Building An App Is Not Always The Answer

During the time when I worked in IT, one of my least favourite situations was when the business showed up with a answer before they'd really understood their questions. Forrester vice president Josh Bernoff dives head-long into that territory, with a focus on mobile development in a recent blog post.

Phone picture from Shutterstock

Bernoff proposes using a methodology called the IDEA cycle. IDEA stands for

Identify when mobile will work for customers Design the mobile engagement Engineer the people, processes and platforms Analyse the results and monitor for improvement

The entire process is a cycle so you continually look for ways to optimise the customer experience.

None of this will seem revolutionary. However, if you can get this sort of thinking to be part of your IT or mobility strategy and get the business to buy into it, you can help the business understand that "let's build an app" is not always the answer when it comes to successfully executing a mobile strategy or experience for customers.

The IDEA Cycle — A Better Way To Think About Mobile Development [Forrester]


    One of the most useful technical skills is not a technical skill at all. It's the ability to listen to a request and recognise when the person is asking you to solve the wrong problem.

    Most commonly this occurs when the person knows what their problem is and thinks they know roughly how to solve it, and presents their half-formed solution as the problem to be solved rather than telling you the real problem. You can cut a lot of guff by asking "exactly what are you trying to accomplish?"

    This won't be news to anybody who's worked as a developer or in tech support for an extended period, but if you're new to the game it's something to keep an ear out for. Just be careful when you're doing it - some managers don't like having their pet projects questioned.

    The vested interests behind any initiative are rarely articulated and can rock your world.

    I wrote a blurb about my feelings around app development, in the context of app or mobile optimised/responsive websites:

    There's a quote from Stephen Sondheim's "Into the Woods":
    "But how do you know what you want 'till you get what you want and you see if you like it?"

    It's sad to see how many clients we encounter in IT development subscribe to this exact philosophy.

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