February 9, 2012
Let’s take a step back, first. You started as the “mobile person” two to three years ago. You siphoned a hundred thousand dollars or so from the eBusiness team budget and got a mobile optimized web site and maybe an application or two built. You measured your success by engagement – web traffic and application downloads. Maybe you measured direct revenue. Life was easy.
Two to three years later, as eBusiness professionals, you’ve got some experience with building, deploying and maintaining mobile services. You’ve added tablets to your portfolio. Hopefully you’ve convinced your organization that you need at least a 7-figure budget. Most industries have seen clear financial returns on these investments so that hasn’t been too hard. As eBusiness professionals working on mobile, you were feeling a lot of love.
In 2011, you benchmarked yourselves versus your competition. You looked at native applications by platform and key functionality on mobile web and applications. You took a deep breath and said, “ok, we’ve done it. We have mobile services. We’ve checked the box. Mobile web traffic and sales are growing. We’re good.” Perhaps others with fewer services are thinking, “I can see what we need to do. I think we can catch up if I can get some budget.”
The thing you are seeing though is – the finish line is out of sight. Mobile has only gotten more complicated – not less. No one feels comfortable. No one feels they can slow down, stop spending, or rest. Anxiety levels are high.
Every other person in your organization is coming to you wanting to do “something in mobile,” and you can’t handle all of the requests. Those with budgets are threatening to go do their own thing – which would threaten your work to date. And, for most of you, you know you’ve done too many “projects” without involving your IT group. You haven’t planned enough with them or put infrastructure in place to support what mobile services need to be in 3-5 years. And rightly so – too often their pace is too slow. Now, as an eBusiness professional focused on mobile, you’re viewed as a “bottleneck” for some new to mobile because you are coaching them on best practices that slow their projects down. Mostly, you are probably feeling like it is hard to keep up – the more you know, the more difficult success in mobile seems.
There is no year of mobile. However, if 2012 isn’t the year you start doing more enterprise-wide planning with your counterparts in IT and other business functions (e.g., marketing, customer service) to build out the vision, skill sets and backend functionality to support mobile services in a few years time, you will find yourself in a position of not being able to catch up by throwing a few hundred thousand dollars to a vendor or agency.
2012 is less about what you offer in mobile than about how you go about doing it. You need a long term mobile technology roadmap. You need to know when and how and if you want to incorporate new technologies (e.g., NFC) into your mix. You need a mobile services development plan that fits your budget. You need to take mobile into account when you are making decisions about your web site, data architecture and infrastructure. You need a plan for collecting and utilizing customer data without jeopardizing their privacy or seeming creepy. You need to understand how other technologies like HTML5 and cloud services will impact what you can offer. You need to think about forging relationships with the new powerhouses in mobile. Your list is long and only a portion of it is tied to actual mobile technology trends.
Forrester’s 2012 mobile trends focus as much on key technology, ecosystem, and evolving consumer expectations that are impacting the evolution of mobile services as we do on the mobile technologies directly. For more information on the key mobile trends in 2012 and what they mean to eBusiness professionals, please see our 2012 Mobile Trends report. For those building products, please see this version co-authored by my colleague, Thomas Husson.