Who Should Take Ownership Over a Mobile App Strategy in a B2B Business?

There’s no denying that mobile is huge, and with such a vast demand comes the need for professionals to manage the creation of mobile applications. But if you asked the question, “who is responsible for mobile apps in a B2B business?”, you would get a different answer from everyone you asked.

Some think that IT is responsible since they take care of the infrastructure and devices for the company. Others think mobile is the responsibility of marketing since they are the primary users of mobile apps (for internal communications and marketing campaigns). Still, others would say that mobile should be project-based, with a pre-determined project manager taking responsibility.

So, who’s right? Should there be a single mobile strategy owner in a company?

Join us as we go through the benefits of mobile strategy ownership and look at a few options for who may be the best candidate (or candidates) to own the process in your organization.

Mobile Strategy GIF

Benefits of having an owner (or owners) of your mobile strategy

A project-based approach might work well for one or two mobile apps, but it will soon be insufficient when your company wants to go further. Soon you’ll realise that apps start to pop up in multiple departments, with very little consistency or central management coming into play. When a firm has several apps to manage, someone, or even better, a team, must be charged with the responsibility to ensure that:

  • all apps are run according to the same strategy
  • there is always an internal drive to promote and continue mobile initiatives
  • apps remain updated and functional, or are decommissioned when necessary

Without a mobile strategy owner to oversee the continued development and management, the likelihood that individual mobile apps will be abandoned will rise, as they fail to meet business and user expectations.

What does it take to effectively own a mobile strategy

The owner of a mobile strategy in a firm needs to have a genuine passion for mobile and understand its importance in the firm. David Toth, a leading Mobile Enablement Consultant, told us in a podcast:

“You need someone to lead the charge when it comes to spreading the new technology within the organization. They’ll need to understand the value of the new solution versus those who don’t understand it at all. You need to have that executive sponsor who gets it.”

This person will be responsible for communicating the benefits and value of mobile app solutions to everyone who is or will be using them while working.

They should also be able to effectively connect different departments and stakeholders, fostering buy-in throughout the firm. Furthermore, the owner should be able to gauge the interest of the firm’s leadership. They can use this to shape the business case for the mobile apps, highlighting the productivity gains and how the mobile apps will help the firm meet its business goals.

To that end, the owner of the mobile strategy may also need to be able to get the resources necessary for the mobile app to succeed, but this is not always necessary.

Ideally, they’ll be capable of managing teams, and delegating work where required according to a mobile governance plan. This helps to keep development in alignment with business goals and ensures that each app is developed to meet end user expectations.

What doesn’t the mobile strategy owner need to know?

Whilst it is important for the potential leaders of the new technology to have insights into a number of areas of the business, they don’t need to know absolutely everything.

For example, whilst they should understand clearly the roles and expectations of both the app creator or development teams, they don’t need to know exactly what they do on a daily basis.

Similarly, the owner of the mobile strategy should have a solid understanding of the people who will likely to be using the app within their organization. But they don’t need to entirely understand what their role entails or how the user will make use of every feature within the app.

Finally, the mobile strategy owner doesn’t need to be a manager or C-level executive, although this might help in some circumstances.

Mobile App Ownership

How does owning a mobile strategy differ between departments?

Marketing

Benefits of marketing owning the mobile strategy

The marketing team brings a lot to the mobile strategy table:

  • They have a deep understanding of the firm’s audience
  • Detailed knowledge of brand guidelines
  • A treasure trove of media contacts to draw from
  • A  skillset that makes it easy to drive app adoption through internal and external promotion

The marketing team is also great at producing all of the support and training materials that an app user will require, easing the adoption process.

Last but not least, Marketing already has ownership experience with other digital channels, such as the firm’s website and social media.

Drawbacks to marketing owning the mobile strategy

Marketers often lack the technical knowledge necessary for effectively managing a mobile app strategy.

They may not understand IT infrastructure, app architecture, or what goes into creating, developing or distributing an app. The marketing team may also lack adequate understanding of UX design, which could lead to an app that is poorly designed and developed if they’re not careful.

Also, since marketing doesn’t always work closely with IT, they might need to create a new process of collaboration, which in most cases creates substantial delays in the app development and implementation.

NOTE: If your marketing team were to consider using a platform such as Fliplet the above drawbacks would be significantly reduced. Find out more about how our platform empowers non-technical users to create fully-functioning apps in a few hours.

IT

If the IT department were to hold ownership of the mobile strategy, they might give priority to:

  • mobile app security based on who, how, and when the app will be used
  • app reliability to ensure that it upholds performance standards and operates correctly
  • integrations of the app into business systems, software, and back ends.

Benefits of IT owning the mobile strategy

The IT team have:

  • A deep understanding of the digital infrastructure and technologies the firm is using
  • Extensive experience with the design and development of other apps
  • Expertise at integrating business governance into new apps
  • Experience ensuring that the app won’t allow users to perform any ‘illegal’ actions​​​​​​

IT understands the importance of user testing and makes sure that all mobile apps are run through this step to ensure that the app is intuitive and easy to use.

