3 phases of mobile strategy maturity

by Ismail Ismail on 30 November 2010
As high-end smartphones continue to proliferate in the market, the effect on second-hand smartphone Internet usage continues to fuel the growth and adoption figures for the mobile Internet. Based on the current trajectory, I suspect it won't be very long before these sophisticated handsets completely out-manoeuvre the broadband and wired Internet space (in many African countries this is already the case) – who knows, Digital Britain's aspirations of delivering super fast broadband in the nether regions of the countryside may come too late as more consumers buy into using the Internet on their super cool 3G handsets! So, what does this mean to you if you're developing your mobile strategy right now? In my experience, many organisations go through 3 phases as they develop their mobile strategy.

Phase 1: exclusively led by trend or creative

During the first phase, many embark on a mad rush to create an iPhone app. Often the purpose and context of use for the app is poorly defined and the whole exercise is creatively or brand-led. In my experience these efforts typically fail to make any real impact and more often than not do more reputational damage than good.

Phase 2: led by smartphone adoption figures

Next, there’s a more reasoned approach in phase 2, where organisations may consider multiple smartphones as part of their strategy – perhaps the iPhone, Android and Blackberry handsets. This is normally based primarily on guesswork about general adoption of these devices in the public domain. Unfortunately, the general adoption figures may or may not correlate with your specific audience’s mobile sophistication and device usage. If it doesn’t then you could be spending your money developing apps for handsets that won’t be used.

Phase 3: led by user research insights

The most enlightened approach, unsurprisingly, is phase 3 where organisations seriously consider the characteristics of their intended audience, their needs and propensity to use mobile before they start building technical solutions. As you can imagine, this is a bit more involved than the previous phases but it shouldn’t be an insurmountable barrier to getting your mobile strategy right.

What you should do next

My advice is to find out who your users are and work out what they need when they’re out and on the move. The best way to do this is by doing some user research. I’d recommend carrying out a diary study – you’ll be looking to discover the circumstances of when, where, why etc they have information needs related to your proposition. For example, if you’re a high-end package holiday company you might be fascinated to find out what influences your consumers when researching and booking a holiday. You may even be interested to discover what information they need during and after the holiday too. You might even ask your consumers to take a few photographs to enrich their diaries! But you may want to draw the line if they invite you to look through their full holiday snaps!

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