Avoid the Wild West of App Development
The financial services industry — typically risk-averse when it comes to adopting new technologies — has embraced mobile technology.
In my experience, the initial mobility related efforts at financial institutions, especially at credit unions, have been focused on creating customer/member facing apps. Beyond that, there has been a lack of focus and consistency in the mobile related efforts. This has resulted in what I consider to be the "Wild West of App Development."
This “Wild West” phenomenon is fueled by some interesting dynamics related to the mobile space:
- Lack of a coordinated app roadmap across the enterprise. Companies have spent significant time and energy on improving their IT readiness to support mobile needs. However, in most cases they are lacking a clear, coordinated roadmap of apps that will support the business drivers of the organization. In the absence of such a roadmap, every idea that can get funded is being developed as an app. This lack of a holistic enterprise view also results in efforts that end up building overlapping solutions as well as poorly conceived point solutions.
- Building apps is the most visible part of a mobile strategy. If you want to show progress related to your mobile adoption, building apps tends to be the most visible aspect. Before you know it, you have numerous apps popping up within the enterprise.
- Your creative agency is driving your mobile strategy. Without the experience of creating mobile strategies, agencies are falling back on their experience as online designers and trying to offer app development solutions. The end result: there is an app for everything. Unfortunately the enterprise pays for it and many of them would never have been built if the time to optimize the portfolio was put in place and the business had looked past the hype.
With these dynamics at play, many credit unions are already dealing with the “Wild West” scenario. For these companies, I offer the following key considerations:
1. Create a Demand Prioritization Process.
Business stakeholders are coming up with ideas and asking that they to be turned into mobile apps. While some of these ideas are surely great, there is a fair bit of “we have a mobile hammer so everything feels like an app” type of thinking going on.
Organizations need to create a process to take these ideas and very quickly prioritize the value, innovation, readiness, and the complexity of implementation before an idea can be considered for app development. The goal is not to stifle innovation by introducing a “toll gate” process but rather to infuse some discipline into the ideation process.
2. Create an App Roadmap for Your Organization.
Identify the various stakeholders in the organization that could be possible users of mobile apps. For each of these groups go through a process of identifying mobile app scenarios. Organize these ideas using an ideation framework that can help identify possible apps. Then, prioritize these app ideas by ranking them for business value, readiness of the organization and the ease of implementation.
Caution: Organizations have to be careful to not let this turn into a long, drawn-out strategy project. With mobile apps, speed is critical and this prioritization process needs to be completed using a methodology that gets to an actionable roadmap in rapid timeframes.
3. Create a Mobile Competency Center to Avoid Disjointed App Creation.
Whether you build a mobile-focused competency center using internal resources or a combination of your internal and external partners, it is clear that there needs to be a high level of coordination and consistency in the execution of your mobile strategy. This includes the implementation of the apps on your mobile roadmap using a common set of considerations for design, development and deployment.
Disjointed efforts can introduce additional variables and can result in a suboptimal rollout of your mobile app related efforts. Centralizing the ownership, oversight, and implementation of the mobile app roadmap is a critical consideration in avoiding this type of disjointed app development effort.