Mobile Tech and Advisors, Part 1: Its Place in the Business

In a June 2011 report, the Yankee Group predicted that there will be 500 million mobile-banking users globally in less than four years.  And while it is true that some people may never choose to bank or manage their investments using their mobile phones due to security, privacy or technology concerns, within a few years these people will be a small minority.

Yet with all this growth and widespread use, the industry faces difficult choices around how to prioritize new products and services for mobile devices. The sheer diversity of phone hardware and operating systems, known as fragmentation, is daunting. Further, the rapidly evolving landscape of mobile technology means that the platforms developed for today will most likely be obsolete in only two years.  New technologies emerge and old channels will be replaced or extended with entirely new devices like Internet-connected TVs, printers, vehicles, clothing and other devices that have not even been conceived yet. 

The challenge of measuring return on investment in financial services makes the situation even more difficult. Early adopters of mobile technology have seen little or no additional revenue, and their cost to deliver services has, in many cases, remained the same or increased.  So how can a financial institution take advantage of the incredible opportunity mobile represents while continuing to enhance its existing channels and protect its bottom line?

There are many parts to a comprehensive mobile strategy—policy, technology, security, support, marketing—the list goes on. But an effective strategy that builds real value for an enterprise must treat mobile as more than just another service delivery channel. Starting with a clear view of the business objectives to achieve and the problems to address are important first steps. Here are a few suggestions that can help shape your strategy:

  • Develop a clear understanding of who wants to interact with your services on a mobile device and why. This will help steer you towards what to deliver. 
  • When designing mobile offerings, look closely at how the technology is changing the world from a user perspective and apply the strengths of mobile technology when you design yourwhat.
  • Don’t forget to include SMS in your mobile strategy. It might have less appeal than “apps,” but text-based messaging is still by far the most widely used mobile device capability. In fact,eight trillion text messages will be sent in 2011 alone, and open rates for SMS messages average four times higher than email.
  • Make sure to take mobile computing into consideration when planning ongoing infrastructure investments.  Given the high rate of change in mobile technology, the best way to future-proof investments is to ensure the company’s current infrastructure is stable, flexible and extendable. 

While there are many approaches to build mobile applications, leveraging your existing assets—data, business logic, security, networks, and so on—will help shorten time to market and reduce both development costs and total cost of ownership.

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