Twenty years ago, businesses seeking to drive innovation initiatives had a limited number of touch points to consider, and few technology options. Back then, the majority of customer interactions involved one of three scenarios: face-to-face in a retail store or corporate office; over the telephone; or, in writing delivered via snail mail.

Fast forward to the now — my, how things have changed. Today, businesses serve customers through the aforementioned channels, plus a multitude of others, including web, e-mail, SMS/text, and social media.

As a result of this shift, mobile tech has become the vehicle through which businesses have to make innovation scalable. With the propagation of mobile devices, this now requires internal innovation management strategies that leverage a large, diverse, and often geographically dispersed workforce. Savvy enterprises are harnessing this profound power-shift to focus on the differentiation and strategic opportunities offered by mobile technology.

CIOs responsible for supporting effective enterprise deployments of mobile devices and applications are working closer with CMOs, who are striving to leverage mobile technology to enhance employee and consumer engagements while enhancing business performance.

A Top Driver of Innovation

Organizations that wish to boost productivity will leverage mobility to scale innovation performance across their enterprise.

The aforementioned explosive growth of mobile devices — smartphones and tablets — is growing innovation across mobile technology. On average, 45% of U.S. adults now own smartphones, with predictions that the number will rise to more than 80% by 2015. Worldwide, more than 1 billion people are on mobile devices.

In recent years, mobile technology has been utilized in an increasingly wide range of business scenarios, from enabling employees to perform office work on-the-go, to enhancing sales activities and improving productivity in the workplace. Each day, new projects launch that engage mobile devices in fields that, until now, have not fully utilized mobile — such as transportation, construction, healthcare, and agriculture.

Overcoming Barriers

There is mounting competitive pressure to deploy an array of new mobile technologies at scale, while simultaneously minimizing risk. In today’s enterprises, executives are acutely focused on accelerating the pace of innovation deployment to deliver best-in-class products and services that provide a competitive advantage.

Yet some are caught off guard by unexpected mobility issues, and lose sight of essential yet basic elements involved in daily operations management and innovation deployment at scale through mobile devices.

Some of the innovation platform barriers to achieve adoption at scale are:

  • A portal feature enabling central administration of multiple applications/services and single sign-on (SSO)
  • Comprehensive range of administrative features that are crucial to deploy smart devices, such as ID/authentication management, device management, and application control
  • Supplying developers with a software development kit (SDK), diverse application programming interfaces (API) and an interface for linking to business systems

Making your mobile device portfolio a platform for innovation requires that its operation is predictable. Establishing predictability for mobile devices, particularly for a large and heterogeneous portfolio, may require significant investment in tools, processes, infrastructure, and skilled resources.

Driving Innovation and Growth

Innovation manifests itself in many ways, whether through changes in technology that shape products and services, or through adaptations in business models that define an organization’s value.

Even the best innovation technology will not deliver success unless there is an early focus on business strategy and goals. Innovation leaders in the enterprise must execute a clear vision of where the company is going, and what the best path is to get there.

Equally important, is to define and establish the context for innovation’s role to enable scalable growth, while determining which type of innovation your company will drive, and how to organize to influence organizational change.

Types of organizational innovation to achieve:

  • Incremental innovation changes to your enterprise’s existing technologies and business models
  • Breakthrough innovations creating significant changes to either technology or business model, producing scalable and repeatable organizational growth
  • Radical innovations, which are more rare, combining technology and business model innovation, creating major new industry penetration, business model expansion, and exponential revenue growth

A Plan for Mobile Innovation

Overcoming the above issues is critical, and benchmarking performance is an important first step to assess the effectiveness of your current mobile innovation strategy, as well as develop a plan to drive future innovation initiatives. Given the business-critical role that mobile devices increasingly play in innovation for today’s enterprises, your business cannot afford to take chances with the integration and performance of their mobile innovation platform.

Develop an organizational rigor that embraces new technologies, while remaining open-minded about how to leverage them. Today, enterprises must establish an emerging technology or mobile-first mentality while constantly pursuing innovation expansion, evaluating how and where these technologies fit the organization, and where they will add business value.

Mobile innovation does not mean simply having a mobile presence. It means thinking strategically about if and how mobile innovation will enhance your product, service, or user experience to foster a culture of innovation.