The mobile-first mantra of ‘optimize for where your end users are’ has never been truer than in our post-pandemic world. Companies that failed to embrace the mobile-first paradigm took the biggest revenue hits when everything went remote.

It’s really no surprise when you consider that around nine-in-ten Millennials and Gen Xers own smartphones. And almost a fifth of Millennials are smartphone-only internet users, meaning they have no broadband service at home. And as for Gen Z? Nearly a third feel uncomfortable if they are without their phone even for 30 minutes or less.

This mobile-obsessed mob represents a considerable cohort of your workforce and your consumers. You have to meet people where they are, or they won’t buy or use your product.

In this article we explore how to embrace a mobile-first digital transformation that not only meets users on their devices but meets them in mindset too.

Why are we still talking about mobile first?

The term has been around for over a decade. Yet, many in the B2B space have failed to fully understand and embrace its transformative core. This means the market has evolved, largely driven by B2C, while corporate digital strategies have floundered.

The situation is especially stark if you’re facing grassroots B2B adoption challenges. There’s a lot to learn from B2C.

Take CRMs: research by Salesforce indicates that although most businesses are using a CRM*,* the average adoption rate across industries is only 26 percent.

Optimizing for mobile could address these adoption challenges and deliver real business benefit. Research shows that, on average, 65 percent of salespeople who adopt mobile CRM meet their sales quotas. (That’s versus 22 percent who don’t.)

But addressing adoption rates has to mean more than making CRMs responsive. Consider that almost three quarters of executives would happily trade reduced CRM functionality for ease of use. So, a mobile-first CRM has to prioritize workflows and innovative ways to solve user needs.

What is mobile-first development?

Mobile-first development used to mean prioritizing a mobile’s smaller screen and touch-based interface in designing and developing digital products. But truly mobile-first development starts before the development team start coding.

Mobile-first is a strategic mindset that influences how applications and services are conceived. It’s the foundation for your product roadmap. It’s the approach that opens up other channels. After all, if you can convert on this channel, others will follow.

Thinking mobile-first also opens up other ways to use technology to address user challenges. Artificial intelligence, location data, augmented reality and biometrics come to mind.

Key principles of mobile-first in digital transformation

If you want to drive your digital transformation with a mobile first approach, the first step is not to rush it. Creating a new ecosystem from scratch is a long-term game, after all.

Next, consider these core principles for effective adoption.

Mobile first isn’t mobile only

Mobile is important, but it doesn’t cater to every user. Chances are your user base has diverse needs. This means different screen sizes and device capabilities to contend with. The goal is a consistent and seamless experience across all devices, not just mobile.

How to achieve it? Shift your focus from devices to the technologies and concepts that surround your platform. After all, targeting multiple platforms doesn’t necessarily mean having to develop and maintain multiple code bases. Your focus should be the person using the application and what they need to succeed.

Building your experience around users

AS CTO Craft puts it so elegantly,

“For most companies, digital transformation is integral to improving the relationship with their customers. It’s important, therefore, to build your experiences around people.”

Adding value and addressing pain points come from understanding the end user’s needs. Mobile first aims to increase functionality and improve adoption rates by solving problems that users face. So, stay focused on those users.

Develop user personas, gather data-driven insights and clarify what users actually want from an ‘on-the-go’ application. And as you evolve your product roadmap, monitor user behavior, engagement metrics and feedback to keep ahead of the curve.

Keeping everything flexible

A mobile-first digital transformation can future-proof your business. Why? Because rather than focusing on responsive applications, it pushes you to build a responsive culture.

Shifting the priority to customer experience and using the mobile lens to find new technologies to solve for that customer means you can’t be rigid in your plans.

And a tech stack that can adapt and evolve with new developments in the field will soon pay itself back in spades. Creating cultural shifts and updating legacy systems is painful, but worth it for the long-term gain.

Move into the future

Mobile first isn’t just about phones or tablets. It’s a discipline to help you create a connected, consistent ecosystem of devices in your organization. And this is what will help your business scale into the future.