Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Keep your mobile strategy clean

Today I had a lively discussion about the fundamentals of mobile strategy. This is one of my favorite topics, and I have written about it also earlier, made notes about mobile strategy and how mobility is not speciality, just to pick some of my old postings.

Today’s topic was mostly about how much mobile strategy should handle about technical issues, terminals, protocol versions and so on. My position is that in mobile strategy work you should handle these issues only little, to make strategy more general and goal oriented.

I have noticed - not strictly related to mobile issues - that many sales oriented people who don’t deeply understand technical components and their relations to each other, are excessively worried about these questions. Often their opinions nicely follow the opinions expressed in latest issues of popular newspapers or websites and equipped with this information they are ready to attack any discussion with strong opinions about XML5 [sic], for example. Because these new acronyms don’t land safely on their technical perspective, all of them seem to have a huge importance that will shake the world, day after day. New platform version coming, major news, rewrite strategy!

This leads to strange phenomenon: nontechnical people seem to be too excited about technical topics, whereas technical people take things calmly and explain why some new acronym is not necessarily that important.

What this has to do with strategy? Well, nothing if you do strategy work as intended - create a vision about your future analyzing strengths and weaknesses, creating for your company a roadmap to the future. Strategy paper is not something that will tell exactly what to do, but instead tells which directions to take. In mobile domain one could make plans about taking customer processes to mobile devices (to increase customer satisfaction results), improving mobile tools for traveling workforce (to save costs and speed processes), enriching marketing with a touch of mobile (to attract new customers). All this implemented in a managed, secure and cost-effective environment with measurable results.

Make a mobile website using HTML5 isn’t mobile strategy. Improve marketing reach with mobile solution is strategy.

Create some application for iPhone (because all others have done it) isn’t mobile strategy. Improve customer satisfaction with mobile solution is strategy.

These thoughts lead me to some simplified tests to assess if your mobile strategy is a collection of short term actions or does it have more value. Assume situation February 10, 2011, right after you have finished mobile strategy work and you were full of enthusiasm about Nokia’s Symbian plans and you were sure how it will seamlessly fit to your existing IT and partner ecosystems. Next day Symbian was slaughtered, what happened to your forward looking plans?

More quick tests: What happens to your strategy if application stores suddenly change their acceptance criteria? What if revenue share models change dramatically? What if tomorrow some fruit company from California launches new mobile device that is superior to anything we’ve seen so far? What if NFC readers keep on ” coming next year to mainstream”, just as they’ve been for more than five years already? What if iPhone isn’t cool anymore? If any of these events shake the foundation of your mobile strategy, consider changes.

Mobile strategy is the guide that shows you the direction where to go. To decide whether to create an application or mobile website is tactics, and that’s another story.


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