Why delivering a mobile-first digital transformation matters

In partnership with Indiespring

It seems digital transformation has passed its time as a trend. The mandate to shift and modernise organisations has been discussed across industries for over a decade. Although the conversation has been loud and ongoing, it’s only in recent years that many businesses decided to spring into action. Initiatives began rolling out across departments as they looked to digitise core assets, streamline customer experiences and replace legacy technology. 

Last year, analysts around the world, such as McKinsey, stated that in order for businesses to survive through 2020 and beyond, their only option was to accelerate their digital transformation. As a result, many companies pushed forward with digital transformation projects at speed, to align with newly introduced objectives. The problem with a rapid trajectory like this, is they often lack the infrastructure and foresight to ensure the transformation remains agile and future-proof. 

Years of research has shown that 70% of all digital transformation initiatives do not reach their goals. So why do so many transformation projects fail? And as a CTO, what key element must you consider to ensure a successful digital transformation strategy? 

The differentiation factor for a successful digital initiative is more often than not, the attitude of the CXOs towards it. In an age of digital natives, a mobile-first strategy can no longer be ignored. If you reimagine how digital transformation can help meet customer demands and expectations, it can unlock new levels of innovation, lean productivity and long-term sustainability. 

Why mobile-first matters

Your tech teams will tell you that historically, the word mobile-first was a term coined back in 2011, its meaning focused on the design and development of a digital experience. As easy as it is to still be haunted by the initial connotations of UI/UX, it is imperative that we move forward, reframe our approach and include the mindset of mobile-first earlier on in the development process. 

Most companies adopting a mobile approach, tend to introduce it towards the end of the digital transformation process. They may be considering ‘mobile’ as either an additional channel that works alongside their main product or a quick trend to jump on and engage a growing audience. 

Mobile is not an additional channel to add to your digital transformation strategy, instead, it should be acknowledged as the catalyst for all applications and future development. 

Although it still plays a part, it’s time to move mobile-first away from interface and design capabilities, and instead start planning the potential opportunities of your solution through a mobile lens. 

Without a clear strategy and the right foundations, any money or time invested into a mobile-first experience will be irrelevant. The right mobile-first strategy will ensure you have not just the right foundations for your suite of products or services, but a clear and effective long-term plan to actively manage your digital portfolio.

Don’t be fooled, mobile-first does not mean mobile-only

Yes, mobile should be a key focus at the proposition stage. Adopting a mobile-first strategy does not mean mobile only. Research has shown that many adults use two, if not three, devices per day. And more importantly, not all of them would be mobile. 

A successful digital transformation should deliver an infusion of technology across all necessary channels, and the initial priority and starting point should exploit all available mobile technologies. 

This simple shift can open up a world of innovation that is integral to your project being able to deliver a strong solution that not only drives revenue growth, but also provides that all-important competitive edge. Technology such as artificial intelligence, location data, augmented reality, biometrics to name a few of the ways mobile can open up opportunities to address your business challenges. Rather than focus on the device, embrace the concepts around it. 

Delivering a mobile-first digital transformation strategy

A mobile-first digital transformation may not be what you had in mind, but it is probably what you need. Your roadmap should not change once you learn the benefits, you must look ahead and instead be aware of the opportunity cost. 

Whether you are already executing a digital strategy or not, by now it should be clear that mobile will continue to be an intrinsic part of your customers’ journey. 

Step 1: Analyse your original challenge

Go back to the point at which you first encountered your challenge and product proposition. This time, investigate the potential of what you can achieve through mobile technologies. Bring tech teams together and give them permission to think beyond the digital world, drawing inspiration from physical interactions. When you start to reframe your mindset to mobile-first from the beginning of any digital project, you’ll soon realise the possibilities are endless when using a platform that everyone physically carries with them 24-7. 

Although digital technologies are integral to deciphering the solution, it is imperative to continuously drive attention back to culture, behaviour and human experience. 

As you build the vision for your project, bear in mind there will be obstacles that will need to be overcome:

  • Legacy technology
  • Budget
  • Complex frameworks
  • Time
  • Resource
Step 2: Define your goals

Once you have discussed the potential opportunities for your digital solution, like any successful project, it is important to clearly define, refine and clarify your objectives. Focus on your roadmap goals and the users you are targeting instead of assuming the answer lies in a website or an app. Don’t limit your final product, taking the time to develop an idea from theorisation to actualisation will save you time and money in the future.

The scope of a digital transformation project can be complex and additional resources may be needed. At this stage, it is crucial to ensure that the key stakeholders are advocates of the change. Staff across the business will eventually need to understand why these changes are effective for them and the business. A collective agreement across C-level around the goals and expectations will influence and quite often dictate, the long-term success of the project. 

Step 3: Build your experience around people, not devices

There are myriad ways to influence consumers, engage with prospects or optimise efficiencies within enterprises. Digital technologies globally are rapidly increasing and CTOs are being expected to proactively improve product development, sales strategies and customer experience. For most companies, digital transformation is integral to improving the relationship with their customers. It’s important, therefore, to build your experiences around people. 

After discovery, the concepts and requirements that have been defined can be translated into a customer-centric solution. Depending on the outcome, there may be one or multiple suitable technologies and it is crucial to be as efficient and cost-effective as possible in these early stages, to ensure the best possible return on your investment.

Users will always think about desktop services as transactional work-based tasks. Mobile has the capabilities to build simple, round-the-clock accessible experiences and the rapid growth of social media has revolutionised the way consumers, both B2C and B2B connect. Online transactions become a part of life rather than a set task they will do when they get time. 

Step 4: Plan for the future

Effective digital transformation, mobile-first or not, will not happen overnight. Once you have outlined your mobile-first objectives, prioritise your initiatives based on their value and impact. Rather than focusing on a single solution, transformation is an opportunity to ensure you have a digital framework that is aligned and has the ability to support your digital products or services across their entire lifespan. 

Having outlined the distinct capabilities for each of the channels you expect your users to interact with, let the technical experts get to work on developing the architecture and building an ecosystem that will form the digital backbone of your organisation. 

Step 5: Create for change, Keep it flexible

With mobile adoption rising faster than ever, it’s never been more important to reassess your digital services and prepare them for the future. We are now in a new era of digital business and in order to succeed you must align your business and technology strategies, giving technology the upper edge. Building a competitive stack that can adapt, provide flexibility and expand into new dimensions will be critical in keeping you ahead of the game as an influx of new technologies descends. 

When it comes to delivering a mobile-first digital transformation, the question is no longer ‘why should you do it.’ The question you should be pondering as CTO is ‘when can it be done.’ 

With billions of mobile device users making it clear that they are not about to go anywhere, it’s time to bring forward a new era of mobile-first transformation, now. 

The right mobile technology infrastructure will provide your business freedom to develop solutions, opportunities and innovations to give your business the competitive edge it needs to thrive

Find out more

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