Mobility Payoff Slow in Coming, but CEO Involvement Critical

Few doubt that mobility will drive future operational efficiencies and new revenues across nearly every business sector. But to date, only a small group of early adopters are seeing a return on their investment. Despite slow payback, however, CEOs should be accelerating their mobile efforts, given the potential benefits.

Few doubt that mobility will drive future operational efficiencies and new revenues across nearly every business sector. But according to a recent study of global executives, only four out of 10 companies are aggressively pursuing and investing in mobile so far. Among those that were active, the vast majority of companies have yet to see a return on their mobile investments. In fact, fully 86 percent of survey respondents had not yet seen their mobile initiatives pay for themselves.

Despite a potentially slow payback, most CEOs should probably be accelerating their mobile efforts given the potential benefits. According to the study by Accenture, top initiatives include the opening of new sales or marketing channels (cited by 44 percent as a priority for investment), driving revenue through transactions on mobile devices (43 percent), driving revenue through customer engagement on mobile devices (39 percent) and improving field service/customer service delivery (39 percent).

About one in 10 respondents to the study have generated positive ROI from mobile efforts so far. This small group of early adopters, or “mobility leaders,” view their investments in digital technologies as strategic and pivotal to growth, and provide valuable tips on how other companies can make mobility pay off faster.

Companies identified as mobility leaders are typically “backed by a commitment from senior leadership,” says Stephen Gardiner, managing director of Accenture Digital, Canada. “To stay competitive and become digital disruptors in industries that have gone through years of disruption from new entrants, CEOs need to become more engaged in creating and implementing their digital strategies with their IT teams.”

Mobility is currently high on the agendas of CEOs in about 35% of companies surveyed, with the top executive typically helping to develop strategy in those firms.

CEOs in companies leading in mobility are:

  1. Going all in. Leaders were distinguished from other respondents by their ambitious, strategic and cross-company approach.
  2. Getting involved. The mobile strategy was backed by active involvement of the senior leadership.
  3. Making the necessary investment. Leaders provided a substantial monetary investment in mobile technology, resulting in superior methodology for developing and deploying mobile apps.

Mobility leaders consider the full range of digital technologies to be among their top five priorities in the year ahead and have a formal enterprise-wide mobility strategy. At these companies, the CEO and leadership team, or the board, ultimately owns the mobility strategy. And these organizations have a formal and robust methodology for developing mobile apps that spans development, testing, distribution and updating.

In addition to the obvious applications for consumer businesses, mobility has the potential to transform industrial industries, as well. GE CEO Jeff Immelt, in a recent interview with Chief Executive magazine underscores the value mobility can bring as a competitive differentiator and the importance of top-down commitment and direction in providing strategic mobile direction. Under Immelt, GE has been betting big on mobile sensors and analytics.

“If you run an industrial company, analytics are going to be a part of your future,” says Immelt. “So if you’re thinking that you won’t have to become astute on data, software and analytics, you’re in the wrong place. It will permeate all our industrial businesses.”

Read the full Accenture report here.


  • Get the CEO Briefing

    Sign up today to get weekly access to the latest issues affecting CEOs in every industry
  • upcoming events