An organization looking to build out a mobile app strategy or a business manager looking for a mobile solution has traditionally started with the IT department.

Mobile apps can be great investments that pay off in greater customer loyalty and retention.

CMOs Can Benefit From Mobile Apps

Chief marketing officers, in particular, have much to gain from mobile apps: analytics, workflow considerations and customer engagement initiatives can benefit from a working mobile solution.

However, evolving a mobile app from thought to reality can be intimidating. Traditionally, mobile application development means multiple coding languages and potentially confusing acronyms (MADP, RMAD, MBaaS, etc.).

If that is the case, one of the most productive things a CMO can do is call for a Mobile Center of Excellence (MCoE).

Understanding MCoEs

MCoEs encourage collaboration across multiple departments and can help cut down on redundant processes and better define and boost mobile ROI.

According to a recent survey at my company, Red Hat, line of business (LOB) decision makers think IT leads mobile app development. However, the same group anticipates mobile app development will become more business-led over the next two years.

Here are several ways MCoEs can help CMOs overcome the challenges they face when developing mobile applications.

3 Benefits of MCoEs

MCoEs Let You Start Small & Smart

It can be overwhelming to make every system or process consumable by mobile. If done poorly employees may never adopt the solution the way it was intended.

CMOs, together with the help of a MCoE, often can make the most impact by identifying mobile projects that can yield quick wins — the so-called low-hanging fruit — and by starting small.

Instead of cramming something such as an entire customer relationship management system into one app, business owners can design several mini apps with just a few necessary and well-designed features.

For example, paper-based processes can be easily and quickly replaced by a mobile forms-based app that take advantage of rapid mobile app development (RMAD) tools, helping to alleviate the strain on development resources. While this approach increases the number of individual apps, it makes them more user-friendly, simplifies the development process, and lowers turnaround time for app updates.

Regardless of size, app projects often need to integrate with business systems to access relevant data.

Developing the user interface/user experience and features is not always the most challenging part; integrating the applications with back-end systems and business logic is.

There is a long-term benefit of having one central team that understands previous and current integration efforts, can handle policy and security issues, and can reuse previously built components.

A MCoE approach enables greater control over back-end integration without hindering the mobile initiatives that the CMO is driving.

MCoEs Break Down Language Barriers

Business and IT teams that operate independent of each other naturally develop their own jargon, which can be difficult for a CMO to overcome when trying to explain why a certain mobile app is needed.

When IT teams operate in isolation from the business departments, they may not have a full understanding of the business objectives and features required by the apps. With a MCoE, both teams are more likely to be aligned on priorities.

Having users from the business side involved in the development process through a MCoE, there can be a collaborative approach that fuses technological know-how and familiarity with business processes, systems, standards and efforts. This can cut down on the ramp-up time for projects and get problems fixed quickly and seamlessly.

MCoEs Offer Efficiency Through Continuous Development

While agile development is gaining steam, many enterprises still use traditional waterfall practices, which can lead to longer development, deployment and upgrade cycles – especially when developers work in silos.

This framework can drastically slow down mobile projects, driving up costs and inefficiencies.

Having a MCoE in place can help establish guidelines and procedures that facilitate more efficient development across future mobile projects. Mobile apps often need continuous updating, which can be facilitated by greater collaboration between business, IT and developers.

Improve Productivity and Engagement

The MCoE approach points to greater mobile maturity as it brings together IT and lines of business to improve productivity and engagement.

Red Hat’s mobile maturity survey found more than one third (37 percent) of respondents have instituted a collaborative MCoE and their prevalence is likely to grow in coming years.

Organizations that employ a traditional IT-only approach may be missing out on the synergistic benefits that come from a collaborative environment.

Companies that apply collaborative approaches can use mobile in a transformative way to set the bar when it comes to developing and executing well-received enterprise mobile applications.

Title image by Isaac Hesed