Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Forget everything you know about strategic planning

I just saw a presentation that reviewed a methodology for how to identify the right mobile channel opportunities for your company. The methodology followed a pretty straight up strategic planning model, when it comes to driving IT decisions: you can either grow revenue or reduce costs. If you're focusing on growing revenue, then what objectives are you setting for that revenue growth? And what activities will you undergo in order to achieve that revenue?

This is all wrong! Have we learned nothing from customer centricity? Especially when looking at mobile, where the odds of any kind of mobile activity actually driving revenue are slim. Very slim. You have to flip this kind of planning on its head: what does the customer try to achieve as part of their shopping experience? What are the pain points in that experience? What parts of the experience do we not get our chance to shine at? What parts of the experience could be differentiators, and what parts are ante nowadays? Through that kind of analysis, you'll identify hopefully lots of opportunities to help out your customers through the mobile experience.
THEN you look at those and analyze them to identify which opportunities offer the most bang for the buck. THAT helps you prioritize which opportunities to pursue (by the way, this presumes that you have identified the opportunities that you have for reaching consumers via mobile - for example, that they are big users of SMS, for example, or that they tend to download a lot of free content. Obviously, you want your opportunities to be constrained by the context of your customers' willingness to use certain mobile capabilities).

Only by starting with the customer first do you have a chance at matching up initiatives or innovations that will make you money (or save you money) with initiatives or innovations that customers will actually use. You can get there from the "revenue vs. cost" planning, but it's going to be a much rougher road.

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