With smartphones and tablets becoming the platform of choice for consumers and businesses alike, companies around the world are looking for new ways to engage customers via their mobile devices.

According to a report from Forrester Research Mobile is the new face of Engagement'  an  effective mobile strategy requires entirely new “systems of engagement.”

“Systems of engagement,” Forrester says, “are different from the traditional systems of record that log transactions and keep the financial accounting in order: They focus on people, not processes.”

The report cites examples from several leading companies, including General Electric, Kraft Foods, Putnam Investments, and John Deere, to demonstrate how customers can be empowered to decide and act immediately “in their moments of need.”

Among the other major findings of the report, which is based on interviews with 61 companies, vendors, and experts, are:

  • Mobility is pervasive: According to Forrester, one billion consumers will carry smartphones, with Apple Google, and Microsoft providing the software platforms for more than 90% of all devices. In addition, 350 million employees will use smartphones in their jobs.

  • Spending is on the rise: Forrester expects spending on mobile devices and apps to reach $1.3 trillion by 2015 – representing 35% of the technology economy. More than half of business decision makers interviewed plan to increase their mobile apps budgets in 2012. What’s more, Forrester predicts that IT professionals will divert their IT budgets to mobile technology.

  • Pitfalls remain: On the downside, the report warns that there may be “unintended consequences” to certain mobile strategies. These include coordination issues among applications and channels, the difficulty of rethinking processes and interfaces, spikes in activity volumes, and misalignment with design, development, and governance processes.

The report recommends that CIOs rethink the roles, responsibilities, and skill sets within their IT organizations – much as they did with advent of the personal computer. For example, the report suggests the establishment of a chief mobility officer, as well as the creation of a mobile architecture blueprint to manage mobile technology investments.

Other recommendations include:

  • A dedicated communications director to market technology opportunities

  • Measurement of mobile engagement, rather than return on investment

  • A multiyear focus and coordination among mobile projects

The report concludes that an effective mobile strategy can lead to improved customer satisfaction, lower service costs through customer self-service, increased business productivity, lower internal costs, and significant new revenue sources. And that, Forrester says, will result in a future of profitable growth



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