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When a Mobility Strategy Isn’t Strategic

I’m taking a few moments away from packing for my trip to Europe to share with you some thoughts on something I witnessed on last week’s trip.  I was in Denver this past week to attend the BAI Retail conference.  For those of you who might not be familiar with the event, it’s the premier Banking event in the country.  Attendance was quite strong also, which speaks to the quality of the event.

I sat in on one session on mobility – I’m sure you’re not surprised by that.  The first thing that surprised me was the attendance at the session.  There had to be at least 500 people in this one session…that’s about 15% of the entire attendance!  Obviously, that speaks volumes to how important mobile has become to the banking sector…and of course to the industry at large.

The panelists spent about 50 minutes talking about the advances they are making in engaging with their customer base via the mobile channel…with some touting the great strides they have made in creating a virtual branch via the mobile client.  It’s actually quite a compelling vision, as it allows for customers to have most if not all the key features they need from the retail branch without ever having to set foot in said branch.  It also has the added benefit of reducing the number and size of retail branches, thereby increasing customer value (and stickiness) all the while reducing the costs to the banks.  This is the true power of deploying mobile solutions!  When the moderator opened up the session for Q&A, yours truly quickly raised his hand to get to ask the first question.

My question can basically be summed up as the following.  “So, you’re making great strides in your customer facing mobility strategy, but what are you doing/considering as part of your internal mobile strategy to improve your employees’ productivity and their job satisfaction?”

Enter crickets. There was a real 30 seconds where none of the panelists (all people involved in their bank’s mobility strategy) had a word to say.  Not a single one.

After the uncomfortable pause, one panelist said their bank was exploring a BYOD strategy.  Another panelist said (quite proudly) that not only were they exploring a BYOD strategy, but that they were in the planning phase of developing an app to set up out of office settings for the mobile device’s email client.  You can get a sense of where this was going.

All I can say is Really???  REALLY???  That’s all you’ve got?

First of all, I’m surprised that one bank was trying to develop an out of office notification app….uhm, it’s built in to my mobile device, so I’m not sure why they would be investing time and resources trying to duplicate what is already available on certain mobile platforms.

More importantly, it felt to me as if these institutions had spent so much time thinking about the externally facing mobile opportunities and had not spent much more than 3.2 nanoseconds considering the merits and benefits of internally facing mobile opportunities – basically eating their own dog food.  This could be as basic as expense approvals and vacation requests, or as more complex as mobilizing some of their internal apps to be usable on tablets.  One that came to mind was an app for branch managers to keep track of their top 50-100 customers to see what they can do to maximize their banking experience.  And yet, none of the panelists (and frankly other people I spoke to during the conference) were thinking along these lines.

I think the biggest takeaway is to understand and fully appreciate that a true mobility strategy is an end-to-end strategy.  What this means is that you are looking at all your engagement channels, whether they are B2C or B2E (employee) or B2B (meaning partners).  This approach provides your organization a true end-to-end, 360 degree view of how mobility can provide transformative benefits to your workplace…and frankly, if you’re not looking at mobility from a 360 degree perspective…thinking about how mobility is fully integrated into your BUSINESS strategy…well, you’re missing out on some tremendous opportunities.

OK…time go back and finish packing for Europe.


  1. Posted November 9, 2013 at 23:31 | Permalink

    My view is B2E value propositions in a pure Finance and Banking need further use case innovations. If we look at the Insurance sector – the B2E is going places there at Field apps. The nature of majority of B2E banking tasks probably make it tough to accept the 360 degree benefits of mobilization.

    But take a banking oraganization out of domain , the human capital management space within the organization is like any other. May be panelists were silent, lots of adoptions happen in these sides of employee apps. But your view is right , they are lathargic to B2E adoption, compared to other verticals. The folks on field on these verticals can be lesser compared to other verticals making the template apps propositions less attractive.

    The Business Visibility & Approvals probably has a dependency on tablet formfactor as the detailed content reading is mandatory with approvals in this space.

    Wealth management space adopts mobility at a rapid pace in B2E compared to other spaces.

    I am hopeful, the Banking & Finance segment will discover those killer B2E spaces that will make their life better with mobility, It will be effective if it comes from within the vertical than others imposing templates on the vertical .Hoping a focus will start.

    Good space to watch for..

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  2. Posted November 12, 2013 at 03:59 | Permalink

    I believe there are two main reasons for this:
    1) You hear people every day telling you “I’ve had an iPhone for the past 4 years, I know what mobility is about, I’m a mobility expert.” Err, no, sorry man, that doesn’t make you a mobility expert *sigh* Because many super-users auto-proclaim themselves experts and voice approximative opinions on the subject, an incomplete view is spreading: these people are only familiar with the consumer side of the subject (as I mentioned above: they are simply super-users).
    2) Many companies focus on turnover increase opportunities and neglect cost reduction opportunities, because markets focus on the topline. B2E opportunities are often viewed by neophytes as cost reduction levers and as such are neglected – even though investigating B2E fields will show that there are (easy) ways through B2E mobility to incrise your topline as well.

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