While the consumer mobile market is exploding, the corporate world also has advanced far beyond the era of executives just using Blackberry devices. Today, numerous internal and external audiences are using a variety of mobile devices to access business services that increase efficiency and productivity by enhancing communication and collaboration.
Unprecedented changes in the economy, telecommunications and hardware - not only in the mobile space, but also in storage, computing and networking - have required organizations to adopt mobile strategies that enable them to compete, succeed and grow in the fast-evolving environment where not only customers but also partners and employees are accessing services and collaborating with smart devices.
This article will explore strategies to enhance the mobile experience for three of the key audiences that regularly use mobile to engage with businesses: Customers, Employees and Partners.
Given the evolution in interaction from face-to-face, call center and website to mobile websites, commerce and applications, the challenge in managing the customer experience lies in creating consistency.
Customers are increasingly engaging with businesses through mobile devices, so it is imperative that applications be compatible and support the customer experience within a limited and often touch-based interface.
Organizations need to have a clear strategy for three possible modes of customer engagement through mobile devices:
Websites: To support customer access via mobile devices, organizations need to revisit their site layout. This includes creating a clutter-free, fast-loading homepage, easy navigation and relevance of content to optimize it for mobile devices, since the customer is limited by the mobile device’s small screen and may not be stationary.
For example, while the Google home page is perfect for any device, Facebook is struggling to get it right on mobile devices.
Mobile Commerce: Gartner rightly predicts mobile commerce as one of the high-growth trends for 2012. Organizations need to have a holistic approach toward mobile commerce; this includes adopting M-commerce options by enhancing their customer interfaces, improved security measures and mobile payment integrations.
Even for ecommerce giants like Amazon or eBay, enabling M-commerce has required simplifying their processes to be simple one-click transactions with an optimized mobile interface.
Mobile Applications: Mobile applications have gained ground in the last few years, evolving into consumer-driven business propositions. Organizations should offer a clear value proposition to customers - the goal should be to have customers consider their mobile application among the top 10 applications on their device.
With more and more employees now possessing smart mobile devices, organizations can leverage this 24/7 availability for their advantage. It is imperative that organizations consider applications that enhance productivity, efficiency and collaboration.
With employee collaboration solutions like Chatter (Salesforce.com), location-based apps and mobile workforce automation solutions, organizations need to have well-thought-through strategies to provide secure access to these mobile applications.
The adoption of mobile applications for enterprise users is on an upward swing with organizations adopting some of the mobile applications for employees in the areas of contact management, remote document access, location bases applications, invoicing applications, sales force automation, time tracking, order management and payment/expense management
Some of the key benefits that can be derived through use of mobile business applications are:
- Mobile access to real-time customer data that can help a sales force make more informed decisions
- Improved and enhanced customer service
- Enhanced sales conversion with real time broad collaboration
- Reduced organizational silos
Regardless of whether an organization is in retail, manufacturing, banking or financial services, partners – which can broadly include as suppliers, distributors, franchises, and service and solution providers – communicate and collaborate with enterprises in different capacities to drive mutual success.
Organizations have honed processes to collaborate with partners by leveraging best practices to reduce waste and cost, improve efficiency, accelerate turnaround and increase profitability. The mobile revolution can prove invaluable to enhancing the way partners collaborate with enterprises.
Here are a few examples of partner enablement:
Inventory/Stock Management: Applications can bolster inventory management by ensuring everybody is working with the same information.
Insurance Applications: Working in partnerships with independent agents can improve efficiency and customer service by providing agents with applications to upload documents, receive profile information and premium calculation.
Payment Management: Partners can work together and negotiate invoices, expenses and payments by leveraging M-payments.
Mobility is evolving at a much faster pace than the traditional Internet, bolstered by countless changes in social communication, economic upheavals and advanced technologies. Organizations that address this change with a knee-jerk or "me too" reaction will only end up consuming resources without returning tangible or intangible benefits, while creating major headaches for infrastructure managers.
On the other hand, those organizations that take a 360-degree approach to their mobile device and application strategies can enable a quality end-user experience that enhances collaboration within the organization and with partners, improves efficiency, increases sales and revenue, and enhances customer loyalty.
Shweta Darbha brings nearly a decade of experience in IT, business consulting and product management to her role as a Product Manager for CA Technologies. She has served many leading IT services and product companies in the IT infrastructure and network management, financial services, retail, airlines, and manufacturing domains, focusing on customer relationship management (CRM), customer data management (CDM), marketing and customer loyalty.