Most companies still missing the power of mobile

The vast majority of businesses see mobile as a priority area but they report little or no progress in harnessing its potential, according to a unique industry survey.


More than 90% of businesses have at least one person charged with pursuing the mobile opportunity for their company but more than half have yet to make any substantive move to develop mobile operations or products, according to theMobile Maturity Survey devised by Chelsea Apps Factory.


The online survey is a simple tool that helps companies to assess how far along they are in the transition to fully embracing mobile. It questions them under six key headings to build up an overall picture of their readiness and identify areas that require further attention.


Companies that have participated so far overwhelmingly regard mobile as a growth area but just 4% say that mobile already forms a central part of the way they do business and that they therefore do not need a separate mobile strategy. The great majority are still in the early stages of exploring mobile opportunities, or have yet to go beyond preliminary trials with a small number of apps, often created by their marketing teams.


IT infrastructure and strategy are obviously central to any company’s efforts to develop full mobile capability and although 14% – mainly newer businesses – say their infrastructure is built to support mobile, about three-quarters admit they are not fully mobile-enabled or that they do not have a plan in place to achieve that goal. In most other cases, businesses are providing IT development for mobile projects in an ad hoc way, rather than as part of an enterprise-wide strategy.


“This reveals a split between proactive and reactive approaches,” says Katie Lips, a Senior Consultant at Chelsea Apps Factory. “The problem with the reactive approach is that IT isn’t helping to lead the business’s mobile strategy, which it obviously should.”


The survey also shows that many companies manage IT projects very inflexibly, planning and budgeting a year or more in advance and finding it difficult to accommodate the “iterate, test, learn” approach that mobile requires. More than 50% say they either work on one IT project at a time or that they cannot change the roadmap for the following year’s IT projects once it has been fixed.


When asked about access to the necessary expertise to deliver mobile projects, only about 30% say they actively involve people across the business. In most cases, therefore, projects are still confined to a small, separate team although there are encouraging signs that the shift to mobile is gaining traction – around 40% of respondents say they are able to express a clear investment case to support mobile projects, that they can reliably measure returns and that these can be more than twice the initial investment.