Developing a cost-effective mobile content-delivery platform

By Venu Gooty posted 05-07-2010 16:09


Smart phones are playing crucial role in enterprise strategy

With over 20% of mobile phones enabled with Internet by 2011, smart phones are becoming the new frontier for digital content and center stage of a thriving new mobile content economy. It is estimated that US businesses will spend close to $12bn to develop mobile applications by 2012. The need for enterprises to adopt mobile strategy can be no more evident.

With the mobile device landscape changing by the day, there are now over 8000 types of mobile devices used across the globe. Each of these devices has a different screen resolution, screen size, flash/video/image display capabilities, etc. Adding to this complexity, smart phone operating systems (OS) such as iPhone, Android, Symbian, Windows Mobile and Blackberry have their own application development platforms. As this diversity increases, enterprises need to make choices about the platforms and devices they want to deliver their content to.


Mobile Strategy Considerations

While chalking out their enterprise mobile strategy, companies should answer following five questions as part of their roadmap:


1. Should I develop mobile portal or OS-specific mobile apps?

Mobile portals are specific websites created to ensure customers browsing websites using mobile browsers can have a better user experience. These portals ensure improved content rendition on small screen devices, thereby minimizing the need to scroll horizontally or vertically in order to view the complete webpage. Mobile apps on the other hand are device-specific (or platform-specific) applications that are created to provide richer and faster experience on mobile devices. Organizations can leverage multiple approaches and multiple platforms to provided targeted offerings to these different user bases.


2. Which devices should I support?

Understanding which devices/platforms your customer uses is key to answering this question. Although there has been a constant and rapid change in mobile device landscape, iPhone, Android and Blackberry platforms are currently seen as the future platforms for mobile devices. While Blackberry has been popular among business users for B2B applications, iPhone and Android have been more consumer-friendly devices. While mobile portals can support multiple device types, mobile applications may end up being device-specific.  Therefore, organizations need to focus on providing applications on those devices that their audience use the most.


3. Should I provide free mobile service or paid?

Since smart devices provide sophisticated browsing and computing capabilities, enterprises can provide a richer customer experience through higher value and more comprehensive content. This leads to the question of whether companies should charge customers for the kind of services that is being provided by mobile device. This decision should be based on answers to the following questions:

  • What is the pricing model used on Web portals? Can the same model be leveraged for mobile services too?
  • What is the cost to company for mobile delivery of content?
  • What is the pricing of similar services by competitors?
  • How strategic is the mobile investment for the organization?

Organizations need to balance their business objectives against tactical needs while pricing services in order to ensure that it doesn’t alienate their customers or incur loss while providing highly expensive services for free.


4. Should I implement a mobile portal in-house or host it externally?

Mobile portals can be developed in-house as well as be hosted in cloud. Depending on the complexity of content and financial model that enterprises are comfortable with, one of the two approaches can be followed.


5. What kind of content should be published on mobile devices?

Not all web content needs to be published on mobile device. The decision about what needs to be published on mobile devices can be based on the layout of mobile Web site or mobile app, type of device(s) targeted, importance of content, mobile advertising strategy, etc.

Based on answers to these questions, organizations need to develop a mobile delivery platform that enables publishing of content through one or more channels.


Best Practices for Mobile Content Delivery Platforms

Although setting up portals for mobile delivery may seem a low cost solution, organizations soon realize that the cost of managing mobile delivery through these platforms alone can be very expensive in long run. As organizations start building and supporting device-specific applications, these costs escalate tremendously. The cost of content management (typically consisting of content creation, operations, migration and validation) increases when mobile content is managed separately.

In many cases, a unified delivery platform is the best and most cost effective way to publish content seamlessly across various channels such as web, mobile web, mobile apps, print media, etc.

A unified content delivery platform can make a mobile content strategy a competitive advantage by enabling organizations to leverage content from existing ECM systems to publish it on multiple mobile devices through various channels.  This helps organizations increase return on investment (ROI) on their existing content investments.

Key tactics for creating a cost-effective unified platform include:

  • Leveraging existing ECM content: This increases RoI of current operations.
  • In-sync publishing across multiple channels:This ensures that content remains in sync across various channels such as Web, mobile web, mobile apps, print, etc.
  • Device-specific content rendering:Since mobile devices have less processing power and smaller screen size, it’s important to ensure appropriate display of content on different devices.
  • Rich content delivery:Through the integration with different mobile software development kits (SDKs), rich content can be delivered on mobile devices through device-specific applications. Additionally, a device’s native features (e.g. video recording, photos, , maps, etc.) can be leveraged as part of personalized content delivery to customers.
  • Streamlined content creation and publishing process for multi-channel delivery:By using a single ECM system for managing content and publishing content across multiple channels, the creation, review and publishing process is highly streamlined. This provides single-click publishing of content across various channels.
  • Unified content definition:Through this platform, a single content definition exists that manages various attributes. The system enables a set of different attributes to be displayed on different mobile device based on its capabilities. By managing all content together, content creation and management process is simplified.


Real-Life Examples

Organizations are investing in setting up mobile practices and developing Web sites and innovative applications that provides better, faster and richer experience to the customer, while increasing market share for organizations. Below are a few examples of how media firms, banking and financial institutions, and even government organizations have leveraged mobile devices to deliver innovative solutions:

  • Business-to-Customer Initiatives:
  • Media Firms: Media powerhouses such as CNN, NY Times, AP, etc. have developed rich custom applications specific to iPhone platform that provide immersive experience to customer. These applications are not only personalized, but also provide video content, interactive maps, etc.
  • Banking and Financial Services Firms: Companies like Citibank, JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America and many others have developed mobile portals and applications designed to allow their customers to carry out a host of activities like account management, mobile banking, self-servicing, raising service requests, etc.
  • Business-to-Employee Initiatives:
  • Enterprise applications such as Oracle Business Indicators can provide various line managers within sales, marketing, finance and HR functional areas with alerts and updates delivered to their smart phones.  These notifications inform stakeholders of specific business events such as sales dip or key order cancellation or other critical changes. Organizations are also repurposing their intranet sites specifically for mobile devices to enable employees to perform day-to-day activities while on the move.
  • Government-to-Citizen Initiatives:
  • Boston: The City of Boston is developing mobile applications that enable citizens to raise complaints through a mobile phone portal instead of using telephone hotlines.
  • Utah: Utah has released a mobile application that allows users to renew licenses and search driver records and license information.  This reduces the burden on staff and also greatly increases  accessibility and ease of use for the public.



It’s needless to say that digital content has broken the boundaries of personal computers and vaulted into new delivery channels for end user consumption. From ‘breaking news’ to videos to stock-tickers to games and applications, practically every type of content can now be accessed by or delivered to mobile phones. The increasing penetration and sophistication of mobile devices creates new revenue and cost cutting opportunities for enterprises, but only if they can overcome the challenge of managing and publishing mobile content in a cost-effective manner.  Before implementing a mobile strategy, companies should consider its technological, budgetary and content requirements.  Often, a unified mobile platform that integrates with existing ECM systems is the best way to create a mobile support infrastructure that can scale while preventing runaway costs.



Prithwiraj Deb also contributed to this post.  He is a Senior Business Analyst and Strategy Consultant at Virtusa with a focus on Enterprise Content Management, Portal Development and Storage Technology across multiple domains. A certified AIIM ECM Practitioner, Prithwiraj has interest in WCM, Web 2.0, Mobile Content and E-Commerce related areas.

#mobile #ECM #smartphones #contentdelivery