Assessing Mobile Engagement Maturity: Is It A Useful Exercise?

As I mentioned in my last blog post, Ted Schadler and I are working on mobile strategy research for Forrester's CIO clients, and Ted's recent report Mobile Is The New Face of Engagement is the foundation for much of our research effort this year. One area that we are currently exploring for a new report is mobile engagement maturity, an assessment framework that will help our clients develop a strategy over time that leverages their strengths and addresses their weaknesses to continuously improve.

Ted's report lays out a compelling view of the future where mobile strategy is at the very center of a company's engagement strategy with its employees, customers, and partners and the company is organized in a way that allows customer-facing and employee-facing mobile initiatives to share resources, budgets, best practices, experience, skills, and leadership. For the past two years I have been running Forrester's CIO Group Leadership Board, and my experience tells me that the majority of CIOs are really in the early stages of their company's mobile strategy -- dealing with executive requests for iPads, employee requests to support email and calendaring on different smartphone platforms, and calls from sales leaders to meet the mobile needs of a road warrior sales force. There are, of course, other random mobile projects that land on the CIO's desk -- mobile business intelligence, mobile access to critical business apps -- but it is the ad hoc nature of these requests and the reactive response of IT to the need that cries out for a maturity framework. Do you agree? To me, it's a long road from trying to respond to and prioritize a multitude of distinct projects with some mobile implication to having a cohesive strategy and organizational structure that can predict and enable mobile opportunities that span customer and employee domains.

So we have decided to start looking at building a mobile engagement maturity framework and assessment tool that CIOs can use. I was really pleased to discover that Thomas Husson, principal analyst on our consumer product strategy team based in Paris, had already developed a framework for mobile consumer strategy. Thomas' model is based on four core mobile disciplines -- all of which can be applied equally well to the employee mobile side as they can to the consumer mobile side. In addition, the ability to transfer skills, knowledge, experience, and strategic planning and budgeting know-how across the customer and employee domains is the key to mobile engagement maturity. The four domains are:

  • Strategy and vision measures the degree to which a company has established a mobile business case and integrated mobile into its overall strategy.
  • Organization and implementation measures the degree of internal collaboration and executive support for implementing the mobile vision.
  • Measurement and metrics identifies a firm's maturity with regard to tracking financial and nonfinancial key performance indicators (KPIs) that provide continuous insight into the value of mobile initiatives.
  • Technology measures the degree of technology sophistication and internal mobile expertise.

We're thinking that a four-stage maturity model makes sense, that the axis dimensions are customer mobile and employee mobile, that a self-evaluation questionnaire scores from low to high against the four domains above, and that, of course, the upper right hand corner characterizes the vision of Ted's report. Here are the stages we're currently testing on some CIO clients:

  • Ad hoc: Mobile initiatives are mostly employee-focused, reactive, ad-hoc, and dropped into an IT project priority list with everything else. Customer mobile, if it exists, is not handled by IT at all but maybe by a third-party developer on contract to the business team.
  • Coordinated: Mobile initiatives include employee and customer projects, and IT is more proactive and planful with more-efficient processes. IT leads employee mobile projects but only supports customer mobile, which is still owned by the business team.
  • Aligned: Mobile initiatives that span employee, customer, and partner mobile are driven by single strategic plan as well as a mobile center of excellence, and a supplier ecosystem is forming. A consistent business case and funding plan are utilized, but leadership and execution are still separate
  • Unified: A multifunctional mobile team leads and evangelizes all mobile initiatives, coordinates budget, and pushes “mobile-first” thinking.

This is where you come in. I'd love to hear your thoughts on: 1) the usefulness of this type of model for developing your mobile plans for the next three years; 2) validation or criticism of the logic behind the domains and the phases I have described; and 3) any ideas you have to make this framework more useful. Comments are welcome below, or email me at syates@forrester.com. Thanks!