Craft A Technology Strategy To Win The “Mobile Moment”

Guest author Ted Schadler is a vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research and co-author of The Mobile Mind Shift.

Mobile has increasingly become the go-to device to fulfill a consumer need. What’s tomorrow’s weather? Is the flight on time? Where’s the nearest store, and is this product cheaper there?

Whatever the question, consumers increasingly expect the answer to be on the phone. This is the mobile mind shift: The expectation that you can get the information you want, right there in the moment when you need it.

The new battleground for customers is in this mobile moment—the instant in which the customer is seeking an answer. If you’re there for them, you’ll gain their loyalty; if you’re not, you’ll lose their business. But while both entrepreneurial companies like Uber and huge corporations like American Airlines are winning in this mobile moment, the majority of firms still think “we’ll build an app” is the solution to serving customers in their mobile moments.

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This approach, quite simply, will lead to lost business. Why? Because firms can’t win the battle for a mobile moment with a technology platform built for the Web era.

Mobile is not small Web. It’s an entirely different experience based on simple steps and deep engagement, not self-service catalogs of transactions. Bolting a new interface onto an old technology stack won’t close the engagement gap that separates a company from its customer in that mobile moment of need. Rather, firms must completely re-architect their business technology platform to win, serve, and retain customers in their mobile moments.

The technology platforms for mobile moments are different from the traditional systems of record that companies use to run their businesses. Systems of record, the transaction systems that companies use to manage their back office and core operations—like Nordstrom’s inventory system or American Airlines’ reservation system—were designed to be rock-solid indicators of truth in a business. But these systems, and the business processes they support, aren’t optimized for the speedy, frequent, and granular tasks that people with mobile devices demand.

By contrast, mobile apps focus on people, not internal processes. They draw on mobile, social, cloud, and analytics technology to deliver service directly to a customer, in the context of what that person wants or needs at that particular moment.

Google Now can warn that you will miss the train unless you walk a little faster down Park Avenue. That takes technology that can deliver on what a customer expects on his mobile device in his immediate context. To win in the mobile moment with its unique requirements, business executives and technology managers must fund, create, and manage a next-generation technology platform based on the following four imperatives.

1. Master A Slew Of New Engagement Technologies

Mobile, social, cloud, notifications, analytics, in-app feedback, content management. These are the technologies of engagement. You must absorb and aggregate them to deliver engaging experiences.

2. Build A Cloud-Based Integration And Delivery Platform

The three-tier Web can’t handle the diverse and complex needs of mobile moments. Enterprises must embrace the cloud and a new four-tier “engagement platform” that separates the aggregation tier, carrying API management and business logic, from the delivery tier, running at Internet scale and living close to the responsive edge when a customer taps an action button. The cloud is an essential component of this new architecture. 

3. Simplify Data Retrieval From Existing Transaction Systems

Existing transaction systems and processes are too bulky and ungainly for the small actions and rapid response needed in a mobile moment. Firms will have to atomize processes and expose just enough data through well-crafted APIs that can work on mobile devices and in any channel.

4. Implement A Comprehensive Analytics Capability

Building a mobile app without instrumenting it for analytics means flying blind into the mobile moment. The app spins off data on performance and usage as well as location data that should improve a customer’s experience according to her context. This analytics capability is the most difficult and potentially the most valuable outcome of a mobile moment.

As you see, a great technology strategy and a new generation of capabilities lives behind every great mobile moment. CIOs and technology managers have a powerfully important place in this brave new world. But building this next generation technology platform won’t be cheap, and it won’t be easy. But it is essential to business success as more and more consumers make the mobile mind shift.

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