How Mobile Transforms Business: Enrich, Engage Entrust

by Chris Silva

As the new analyst at Altimeter, it’s imperative for me to get up and running fast with some research. As an long-time analyst I’ve learned that it’s best to let your audience help you refine your topics. On August 10, 2011, at the Altimeter Hangar, I got an early chance to do just that.

The Mobile roundtable audience at the Altimeter Hangar, credit Jeremiah Owyang

The Mobile roundtable audience at the Altimeter Hangar, credit Jeremiah Owyang

My research focuses on mobile. Internal mobile efforts for business manager and IT and also external mobile initiatives to drive brand awareness and transactions for a company. Looking at how organizations can win in these two scenarios,  I posited the hypothesis that organizations are looking to do one of three things with a mobile strategy:

  • Enrich: Making it easier for customer to drive you bottom line through creation of mobile commerce opportunities. This use case has the most direct return to the business as it is relatively binary in resulting in or not resulting in a transaction.
  • Engage: Additive to and separate from driving purchases, using a mobile presence to help an organization maintain engagement both pre- and post-sale to drive goodwill or in the absence of any transaction. Less of a direct return than directly driving purchases, these activities touch end users and potential customers directly.
  • Entrust: An organization working to internally to provide unfettered access to critical information and business support systems without putting company data and IP at risk. While important to enable effective employee work when on mobile devices, the true direct return may be somewhat harder to calculate, especially when the question of compliance and security puts a costly question mark over any implementation.

We brought together a number of Altimeter clients, friends and others interested in mobile and getting some exposure to us for the first time to vet these hypotheses and gather inputs on the state of each one. The audience was a mix of representatives from companies across a varied spectrum, providers of hardware and software solutions in mobile (including enterprise software heavy hitters Oracle and SAP) agency representatives working with companies to create a mobile presence, social media management system vendors, bloggers, academic institutions and the list goes on.

  • The good: We found, across this spectrum of varied users, that each of the three use cases does make sense, however, our audience feels there are a slew of challenges with each objective and we’re not nearly as far along the maturity curve as we’d initially thought.
  • The challenging: Our initial roundtable discussion centered on the tools we use a lot, and how they’ve changed the way that we do things from checking the snow before we get in the car for a winter weekend, to buying coffee to accessing company data on mobile. It quickly became apparent, when we broke the group into camps – one for each of the mobile objectives – and dug into the hurdles to getting a strategy in place, we clearly have a long way to go.

Some notable observations from the group were that, while a lot has been done to provide enrichment for companies using mobile – it was perhaps the most mature area we discussed – it was noted that “we have app fatigue,” making “difficult ROI justification” the norm, which is bad news for the objective with the closest tie to $, enrich. We have to “create new definitions of value” something especially true in the engage debate, for sure. Speaking on egnagement, while it allows us to create “mini engagements” that deliver “smart and personal intelligence” it’s possible we’ll end up with an “opt-in minority report” and “virtually nil” returns. Perhaps the least mature and most challenging – while it offers low barrier to entry – is entrusting data to employees and other trusted constituents. A common, if not seemingly simple use case was a phone directory allowing access to company contact information when on the go. A great idea but one that can “expose critical data” with one participant noting “our CEO’s cell number is in the directory… I can’t risk that getting out.” Compliance, data access, portability and retention were the hot topics here and, with that many concerns around security and who “owns” responsibility, that’s perhaps why we’re so immature in entrusting data to mobile users.

Where do we go from here?

I’ll be pulling together detailed thoughts on this in a report on the overall gameplan for each of the three mobile drivers, how to measure each, and following up with a deeper dive into each that will include primary research data and a whole lot of case studies. There is a lot going on already in each space, however, as discussed we’re not there yet. In the spirit of open research, below is a framework that will form the basis of my research around how to achieve enrich, engage and entrust in your business and, as equally as important, how to measure each. I’d urge companies to think about they would apply the following framework to which every mobile objective(s) apply to their business. Having even a rough answer for each category in the diagram below shows you’ve got the right folks participating in the conversation.

Altimeter's Mobile Strategy Framework

Altimeter's Mobile Strategy Framework

I plan to build out more detail on this framework but, as we used last night to charrette the research hypothesis itself, I’d like to hear from each of you what you’d envision coming from this process or what’s missing. I plan to begin writing on these topics in the next couple of weeks. Oh, and we also determined the future of one of the long-time mobile device companions we all carry, the laptop.

Our participants were either bullish or "so over" the laptop

Our participants were either bullish or "so over" the laptop, credit Jeremiah Owyang


  1. It was a great event with fantastic insights shared. I am looking forward to the report.

  2. Great info, Chris – thanks. The app fatigue is an issue we need to address. Going hyper-loca may help. There’s a wild space out there to be tamed. Look forward to your build-out.
    Thanks, Tim

  3. Is the same everywhere, I live in Chile and yesterday We (Friends and I) were talking just that.. this thing that you called “app fatigue” was happening to all of us. ….. I think we will be going beyond apps as we know it pretty soon.

    See you,