Designing and Developing for a Mobile-First World

By Dinesh Dhir, Global Managing Partner & Jeffrey Granvold, Director (Professional Consulting Services) of Verizon Enterprise Solutions

The way we interact in our business and personal lives has fundamentally changed. The changing landscape – shifting demographics, fierce regulations and the advent of new technologies – is driving this next generation of interaction styles. Customers want anytime, anywhere communication, regardless of the specific technology used. This has driven the demand for having mobility at the heart of how successful business interactions are thought about and designed.

Understanding the business requirements and business process architecture is not enough however. This approach on its own does not shape a technical architecture that delivers enhanced capabilities and intuitive customer experiences. In a truly successful design, the supporting infrastructure is fine-tuned to deliver the right business outcomes by shepherding applications in a way that they can be harnessed by both mobile and digital interfaces. To deliver a connected and pervasive user experience — where the customer moves seamlessly from desktop to mobile to wearables –mobility must be at the center stage by holistically integrating infrastructure, application and delivery.

Research Backs Up Anytime, Anywhere Approach
Mobility is continuing to disrupt the financial services industry, a point recently underscored by a Harvard Business Review study[1] which found that 48 percent of financial services firms surveyed reported engaging with customers through mobile apps.

So, where’s the problem? Application designers can’t always anticipate the downstream re-purposing of their applications. They often lack vision for the diversity of potential interfaces inherent in their application concept, and therefore they design within a framework of limited application consumption. Conversely, agile development can reduce this risk as business reviews allow for feedback throughout the process. While a business-led technology design is the ultimate goal, it is only feasible by using an integrated team approach.

No one can promise you that mobile-first is easy – it isn’t. Creating an anywhere customer experience requires a complete shift in concept, strategy and design as well as an integrated team approach. Today’s world of interconnectivity requires that we abandon designing applications for specific devices or operating systems and think in terms of universal design.  Let’s explore then what it takes to rethink business processes for a mobile world and the potential benefits.

Business Requirements Document: Articulating Capabilities and Outcomes
This evolved approach to application design has to start with the right blueprint. The business sponsor creates the Business Requirements Document, which outlines the full scope of what will be required to design, develop, and deliver the application—market drivers, value proposition, and competitive intelligence as well as application functionality, workflow design and desired outcomes must all be considered. The overall content of this document becomes the holistic blueprint for the application even when designing for next-gen interactions. Typically project teams tend to create mobility as a separate requirement for the project which inevitably causes gaps and failures in the end product. The key takeaway is that when mobility is not incorporated until the end, there is greater risk that the final product may not meet the expectations of being able to communicate anytime, anywhere and on any device.

This is fundamentally what “mobile first” means — it involves positioning the mobility goal first and up front at the blueprint stage, rather than making it a downstream addendum long after the application has been designed. The Business Requirements Document should reflect that goal at the outset and articulate a holistic design approach where “anytime, anywhere” is the goal and mantra. Mobility and mobilization will then naturally be reflected in the technical design and delivery.

Technology Journey Roadmap: from Concept to Completed Product and Beyond
It’s nearly impossible to arrive at a specific destination in any project without knowing how to get there, so the next step in the design process is to create a Technology Journey map. While the Business Requirements Document conveys what the end result, or destination, will be, the Technology Journey Map provides detailed, “turn by turn” directions needed to arrive at the destination. (This is much like the AAA ‘TripTiks’ that many of us may remember which gave a holistic view of the road ahead, journey highlights, potential detours, and other important details for successfully navigating to a destination.) In essence, the Technology Journey Map intertwines the points of view of both the lines of business and technology teams for achieving the outcomes requested. Creating a Technology Journey Map is not only critical to the strategic thinking of the organization, but it should also reflect the current and future state of systems supporting the business.

The Technology Journey Map should be reviewed, published, and shared with business groups at scheduled intervals throughout the project. Needless to say, the map should be treated as a “living” document since market conditions are not static making this is an essential step for ensuring market relevancy of the map as it evolves.

