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Mobile Reshapes Organizations But Collaboration Remains Challenging

Gears header , Feb. 15, 2013

We’ve turned the corner into 2013 with a powerful mobile wind at our backs. Across the board (retail and CPG), our clients are seeing smartphone and tablet traffic and conversions spike regardless of demographics and, interestingly, are seeing Apple’s Safari browser traffic rapidly eat into Internet Explorer and Chrome traffic thanks to iPad penetration (Apple shipped over 20,000,000 units in Q4 alone!). We are knee-deep in mobile wallet and mobile loyalty development projects and are also seeing stirrings of interest in Windows Mobile application development as that platform slowly gains market share in North America.

In our OPEN Brand update, I wrote about how mobile is now driving both innovation and collaboration across organizations—and we are starting to see our counsel bear fruit. We have innovative projects underway for several clients, and those projects are not “siloed,” but involve multiple stakeholders. Similarly, mobile is being recognized as a career grower, and last year’s Mobile Coordinator is now a Manager, the Manager is now a Director, and the Director has become a VP. These promotions reflect the growing investment that corporations are making in mobile marketing strategies and tactics as well as the impact that these programs have cross-functionally in mature, siloed organizations.

And to go cross-functional, mobile initiatives need a champion with sufficient title and budget to sit comfortably at the Big Table when marketing campaigns, IS investment, recruiting, and store/distribution capital investment is discussed.

In the second half of 2012, we helped organize  a variety of mobile summits intended to either introduce, or re-engage, disparate corporate functions who now have, or want, a stake in mobile-driven investment and ROI discussions. These summits, which typically include marketing, IT, finance, ecomm, and social leaders and focus on high-level visions and strategies, are a good first step, but if there is not a defined champion (VP level ideally, first among equals in terms of coordinating—but not necessarily controlling—mobile-related spending), tactical execution and follow-through can lag or stall altogether.

Our advice to CEOs and CMOs in 2013 is straightforward:

  • Recognize that mobile is triggering a long-term investment cycle (imagine re-tooling POS at 2,000+ locations for mobile coupon and wallet functionality).
  • Identify a champion, and have her/him empowered to review all mobile-related initiatives—you would be surprised how many departments have mobile proof-of-concept or live initiatives underway.
  • Recognize and reward active collaboration, not just meeting attendance, and schedule regular reviews with your champion. That will elevate his/her influence and help streamline decision-making going forward.
  • Recognize that in large organizations, “innovation is incremental,” and support a test-and-learn mentality with real dollars and real measurement. Walmart, Macy’s, Kraft, and Sephora did not become leaders overnight, but through multi-year efforts that failed as often as they succeeded.


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