by Tom Kaneshige

Why CMOs must take mobile more seriously

Mar 20, 20153 mins

Smartphones are becoming a digital consumer's window to the world, yet Forrester says 44 percent of companies state that mobile services are simply a scaled-down version of their online initiative. Why aren’t CMOs seizing 'mobile moments'?

mobile moments
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Most CMOs treat mobile devices as just another digital channel for interacting with customers, but they’d be wrong to do so. The average smartphone-wielding consumer whips out their phone more than a hundred times every day to perform all sorts of tasks, such as checking email and Facebook, texting, tweeting and surfing.

It behooves CMOs to take mobile a little more seriously.

“Mobile is both a catalyst and enabler of your overall digital business transformation — not a device, app, or technology solution,” say Forrester analysts Julie Ask and Jeffrey Hammond in their report CMOs: Own Mobile to Own Your Customers.

The tiny phone screen is fast becoming a digital consumer’s window to the world and should be priority number one for CMOs. Yet Forrester says a whopping 44 percent of companies openly state that mobile services are simply a scaled-down version of their online initiative. Thus, many CMOs are not seizing what Forrester calls mobile moments.

[Related: CIOs and CMOs must join forces to win digital consumers]

Too many CMOs see mobility as simply a media buy opportunity, a way to increase brand awareness and perhaps acquire customers. But they should look at mobility as a way to provide cool services. In doing so, CMOs will regularly interact with customers throughout the customer lifecycle. They will own the customer experience.

For instance, American Express notifies customers about credit card charges over their phone faster than a retailer can confirm an online purchase. Airlines alert travelers about gate changes. A phone can act as a boarding pass, movie ticket or payment tool, Forrester says.

Mobile Success Requires Mobile Talent

Not only does developing, operating and maintaining these customer-experience services require a strategic commitment to mobility, CMOs will need to dedicate lots of dollars, seek out mobile-first agencies and woo great mobile talent from a limited pool.

Of course, this isn’t happening at most places. Mobile teams dwell in digital silos with poorly defined objectives. They’re also using the wrong metrics, says Forrester, focusing on unique visitors, number of active users, number of app downloads and web traffic, not real customer engagement and business outcomes.

Perhaps the biggest hurdle CMOs must overcome in order to embrace mobility is the dysfunctional CIO-CMO relationship. Too many CIOs stand in the way of CMOs from taking charge, seizing the mobile mantle and owning the customer experience. Mobility is transformative and can disrupt businesses. It’s not merely a technology to fight over.

Then again, perhaps the turf war is just heating up.

“Your CIO may argue against you and claim that mobile is just another technology where his organization needs to manage costs, risks and security,” Ask and Hammond say. “Your CIO is wrong, and you will be outplayed by your competitors if you take this approach. Mobile is an opportunity — not a threat.”