Mobile application strategy for the C-suite: 5 tips for balancing the conceptual and the pragmatic

By Scott Forshay

Strategy, at its essence, has been defined as “a cohesive and substantiated logic for making one set of decisions versus another.” In the hyper-evolving mobile market climate, developing an effective mobile application strategy involves artfully navigating the delicate balance between possibility and pragmatism.

The following five tips for finding balance between conceptual and practical solutions provide a primer for developing an environment for continuous innovation while intelligently prioritizing the elements of a cost-effective mobile strategy.

1. Do Your (User) Research

Designing human-centric experiences is paramount in developing an effective mobile application strategy. The success or failure of any application, regardless of the innovations within, depends on frequency and depth of use by its intended audience.

A clear understanding of the intended user audience should never be left to guesswork. Investing in conducting qualitative research to define user personas will yield immeasurably valuable returns. Developing initial personas, then iteratively building upon them for continuous evaluation of user behaviors and motivations, ensures that your understanding of an intended audience evolves as their expectations of experiences with your brand evolve.

2. Clearly Define Use Cases

Rethinking strategic models has become necessary in the modern age, as traditional five-year business strategies became outdated against the existing backdrop of rapid tech innovation. Organizations should transition to micro-strategy models to effectively adapt and become more lean in their approach.

Identifying manageable use cases provides necessary guardrails for the mobile team to “think inside the box,” an approach to ideation that yields far better results than traditional brainstorming sessions that lack context and a clearly defined strategic direction. The user experience is a sum of its collective parts, so address it holistically at this stage. A focus on deconstructing complexities into manageable components is necessary to increase speed and agility, and get the product into the hands of users for faster feedback solicitation.

3. Map the Journey, Identify Gaps

Now that an understanding of the user audience has been initially developed and the use case tightly defined, the next step is to hone in on the user journey within the context of the use case. That’s necessary to identify gaps in the experience flow where your mobile app can deliver increased utility and a positive impact for users.

With all the technological assets a organization has at the ready to effectively solve the experience gaps in a unique user dilemma, what ideas and concepts can the brand conceive of if there were little to no limitations on how best to solve it?

Success in mobile application strategy lies in answering the following fundamental questions: Is the application we are developing useful, and is it usable? By mapping the user’s journey and identifying the gaps in their experience that can be uniquely addressed by mobility, conceptual solutions based on an application’s utility to the audience begins to form.

4. Audit Your Concepts

Given the wealth of defined conceptual solutions to be audited, develop informed hypotheses before you begin. A lean framework for intelligent prioritization ensures the foundation of the mobile application strategy approach and technological feasibility is infused with logic from the start.

The brand can more intelligently prioritize its mobility efforts and validate one set of decisions versus another by running a litmus test to measure the value of the apps’ utility to the user audience and its alignment with the objectives of the business against the technological degree of difficulty it would take to achieve.

Features identified as highly valuable both to the user and business that have lower degrees of technological difficulty form the foundation of a short-term features list that can be quickly prototyped or developed as an initial minimum viable product. Additionally, features identified as highly valuable yet requiring of additional investments in people, process or technology to deliver upon, can be quickly and intelligently identified as longer-term strategic investments.

5. Evaluate and Analyze
It is debatable as to whether Henry Ford actually once quipped, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses,” but the spirit of the sentiment is nonetheless true in mobile application strategy. In emerging technology environments, users cannot ask for what they have not experienced.

Delivering functioning solution prototypes quickly to users, irrespective of degree of fidelity, is essential in determining if the solutions proposed are indeed on the mark. There is no substitute for solicitation of user feedback, and this feedback should inform the ongoing feature road map.

This high-level approach framework is fundamentally designed to ensure the rapid strategy formulation and provide balance between the art of possible and the art of pragmatism.

Written By

Scott Forshay

Senior Managing Consultant for IBM

Experienced Mobile Strategist equipped with a deep understanding and experienced working knowledge of how people, tools, and technologies come together to create superior digital user experiences - a flexible strategic thinker and planner who uses a creative approach to building and…

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