Mobile-First Digital Transformation Stories
We have located examples of companies who are successfully telling the mobile-first digital transformation story in terms of those who are leading in this transformation. These companies are Wish, Twitter, Spotify, and Google. The key challenges facing organizations with regard to their mobile strategies are a lack of a mobile strategy leader within the company, a misunderstanding of modern app development methods and processes, the inability to attract top talent, non-mobile-friendly data storage infrastructure, and an overwhelming number of options.
Below, you will find a deep dive of our findings.
In order to answer your question, we first began by researching the companies that are leading the mobile-first transformation. In doing so, we were able to locate a list of companies determined to be the largest mobile-first companies in the world which aided in this process.
From there, we choose to focus on companies that we could inarguably assume to be the most relevant within the global sphere, with an understanding that these examples would then also be directly relevant to the U.K.
Next, we conducted research into each of these companies to determine how their mobile-first transformation as been portrayed within the public realms, and also what types of pro-mobile for business messages they have promoted. We also looked at the mobile strategies they were implementing and promoting to gain an understanding of these concepts. Research was then conducted to determine how millennials and gen Z are influencing these companies' decisions to push towards mobile-first. Lastly, we identified the key challenges facing organizations with their mobile strategy.
Below, you will find a deep dive of our findings. Please note that a number of the sources here are considered out-of-date, according to Wonder's standards (sources older than two years). For the purposes of this research, these sources have been included, because our collective research findings suggest that the mobile-first transformation of these companies is something that has been developing and evolving for the past several years. Therefore, we have broadened the scope of the research to allow for the most relevant and useful insights, as opposed to the most recent.
Wish is "the largest western mobile-first shopping platform," according to Chris Limon, the former Head of Advertising at Wish. In an article published on Minds, Limon explains how Wish's distribution-first mobile strategy is the key to this success. Limon explains that, although Wish does not get much press coverage, has no celebrity endorsements, and never runs commercials, they have been able to climb to such heights with mobile because they have "nailed distribution."
The reason why distribution is important to successful mobile strategy, according to Limon, is because "in traditional retail or brand marketing, a predetermined brand strategy informs and guides distribution. But in mobile, brand sits in a different level in marketing’s sequential value-chain where distribution is the fundamental, first-order problem. This isn’t to say brand is not important, but brand strategy is dependent on solving distribution first."
Twitter is one of the largest mobile-first companies in the world. According to the VP of Asia Pacific, the Americas and emerging markets for Twitter, Shailesh Rao, over 80% of Twitter's revenue comes from mobile ads. Rao even commented, "Inside Twitter, we talk and think mobile first." Twitter has invested a lot of money into building out their internal mobile infrastructure, which we assume has been a key element in their mobile strategy. Back in 2013, around the time Twitter first declared itself a mobile-first company, they spent more than $1 billion purchasing a total of 12 companies who were operating in the realm of mobile analytics. These purchases included "advertising play Trendrr, mobile advertising stalwart MoPub, mobile ad player Namo Media, [and] TapCommerce, a mobile retargeting ad heavyweight." Twitter also released a "suite of developer tools" for mobile app developers. The reason why Twitter hopped on the mobile-first bandwagon so early and so aggressively is evident in a study the company conducted which shows that the millennial-aged generation of Twitter use mobile at a significantly high rate. The following insights from the study were published by TechCrunch: "Users in the 18-34 range are 52 percent more likely to log in primarily via a mobile device than other age groups. They’re also more likely to check in with the service as a means of book-ending their day, being 157 percent more likely than average to open Twitter when waking up, and 129 percent more likely to do so when going to sleep for the night. They’re also 160 percent more likely to use Twitter at school or at work, 169 percent more likely to use the service while shopping, and three times as likely to use it when commuting or before or after seeing a movie."
