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Feb 26, 2014

Really, How to Get Started with Your Mobile App Strategy

Don’t the best ideas start on the back of a napkin at a business lunch? But, do your ideas tend to stay there – on the back of a napkin? Well, maybe you should leave that zombie-apocalypse action plan there for now -- but your enterprise mobile app can be a reality in just a matter of weeks with a solid mobile app strategy. The sketch is important, but the secret to successful mobile app creation and distribution is harnessing and optimizing the mobile app lifecycle. 

Why a mobile app strategy first?

Without a mobile strategy, your enterprise apps are either going to remain napkin sketches, or it’s going to take longer and cost more than you’re willing to put into it. First, let’s explore some business drivers for why you’re interested in apps for your mobile workforce? According to Carlson, 60% of companies are worried about their mobile savvy competitors. That’s a legitimate strategy driver -- but the real drivers are new business models, changing work patterns and changing customer interactions. IT groups are also much more forward thinking about what’s allowed. Our ability to create visibility, control, and mobile security around application distribution is much greater than just a few years ago, Carlson says. Companies are ready to get out of the talking about it stage to the app development stage, but they aren’t sure how to get there. The real problem is a lack of a defined plan, Carlson says.

How do we break down the barriers to getting apps done?

It’s a culture and process change, Carlson points out. He asks, “Are we going to use this for accessing Sharepoint or downloading Excel spreadsheets? How do we change the way we work?” It’s not easy to get away from traditional business applications like Excel and Sharepoint. Data is all over the place in our organizations. We have complex processes. Carlson notes that one standout barrier is the lack of user experience knowledge. “We aren’t structured to be innovative,” he says. “It’s easier to get projects approved that follow traditional software and processes.” The best way to overcome these barriers is to go through trials in a shorter, more controlled timeframe -- and we have to think outside of traditional technology and culture. Carlson says we need to generate prototype apps that allow for distribution to the users who will help us think about how to use them and execute them. And he says this process can begin in just two weeks with a mobile strategy workshop.

Week 1. Define the mobile app strategy roadmap.

In this stage, you’re really looking at more than one app. You’re looking at five steps to a comprehensive mobile app strategy in a week:

  1. Define scenarios.
  2. Identify app needs.
  3. Create a portfolio.
  4. Prioritize the app portfolio based on business drivers.
  5. Identify a candidate app for prototyping in Week 2.

Week 2. App rapid prototype.

In this stage, you’re getting the bones of your first priority app on the books in just a week. Here’s the overall plan:

  1. Visualize and storyboard the app scenario. What problems does it solve? How?
  2. “Prototype” the app for a tablet or phone. This is the skeleton, not the final product.
  3. Provide money, time and resource proposal for full app.


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