Instead of screen-scraping the hotel reservation system and calling it a mobile app, a system of engagement presented on a smartphone will know that a guest has entered the lobby for the first time and probably wants to check in.

Related:

And by using GPS or location context directly from the device, the system will know that when you enter your room, the app should default to the concierge and room service tabs, thus providing immediate access to these hospitality services.

Mobile engagement is the promise and the opportunity.

It's what's driving your business to invest in mobile apps. It's what's driving your employees to demand more apps and more service on more devices.

Mobile's 5 unintended consequences
However mobile apps as the front end to systems of engagement carry huge hidden costs.

In Forrester's interviews with business and technology executives from 61 mobile innovators and technology firms, we heard many success stories but also five unintended consequences.

 - A multichannel coordination quagmire
The Rubik's Cube problem of coordinating data, access, and applications across multiple channels gets more complicated as firms pursue mobile engagement.

For example, one multichannel retailer built a mobile app that handled basic shopping tasks well enough, but it wasn't coordinated with the web and call center channels for marketing, customer onboarding, or customer service activities.

 - Business processes designed for transactions, not engagement
People expect to accomplish simple chores very quickly on their mobile devices.