iphone in pocketMany businesses miss out on opportunities to enhance customer loyalty and engagement because they focus only on creating smartphone apps instead of creating a collection of apps and services that will engage the customer across a broad range of devices and experiences.

A "phone-first" strategy overlooks the power of a rapidly expanding array of technological innovations. Many people today use multiple devices: phone, work computer, tablet, home computer, smart watch, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Amazon Echo, home automation, spouse's devices and more.

Companies need to engage the user at the right moment, in the right format, providing only what the user requires and leveraging the specific capabilities of the user's chosen device.

An omni-channel strategy that puts the customer first is a far more effective approach than a strategy that puts the phone first.

There are two reasons that we have reached this juncture, where many devices are available to consumers, yet businesses focus on only one. The first reason involves terminology - specifically, the word mobile - and the second involves mobile platform vendors.

Changing terminology

A few years ago, most of us probably would have agreed that the word mobile was synonymous with mobile phone. But technology is changing, and the lexicon needs to keep pace. The word mobile is now more closely aligned with Internet of Things (IoT), where mobile is simply a common attribute of these many "things."

Yet, when people use the phrase mobile first, for example, they are almost invariably thinking phone first. This narrow focus limits opportunities to engage with customers, improve service, and build loyalty via new channels and new experiences.

Mobile platforms

Another reason businesses focus excessively on the phone is that many IT vendors tend to overemphasize their clients' "mobile" or "phone" platforms, limiting their ability to easily share services across a range of IoT. The platforms these companies create follow a similar design pattern in that they abstract services into Web API. The problem is that you, as a client, wind up tying your current and future IoT services development to your phone tier - and to the platform company you are buying it from.

To future-proof your organization and support all IoT initiatives, you need to own your middle tier or Web API. This is critical to your moving beyond the phone and developing an omni-channel strategy that enables the business to manage the customer experience across devices.

At CapTech, we not only value creating engaging customer experiences, but we also care about building them in a responsible way. We understand that solutions need to support multiple device platforms, scale to millions of users, allow for continuous enhancements, and-perhaps most importantly-future-proof the client from advances in new technology and device innovation.

CapTech's mobile architecture is built around a solid Web API, an abstraction tier that supports common view tiers such as native mobile apps and HTML applications, as well as IoT devices, integrated partner solutions, existing legacy applications, and more. All of this is designed to enable our clients to put the customer first.

Paradigm shift

An important implication of the shift from phone first to customer first is the underlying need to understand that mobile or omni-channel represents a paradigm shift in how you choose to engage customers. It means changing your view from "We need a mobile app" to "We need a Web API that exposes services to any IoT channel we choose to support now or in the future."

In addition, it is not a single project. In this new paradigm, you don't launch an app and then proceed as if that event were the culmination of your mobile or omni-channel strategy. Technologies will evolve and so will your customers' needs, objectives and demographics. This means that your business will need to continue to invest in the customer experience and in technologies that enhance that experience across channels.

A mobile or omni-channel strategy that leverages the middle tier or Web API will give your business the flexibility to put the customer first. It also will liberate your business from the limitations imposed by mobile platform companies, opening a broad path toward the future and whatever the future may bring.