Tuesday, 29 April 2014

The Mobilization Hierarchy of Needs

By Martin Wilson of Appear Networks

Abraham Maslow first proposed his theory of human motivation  more than 70 years ago and it is still a popular meme used by colleges and business management today. The original theory proposes 5 levels of human fulfilment that start with basic physiological needs (eating, breathing), progress through social status (friends, respect) and end with self-actualisation (creativity, talent). It is usually depicted as a pyramid with the most basic need at the base. More broadly in business Maslow “re-mixes” are used in many different ways – for example to talk about how work environments can meet the needs of employees or how products can meet the needs of customers.

When faced with implementing a mobile project we can utilise the same approach and consider a Mobilization Hierarchy of Needs. This is a useful exercise whether you are an independent software vendor (ISV) or an organisation looking to develop (or have someone develop for you) a mobile application to add to your armoury. The Mobilization Hierarchy of Needs starts with cost and rises through timing, risk, quality and innovation.

1. COST – The need to limit costs

Most software companies or IT departments will have a budget that is already sized according to existing needs. Extending that budget to include development of a mobile application may be a challenge. Then there are the make or buy questions – whether to buy-in expertise or components of software or implement in-house. This is a delicate balance. Mobilization will take resources away from core business. Which mobile devices will be supported? Developing for multiple platforms can get expensive and then maintaining the resulting apps as those different mobile platforms evolve is even more expensive.

2. RAPID – The need to shorten time to market

A big new challenge to existing established ISV’s are the “Mobile First” competitors. These companies have sprung seemingly from nowhere in the past 2-3 years with “mobile” as their focus. Everything they do is around ensuring the mobile experience for their customers is perfect. Users are being seduced by the simple experience of using mobile devices to meet their business needs and if you are an ISV you are probably already being asked when your “mobile app” will be ready. The quicker your mobile app can be delivered the shorter the time to profitability and the greater the chances are that the future of your business is secured.

3. RISK – The need to minimize the risk of failure

Taking on a mobile project involves some risks. Is your team equipped with the right skills? They can learn, but the experience of learning will have a cost which may not be forecast in your project. Will the mobile applications you deliver meet the expectations of your customers? What about the different mobile operating systems? Will your application be cross-platform and work on all the different operating systems? Which platform to choose first? How can you avoid some of the most common mistakes? Mitigating project risks is an important way of increasing the odds of a successful investment in mobile.

4. PRO – The need to deliver a professional solution

In order for your application not to disappoint it will need to meet professional standards – including your customer security requirements, users’ usability expectations, availability and reliability considerations. If this need is not met there is the risk that your established software business could be impacted by the poor reception given by your new mobile user base.

5. ” I ” – The need for innovation

Ensuring your existing products extend to the mobile realm is an effective way to keep your new “mobile first” competition at bay – they will be focused on building the “shiny” mobile part without their back-end being established. But having a mobile solution will push your proposition into new markets. Being able to use your new found mobile reach to create whole new propositions is an important source of differentiation and will help you stay ahead, and by carefully exploiting new device functionality, form factors and operating system capabilities there will be plenty of scope for meeting the need for innovation.


The MobiCloud platform uses Appear Network’s technology to make it easier to address all of these needs. Applications can be rapidly developed at reduced cost by intrinsic cross-platform support and cloud hosting. Risk is reduced by using proven platform capabilities and rapid deployment allows development to be done iteratively (an “innovation discovery process”). The cloud hosted Backend-as-a-Service (MBaaS) model enables the rapid testing and delivery cycles necessary to achieve this.

For more information about MobiCloud and how you can participate, please visit our website and consider joining our partner program.

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