Facebook's mobile first credo: Tough to pull off
But there's a little problem. Even though Facebook may reorganize and change its software workflow to favor smartphones and tablets, as Mike Isaac at AllThingsD reports, some observations about the way the company's apps show that good intentions -- and even massive effort -- aren't enough. Companies will have to learn to think beyond boundaries and understand that people aren't restricted to one device or another.
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Since its IPO in May, Facebook's bane has been mobile. Investor concerns that the company wasn't able to make money from advertising to mobile users caused a precipitous drop in the stock's value. After the company's last earnings call, the stock had its highest one-day gain when investors digested that 14 percent of company revenues came from mobile.
By Isaac's account, Facebook has done significant organizational retooling to make mobile work. The company has shifted its internal organization, with employees assigned to teams based on the specific product -- such as Messenger or Camera -- and not the platform.
That type of shift is major, and makes a great deal of sense. In theory, there is a common base of work, with resources devoted to particular platform versions as necessary. Facebook could make a push for a new iOS version, for example, and then shift to readying something for the next flavor of Android that is expected to be released.
Only, the focus on products rather than platforms can miss something else that is important: The customer. Just as a company might want a unified approach to a product, no matter what platform it appears on, you might expect that the real center of any effort is the user and how people actually interact with what you do.
One major example in Facebook is the notification system. Read a new private message from a friend on your desktop, and chances are the Android app will inform your smartphone separately when it's powered up at a later time, leading to another reminder that there's a new message. Only, there no longer is because you read it hours before. Similarly, use a smartphone and a tablet while on the road and you get reminders first on one and then the other.
Of course, this duplication is inconsequential on one hand. On the other, it's indicative of how Facebook, and many other companies, think of people as equivalent to devices. That approach misses how marketing has become a multi-screen activity, or that people might use multiple devices and want to move back and forth seamlessly among them all. Or even that metrics involving customers become difficult if a company can't recognize that the same person on different devices shouldn't be treated as separate people.
Technology companies have a lot of work really embrace mobile, which actually means embracing the user. Until a business focuses its operations, products, and services on how the customer acts, it will fail in what it needs to do.
Image: MorgueFile user dave
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