Using mobile innovation to create new business opportunities

By Jonathan Hassell

Many businesses are integrating mobile into their infrastructures since this is generally low-hanging fruit for chief information officers (CIOs). However, there is plenty of room and opportunity to take mobile one step further and create new business opportunities through mobile innovation.

How can CIOs and other executives uncover new business ventures through mobile? By keeping three basic tenets in mind.

1. Re-engineer, Not Just Redesign

Much of the next two to three years in mobile innovation will be about truly embracing the form factor of mobile devices. Instead of just rehashing the same apps and business processes that have always existed and re-engineering them to fit a 5-, 6- or 10-inch screen, mobile apps will likely become true business processes of their own.

There is no need to boil down a purchase order into a responsive Web page when you can build an intelligent app that understands when you reach a reorder point and automatically fires off a purchase order for approval. And when you stumble on these internal efficiencies that you get from redesigning with mobile in mind, you have inherently created a new business opportunity. Chances are that you’re not in a silo and other businesses have the same problem that you just solved. Leverage that solution into something marketable outside your own organization. Re-engineer your mobile apps; don’t just redesign for smaller displays.

2. Reaching Your Target Customers

Your business apps likely target different segments of your customer base than your other communication channels. App users tend to be more mobile and on the go, and sometimes they tend to be busier, too — hence the appeal of push notifications and reminders. They like to make plans and execute decisions by pushing buttons and confirming actions on their tablets and smartphones.

Take advantage of these different demographics by having an in-depth review of the services you offer — not just ones for internal users, but services you could offer to external customers, as well. How is your current portfolio of services consumed by your customers? Are there pieces of that portfolio that could be separated into an app that creates a new revenue stream? Consider how mobile banking has changed the financial industry, all because an app or two have changed the main contact point in that relationship. What about your demographics begs for mobile innovation and disruption?

3. Thinking of a New End, Not Just a New Front End

Another key to mobile innovation is eliminating the thought that your apps have to connect to some locked-down corporate back end. Traditionally, CIOs have viewed mobile apps as a front end to an existing corporate back end, whether that’s an enterprise resource planning system, an accounting application, point of sale or something else. Not only does this limit the scope of your design, but it also makes it harder to develop attractive apps that can be used in a wide variety of scenarios outside your own organization.

When you connect your app to a public cloud service as the back end, you can enable a rich set of features and capabilities that will make your app more popular, easier to update and more attractive to a wider set of customers. For example, there are resources in public cloud services that allow you to easily stream multimedia audio and video, offload data cleansing and verification and perform machine learning to automatically make your app’s processes more intelligent. You can create an app that is smart, resourceful and that breaks away from the mold of being the pretty face of a button-down corporate data center. True mobile innovation requires breaking those shackles.

Written By

Jonathan Hassell

President, 82 Ventures

Jonathan Hassell runs 82 Ventures, a technical writing and consulting firm based in Charlotte, NC. He centers his focus around network administrator, security, the cloud, and mobile technologies.

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