Home Forrester: Most Companies Still Figuring Out Mobile

Forrester: Most Companies Still Figuring Out Mobile

Is your company still in the early stages of establishing a mobile strategy? If so, you’re not alone, at least according to a recent survey published by Forrester Research.

In a report titled How Mature Is Your Mobile Strategy, Forrester shares its findings that 45% of companies surveyed are “just beginning to work on a strategy” while 12% of respondents don’t have one yet. Another 32% said they’ve had a mobile strategy in place for at least a year.

So What’s the Hold Up?

As Forrester’s report points out, these findings can be seen as alarming, considering that mobile computing is “the technology that has reached the greatest ubiquity in the shortest amount of time.” Mobile phone penetration is expected to surpass 5 billion worldwide this year, after only a few decades in existence. As Web designer Cameron Moll points out in his book Mobile Web Design, it took television 60 years to reach a penetration rate of only 1.5 billion.

With mobile usage exploding, why are so many companies slow to adopt a mobile strategy?

One of the biggest challenges is that mobile is not yet a direct source of revenue for most companies. Instead, they tend to use it in less directly lucrative ways, such as engaging and satisfying customers, building loyalty and even simply to give the appearance of being innovative, as 30% of respondents said they did.

Many companies cited the complexity of mobile technology as a barrier as well. With so many handsets and operating systems on the market, it’s hard for some to know where to begin. There is also the matter of building internal resources dedicated to mobile strategy and development, which some companies have done better than others.

Even in organizations that do have people actively working on mobile, in many cases these people operate in silos, resulting in a mobile effort that is not integrated deeply enough with the rest of the business.

It Depends On Your Industry and Size

Of course, the extent to which a company invests in mobile depends on its size and industry. Media companies, for example, have among the most mature mobile strategies, perhaps due to lessons learned when the Web first emerged as a disruptive force.

Of course, resources are always an issue, especially in a tough economic climate. A comprehensive mobile presence – including apps for multiple platforms and a mobile Website – can require an investment of $1 million or more.

Forrester points out that many of the companies who said they had no mobile strategy were small and medium-sized operations “that do not yet have an online presence.” At the same time, some large companies who were slow to adapt to the Internet are taking their time with mobile as well. Even so, a majority of respondents plan to increase their investment in mobile next year.

You Need a Strategy With Measurable Goals

Although most companies recognize the importance of mobile at this point, a surprising number of them don’t have clearly defined objectives or aren’t adequately measuring the effectiveness of their strategy.

Of those that do have a mobile presence, less than half (48%) surveyed their customers’ interests and mobile usage before implementing it.

More importantly, the business objectives that companies set don’t tend to align with the metrics they’re tracking. A large majority (74%) of companies look at traffic to their mobile sites and applications, which is important, but doesn’t really tell them much about customer satisfaction, something most of them cited as a primary objective of their mobile strategy.

Troublingly, only 34% of the companies surveyed had adopted a set of mobile performance metrics company-wide. Are user sessions important? The amount of time spent with the mobile product? A particular conversation rate? It’s hard to measure success when success is not clearly defined.

Does your business have a mobile component or plans to build one? If not, what’s holding you back? Let us know in the comments.

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