Most business leaders recognize that it’s important to mobile-enable the company. The question is, what should the company mobile-enable to provide value to the organization? An effective mobile strategy will start by identifying the crucial business goals that need to be given highest priority. The initial mobile applications for the majority of companies will focus on saving money and improving productivity.
The IT and apps team’s first step is to work with the business leaders to define what should be mobile-enabled and who the target audience is for each app or workflow. After collecting all of the potential options, IT can work with line-of-business managers and finance to prioritize these apps based on business value. At this point, the technical team should focus on three steps to get started. These include:
1. Outlining what data sources are required to complete the workflow.
IT must define what apps, databases and information are required to create an app. It’s important to know where these sources reside, how they will be accessed and how often each source is modified. For example, does the data source have an API or other interface that will allow you to extract data from an application? Or will you need to buy a specialized service, such as Mobile Back End As A Service, that allows you to connect data from multiple legacy apps and databases into new mobile apps? Once IT knows what it need to access, IT leaders should evaluate the various methods of connecting this data — which includes APIs, MBaaS, and mobile application development platforms.
2. Evaluating your resources.
Mobile-enabling the business requires a new set of skills for application management and development. The business must evaluate if it has the available IT resources or if it needs to retrain existing staff. The company must also provide funding for development tools and new resources if required. If IT doesn’t have the resources to manage this internally, a third-party services firm can help with the effort until the company can train and hire its own resources.
3. Investigating the three ways to build an app.
Companies can acquire, migrate, or build mobile applications. When it comes to acquiring apps, a business should ask its existing vendors if they offer mobile versions of their software or at least parts of the workflow. For migration, IT can migrate to a SaaS services in areas where mobile versions of the software don’t exist, where creating custom development won’t create strategic advantage or where it’s more cost-effective. Building apps makes sense when the vendor doesn’t offer a mobile version of the app, if the company has created custom apps or if the desired experience requires a native application. When designing an app, IT should consider which development model – native, hybrid or HTML-5 apps – will provide the best experience for the applications use case.
A mobile strategy is only viable when you’ve defined what you need to accomplish and what tools are required to get started. Once you’ve defined the basics, IT can begin mapping mobile technology choices to the problems it’s trying to solve.
What’s your strategy for integrating existing data into your mobile apps, and how are you dealing with the challenge of acquiring mobile app development skills?
Maribel Lopez is the CEO and mobile market strategist for Lopez Research, a market research and strategy consulting firm that specializes in communications technologies with a heavy emphasis on the disruptive nature of mobile technologies. AT&T has sponsored this blog post.