by Adam Hartung

Time to Put Your Money on Mobile

Jun 29, 20113 mins
BudgetingConsumer ElectronicsMobile

If you’re not shifting your IT budget into the mobile Web, you’re at a competitive disadvantage

About 15 years ago, every company realized it needed an Internet presence. The emerging World Wide Web was good for far more than email. Companies that developed websites allowing customers to perform transactions, download information and ask questions were winning more sales, increasing customer satisfaction and lowering business costs. Today, every company has a team responsible for harnessing the power of the Web in a secure way.

But a lot of business isn’t done on the PC-centric Internet any longer. Business has gone mobile, and a lot of traditional Web investment isn’t paying off the way it used to. Today’s market leaders are now leveraging the capability of increasingly powerful mobile devices, whether through apps or the mobile Web.

Consider referrals. They’re the most powerful form of marketing, because an existing customer is telling a potential customer to do business with your company. With sales of smartphones and tablets skyrocketing, the odds are greater than ever that a prospect referred to your site will be using a mobile device to access it.

And chances are that your company’s appearance on that smartphone or tablet isn’t elegant or rich with text and pictures like its website homepage. Prospects probably can’t quickly use their mobile devices to learn salient information about your company, call a salesperson or place an order. Your mobile presence probably doesn’t make your business compelling.

Yet Gartner says that smartphone sales are doubling annually. Smartphones’ share of the device market grows every quarter, now making up more than 25 percent of device sales.

Meanwhile, a recent Business Insider survey discovered that more than half of the things we used to do on a PC—responding to email, chatting, Web surfing, checking our calendars and so on—we now do on a phone or tablet.

It’s time to rethink IT spending, and development, dramatically. Compare your Web development budget with your mobile development budget. It’s time to put the money where the business is.

Better Get Going

Some website technologies, such as Flash, which is used for animated graphics and video, aren’t supported on all mobile devices. And large graphics or images with embedded text don’t always render well on small screens, if they display at all. It’s time to redesign your website to conform to the needs of mobile customers to make sure they have a good experience.

This is just the first step, however. You also need a budget for researching, developing and testing mobile applications. With more than half a million mobile apps, there’s a lot of capability you can use if you know about it, and if you also know how to test it, integrate it and make it secure. Not only will you need developers to make external apps function for your needs, you’ll most likely want to write your own apps that help customers enjoy doing business with you. Today, thinking you won’t be developing mobile apps is as unrealistic as thinking you wouldn’t be developing a website was in 1995.

The trend toward mobility won’t be reversed; mobile platforms will only become more common and more capable. It’s time to act. To the early, aggressive adopter go the spoils.

Adam Hartung is a consultant specializing in innovation and the author of the book Create Marketplace Disruption. ­Currently managing partner of Spark Partners, he is a former senior ­partner with Computer Sciences Corp. and a former ­executive at DuPont and PepsiCo. Contact him at