This is a four part post about mobile first and its growing importance in enterprise mobility.

Mobile-first, in the enterprise space, is a strategic approach, embracing mobile as the primary IT channel across the company. A mobile-first company is one that has looked at its business processes and designed them for mobile-first, before building up to other channels, such as desktop. A mobile-first company will also have embraced mobile apps as the primary point of contact for employees, customers and other audiences. When working in mobile, it’s easy to forget there are still a number of firms who find the idea of mobile first mystifying.

In many cases, mobile-first is the strategy of tomorrow. While there are many mobile-first companies, they tend to be technology firms whose primary channel is through mobile. Consumer examples include Instagram, WhatsApp or CityMapper; whilst companies such as Google and Facebook, have changed their focus to be mobile-first, over the years.

In the enterprise space, companies like MobileIron, Check or Localytics have built themselves around a mobile-first mentality. For large organisations, not in the technology space, the thought of mobile-first can be daunting. Mobile-first can involve a complete overhaul of operations, at a time when many firms are only just moving past opportunistic mobility.

When it comes to enterprise mobility, Yankee Group has identified three stages. First is opportunistic mobility, where companies have tried to get into mobile as a reaction to demand. They won’t have spent the time required ensuring their backend legacy systems are designed with mobile in mind. Companies who fit into this category, will generally be focused on very specific employee needs. Often, there will be disparate projects across the organisation, with no real strategy in place, no best practice defined and no standardisation of suppliers or design across projects. Increasingly, we are seeing a shift away from this mindset.

The second stage of mobility is where many companies find themselves today: strategic mobility. In this stage, companies are looking to address large swathes of mobile workers by creating the tools they need to do their jobs. There is far more focus on the importance of taking a strategic approach by creating frameworks, guidelines and a common architecture for mobility across the organisation. As the focus turns into making mobility more strategic, the need to speed up the development and delivery of apps has become increasingly important. One of the key ways organisations are doing this, is through creating the web services and APIs that are the real enablers for apps.

The third stage is mobile first. In this stage, everything is designed and created for mobile, and other platforms second. Since 2008, many startups have focused on making this part of their mantra. Understandably, for larger companies it’s the strategy of tomorrow, rather than today. With the mobile first approach, companies are looking at how mobile influences work behaviour to help drive down costs and create the most seamless processes.

Part 2 – changing nature of IT

Part 3 – getting to mobile first

Part 4 – refining UX

By Robert Haslam, PR manager