Although it did not top the list of organizational priorities for 2011, mobile is still seen by everyone as an important channel that cannot be ignored. The question thus becomes, should you do a mobile project this year? And if yes, what should you do?

Mobile Touches Everything

And that's the challenge that organizations face today. Even if they were to take on a mobile project, where do they focus their attention?

Should they add the mobile channel to their web presence? Maybe add a mobile app for the iPhone or Android? Or should they focus on developing a mobile website that will be cross device compliant?

Maybe they should develop that mobile app that enables their partners to quickly submit sales orders to directly into their sales system?

Or maybe they should add mobile access to their content management system so that legal can more quickly review and approve documents that need to get out asap?

Start Simple. Learn as You Go

If this is the first time you've even considered doing something with the mobile channel, start simple. Stick your toes in, test the water and get a feel for what it's all about. Prototype and pilot are two great words that all organizations, no matter size of pocket book should use.

Put a team together to discuss options. Take a look at your overall business strategy and see where mobile fits in (maybe you have already identified what you want to do with mobile within your overall strategy). What could you focus your project on that would provide you with the most feedback? Questions to ask yourself:

  • Does it fit with our business/tech strategy?
  • Am I providing functionality that will demonstrate value in some way?
  • Do I have a test group who will provide objective feedback?
  • Do I have metrics defined to demonstrate the value of this initiative?

What you want to get out of this project is:

  • It fits in with the overall business/technology strategy for the organization. If it doesn't, then the chances of getting it implemented in any official capacity are slim.
  • I have provided functionality that improves 1) collaboration, 2) access to product/company information, 3) quicker turnaround on sales 4) you tell me. This is not an "if you build it, they will come" type project, it's about providing value.
  • Suggestions/recommendations for next steps.

The project is successful regardless of whether you have created the ultimate mobile website/app. If you've built something useful and it's perfect, you are very lucky. But it's more likely you've built something that gives you a starting point and from your test group you will learn what worked and what didn't. From there you can really start to dig in and define this part of your mobile strategy/roadmap.

Selecting a Mobile Technology

If you had lots of money and lots of time, you could probably set your sights on working with all the major smartphones and tablets. But chances are you are low on one or the other. So you have to make a decision on what mobile technology you work with first.

There is no right answer here, it's very specific to your organization and what your mobile project is. Are you developing an internal app for your Enterprise CMS? Then does it support any specific mobile devices out of the box? Has your organization standardized on the iPhone or Blackberry? Do you want your business users to use their own personal devices?

If your project is focused on the external consumer, then find out what devices are being used most often to access your website. What devices are becoming the most popular in the market today? Does that affect your decision now?

Website or mobile app? Again it depends on what the project is. Mobile access for consumers may be best done to start as a website, unless you are a vendor of a SaaS service and then maybe you want to offer a mobile app.

Good Advice to Come

To say we have all the answers would be silly. In many ways we are in the same boat, knowing that mobile is important to what we do here at CMSWire, but not necessarily a top level strategic item. Should we embark upon our own mobile project this year? There's a feeling in the air that we should.

It's probably good then that over the next month we will be picking up some great advice and insights from analysts, vendors and others on what we need to think about, some best practices to follow, some lessons learned from others. Stay with us this month, and please contribute your experiences to the conversation.

Some reading: