Onboarding Mobile Strategy – Mobile presence

Mobile presence as a part of mobile strategy

Mobile presence has its requirements and expectations in the digital world. Mobile presence applies to all possible ways in which the internet users can reach companies via their mobile devices. All different types of ways, including the web browser.
By not realizing these facts and standing up to this need, companies allow driving and creating some unknown and as a result, ineffective user experience.
Companies that haven’t yet had their mobile apps should be aware of the fact, that mobile presence relates to them just as well. Even if they only own and operate a web site.
However, remember: having just a web site also means being reachable from the mobile world and it is a step, a tiny one, but one we can consider a warm-up and not skipping a warm-up only does one good.It is good to think about the mobile presence and to implement it in the way we picture others interacting with us, the way we would want them to interact with us.

In this article, from the strategy point of view, I will elaborate on 2 major possibilities:

  • Mobile apps
  • APIs

Shakespeare once asked “to be or not to be?”. I am asking the question of today: “app or not to app?”. Should each and every company have a mobile app? Is it mandatory? Or perhaps it is better to decide which organization capabilities ought to have one, and which might still get away without it?
Mobile presence planning exercise starts with the analysis of end users. And we do have many types of them. Only to mention the clients, partners, potential clients and partners, employees, the anonymous internet users. The answer to the question of how we would like to interact with all these groups should have its reflection in the created upcoming mobile strategy.

An API is nothing new, it is in fact an old term. Facing the disruption of products, value chains and business models, companies start to use API in a new business model context. APIs are not about (new) technology. It is a new architectural approach around providing self service, the reusable interfaces. We can define many types of APIs: those created for B2B, for the internal use, for products or services, and those open for the anonymous internet user.

Gartner predicts that 75% of Fortune 500, which means that as many as three quarters of the top 500 public corporations of the US according to their gross revenue, will open an API by the year 2014. APIs are not just interfaces – they are new business channels to engage with partners, employees and customers. Not to provide information but to engage.

Spectrum of Mobile App Development Options

In general we have 3 choices for mobile apps development, which are: Pure Web, Hybrid, Pure Native.

Pure Web means just a mobile website reach using a browser. It could be a full site or an m-site built with HTML5, JS, and CSS3. The development of it is fast and fairly cheap, but it results in not very optimal user experience.
Pure native means an app which is adjusted ideally to the mobile device OS. Evaluated as the best possible user experience, but requires unique development effort per operating system. From the maintenance perspective, it is the most costly option.
For the Hybrid apps, there are mixture of approaches, beginning with the native shell, going through external m-site, then through pre-packages HTML5 resources, HTML5 with native user interface and finishing with mostly native app with some HTML5 multi platform screens. The option of html5 with native user interface gives an optimized user experience with native screens, controls and navigation.

What else would we find important for the mobile app development? Let’s look at a few important trends.

By introducing Watson, IBM opened some new opportunities to the market, simply showing that apps are able to think. The same machine that is capable of analyzing 40,000 medical journals in an hour is now accessible via smart phone. This is not just some IBM prediction or a humble wish. It is a global trend.
IBM has made the Watson API publicly available to developers worldwide. To bring about an example, The North Face incorporates Watson’s contextual analysis engine for its customers (as it was shown during IBM Impact conference in May 2014). Shoppers have the ability to ask The North Face kiosk software that is integrated with Watson their natural language questions. More apps will become more aware and more contextual in their interaction.

The importance of using the Second Screen is increasing. A recent study I found shows that “88% of U.S. consumers use mobile as a second screen while watching TV”. Marketers will likely bridge apps to interact with smart TVs. We can expect a notable rise in apps that provide immerse second screen experience.

The number of devices and sensors controlled via smartphone is on a considerable rise. Mobile devices become a main remote for the Internet of Things. Samsung has released a Wi-Fi equipped washing machine. We can now control various home appliances or start a car from a smartphone or a smart watch.

Strategic decision to make: To build or to buy?
To build or to buy is a big question that has no wrong answer to it. And we should ask it in case of app and API. As long as the resulting solution does not degrade ability to interact with users and their experience. The only concern should be the alignment to the rest of the mobile strategy, available resources and the total cost of the implementation. It is recommended to have a very precise strategy and standards when buying apps, to assure that they will be align with overall company’s architecture and will not impact interoperability in a negative way.

Mobile world is changing fast. It impacts the way we are doing business across industries. The right mobile presence strategy and standards will help spotting new opportunities, enhancing and optimizing the current efforts. Mobile presence is of extreme importance as it maneuvers the end user experience the most.

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