Eliminating Departmental Silos through Integrated Team Approach
Also critical when developing products for omni-channels is breaking down the silos that typically exist between those in the business who are focused on business outcomes and customer experience, and those responsible for technology. It is almost impossible to deploy a holistic design approach if silos are present in your company. By organizing collaborative workshop sessions between the two groups, the teams become better aligned. Workshops also enable collaboration among stakeholders within the organization and ensure that the unique perspectives of each group are included while defining the “anywhere” customer experience.

For best results, these sessions must have clear roles, definitions, and expected outcomes. Consider the value of an outside facilitator to run the workshops and function as both subject matter expert and the moderator. This allows the enterprise to have an agnostic view of the collaborative output, avoid common pitfalls during the process, and ensure that only the best journey is documented and adopted.

Mobile-First Design: A Closer View
This new digital and self-service world has given us capabilities that seemed futuristic only yesterday. Consider this example of a mobile first design model for a real world application.

Peter is a client of an investment firm who recently downloaded an application to his smartwatch that the firm had created.  When he set up the app, he opted-in and gave permissions using a self-service portal allowing the investment firm to access, retrieve, seek and enable automated trading based on Peter’s pre-defined parameters leveraging contextual intelligence added to traditional analytics.

Peter set up automatic trading for a publicly-traded restaurant chain provided that four parameters were met:  The first three parameters included: when the average monthly sales per location show more than a 2 percent month-over-month increase, when three or more analysts within a 30-day trading period give the stock a buy rating, and when the stock price is below X dollars. The fourth parameter leveraged contextual intelligence, where the customer experience and vibrancy of the restaurant would be the final impetus for an auto-trade to take place.

The investment firm had partnered with over 50 major corporations in the restaurant business, including the restaurant chain Peter was interested in, to access this data.

Peter met some clients for lunch at the restaurant in question, and here’s what happened:  His smartwatch GPS confirmed the location and his watch app began interacting with the investment firm’s analytics platforms, while the “experience sensor” in his smartwatch turned on the smartwatch’s microphone and analyzed voices to determine the level of excitement and positive emotion over a defined period, before transmitting the “experience level” to the Investment firms analytics platforms to factor in the input for a stock trade decision.

The app then used queries to the investment firm’s analytics platform to determine that all parameters had been met. Peter subsequently received a notification from his smartwatch communicating that the four parameters had been satisfied and that by tapping the Yes button on his watch, the app would begin processing the buy order for the requested stock purchase.

Every step of this process was designed for a wearable. The product team for the app took an “anytime, anywhere” approach with this integrated design; mobility began the conversation and was not an afterthought.

Succeeding in a World Gone Mobile
Regardless of the technology used—predictive analytics, cloud, servers, mobile networks, land-line networks, customer portals and collaborative tools—mobile-first applications are those in which every part, feature and function is designed to be used anytime, anywhere, and on any device. Today’s world demands that mobility is inherent in the DNA of business deliverables. The key for anytime-anywhere communication is using an “everywhere” strategy for design and execution through every phase of the project.

Creating these outcomes means bringing the right expertise to the table. It often requires engaging partners with deep-dive experience in designing for next-generation interactions. Even if it is your first time using this approach, trusted partners can provide the expertise needed to successfully navigate the journey.

Certainly, using a mobile-first strategy takes a focused effort from every member of the team across the duration of the project journey to truly embrace this approach. However, when companies release a product into the marketplace that truly delivers a superior anywhere customer experience, customers will reward that effort.  What’s the return on that investment? Unprecedented brand loyalty and revenues.


Dinesh Dhir
Global Managing Partner
Verizon Enterprise Solutions

Jeffrey Granvold
Professional Consulting Services
Verizon Enterprise Solutions


About Verizon Enterprise Solutions
Verizon Enterprise Solutions brings the best of all Verizon global assets together from across our two business units—wireless and wireline—including America’s best 4G LTE network, Verizon’s global IP network, and the only 100% fiber network in the United States. We provide medium-sized and large enterprises with the technologies they need to help them become more competitive, secure and in touch with their customers. Our global team of technology specialists understands the needs of businesses—and has the knowledge and experience to help deliver the solutions and products companies need. We know how to make large enterprise technology deployments a success—combining innovative technologies with an expert professional services organization to meet each company’s requirements.






[1] Harvard Business Review Analytic Services survey, 2015.


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