Too late to get into mobile? Not even close

There's no question about the power of mobile. Businesses of all sizes, and across every industry, can agree on the tremendous impact the ubiquity of smartphones has had on their bottom line. In fact, we have only scratched the surface of what's possible. That means if your company was skittish of the benefits of mobile early on, it's time to take another look at what mobile can do for your business.

Mobile is now business-critical and every day that passes without adopting is setting your company up for defeat against competitors who embraced mobile from the jump. Fortunately, it's not too late. Building a mobile strategy from scratch may sound like a daunting undertaking, but with a little guidance, your business can build a solid foundation and roadmap toward becoming a mobile first organization.

For a company looking to launch an enterprise mobility strategy, or a company looking to improve on an ongoing one--focusing on these four areas is absolutely critical.

Talk to your customers--and potential customers--in a whole new way

It's pretty amazing when you sit back and contextualize how much we do on our mobile phones versus ten years ago--they have penetrated nearly every aspect of our lives. We use them for shopping, for banking, for directions, for messaging, for Tweeting, for sharing videos, for travel and even sometimes to make phone calls. Today, mobile devices provide companies with dozens of channels to engage their customers, using apps, mobile web, and email, to newly emerging messaging platforms and chat bots. All of these channels can be used to interact and build closer relationships with customers. Mobile apps provide the most robust channel allowing not only communications and transactions with customers, but access to all of the device functionality such as the use of location context (GPS), the phone's camera and sound.

Mobile apps can be used to build tighter lines of communication with your customers and increase customer retention. For example, airline apps such as the one Jet Blue offers now allow travelers to book trips, contact customer support, change seats, stay on top of delays, select in-flight entertainment and more. Previously, you would have to call and speak to an agent or go to the airline's website to access theses features. Mobile apps bring these capabilities to your device, making them available wherever your are and when it is most convenient to you.

When launching your mobile strategy, consider the reasons your customers contact your business. What are the other ways you wish you could engage your customers? Your mobile strategy should map these customer engagement points to an actionable roadmap.

Be a hero. Streamline the business-critical functions driving your workforce crazy

There are many instances where mobile can augment and streamline an existing business process. Think about a field service app that technicians can use to view their schedule, travel efficiently to locations using maps, look up technical information on-line, check inventory, order parts, complete orders and bill their customers. All of those activities could be done without mobile--as they have been done for decades. But they are terribly inefficient processes when they are siloed from each other. Instead, mobile apps allow companies to streamline processes, build efficiencies and provide access in one convenient place saving employees time and headaches.

Take a survey of your workforce. Odds are there are plenty of business-critical functions employees perform day-to-day that are could be improved with mobile. Your soon-to-launch mobile strategy is an opportunity to create a refreshed approach to your company's business processes and empower your teams to do their best work.

Energize your apps to work everywhere: smartphones, tablets, wearables and tv

Apps aren't just for smart phones. We now have more and more devices that can run apps, including wearables (watches, fitness trackers, etc.), tv appliances (Apple TV, Kindle Fire TV, Xbox, PlayStation), e-readers and tablets, digital assistants (Apple Siri, Microsoft Cortana, Amazon Alexa), smart appliances and even automobiles -- the list continues to grow. All of these devices and services represent new ways to engage and interact with your customers.

Imagine using an app on your Apple TV for shopping and being able to see product images and video directly on the screen, then ordering with just a click. Or perhaps conversing with a digital assistant to check if your drug store has a particular product in stock ready for pick-up that same afternoon. Your app has the ability to bring whoever uses it incredible value--whether customers connecting with your company or employees getting valuable work done--so make sure that app is accessible in as many ways as possible. The same goes for operating systems; take care of iOS, Android, Windows Phone, etc. Don't limit yourself by being short-sighted about device types and operating systems.

Design it with the people who will use it in mind

There are countless apps on the market today, but odds are you only use a select few for the functions that matter most in your work and life. That's because, like with most things, the crème rises to the top. Mobile users are quick to remove applications that do not provide value, are not visually attractive or pleasant to use. As a result, creating apps with an appropriate and engaging user experience is essential to attracting and retaining users of your app--especially with so many competing offerings.

One key is to not overdo it. Some of the hardest design decisions are not what to put into the app, but what to leave out. Simplicity in apps is elegance. Analyzing how customers use your app, improving and adding features regularly, and making sure your app looks and runs beautifully on a wide variety of devices is paramount to ensuring it maintains that coveted position on someone's mobile device.

Your mobile strategy will be unique to your organization. By keeping the above guidelines in mind, your strategy can be built around meeting the needs of the most important people to your business--your customers.