Mobile First, But What’s Next?
The ascendance of mobile devices, cloud computing and big data is having a profound impact on the lives of workers. Yet many of the business applications that run on their smartphones and tablets still fail miserably to take full advantage of this revolutionary shift. Even services that tout themselves as “mobile first” often fall short of delivering novel functionality that boosts productivity and profit.
The offerings that will come to dominate the emerging $100 billion market for enterprise applications will be those that are “authentically mobile,” a term we use to describe services that would be extremely difficult or impossible to achieve without taking full advantage of the unique properties of the mobile ecosystem.
Truly authentic mobile business applications are still pretty rare. But services from firms such as Clari and Base CRM in customer-relationship management, and from startups such as Yoi in human resources, have elements of mobile authenticity that make them harbingers of what is to come.
Mobile-first applications, which treat mobile use cases as the priority rather than the afterthought, are certainly an improvement over traditional, “pave-the-goat-paths” ones, which simply mimic desktop functionality on mobile platforms. Mobile-first services have more elegant and intuitive user interfaces, and they take greater advantage of some of the unique properties of smartphones and tablets. These include the ability to gather data via sensors and lightweight user inputs, frequent, in-the-moment, “bite size” usage, and hyper-personalization of content and operation.
But mobile-first services still focus on optimizing existing workflows for the new platform in town rather than creating new-to-the-world functionality. They are an intermediate evolutionary stage on the road toward authentically mobile applications, which are true game-changers. The following table summarizes what makes these so powerful.