Kia Behnia, CEO of PowWow Mobile, explains why a successful digital transformation program starts and finishes with establishing a mobile-first culture:

The rise of digital transformation signifies a massive cultural shift within organisations where changes to the way that business is done and how customers, partners and employees are served, is fundamentally shifting. Digital transformation is comprised of many components including, for example, cloud and IoT adoption: but it is mobility that is the catalyst for the major shift in the way organisations will operate in future. As such, any enterprise seeking to truly transform their mindset to digital first must begin by implementing a mobile-first strategy.

Who Owns the Mobility Strategy? 

As digital transformation mindsets are adopted by organizations, many teams are unsure whose role it is to implement this fundamental operational change. The Line of Business (LOB) team is often frustrated because they feel they can’t move as fast as their competitive marketplace, while IT simply feels overwhelmed with many important responsibilities beyond mobilization. As a result, mobility priorities have sometimes created unhelpful friction between the two.

In recent years, many organizations have established a third division – a corporate innovation group or mobile center of excellence (MCoE) that is tasked to research, and sometimes build, new technologies that can be leveraged to streamline business productivity and efficiency. However, these teams have traditionally been granted all of the responsibility but none of the authority. It is probably too early to tell whether or not the corporate innovation department or MCoEs can eliminate this IT-LOB friction. In the meantime, organizations striving for a transformative approach must bring these three disparate business units together to add accountability, authority, and cohesiveness to their mobile journey.

Enterprise mobility culture: essential to digital transformation Digital transformation does not happen from the bottom up and should be driven from the top down. To be a digital enterprise, CIO’s must focus on leading change and moving beyond a cost center, to a center of excellence in which employees and customers have access to the technology that improves their experiences.

Most organizations do not yet have their applications and workflows accessible using mobile devices, but identifying areas of improvement is easy – prioritizing them is hard. Any mobile strategy must therefore begin with a staged roadmap that can provide concrete value to the business. To begin with, it’s worth looking at the end-to-end business processes and mobilizing the key workflows. In most cases, the new mobile apps will be small byte-sized functions that integrate across apps and deliver a seamless user experience, taking what used to be 20 clicks on a PC down to 3 to 5 taps on a mobile device.

At the same time, for a mobile strategy to be effective in any organization, a cultural change must take place. To begin, companies can assign tiger teams consisting of veterans who understand the current business and change agents who think disruptively to look at innovation and emerging technologies. At the core of this change must be greater inclusivity of millennial preferences, since this generation is now the largest workforce segment and therefore key to future success.

Mobile-first organizations have changed the ordinary to the extraordinary. For example, buying a product at an Apple retail store is different to any other shopping experience. Other companies at the forefront of digital transformation are organizations with a high B-to-C imperative – think airlines and consumer banks. Mobile boarding passes have already drastically changed the airport experience, and if a bank doesn’t offer a high-quality mobile app then consumers are switching to those that can.

Many enterprises are striving to adopt digital transformation, but to be successful in their venture they must begin by implementing a mobile-first approach.

This blog post originally appeared in Network Computing