A good mobile strategy is as much about the transformative journey as it is the destination of creating a great mobile app.

Conceptually, architecting mobile solutions internal or external to the enterprise requires a mindset of pushing information and decisions out to the fringes of the corporate ecosystem as well as receiving information back from the expanding borders of the enterprise. Information gathering enabled by increasingly intelligent devices positions today’s mobile devices as central hubs in tomorrow’s world.

By the end of this article I hope to eliminate hesitation over moving forward with a mobile strategy.

From an enterprise perspective the current mobile landscape is focused on providing easier access to information for customers, employees, business partners and other corporate stakeholders. In contrast, mobile developments of tomorrow will integrate new sources of information based on the increasing intelligence of the everyday devices we take for granted, the devices we use without thinking and barely consider to be devices at all, like a car.

As a practical example, the Wall Street Journal recently published an article about Apple and Google forming ties with automakers. The automobile is simply another mobile device with a much different form factor than the devices in our pockets.

Add to this the increasing availability of smart TV’s, smart watches, and other smart devices, and a clear picture emerges. In the not too distant future every major device is to possess the ability to create data, consume data and communicate said data to connected devices. The consumer market, for example, is already embracing new data made available by wearables like the Fitbit and Nike Fuel Band style activity trackers.

The PastEach wave of innovation comes with a compressed time to react. By way of example, the unleashing of the commercial internet in the mid 1990s gave Bill Gates and Microsoft ample time to reframe the company’s focus and product portfolio to the then emerging world of internet communications. When a similar force of innovation came in the form of Apple’s unleashing the iPad in 2010, the compressed innovation cycle afforded Microsoft little time to reframe and refocus the company in the tablet arena for significant market share as of yet.

It makes sense the next innovation cycle is to provide little time for enterprises to adapt. Those enterprises with willingness and preparation to adapt are poised to win big. Enterprises would do well to take note of these consumer advances sure to provide a disrupting force across industries. By embarking on a mobile strategy today, enterprises have the opportunity to advance internal processes into a state of readiness for this next wave of innovation in the data proliferation of common devices.

The Future

The good news is all enterprises are in the same predicament in terms of the march of technology. The bad news is: it is likely competitors have already created pilot projects and innovation programs to serve as guides through the rapidly changing mobile landscape. When will your mobile focus kick off?

Though it may be tempting to sit out the mobile melee and wait until platform winners emerge among Google’s Android, Apple’s iOS and Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8, waiting will come at a cost unlikely to reveal its severity until the next tornado of innovation results in another breakthrough in consumer experience.

Having visited the near future, let’s now come back to the present. Begin your mobile app development by considering these questions.

Mobile back end (API) strategy

What enterprise data could be produced and/or consumed by a mobile app?

What enterprise data could be made available for third parties to produce apps that add value to your customer base?

Beyond smartphones, what devices could consume your enterprise data, directly impacting your customers’ experience of your product or service?

Mobile app front end strategy

How can a mobile app streamline various internal operations?

What opportunities does a mobile app provide for increasing brand experience and customer loyalty?

How can mobile device technology provide insight into your customer base?

How can a mobile app attract prospective customers?

I’ll wrap up this post by highlighting the fact it’s very likely the mobile platforms of today will extend to become the embedded device platforms of tomorrow.

We already see that with Android powering set top boxes, TVs and, soon, some automobiles. Though Apple loathes opening up its software to hardware from other providers, Apple’s technology ecosystem enables Apple to create hardware it hasn’t announced yet and make the proprietary hardware programmable via an API through a cloud service such as iCloud.

Much like iOS developers deliver apps to Apple today for inclusion in the app store, Apple can provide a service allowing developers to deliver ‘apps’ to sealed, always connected, Apple designed hardware not of the traditional variety of desktops, laptops and portable devices produced by Apple today. Apple is not alone in this; Microsoft and Google are equally capable of such technology as well.

Mobile projects undertaken today add value to enterprise stakeholders via smartphone apps and are likely to have utility, with some modification, on the devices of tomorrow ensuring return on investment for the future. More importantly, engaging the mindset of mobile business transformation increases readiness and positions the enterprise to quickly take advantage of devices to come, resulting in the improved satisfaction of customers and other stakeholders of the enterprise.

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