I spend quite a bit of time encouraging the organizations we work with to look beyond the app and instead consider the overall impact the mobile platform can have on their business. While it can seem like an exercise in delayed gratification, investing a little more time and deliberation up front can yield much more valuable outcomes for the business as a whole.

For example, in the past year I’ve been approached by three separate divisions of a global medical device company. Each division was interested in a customized solution to increase the effectiveness of their respective sales teams.

I had great conversations with each of these groups, though in the end none of them were ready to take the next step. Clearly, there was a larger need within this organization. But each group was focused on what “their application” could be. No one was taking a holistic look at what a strategic and coordinated entry into mobile could do for the organization as a whole.

This tail-wagging-the-dog thinking manifests itself another way. Often customers focus first on the front-end design of a mobile application, and this is often a red flag that the organization is too narrowly focused in their approach to mobile.

There’s no question that the design phase is often the sexiest part of the project. But there are larger questions that need to be discussed and resolved long before it comes time to push pixels. I try to gently take these clients back a step or two and have them think about how to integrate mobile into their organization’s overall strategic objectives.

When the focus is the application, and not the platform, the expenditures can seem less justifiable. This kind of siloed thinking led the organization in my example to miss an opportunity to enter mobile with a coordinated strategy designed to lift the business as a whole. With multiple sales teams selling a range of products and services, they would undoubtedly benefit from a customized platform designed to serve the needs of sales teams across their organization.

I’m not suggesting this is easy. The success of an initiative as complex as this often requires executive level leadership, particularly from the organization’s CIO/CTO. And it necessitates a commitment by the organization to take a deep look at its existing operations and infrastructure.

In my experience, organizations that take this approach end up with the happiest outcome: a mobile solution planned, executed, and deployed with minimal disruption and immediate, positive impact to bottom line performance.

Deploying an enterprise-grade mobile application is not the same as a marketing initiative. It is not just about design. It is not just about one sales team operating within a larger organization. It requires deep insight into current business operations and objectives. Staying platform focused yields a roadmap that is more likely to make the move into mobile a profitable one for the enterprise as a whole.

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