Mobile: The Hardest Part SHOULD be starting

As a guy who has been around mobile for the better part of this century, I have skipped right past the “why use mobile” and right into the “why isn’t everyone using mobile” thinking as a lot of us have based on some of the commentary on recent reports that we are seeing around mobile adoption in business. Companies see the need, are setting budgets aside but aren’t moving “fast enough” and we wonder why and how they could be so slow to adopt this incredible revolution.

At the heart of this matter is the huge uncertainty about the direction to start – throwing statistics about mobile adoption, the number of SMS messages being sent, the value of marketing spend in mobile vs the GDP of small nations doesn’t do it. Nor do statements like this taken from an article penned by Jeff Hilimire from Mobile Commerce Daily. He says “If you are continuing to find reasons why your company is not ready to start testing mobile, you will just keep standing still.” Is it that companies are finding “reasons” to not embrace mobile or are we all just looking at it from our perspective and not from someone who is struggling to figure it out for the first time. Someone who doesn’t have the history. Someone who is looking at this industry with wide, new eyes.

It shouldn’t be easy

Bringing mobile into your business, if done right, is not easy – nor should it be. The decisions you make when the relationship you have with your customers is at stake should never be taken lightly and mobile is one of the most personal of these connections – the trust needs to be explicit and without compromise.

In the same article, Hilimire says that to embrace mobile “it is ok to fail, just fail fast” – that might work in the startup world but in relationship building (um, isn’t that what marketing really is?) the last thing you want to do is fail with your customers as guinea pigs.

Failing fast is lazy planning

You know your customers, you know their patterns, their habits, their needs/wants, you know how they interact with you, their pain when dealing with you. You DO know your customers, don’t you? Then don’t build something that will fail. Build something that they have been asking for, make something that they are currently doing with your company easier to do, deepen your relationship with them. Failing really isn’t an option here because failing may mean losing a customer, or two, or three.

So where do you start?

Every single business on the planet could use mobile to help engage with their customers, create awareness for their products and services and generate additional revenue or cost savings but where do you start? Look for the simple things that people are using mobile to engage with your business today and make them better. For example, how does your mobile website look on a smartphone? Is it providing the most relevant information based on how and where they are using it? If most retail mobile websites are used in-store, how can you make that experience better?

Sometimes we just need to throw out our assumptions, give up the “curse of knowledge” and start from scratch to help move this industry along.

What do you think?

About the author

Rob Woodbridge

I'm Rob, the founder of and I've spent 14 years immersed in the mobile and pervasive computing world. During this great time I've helped some of the most innovative companies grow their business through mobile. If you are in need of a mobile business advisor or coach, connect with me here to get things rolling.

  • Really like this post. I actually think we’re saying the same thing regarding the “it’s ok to fail, just fail fast” mantra.

    It is actually easier for an established business to do this rather than a startup. If your first experience with a new company is something that doesn’t work, you’re likely not going to come back. However, if a brand that you’re a loyal customer to asks you to be in a select group of people to test a new technology in an effort for them to provide you a better service, even if that fails, they’ll probably be grateful for being asked to participate.

    Also, its not that I am suggesting that failing is a good thing. But rather, companies have to be willing to take a risk to move into mobile and until they can wrap their heads around the idea that they might fail, they won’t take that first step. It’s fear that is stopping companies from moving forward, my point is simply that you’ll never have a crystal ball to know what is going to work in mobile…until you start trying. And I think that’s what you’re saying at the end of your post.

  • Rob Woodbridge

    Hi Jeff – we ARE saying the same thing. Companies are caught, fearful of moving forward with mobile so they keep making the same mistakes their competitors are making. You see this with companies trying to leverage mobile for their benefit as well as startups building out the same technology solutions with a slightly different UI as everyone else. We need innovation!

    This is perfectly said: “companies have to be willing to take a risk to move into mobile and until they can wrap their heads around the idea that they might fail, they won’t take that first step.”

    Thanks for reaching out and glad we are on the same page.

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