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07:45 PM
Jamie Armistead
Jamie Armistead

5 Keys to Success for a Mobile-First Strategy

Developing a mobile-first strategy requires prioritizing several key success factors.

Digital banking is undergoing a dramatic shift as banks' strategies go from “cram online banking into the mobile device” to a true “mobile-first” strategy. As an old dog in digital, making this shift in mindset wasn’t easy, but now I’m a mobile-first evangelist. How do you pursue a true mobile-first strategy? I’ve found these are some of the essential keys:

1) Embrace the three-device world. PC, tablet, phone. It’s not hard to convince people that we live in an increasingly mobile world. What is hard is having a cohesive customer experience strategy that works across all three. Compare many online banking experiences to mobile apps, and you’ll find inconsistent labeling and navigation. While banks have optimized their mobile experiences, they have been slow to retrofit online banking to keep pace. 

2) Define your public website strategy. Many bank sites don’t render well on tablets due to crowded page design and excessive text links. Two years ago a responsive design was considered the ideal solution. While that’s still part of the answer, refactoring thousands of pages is a lot of work even with a supporting content management system. Instead, designing deliberate handset-friendly experiences may be more effective and may be faster to market, despite the expense of maintaining two design systems and code bases.

3) Mobile-only capabilities. It looks like mobile apps should be getting a nice shot in the arm over the next year or so. Given the unique capabilities of mobile devices, we have naturally gravitated toward location services and remote deposit. These services add real value and have put mobile banking on the map. Others, like fingerprint authentication and eliminating typing, should also be key objectives, although banks have been slow to integrate OCR capabilities such as photo bill pay. (Note: Apple announced that iOS 8 will support card-scanning capability.) Fingerprint authentication may be the solution that finally gets the security hold-outs to try mobile banking.

4) Traditional servicing. Banks still have a long way to go enabling core capabilities like a full suite of money movement functionality, let alone less-used services like check reorder or stop payment. Looking at the full inventory, we’ll be working on mobile servicing capabilities for years to come.

5) Balance the demand. Digital on a budget means having to weigh mobile-first against other needs. There’s a long list of functionality that could be in your apps, but this requires a significant financial investment. Having a framework for how you embrace mobile first will help you answer these questions.

So how do you prioritize these keys to success in mobile-first? The first item is a given: You can’t succeed without a cohesive customer experience strategy across devices.

[For more insight from Jamie Armistead, check out: Banks Are Not the Yardstick for Digital Customer Experience.]

Beyond that, you can bucket mobile enhancements into items two, three, and four. Prioritize within those buckets and then start debating among them. How many users will it touch? How much of this is already happening online? Will enabling these services on mobile pull transactions out of the branch or just away from online? Given the decline in PC shipments, how much do you starve online for the sake of your apps? Are you missing out on sale opportunities? Will this be a hot new mobile-only capability? Will it address long-standing security concerns and spur more mobile adoption?

There’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to mobile-first. The only mistake would be failing to embrace it.  

Since joining Bank of the West two years ago, Jamie has led the transformation of the bank's digital channels. Under his leadership, Bank of the West launched an integrated online banking and investing platform and was the first bank in North America to offer Quick ... View Full Bio

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