My rant …mobile vendors need to take a (big) step back

Last week I was in New York to attend Inman Connect, a real estate technology conference. I was on a panel where I could debate mobile apps versus the mobile web… and for those of you who know me, this is a topic I energetically discuss anytime, anywhere. The conference organizers asked each panel member to create a short slide deck that provides  some background and necessary foundation for the expected discussion. I missed all the prep calls with the other panel members so I didn’t know exactly how I was going to approach my portion of the presentation. My fear was that the typical will happen – each vendor would get up and advocate for the technology his/her company represents (e.g. I would say mobile web is the only way to go). Any businesses would get up there and defend their choice of a particular technology (i.e. job security). That’s all good, but shouldn’t a panel discussion be more open? should’t it be a real discussion?

Below are the slides I put together. Look through them and you’ll see no mention of mobile apps or mobile web. Seems strange, right? Well, lately I feel like mobile vendors (myself  included) have been preaching the need for mobile to customers with a tone that makes customers think they need to implement “something mobile” to stay competitive. Well, we all know that’s not true. It’s a self serving statement that only really benefits one side… the vendor. I decided it’s time for all of us to become more responsible.

Soapbox#1: only results matter!
Yes, mobile is the fastest growing marketing medium. Yes, every company should have a mobile presence. But, mobile is just like any other marketing medium – success is defined by results. Nothing else. Period.

Soapbox#2: taking a business mobile starts by defining success
I feel like mobile vendors should take a step back and help their customers define goals with mobile. Just building “something mobile” doesn’t work, and never will. Here’s the process I plan on using with my customers: (1) define success – what do you want from mobile?, (2) create a mobile strategy – what’s the right medium for the business?, and (3) build & release. Notice building is step 3… it should never be the first step.

Time to live by my own words
I’ve spoken to others about this topic and they all agree but still continue down the “fast money” path. I may not be cut out for business with my ethics but I want to make a change. If you’re a regular visitor to our website, you might have noticed that we completely changed our layout and messaging. This was done so we can clearly state our corporate philosophies and promise to customers. We don’t just want our customers to go mobile, we more importantly want them to succeed. This may sound cheezy to some, but it’s in important shift in thinking that is required.

… end of rant.