Accountability is everything. Never confuse activity with results. If more than one person is in charge, then nobody is in charge. We’ve heard all of these phrases before at different points in our careers. But in the glorious world of anytime, anywhere audiences and communities, never have these phrases meant so much to those running mobile P&Ls and attempting to manage mobile businesses at the high value touch points between their corporate brands and the consumers that engage them.
These digital and mobile managers are extremely well intentioned for their brands, but they are also extremely overwhelmed right now as the amplitude of the mobile market noise currently far exceeds any discernible underlying signal that is easy for them to see, hear or recognise. To make matters even worse for these folks, the sheer volume of choices, alternatives and options available to them for running their mobile businesses are crowding their thinking and clouding their decision-making in to something far from desirable for optimal results. This really isn’t new news to any of them, but it is the stark reality that they each face with each passing day and each expansion of ever more mobile choices, alternatives and options to choose from and engage with.
An age old adage in venture capital and private equity suggests that great businesses should do just one thing in business and do it better than anyone else in the world. “Best of breed” is the preferred phrase and the larger the market and the faster the growth rate, then the more scalable the business and the more viable the investment for outsized returns.
Unfortunately, however, when this approach was applied to mobile as it has been in the recent past, it has created an absolutely unmanageable operational mess for those attempting to run their mobile businesses. Why? Because “best of breed” has resulted in mobile islands, partial point solutions and scores of mobile partner permutations with an equal number of quite unmanageable logins and administrative accounts to attempt to keep track of and manage … with none of these actually built from the ground up to talk to one another, interact with one another or integrate with one another on anything but a forced, unnatural and ad hoc basis.
We often see the debates of “open” versus “closed” systems and “native” versus “write-once-run-anywhere” platforms on mobile. We have also seen this extend to how managers perceive the structure and architecture of the mobile cloud and the motivations for decision making tied to which mobile partners to choose and why, even if many of these partners are tied to systems originally built from the ground up for the Internet rather than mobile and even if they are being retrofitted on the fly to act as something that they are not.
While “open” and “best of breed” sound wonderful in theory, in practice the reality is quite different. Why? Because when everyone is involved in the mobile solution, then nobody is involved in the mobile solution. There is simply not a single throat to choke when something goes wrong. No accountability at all. No direct phone line or email. Just a committee approach to a live, real-time audience that wants whatever it wants, wherever it is, whenever it wants it. Right now.
So what is a good example of a “best of breed” mobile solution composed of a tangled web of band-aids, rubber bands, paper clips and duct tape … all made from completely different providers and all intended to serve different masters? For this we simply need to look at the example of a free, ad based, second screen TV companion app for a large multinational media company across the iPhone, iPad and Android smart phone platforms and leveraging push notifications, daily deals, advertising and analytics for engagement, monetization and business intelligence. In such as example, a digital or mobile manager might select Urban Airship for push notifications, Groupon for affiliate daily deals, FreeWheel for advertising and Omniture for analytics.
Sounds good, right? Yes it does, but it unfortunately isn’t and it never will be. Why? First, while Urban Airship can support transactional scale, it was never built to handle either deep URL linking to content management systems or direct ties to daily deals, advertising or analytics. Second, both FreeWheel and Omniture were never built from the ground up to support mobile. They were simply retrofitted to try to provide insight and support for something that was never contemplated when they were originally built and they lack any relevant integration to the push notifications and daily deal offerings incorporated for proactive user engagement, tracking and monetization. And third, Groupon was never built to be a monetization vehicle for other people’s businesses beyond a simple affiliate model with no linkages to any of the other cloud based mobile infrastructure contemplated for such a demanding anytime, anywhere user base.
We have spent more than three years building mobile application experiences and fully integrated mobile application infrastructure across several hundreds of apps for tens of millions of downloads supporting billions of minutes of usage across more than one hundred countries and 10 languages for the largest brands in the world at transactional scale … and what we have found is both simple and profound. Namely, having a single partner that can handle everything in one place simplifies the operational problem immensely, not only from the front-end side of engagement, but also on the back-end side of fulfillment, maintenance and support.
Engage a mobile cloud, not a mobile ghost. Find your one throat to choke behind a system built to holistically address all components of the actual problem – nothing more and nothing less. Eliminate your pain and eliminate the noise. Eliminate the waste and maximise your results. Simply find something purpose-built to just work together and a mobile partner you can trust for the next five to 10 years rather than the next project or program. Reach out and touch someone already!