What is Mobile-First?
Written by Alex Kalish
2 Min Read
The use of the term “mobile-first” originated with website design when smartphones began to outpace PCs for internet browsing. It meant designing sites that work just as well on a small screen as on a desktop. The term has now broadened beyond websites and apps to convey an overarching organizational mindset that puts mobile at the heart of strategy, operations, and the user experience.
Mobile-first recognizes that mobile devices and mobile technology offer such massive advantages to organizations, their employees, and their customers that it should be at the forefront of every company’s technology roadmaps and investments.
Organizations have steadily moved towards mobile solutions for years, but the pandemic hyper-accelerated the need for them and underscored their value. A couple of the prominent use cases are remote work and contactless retail transactions like curbside pickup, but organizations quickly discovered broader benefits like increased productivity, the ability to run operations anytime from anywhere, nimbleness, and protection from disruption.
Mobile solutions increase automation, improve workflows, and create better user and customer experiences. Most now accept that mobile is a key component of digital transformation.
Advantages of Mobile-First
- Meet Customer Expectations – consumers are increasingly transacting with their mobile devices. Many did it for the first time because of the pandemic and found they preferred it because of the ease and convenience. Whether that means they’re using their phone for a contactless payment in a store or they’re scheduling an in-store or curbside pickup, customers are dictating how they want to transact. Retailers and service providers of all kinds are using mobile to make online and in-person experiences seamless.
- Digital Transformation – organizations that have done things the same way for more than a century are leveraging mobile solutions for digital transformation. Trucking and rail transportation are a couple of good examples. Up until recently, the amount of paperwork required to get a truck or a train car from point A to point B was staggering. Now, with mobile technology, companies can digitize all the different paper transactions on a single device. That one device can manage all the different logistics elements like the check-in and check-out process, safety and maintenance checks, proof of delivery, bills of lading, hours of service tracking, electronic logbook, mobile train reporting claims, and worker training. It’s incredible to step back and think about how much more efficient these processes are now. Other benefits include accuracy and safety improvements, plus the ability to track and measure compliance and adoption along the way.
- Speed – manual processes significantly slow companies down, and they also breed errors that can lead to redoing work—which slows them down even more. Leveraging mobile to automate and digitize manual processes and workflows can help businesses generally move faster in daily operations and react and adjust to change when it comes.
- Protection from Disruption – mobility—at its core—is a platform that can accommodate and deliver whatever software applications are required as business conditions change to employees wherever they are around the world. It’s flexible enough to modify and pivot quickly. School districts—for example—had to move to virtual learning using mobile devices during the pandemic. Quick serve restaurants suddenly had to start transacting with customers outside their four walls if they didn’t have a drive-through. With mobile technology in place, organizations have the nimbleness of anywhere operations to handle whatever gets thrown at them.
- Futureproofing – replacing manual processes and workflows with digital ones lets you tap into a lot of valuable new data that allows you to better forecast, predict, and gain line of sight to trends before they become an issue. Mobile has a huge role to play in keeping companies prepared.
- Cost Reduction and Increased Revenue – speed, efficiency, and productivity are all things that come with a mobile-first strategy, and they also cut operating costs. Better customer experiences lead to more sales and increased revenue which can be reinvested in future growth.
How to Evolve to a Mobile-First Mindset
Getting a mobile-first mindset starts with evaluating your technology and operational workflows to find ways that mobile digital transformation can drive positive change.
There are steps along the way to becoming a mobile-first organization. Recognize that it’s a continuum, and you don’t have to get there overnight. The most successful organizations we see are the ones who are prioritizing their needs but also thinking about their broader technology and mobile strategy holistically, so they don’t become siloed or inadvertently create one-way doors that they then have to unwind later.
First and foremost, don’t be overwhelmed by deploying a mobile-first strategy. Once you have a plan and a platform in place, it becomes easier to change it, upgrade it, and keep it going. There’s no finish line that you cross and then move on to something else. Keep in mind that technology changes fast, and there’s an opportunity cost to not having a dedicated team or a partner whose job it is to stay on top of the constantly changing technology.
Need Help? It’s Available
Deploying mobile technology—whether it’s for the first time or it’s a refresh of older technology—is a difficult undertaking for many enterprises to do at scale. It involves significant, thoughtful planning and expertise to do it successfully. It also requires involvement and support from many different stakeholders across the organization. Everyone has to be involved and buy into it.
Partnering with an experienced organization that’s done it many times before—and has the ability to execute at the scale needed—can be a huge benefit to companies. Internal IT departments that are already overworked find it challenging to scale up and manage a deployment or a big technology refresh and then maintain it.
You don’t have to go it alone. If you want to leverage a mobile-first strategy and are having trouble getting it off the ground, then reach out to our Mobile Solution Consulting team. We’re here to help.
10-Minute Enterprise Mobility Masterclass
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