Going Digital: Mobile is a requirement, not an add-on

Digital Business Transformation

While mobile and social are powerful technologies in their own right, the combination of the two in a blended strategy presents a truly formidable platform that organisations can leverage on their digital-adoption journey to transform their business. The magic sauce that makes this blend such a winner is the superior attention gravity it possesses.

A familiar story: you whip out your phone one random evening and hit Facebook to catch up on messages and check out the latest feeds and before you know it, you’re tumbling down a rabbit hole with no end in sight. And if some streaks of daylight are piercing the curtains, oh no! Worry not, you’re not alone.

This stickiness is every business’ nirvana. You want your customer’s attention and loyalty woven into that same magic sauce so it translates to a needs fulfillment and money in the bank. The statistics warrant some attention:

As of 2016, daily social media usage of global internet users amounted to 118 minutes per day. Global social networking audiences surpassed two billion users in 2016, this according to www.statista.com.

A report from SimplyMeasured.com from mid-last-year states that 80% of users’ mobile time is spent in three apps, and the three that currently dominate usage are Facebook, WhatsApp, and Chrome, with others like Snapchat, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, and WeChat growing in significance.

Underlining these alarming statistics is a statement from www.smartinsights.com: “The implications are clear – if you’re not able to reach your audience through mobile search or display, or you’re not providing a satisfactory mobile experience, you will miss out compared to your competitors who are.”

Closer home

Moving closer to our regional context, a report from wearesocial.com titled “Digital in 2017: Global Overview,” stated that mobile social media use in Africa increased by nearly 50% in 2016, although at just 12% penetration across the region there’s still plenty more room to grow.

In Kenya, various reports on mobile internet statistics indicate that Kenyans are using social media, search, email, and video almost exclusively on smartphones

According to Google’s Consumer Barometer” “[…of the] most popular activities by smartphone users in Kenya on a weekly basis, social media dominates with 58%.

Quite simply, a mobile-social playbook is a strategic requirement for every company, particularly consumer-facing businesses. In fact, since all businesses have an end user, or at the very least an audience, the imperative to have one is industry-wide.

The remainder of this article looks at mobile as it seems to be the ideal handle to shape the conversation around the mobile-social arena for organisations. In navigating this mobile-first strategy for an organisation’s product design and development, there are a few ground rules that can guide this journey and ensure rapid and sustainable value realisation. The perspective this is posed from is an organisational one with employees as the end users, but the salient points apply equally well to public. consumer-facing mobile strategies as well.

Ground Rule #1: mobile is a requirement, not an add-on

CIOs, mobile app developers, and business leaders should look at mobile as an integral part of their organisation and overall strategy, and not a bolt-on or third wheel. Organisations need to leverage the convenience, effectiveness, and flexibility this affords the customers and build an environment to securely and seamlessly support this.

Ground Rule #2: applications must be built-for-mobile, not simply ported

Many organisations have legacy enterprise applications. User experience wasn’t a core requirement in many cases, and there were few if any, context-specific aspects to app design since they were largely used in a desktop context. The rules of desktop user interfaces and user experiences are orthogonal to mobile devices and translate to smartphones particularly poorly. Whether rebuilt as native apps, HTML 5 apps with native wrapping, or purely web apps optimised for mobile, a redesign will be absolutely required. Remember that you are mobilising the business process, not necessarily the existing app.

Ground Rule #3: mobile apps need to be co-developed with end users

To truly harness the potential of mobile, IT and app developers need to be tightly integrated with the end-user environment and the business functions they need to execute. If IT cannot provide solutions that meet those needs, users and managers will source their own tools in the form of third-party apps and public cloud services. The only sustainable way to navigate this successfully is to have IT and developers essentially get immersed into each line of business/customer segment, understand its needs and attributes, and collaborate to meet these needs effectively.

Martin Mirero is the current CIO for Huduma Kenya

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