As we close in on the July 4th holiday, I thought I would give you a few thoughts on mobile interdependence. Brands have a lot of reasons for making the decision to work with an agency rather than do mobile entirely in-house. While the DIY impulse is compelling, it’s not always the best option—whether it’s an app, an enterprise approach or some other mobile initiative. Here are four legit reasons when having a strategic, design and/or technology partner for your mobile program makes sense:

  1. Your team isn’t aligned. Given mobile’s sweeping reach, most companies have multiple stakeholders representing a wide variety of corporate interests. This can make it hard for any single idea to get traction or to build the kind of broad-based support necessary to successfully move forward. The right partner should be able to help your team understand what’s most important, assess feasibility and find common ground. It’s kind of like paying someone else to be the lightning rod, or better yet, the inspiration your team needs to do something amazing. Conversely, if your team is completely aligned around a concept or approach, it might help to have an outsider validate the direction before investing the resources.
  2. You are increasingly focused on constraints. A good mobile strategy partner can help your team envision unexpected uses of existing assets and services (however limited they may appear to you and your team) to create a valuable experience for your users. And if you really have virtually nothing to offer an agency can prioritize initial efforts that provide short-term opportunities while building a more robust mobile platform.
  3. The app is critical to business success. If you are delivering key parts of the business through mobile—where mobile is the business—work with people who do mobile all the time. Agencies that have experience with mission-critical mobile projects will help you understand where you can innovate and where you should rely on established approaches and proven technologies. And while failure is a great teacher, you don’t want to learn too many lessons at the expense of core revenue streams or risk alienating your best customers.
  4. You’re going native. In many cases, native apps are the best way to meet a brand’s mobile objectives. The approach offers qualitative, experiential and other benefits that may be harder to realize with other development options. The challenge? Good native experiences require experienced native developers, designers and people who understand mobile and platform-specific UX approaches. Things that seem relatively simple often require a lot of effort from even the most skilled native developers and you want users to embrace the app, so it will need to feel right for iOS or Android. You definitely want someone familiar with the toolkits provided by Apple and Google, and people who have spent a lot of time using those tools to create high quality experiences. The right agency can save you a lot of money in the long run, ensuring that you build the app right and that it takes advantage of sound development and UX approaches for the platform. If you don’t have people who do this all the time, find a partner who does.

If your business is concerned about the cost of working with a partner, I understand. Agency fees are all over the map but the right partner will be willing to narrowly define scope and live within reasonable budgetary constraints. And history has proven that there’s nothing more expensive than building something people don’t use.

Have a great holiday!

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