Spotify has ranked on the list of the top mobile-first companies. In 2015, TechCrunch reported that Spotify became a mobile-first company when it was announced that 52% of user listening was taking place on mobile devices. ' In a blog posted on Urban Airship, digital marketer and avid Spotify listener, Amir Zamanian outlines the strategies that are enabling Spotify's high rate of mobile engagement. First, Spotify is delivering content to listeners that is both high-value and personalized, attributes which Zamanian says drive repeat engagement, even to the point of habit. Of key importance is the emphasis that Spotify puts on hyper-personalization, which aims to make the content as entirely relevant to the listener as possible. In doing so, Spotify works to understand the mobile "usage patterns and listening habits" of their audience. Lastly, Spotify utilizes what Zamanian calls a "smart messaging strategy," which they are implementing across various different channels. Sunita Kaur, the Managing Director of Spotify Asia, says that launching a free tier version of Spotify mobile has resulted in significant growth since it's implementation, and has also helped them to rein in issues surrounding piracy. Kaur explains how being mobile-first increases accessibility to their product, and that offering a free-tier increased mobile traffic by "almost five times compared to the previous year." This free tier approach not only brings users to the platform, but also serves as "funnel for conversion into paid subscribers," Kaur noted.
Google is another mobile-first frontrunner. As recently as March 2018, Google announced that they were launching mobile-first indexing, a development which they say took them one and a half years to perfect. In a statement, Google said:
"Our crawling, indexing, and ranking systems have typically used the desktop version of a page's content, which may cause issues for mobile searchers when that version is vastly different from the mobile version. Mobile-first indexing means that we'll use the mobile version of the page for indexing and ranking, to better help our – primarily mobile – users find what they're looking for." The reasoning behind the change is that mobile-first indexing will result in better performing mobile search results, according to TechCrunch. Another key reason appears to be that Google wants to continue capturing the younger user base. Google recently published a study on the mobile habits of Generation Z, specifically those who are currently teenagers. In the study, Google notes "while millennials were mobile pioneers, teens are mobile natives." Google reports that across all devices, 78% of teens are using smartphones.
KEY MOBILE STRATEGY CHALLENGES
Salesforce is the number one business app in the world, and have an extensive range of mobilized products, including a mobile version of Salesforce CRM. Robert Duffner is mobile strategist at Salesforce, and has traveled throughout the United States speaking with thousands of Salesforce customers about their mobile strategies. In a blog post, Duffner outlines the biggest challenges that companies are facing in regard to their mobile strategy development. 1) Organizations cannot access their data via mobile (i.e. when they need it most), because they are storing their data on-premises rather than in the cloud. 2) Companies do not have anyone specifically in charge of their mobile strategy, which prevents the strategy from moving forward and prevents the company from staying fully up-to-date with company-wide mobile efforts. Duffner says that upon asking "a group of 40 IT executives if they had one person or organization in charge of mobile strategy, and only two of them raised their hands." He added that this was in a major hub--Chicago. According to him, the importance of having someone in charge of mobile enables the company to drive the mobile-first mentality across the company. 3) Another key challenge facing companies in the development of their mobile strategy is that there are simply too many options available. From mobile development tools, to languages, to platforms--Duffner likens the mobile landscape to the "Wild West." 4) Competition for talent is a huge issue facing companies looking to implement a solid mobile strategy. Duffner says that top mobile developers are not only expensive, but they are hard to attract, especially for "traditional enterprises and small business."
5) Lastly, Duffner says that one important challenge for companies is that many are using out-of-date approaches when it comes to app development, and that they need to update their methodologies. An out-dated approach, according to Duffner, is one wherein "the business provides developers with app requirements and then the developers return in 12-18 months with a completed app." He says that this model will prevent a company from being able to successfully compete within the current mobile climate, because "their costs of development will be too high," and that "their apps will more often than not miss their intended mark."
In closing, we have provided examples of companies who are successfully telling the mobile-first digital transformation story, specifically those who are leading the transformation. We have identified key challenges facing organizations with their mobile strategy, and outlined the pro-mobile messages being portrayed by mobile-first frontrunners.