Culture, Process, And Ownership Issues Slow Mobile Transformation
Today mobile is the strategy for business to meet consumer expectations and generate competitive differentiation, but internal obstacles remain the biggest challenge.
The Adobe report “Mobile is the Strategy” has been published at a time when every company has recognised the need to transform itself to successfully adapt to and embrace the huge adoption of mobile.
Many companies have gone through a period of experimentation with mobile, but today it is an imperative to restructure and develop a business that has mobile at its heart. As the report so clearly states, five years ago everyone was saying they needed a mobile strategy. Today mobile is the strategy for business to meet consumer expectations and generate competitive differentiation.
It’s clear that companies are still navigating how to best deliver the technology behind mobile products and services, but the key outtake from the report is that internal culture, process and ownership of mobile remain the biggest obstacles for companies to create a successful mobile transformation. The report highlights this by asking the same questions of marketing and IT directors, and thus explores how different departments act on mobile in their organisations and the friction this causes. For example, the vast majority of both marketing (86%) and IT directors (95%) say they have a central mobile leadership team in place in their company. However 47% of marketing directors and a huge 89% of IT directors believe it is their department that “owns” the mobile strategy.
Shared Vision And Constant Dialogue
Today no department should “own” a company’s mobile strategy—it is too important for this. Mobile success is bred from a shared vision and constant dialogue between interdisciplinary teams, a clear identification of customer problems or opportunities, a long-term roadmap to prioritise and address these problems or opportunities, an agreed technical platform to deliver this, and crucially the agility to measure and learn how users are interacting with mobile products and services in order to iterate and optimise experiences.
Without an aligned strategic vision and roadmap internally, companies are faced with a marketing “freaks” versus IT “geeks” scenario that will never serve their customers best. Crucially this internal friction significantly slows the velocity of mobile transformation that is so crucial to company success today.
Apps AND Mobile Web
Outside the mobile culture and ownership question, it is encouraging to see that mobile apps are now centre stage in a company’s mobile marketing strategy, with 80% of marketers and 85% of IT directors stating that apps are “extremely” or “very” important. What’s more, for both marketers (56%) and IT directors (62%), the primary role of mobile apps has also been clearly identified as loyalty. This supports the industry hypothesis that mobile Web should be used primarily for reach among infrequent customers and that apps should primarily be used for generating deeper engagement with existing customers. So it is no longer a case of apps OR mobile Web, but of apps AND mobile Web to create distinct experiences on mobile devices for different target audiences.
With this clear customer focus, companies are now prepared to significantly invest in the mobile app channel, with the mean annual investment pegged at $4.7million for Marketers and $5.7million for IT directors. The difference here is probably reflective of the visibility that IT directors have of the whole technology stack required to enable app development and publishing.
Missing The Update Opportunity
One worrying point raised by the report is the seeming inability of companies to ensure their mobile app strategy is up to date with relevant technology developments, in order to capitalise on the opportunity to create deeper engagement with their loyal customers. Just over a third (34% of marketers and 38% of IT directors) state that they update their apps every three months or more, but two-thirds of companies are only updating their apps at least twice a year.
This means that companies are not using user behaviour and feedback to iterate or optimise their apps regularly enough. It also shows that they are missing the opportunities to quickly integrate new product and service offerings based on OS updates or additional technologies becoming available.
Part of the problem is undoubtedly the time it takes companies to publish updates to an app. But beyond this, it again indicates that companies have not structured and prioritised mobile as an iterative process. 71% of marketers and 79% of IT directors are reviewing analytics on a daily or weekly basis, but this appears to be purely reporting against KPIs rather than leading to crucial service changes enabled through frequent, quick app updates. For a company to truly embrace mobile transformation it needs to constantly respond to customer needs, not simply publish an app and then move on to the next task.
This is borne out by the usage of new technologies in mobile apps. Only half of marketers and 60% of IT directors are using GPS location data, while only 23% of marketers and 22% of IT directors say they are using beacon technology in their apps today. Creating contextual services based on a customer’s location is one of the major benefits of the mobile platform, and the relatively low usage of these technologies points to too many companies still porting desktop services to mobile, rather than developing innovative products that take advantage of mobile’s offering of contextual engagement.
The Ad Spend Gap Closes
Where the Adobe report clearly shows companies performing well in mobile is in their acquisition strategies for mobile. Mary Meeker has always pointed out that there is a significant gap between mobile usage and marketing dollars spent on mobile, and that this is a significant lost opportunity for companies. This message seems to have hit home, as three-quarters of mobile app strategies and 54% of mobile Web strategies are embracing paid-for mobile media for acquisition.
The difference between apps and Web here will be due to the unique app install marketing that can be undertaken. Companies are creating a strong foundation of owned and earned media to build upon for paid marketing, and it is no surprise that a combination of social, search, display, and video marketing are being used across the mobile channels to create installs or actions that will lead to a positive return on investment for companies.
The Adobe report shows us that as we enter 2016, companies are undertaking the mobile transformation, but that it is not technology that is holding them back. It is internal culture, ownership, and processes that are the brake on full mobile transformation. If companies can address these then we have an excellent opportunity to meet consumer expectations through the most important channel today, mobile.
To download the full report, click here.