Mobile isn't a trend. It's a new state of mind. Employees and customers no longer look things up, they just expect them to be there on their mobile device. You'd better not disappoint them.
Consider what happens when a person gets a smartphone. They request the weather, restaurant ratings or the current state of their company's sales pipeline. In a Pavlovian way, each request reinforces the idea that everything they need is on that device.
This creates the mobile mind shift: the expectation that any desired information or service is available, on any device, in context, in a person's moment of need. Satisfy that expectation and you gain loyalty and productivity. Fail, and they'll switch to a better app from some startup.
The mobile mind shift isn't universal yet. Among consumers, about one in five online adults in the U.S. has made the mental shift. People 25 to 34 are more advanced than those who are older. Affluent people have shifted faster. Overall, the shift is happening rapidly and globally.
CIOs and their companies must make their own mobile mind shift. Your customer-facing groups besiege you with requests for mobile utility, even as employees demand mobile access to every system. But your information systems are not up to the task. They are systems of record, built to securely hold, process and deliver information and transactions to computers and the Web.
In the mobile world, systems of record disappear into the background while customers and employees interact with new systems of engagement that deliver information and service much faster and in the physical and mental context they expect.
How can you prepare? Build a center of excellence to guide the technology, strategy and execution of all mobile projects, whether focused on customers or employees. Create a team, as GE and Citigroup have, that uses dedicated executives, funding and staffing to build expertise and make decisions quickly. Begin the massive but essential task of redesigning your systems for rapid mobile access.
Your customers' loyalty, your employees' productivity and your job depend on your success here. So you'd better get started.
Josh Bernoff is SVP for idea development and Ted Schadler is a VP and principal analyst serving CIOs at Forrester Research.
Read more about mobile/wireless in CIO's Mobile/Wireless Drilldown.