Consumers these days can’t seem to get enough mobile apps, games, videos and other content. Mobile web usage has exploded and mobile search has quadrupled in the past year. Many people search on their smartphone when viewing a TV or print ad, looking for products via a search engine or through a clever speech recognition application such as Siri. And they expect to find the answer at their fingertips. Actionable content, right there, in seconds flat. Mobile has created a monster -- and it’s you and me.

How does the enterprise feed the monster? For starters, most businesses have wisely placed mobile at the top of the IT priority list and are beginning to look at mobility holistically across the business to satisfy this ravenous mobile demand from customers, partners and employees alike. But this is not just about building apps on the hottest new device. The challenge many businesses now face is how to get both content and apps to customers and employees on any type of device -- which is beyond the capabilities of many traditional Content Management Systems (CMS). So maybe what companies really need is a distribution strategy.

The phenomenal growth of the mobile web is changing the behavior of people in profound ways. How they decide where to eat and shop. How they purchase goods. Where they turn first to access information. Maybe “monsters” is a little dramatic, but this rapid shift in consumer behavior is transforming business and the technology infrastructure that supports it. Now and in the future, it is critical that IT works in concert with marketing departments and other business units to drive new growth through the mobile channel, and indeed, ensure the content and the user experience is amazing and consistent across all channels.

To do this, organizations must look beyond their app development and content strategy, and create a more holistic distribution strategy. For many companies this will mean incorporating Mobile Storefront capabilities to bolster their CMS system and serve as an engine for curated mobile app and content delivery.

Mobile Storefronts Open for Business

Mobile Storefronts won’t replace CMSs -- in fact they integrate well with most and provide organizations with a more robust distribution approach. As the arsenal of corporate-branded content grows, the need to create one hub where it can be accessible by multiple audiences will be crucial.

Mobile storefronts make this content available by integrating with all the areas it can be stored across a business -- whether in a CMS, in SharePoint or on file servers -- and creating a unified interface to help users find what they want, or let them discover something new they will love. This makes it easier for companies to effectively manage how content and apps are distributed across the business, and how they are discovered by customers and prospective customers. Most enterprises likely have already invested in a CMS or other data repository, so a solution that integrates with these systems is a critical component of a smart distribution strategy that maximizes those investments.

Management and Monetization…

Digital content comes in all shapes and sizes, and the need to manage it is becoming an increasingly complex task. While many companies only needed content management for either customers or employees in the past, more and more organizations are now faced with the challenge of getting content to both audiences on a number of form factors, while maintaining control over who can see and access what. Consumers are demanding easier discovery and more immediate access to apps and content that they want and need -- from anywhere and at anytime. And employees have an expectation to get this digital content in the same way consumers do.

Mobile Storefront solutions provide flexibility to design multi-channel services for content delivery, and provide features such as category management, role-based access control and scheduling and version control. For maximum ease of use, mobile storefronts should be created and administered via the cloud, so organizations can manage the full lifecycle of apps and content across audiences from one unified interface.

As paid content like apps, games, ringtones and other rich media become a larger part of the landscape, the m-Commerce integration capabilities of a storefront solution make it easier for customers to pay for goods and services, and also enables companies to offer billing integrations, balance alerts and coupons. This is a crucial part of overall holistic distribution strategy, as the revenue streams from this content can help organizations enhance existing e-Business services.

…And Accessibility

Mobile Storefronts simplify the discovery, purchase and downloading of apps and content for end-users across devices, maximizing reach and relevance, while driving greater user interaction. Ideally, a Mobile Storefront serves as a gateway to relevant content for your users, in a way that can be highly personalized. Search, categorization features and user-generated recommendations are just a few of the ways that a Mobile Storefront allows customers and employees to find and access apps and content.

Mobile Storefronts offer a slew of benefits to companies, including the ability to brand their presence and ensure the best possible user experience no matter what device is being used, from the most sophisticated tablet to an older cell phone. Device detection or device recognition technologies can ensure that content is rendered appropriately for users across a myriad of devices, and understands the unique attributes, such as screen size and resolution, for each device to determine how to best render the content. For instance, if you have a PDF document in the Storefront and a customer tries to access it on a device that doesn’t support PDF, the storefront back-end should automatically convert the PDF to Text so the user can view it properly.

As a mobile user yourself, you probably understand the frustration that comes with trying to read something on your device that is not formatted properly, like having to scroll or zoom in and out constantly. With Mobile Storefronts, that is not an issue. You can guarantee that your most important content assets live up to their enormous potential and excite, engage and satisfy your end users.

That is the mobile strategy of the future -- thinking beyond just developing apps for the latest device to thinking about how to get the right content and apps to the right user at the right time.
 

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