3 ways to prove mobile value before your project begins

  • Like any technology investment, mobility projects must demonstrate a path to value before hard dollars are invested.

  • Prove value by linking projects to business objectives, highlighting competitive threats, and optimizing resources.

  • Be sure your mobile initiative shows steady progress and delivers quick wins.

Companies frequently ask Lopez Research analysts how to justify mobile investments. Similar to collaboration technologies, IT leaders frequently site productivity gains as the primary return on investment for mobility.

While increased productivity may be valid justification for a mobile investment, business leaders frequently demand quantifiable dollar returns before they give the go-ahead. In certain cases, companies can derive hard-dollar savings from mobile workflows, including eliminating paper processes and lowering fuel costs by reducing mileage. In general, mobile investments will most likely improve business workflows and add new functionality to processes, such as location and image capture.

If this is the case, how should IT and the apps development team approach justifying mobile efforts?

  1. Demonstrate a competitive threat, and highlight best-in-class uses cases across industries. If you can’t deliver a solid business reason for mobile-enabling a process, you shouldn’t do it. However, you may have a good use case but need to force management into action. Many companies don’t want to lead in new technology, but will quickly follow suit if a competitor has used it successfully. For example, banks were reluctant to offer mobile banking. But once several banks offered services, it became a critical feature for leading financial institutions. Many companies have also pointed to AirBnB, Box.com and Uber as examples of companies that used mobile to disrupt markets by making a service frictionless, allowing effective tracking and access to information on any device. Others point to how established companies, like Walmart and Disney, are using mobile to improve the customer experience with in-store navigation, customer interaction within the park, and line busting. Like the companies listed above, it’s crucial that IT use mobile to eliminate friction in a process and add new value.
  2. Link projects to key goals. Every company has a small set of crucial goals it is trying to achieve. That normally includes growing revenue, reducing costs, and improving customer or employee experiences. The closer mobile initiatives align with these goals, the more likely a solution will find an audience and be successful. For example, one financial firm linked its mobile app to a goal of improving its net promoter score. It measured how satisfied its customers were with using the mobile app, asked its customers if the app improved their perception of the company, and measured changes in its NPS score. While the company couldn’t directly tie the mobile app to revenue, it could quantify customer experience improvement.
  3. Effectively scope mobile efforts to conserve resources. Once a company has produced several mobile apps, it’s common that it will have a backlog of another ten to one hundred apps. App development ranges from $40,000 to $250,000 per native application. It’s important to understand exactly what platforms and features are needed before you design an application. This will help you prioritize apps based on cost-to-value, prevent unnecessary expense, and get the most return for your budget dollars.

With the move to Microsoft’s Windows 10 and Apple’s Yosemite, the line between PCs and mobile operating systems continues to blur. Eventually, every critical business system will need to support a wide range of devices that run a new operating system. At this point, we won’t need to justify mobile investments.

Until then, however, a company needs to select its mobile apps carefully. Development efforts should focus on quick wins that deliver a narrowly scoped use case to a specific audience. The mobile apps should have a short development cycle of four months or less with the ability to easily iterate.

With the right approach, your mobile initiative can gain management approval, deliver quick wins, and offer measurable long-term value.

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. All opinions are her own. AT&T has sponsored this blog post.

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