Understanding the Path to Mobile Maturity: Ensuring Your Business Thrives in a Mobile World

In spite of the widespread adoption of mobile amongst consumers, enterprises continue to struggle with its adoption. According to this 2017 report from Synchronoss, 38% of businesses in the US and UK are at the entry-level stage of mobile adoption, with limited use of apps that largely center around email, calendars, and basic internal communications.

What makes mobility such a challenge for businesses? The answer isn’t what you might think.

Why do Organizations Struggle with the Adoption of Mobile?

Businesses that adopt mobile quickly discover that their current workflows and processes are incompatible with mobility. As they begin to use mobile apps for email, etc., they find that they have to completely re-think virtually all of their processes. This is where companies slow to a crawl or even stop on the journey to enterprise mobility.

Part of the difficulty may lie in ‘shrinking’ the desktop experience into a much smaller screen:

Julie Ask, a researcher for Forrester, said in her report Mobile Mind Shift Maturity Framework (2016), “The path to mobile maturity begins with shrinking or squeezing an experience designed for the PC to put it on a smaller screen.”

Ask makes a great point. When a business begins to adopt a mobile strategy, there’s no time or resource to think about creating a great experience, instead it’s easier to take the desktop experience and fit it into a mobile device size. That’s the maturity stage where most businesses are at the moment.

Why does it take a long time for an organization to reach mobile maturity?

The challenges of mobile begin with understanding its benefits and drawbacks. Mobility can do a lot of things, such as boost employee productivity, increase customer engagement, and drive innovation, but without a detailed knowledge of its capabilities and limitations, its true potential can never be realized.

Many organizations follow a path of mobile adoption similar to the one presented in the aforementioned report by Sychronoss.

Entry Level Mobility

At this stage, the organization has begun to use email, calendar, and task management apps. Organizations at this level may also create an app for a one-off scenario such as an event. Businesses at this stage often have arrived for one or more of the following reasons:

  • Leadership sees other businesses adopting mobility
  • Customers want apps and tools they can use on their mobile devices
  • Employees want mobile apps that help them work more quickly and efficiently

Once an organization arrives at this level, it takes a while to adapt. As employees become more familiar with mobility and begin to see its potential, they build more apps and move toward the next step in the mobility maturity spectrum.

Opportunistic Mobility

A business will likely have email in place, with some provisioning beyond email. Security may be basic and device-based, or it may take the form of containerized apps. Some data collection is performed but not usually analyzed, with reports often created manually.

The approach is often ad-hoc, with different features and functionality added piecemeal as the company slowly works toward development of a more clearly defined mobile strategy. The business is still trying to figure out what mobility is and how it can improve productivity.

Additive Mobility

At this stage, the organization has figured out what mobility can do for them. They realise that mobility is about far more than a handful of productivity and communications apps for employees, that apps can do virtually anything they want them to.

Personal information managers are integrated with bespoke apps for a wider user base. Automation of business processes help make employees more productive.

Sensitive data is encrypted and multi-factor authentication protects all data at rest. Customer-facing apps offer features and functionality customers need, improving customer engagement.

Transformational Mobility

After a period of learning about mobility through building and launching apps, the person or team that is charged with mobile strategy has truly figured it out. They fully understand the value of mobile and how to implement it throughout the organization.

Routine repetitive tasks are automated. Information is securely shared with external partners, customers, and suppliers. Security is robust, allowing third-party contractors access to systems without compromising security.

At the device level, security is strong enough for mobile devices to act as a factor for secure authentication.

Why Do Some Companies Struggle or Fail to Reach Mobile Maturity?

Many of the companies that fail to reach mobile maturity tend to fall victim to one of three scenarios:

  • Cost of mobile devices and the tools to manage them
  • A perception that administrative overhead will increase as the company adopts mobile
  • Spiraling costs of data protection and compliance.

The Cost of Mobile Devices and Management Tools

The purchase cost of mobile devices and management software can add up to more than a company can afford. A perception that administrative overhead will be higher has a dampening effect on mobile adoption, too.

Some CIOs/CTOs may fear that help desk calls will increase that may require hiring and training more staff. What business owners and leaders may not be aware of is that the value of mobility extends far beyond its actual costs to implement.

Boosts to employee productivity, customer satisfaction, and increased customer engagement are just a few examples of the value mobility delivers to an organization. The true value in mobility may ultimately be in the new opportunities that can be realized through it and no other channel.

