Mobile business is today’s hot trend, and mobile apps are the whitest, hottest part of it. Companies of all sizes in every industry are scrambling to keep up with employees who bring new, cool devices to work. The search is unending for killer apps to beat the competition—there are over 700,000 active apps in the iTunes App Store.
I get it. Apps are sexy. Long term strategy is not. But now is the time to move out of reactive chaos in favor of a more strategic approach to mobile. So the next time you’re in a meeting to talk about mobilization and someone starts rhapsodizing about this or that app, consider answering these four questions first:
- What’s our corporate vision?
- How do we expect mobile to help us get there?
- What mobile components do we have in place already—from front end apps all the way to back-end infrastructure?
- In prioritized order, what mobile technologies do we need to achieve our vision?
Taking a long term view that puts everything into context may be anathema to those who insist on limiting the human experience to 140 characters or less. However, mobile success requires something infinitely more thoughtful. While the immediate is always important, it’s the long view that stokes lasting success.
SAP celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, an eternity in the technology world. IBM has already reached its 100-year milestone. Neither got where they are today by parsing reactive flavor-of-the-month sound bites. Today’s mobile frenzy reminds me of when high technology first entered everyday office life. We leaped head first into every new server, programming tool, and word processor. Then we struggled to extract some kind of value from the subsequent tangle of disconnected, incompatible technologies.
The lesson here for mobile is to lead with the strategy, not the tactics. It’s easy to get distracted in an always-on world, and often with good reason. By all means, explore the latest apps but use company goals to guide selection of the best ones. In the end, staying power comes to those companies that deliver what sizzles today while planning for an even better future. Let’s hear it for longevity.