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Mobile as a Market Differentiator – Get Started with the Basics

We are big fans of strategy at Maestro - always have been. Over the years, though, strategy has been going through a transformation because of the pace of business, dynamic markets, and changing technologies – not to mention globalization, economic uncertainty, and government regulatory disruption.

One of my favorite authors and professors on this subject is Michael Porter; he wrote many books on the subject, including Competitive Advantage. To sum up this book, it is how we create something of value in the marketplace with a set of attributes that outperforms the competition. These attributes depend on the type of business you are in and the resources you have at your disposal. To gain a competitive advantage, organizations implement strategy to manipulate the various resources to generate an advantage. Technology has become one of those attributes to leverage as a competitive advantage. Particularly, we have seen the growth of mobile technologies as a mode of delivery to position your company as an industry leader in the marketplace.

When considering mobile technologies as a potential vehicle for improved market position, we believe that thinking strategically first will set the plan in motion. This may include a big picture strategy of mission, vision, and business goals and objectives, as well as tactical execution with defined metrics to measure success. Or it could be a much more strategically minded approach. For example, a department that thinks on a tactical level but sees the value on the broader strategic corporate plane. Regardless of your foray into strategy as it applies to mobile, it is necessary. Remember, though, to “marry your mission and date your strategy.”

Many companies lack a mobile strategy and are wasting valuable resources on one of the most significant channels in technology history. According to a report by Kontagent, only 25% of companies in the mobile mainstream (those whose mobile programs cut across business sectors and company types) have a well-defined mobile strategy.

Because of this lack of strategy, there is significant waste in the mobile eco-system. Some studies, including one from MGI Research, have suggested that out of the $10 billion spent on mobile applications roughly 70% of those applications have been wasted.

One last stat from SAP/Mobiquity worth looking at: “Innovators in mobility have been shown to outpace competitors in revenue growth by a factor of two, profitability by a factor of three and employee productivity by an impressive 50%. Yet only a dismal 8% of companies can be classified as such.”

Assuming mobile can differentiate you in the marketplace, what are the factors to consider when making a decision for using or improving your use of mobile? How do you think about it strategically?

It starts with asking the right questions before you develop: Why are you going to create an app? What problem does the app solve and whom does it solve it for?

Why are you going to create an application?

This is central to your decision and pivotal as you begin the journey of exploration with mobile or expand your mobile approach. The factors we consider as a part of the why question include:

Why does the market need this approach and how can they benefit from it?

  • Consider the drivers behind the market opportunity
  • Will we gain a competitive advantage or improve our position in the marketplace through this solution?
  • Have we isolated a specific problem in the industry that we can solve differently with mobile?

Does this application meet your business goals and have the ability to improve results? Will it…

  • Increase sales?
  • Increase margins?
  • Increase market share?
  • Improve market position?
  • Improve efficiency?

At the department level, does a mobile application make economic sense?

  • Can we support it?
  • How does it improve differentiation of our products or services?
  • What is the purpose of the application?
  • What are the key metrics and associated measures?
  • How does mobile work with my other department-level channels or strategies?

What problem does the application solve?

  • Have you framed the problem well? You can through the use of these of tools. Fishbone – Cause and Effect diagram The Five Whys – a simple but logical approach
  • Gather findings from stakeholder interviews
  • Conduct focus groups
  • Design qualitative and quantitative research
  • Conduct ethnographic work (observational studies)
  • Build audience personas

For whom?

  • Who are the users? User Profiles– describe them, their objectives, needs, and motivations
  • What are the use cases? Use Cases – describe how the users will interact with the application by interviewing or observing them

There is much more to consider as you prepare to use mobile to differentiate yourself in the marketplace. These dynamics, which we will dive deeper into later in this blog series, include: creating a plan for success, executing the application(s), setting metrics and measures, and planning for ongoing improvement. We will also put together some case studies that demonstrate mobile applications that have created a market advantage through the use of strategy. There’s a lot to explore, so stay tuned!

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