Nobody ever grew their business by maintaining the status-quo. So it is with mobile: those organizations willing to innovate their business and operating models are achieving results in the new mobile era, while those standing on the sidelines are quickly falling behind.
You only need look at the experiences of some of the biggest brands to see a stark lesson in the need for radical innovation to unlock mobile growth. Apple* has clearly leveraged mobile to completely reinvent their business model. Devices such as the iPhone* and iPad* have been the driving force behind much of the growth in mobile adoption over the past five years, while iTunes* and the aligned App Store* have created new revenue models for both Apple and its retail and media partners.
Tablet technology is being used in retail, similar to the Apple Store* concept, to increase speed of service, productivity and efficiency. And Amazon continues to dominate mobile: their mobile App allows consumers to compare prices when inside stores by scanning barcodes, taking photos, or searching to compare prices and check availability. Indeed, some of the more tech-savvy retailers have seen an opportunity to offer exclusive deals to smartphone customers.
And some smaller and newer companies are also seeing huge mobile opportunities: the award-winning Payfirma was the first in Canada to commercialize a mobile point of sale with a credit card reader, and now offers a payment platform for businesses to accept payments online, in-store and while mobile. Their premise is to make payments fast, cost effective and seamless for both the consumer and businesses.
Similar experiences can be found in almost every sector and region. In particular, those operating in the telecommunications, media and technology sector quickly found that their entire survival has rested on their ability to successfully transform in the mobile space. Many are still trying to figure it out: some of the world’s leading device manufacturers have been laid low (think RIM or Motorola), content providers continue to struggle to create sustainable revenue streams (as illustrated by Facebook’s current travails) and many of the biggest technology companies have been slow to the game (especially in the enterprise technology space).
And while there continues to be a smoldering debate on the future of mobile Apps, it seems fairly clear that the platform is one of the most successful ways to convert mobile into revenues. The App ecosystem continues to grow at a remarkable pace, those that are transactional in nature are seeing rapid and wide adoption, creating new revenue opportunities for a wide range of organizations including governments, not-for-profits and corporates.
But winning in the mobile space is not just about creating new revenue streams. In fact, some of the greatest mobile growth strategies result from enabling mobile within the enterprise to drive down costs, enhance efficiency and increase productivity.
A good example of this can be seen in public transportation systems around the world, not traditionally known for their efficient ticketing systems or customer service. Take the UK’s Oyster card system, for example, with its convenient online top-up facility, and pay-as-you-go model. This has resulted in a smarter, faster and more economical ticketing system in one of the world’s busiest capital cities.
This will not be a simple transformation for most businesses. Indeed, achieving sustainable growth from mobile within the enterprise environment will require organizations to rethink everything about their business from their market strategy right down to procurement. No value will come from arming every employee with a mobile device unless the business also transforms its underlying processes and operating models to truly embed mobile into the very fabric of the enterprise.
Giving a tablet to a hospital doctor, for example, does little to improve patient outcomes unless health data and patient records are made accessible by mobile. Similarly, there is no use enabling an office worker with mobile technology unless they can access and operate core enterprise systems. And there is little benefit in offering customer ordering via mobile unless that system is integrated into the manufacturing and supply chain operations.
Yes, embedding mobile into the enterprise can be disruptive. But the journey can also be highly rewarding. Those who take a systematic and strategic approach to thoroughly reassessing their current operating models and processes will find new opportunities to enhance efficiency, drive productivity and encourage innovation, all of which ultimately lead to growth.
The story will be remarkably different for those that are unwilling – or unable – to reinvent themselves into a truly mobile-enabled enterprise.
* Apple, iPhone, iPad, iTunes, App Store, and Apple Store are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries.
By Yvon Audette, KPMG in Canada