Security is of paramount importance to IT. When IT owns mobile strategy, you can rely on the fact that every app developed under their leadership will be as secure as possible.

The IT team houses the technology experts of the firm. As owners of mobile strategy, they can be counted upon to provide all of the support necessary to facilitate training and app adoption throughout the firm.

Drawbacks to IT owning the mobile strategy

Although IT often works closely with Marketing when developing apps, the IT team lacks a deep understanding of the firm’s audience. The IT team may also:

Lack understanding of the topics that mobile apps touch on (for example in regards to reference apps), which would impair their ability to create good UX

Tend to work with a busy schedule which can make it difficult for managing mobile strategy

Rigorously focus on security, potentially impeding app development and further increasing the amount of time it takes to deploy the mobile app

HR

The HR department is involved in nearly every aspect of the firm. If HR were to develop a mobile app first, it has access to resources other departments might find difficult to obtain.

Benefits of HR owning the mobile strategy

The HR department of your organization will probably have:

  • a detailed knowledge of virtually every aspect of the firm’s operation and a deep understanding of how it ‘ticks’
  • skills at coordinating departments and getting people to work together

Additionally, their expertise in training would make HR an excellent support resource after the mobile app is deployed. HR places a high value on employee satisfaction which would translate to an app that is easy to learn and use.

The department’s direct involvement with the firm at all levels gives it an advantage in the C-suite, making it easier to get the backing the mobile app will need.

Drawbacks to HR owning the mobile strategy

HR already has a busy schedule, which makes it difficult to fit in another process. As they’re spread thin, HR may not be able to commit enough time to effectively manage the mobile strategy.

Partners and other fee earners

Partners hold a unique position in a law firm as they are at the core of the firm’s offering. If fee earners showed passion for the potential of using the mobile channel effectively, this could easily translate to widespread support of the mobile app before, during and after development.

Benefits of partners owning the mobile strategy

Partners have several key traits and skills that would put them in a great position to take a leadership role in mobile strategy:

  • A superior understanding of the firm’s business vitals, market, and positioning
  • The position and the power to approve the mobile strategy, perhaps even resources for mobile app development
  • Understanding of clients, their priorities, and interests

And, importantly, knowledge of the legal challenges that clients and prospects are going through – which might come with great ideas as to how mobile apps can be used

For all of these reasons, it’s important that partners do try to take part in innovation-backing activities such as the firm’s mobile strategy, even if they can’t be the lead mobile strategist.

Drawbacks to partners owning the mobile strategy

Fee earners, and especially partners, juggle management responsibilities, their client calendar, and personal firm pursuits. This lack of time and attention would be the largest detriment in their management of mobile leadership – but once this leadership and passion have been established, they can, and should, delegate the detail work to other stakeholders and teams.

C-level Executives

In many firms, CIOs, CMOs and even COOs and CEOs are taking ownership over plans for the firm to go mobile-first.

Benefits of C-level executives owning the mobile strategy

C-level executives have the power to quickly approve and prioritize a mobile strategy, giving mobile app development a higher priority than might be possible through other managers.

These executives can also quickly allocate the human and capital resources necessary for mobile app development.

If the C-level executive is tech savvy and sees the real value of mobile app solutions, the company could benefit greatly from executive ownership of the mobile strategy.

Drawbacks to C-level executives owning the mobile strategy

The main challenge in having a C-suite person looking over an entire firm’s mobile strategy is that they will need to be very effective at looking beyond the remit of their own team. Politics can sometimes get in the way of effective strategy so they will need to make sure to bridge teams together to work effectively for their mutual benefit.

For example, a CIO should ensure they are not just looking after the needs of the firm’s technology and infrastructure capabilities, but that they are also involving all other teams effectively and thinking strategically with them.

A CMO, equally, must ensure that they don’t just implement apps for marketing and promotion purposes, but that they enable and empower other departments too.

Consider all your options before deciding who should ideally lead your firm’s mobile strategy

No single person or department is best suited to take ownership of a firm’s mobile strategy: only by working together can a firm truly be effective. One thing is certain, however: a leader or group of leaders is a must in driving a successful, cohesive and sustainable mobile strategy, wherever they originate. This leader, or group of leaders, should:

  • have a genuine passion for mobile
  • understand the potential value of mobile in the organization
  • be responsible for communicating the benefits of the mobile app across the organization to other departments (initially)
  • be able to foster buy-in across the organization by connecting departments and stakeholders
  • be able to gauge the interest of the organization’s leadership
  • potentially have the ability to access the resources required to drive the app through the organization

If you’ve got the right person to lead your mobile app strategy but would like to know more about how Fliplet could help you achieve your goals of mobilizing your firm, check out more about our platform.