Perception of Increased Administrative Overhead with Mobility

Technical Support

This is often a case of the fear itself being far worse than the reality. For example, when a new app or business tool is implemented, help desk activity may increase for the first few weeks as employees learn how to use it. After that, help desk support calls fall back to previous levels.

“Contrary to initial expectation, the more advanced the mobility, the less technical support required — a clear indication of user satisfaction.” — Synchronoss, The State of Enterprise Mobility, 2017

In the Synchronoss report, when a company moved from Entry Level mobility to Opportunistic, a 7% boost in productivity was experienced. The move from Entry Level to Additive resulted in a 14% drop in help desk support calls and a 15% boost in productivity.

Other benefits of the move up to Opportunistic:

  • User satisfaction is high
  • CIOs/CTOs get credit for the benefits of mobility
  • Advanced adoption of mobility and correlates directly with reduced IT security issues such as breaches.

How Can an Organization Figure Out Where They Sit on the Mobility Maturity Spectrum?

In Forrester’s Mobile Mindshift Maturity Framework report, approaches mobility from a different perspective, one that defines a spectrum from less sophisticated businesses to sophisticated businesses that use mobile to drive innovation and growth.


Source: Mobile Mind Shift Maturity Framework, Forrester, 2016, pg. 4, “Enterprises Evolve In Maturity Based On How They Use Mobile”

Shrink and Squeeze

Businesses at this stage of maturity may start by taking apps originally developed for desktop use and squeezing them down into a mobile app. According to the Forrester report, nearly one-third of companies fit into this stage. Shrinking involves taking the desktop display and literally shrinking it down to fit into a mobile screen.

Squeezing is more about fitting as much of the desktop app’s features and functionality into a much smaller mobile box with reduced processing capabilities, less RAM, and bandwidth in general.

Be Mobile First

When a business achieves this stage, they have begun to look outside the walls into the world. They ask how they can make an impact in the real world through their mobile apps. For example, a law firm might build an app that notifies clients when a change has been made to a law pertinent to their case.

A healthcare organization may begin to offer a virtual physician service where a patient is able to consult with a live physician through an app. That app may allow the patient to take and send photos for the physician to look at while making a diagnosis.

Transform the customer experience

At this point, an organization has evolved to the point where a higher level of strategic thinking takes place. At this point, your business has transitioned from building apps to meet customer needs to anticipation of their needs.

Innovation now drives your mobile strategy, producing apps that increase customer engagement and satisfaction. You have entered the mobile mind shift.

Disrupt your business

Very few established companies make it to this level. The vast majority of the companies that are at this level are mobile-first startups. To fully engage mobility at this level requires a complete re-invention of business models and organization.

Most businesses won’t take it this far. However, many organizations are creating new services possible only through mobility.

How Your Business Can Move Further Up the Mobility Spectrum

A three-tiered organizational structure is optimal for upward movement in mobility maturity. Three-tiered organizations are more likely to allocate resources and commit to mobility.

However, smaller businesses with a simpler organizational structure can also move up the mobility spectrum. The key to success lies in a strong commitment to a mobility strategy backed by the allocation of adequate resources to foster its growth.


Adopt Mobility

At this level, your organization has embraced mobility, but knows little about it. Get your feet wet with an internal communications app that allows real-time collaboration, or an app that increases customer engagement.

The idea is to start small and get familiarized with how mobility works and the impact it will have throughout your organization. Give IT the time to adapt to mobility, since they will be responsible for ensuring that the app is secure and works the way it should.

Look for New Ways to Use Mobility

This may seem obvious, but it’s a lot harder than it looks. Business units may have an easier time with this, since they tend to be on the lookout for new ways to engage customers and generate new business.

If you already have a customer-facing app, encourage LoB employees to identify what customers need from your mobile app. Build that feature into the app. Continue adding new features and functionality based on customer feedback.

The more you expand mobility in this way, the more your business will begin to see new possibilities for mobility that extend beyond merely meeting customer needs.

Innovate Through Mobility

When your business arrives at this level, mobile strategist is thinking ahead, identifying new opportunities and creating new services around them. At this point, your mobile strategy is driving innovation for the company, and has become a key part of your overall business strategy.

The Value of Mobility in Enterprise

Mobility’s value lies not only in increased customer satisfaction. It also drives increased employee engagement and satisfaction. By providing the tools employees need to communicate and share information, mobility boosts productivity and efficiency in ways that were not possible otherwise.

The real value in mobility is in its ability to increase collaboration and communication among employees and customers alike. For more information on how other firms are already using Fliplet you can read our case studies, or if you’d prefer, schedule a free demo of Fliplet Studio