Mobile business models: How to survive a rocky transition from your traditional business strategy

By Jonathan Crowl

| Retail

Online mobile activity has already surpassed desktop browsing, but that’s just the tip of how mobile is transforming the world. The IoT has turned everyday objects into web-connected touchpoints, which in turn is transforming retail stores and other once-placid environments into complex mobile ecosystems.

The rise of mobile has brought disruption to almost every industry and is forcing business leaders to rethink their operational models and seek out new strategies built for this mobile-first future. However, the task of transiti oning from traditional business models to mobile business models is tricky and involves a lot of internal movement and adjustments alongside ideological shifts and managing outside forces — namely, consumers and stakeholders.

Here are some top priorities to focus on when managing this transition:

Reorganize to support strategy shifts

The way businesses manage research and development is changing. Instead of long development cycles that take place behind the scenes of a business, there’s a growing shift toward iterative development that shortens these development cycles and turns out new solutions faster. On the mobile front, this means making small, frequent adjustments to a mobile app or solution instead of holding out for massive sets of changes that are deployed all at once. Iterative development makes it easier to see which new features work and which ones fail to satisfy requirements, and it also helps brands keep pace with their competition.

Similarly, developers will be focused on creating new mobile data acquisition channels, a process that will involve IT, sales, marketing and other brand professionals. In general, mobile strategies continue a larger digital trend that brings sales and marketing into closer collaboration with one another — digital and mobile assets often serve both departments simultaneously, and an increased focus on mobile will invariably lead to more cooperation between these groups.

On the financial side, CFOs should take the lead on transitioning away from product-based selling and toward subscription-based selling. This can be a tough shift for leadership, as well as product managers, to embrace. However, in the new mobile economy, these subscriptions offer more revenue and stability and better suit the channel through which these solutions are offered.

Focus on the long-term goals

In-house IT staff, including developers, will see the most transformation coming to their jobs. In many cases, they’ve already been working on mobile initiatives, but the scale of that workload will be greatly increased.

As previously mentioned, sales and marketing will be increasingly mobile-focused, with digital resources funneled directly into new mobile concepts and strategic channels. Everyone in the organization will be at least indirectly affected by this shift to a mobile business strategy. From the CEO down, there will be a continuing need to acclimate themselves to new metrics for success. Shifting selling models will turn revenues and sales figures upside down, so leadership will need to know which metrics to watch when evaluating performance.

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For publicly owned companies, the cost of this transition could ding revenues in the short-term, putting stock prices at risk of a decline. However, the long-term goal is to significantly raise revenues while making them more stable and competitive in a changing business world. With explanation, savvy shareholders will know to focus on the future, not the present.

Use retail as a case study

The implications of this mobile shift are easy to see in the world of retail, where mobile disruption is now being embraced as a critical means of survival for many brands. Like many other industries, retail is embracing mobile technology not only as a platform for online sales but also as a tool for engagement in brick-and-mortar stores, according to GSMA. IoT solutions are opening up new data acquisition channels, and customer satisfaction is now the central goal of many brands that seek to turn their stores into experience destinations. Mobile-based solutions such as real-time inventory checks, clienteling software used by employees, mobile checkouts, omnichannel order fulfillment and other customer-friendly features are possible for companies that invest into a mobile-first approach.

These transitions can be costly, but they are the difference between success and failure in today’s competitive retail world. According to Reuters, this is exactly why brands such as The Limited are filing for bankruptcy, while other retailers such as Ulta and Sephora thrive. Companies eager to adapt to changing mobile focuses are raking in the results, while slow-adopting brands lose revenues and slowly find themselves spiraling downward.

That’s likely a harsh reality for companies reluctant to amend their business model, but in a time of constant upheaval and change, the ability to adapt is key to survival.