Here’s how to position yourself to be a new mobile leader

Who's in charge of mobile in your organization? Columnist Josh Todd believes that thanks to rapid changes in the industry, we'll see the emergence of new kinds of mobile leaders.

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You’re organizing all wrong around mobile. It’s tough to hear, but it’s true.

At some point over the past few years, your CEO, board or executive team found religion in mobile. The edict that this is the year of mobile came down from above.

With the best intentions, your organization tapped its top performers (probably you, if you’re reading this) to create a cross-functional “tiger team” to move fast and set your organization up for success.

However, it wasn’t that simple.

Who owns mobile?

The rapid rise of mobile created a fundamental shift in the organization of many companies. Many executives were faced with the deceptively simple question: Who owns mobile?

With no clear ownership, battles have been fought between product and marketing within organizations to understand who owns which pieces of the mobile puzzle.

To me, the most important of these tools are the push and in-app messages that I’ve written so much about. These are great examples of the organizational divide. Which team has their finger on the trigger for how these are used? Are they an extension of the product experience, and thus the domain of the product, or are they marketing channels that should be used to drive sales, conversions and engagement?  

In my day-to-day speaking with analysts and reporters, these questions have come up again and again, and they aren’t easy to answer.

From marketers, I’ve heard over and over that they are the ones who have the psychological and behavioral experience to understand how and when to influence behavior in mobile. They see themselves as going beyond “what will the customer do next in the product” to really understand the bigger picture.

They aren’t entirely wrong. The reality is that these new channels are within the domains of product and marketing, and they cannot easily be confined to one category or another. They demand a new approach to organizing around mobile.

The new mobile leaders

I believe, as a result of this mobile restructuring, we’ll see the rise of entirely new categories of mobile leaders. They’ll be labeled with titles you might not have heard of before: VP of engagement, VP of growth, head of mobile analytics, head of mobile product and more. Many of these life cycle-focused titles are only just now emerging.

These leaders won’t necessarily come from any one part of the organization. What will unify this new breed? The skills, knowledge and talents they possess.

They’ll be data-driven and analytical, with a deep understanding of their customers’ behaviors beyond just personas. They’ll be digital natives who have the behavioral understanding of a marketer, but they will also be technical enough to be dangerous on the product side and fluent across the mobile tech stack. They’ll understand the process of a funnel analysis and the importance of brand.

I get it. That’s a whole lot of boxes to check. The good news is that it isn’t all on the organizations. Part of the responsibility for this shift lies with the technology vendors to make it easy for the marketers to expand their understanding beyond their core skill set. More intuitive technology will make these transitions even simpler.

Beyond just skill sets, the core power of these new leaders lies in their ability to see the future of mobile and its impact on the brand. It’s that level of understanding and innovation that will allow them to succeed beyond others.

To me, this is all part of the broader evolution of the marketer. Marketers started out focused on building brands and acquiring customers. They have since moved to add digital analytics to their core skill set.

Marketers’ next evolution will involve learning to incorporate mobile in a way that spans the organization. From there, it’s on them to determine what comes next.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.

About the author

Josh Todd
Josh Todd is chief marketing officer for Localytics. He oversees global marketing, branding and advertising. He formerly served as vice president of customer acquisition and marketing for Constant Contact, and was also previously general manager of website strategy for the company. Prior to Constant Contact, Josh worked for Staples, Inc., where he was responsible for guiding the development of Staples’ online advertising campaigns and sports marketing sponsorships. Josh also held management positions at Terra Lycos, Greater Boston Radio Group, and Kellogg Company. Josh holds a Bachelor of Science degree in economics from Babson College, and a Masters in Business Administration from Colorado State University.

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