The Nightmare Obstacle Course to Go Mobile

These days, hardly anyone needs convincing that going mobile is a strategic move for their business. In fact, CIO Magazine reported last year that “87 percent of [companies]…have a formal mobility strategy, which is up from 58 percent [in 2013].” But if not the strategy, it’s the execution where businesses fall short. Of those who’ve implemented some type of mobile strategy, just “two out of five companies have made good progress in their mobility efforts.” It seems, then, that effectively implementing a mobile strategy is more difficult in practice than in theory.

Here at Inkling, we’ve seen some form of this story play out across departments and across industries. Whether it’s for more effective mobile retail training or sales enablement, companies need a mobile content solution that will both delight users and scale with the needs of the business.

In this post, we outline the common stumbling blocks of taking your content mobile—and how to avoid them.

The Pitfalls of PDF

Many teams teams start by sharing mobile content via PDF. It’s a logical starting point: it’s so widely tolerated that even in 2015, you’re unlikely to take heat for digitally distributing a print replica. But is anyone reading them? It’s a good question, and one that the World Bank recently asked themselves. They discovered that “nearly one-third of their PDF reports had never been downloaded, not even once. Another 40 percent of their reports had been downloaded fewer than 100 times.” To say that this was a turning point for the World Bank is an understatement.

The real problem is that PDF and mobile mix like oil and water. Fixed layouts don’t play nicely with varying screen sizes, forcing users to pinch and zoom their way to a halfway decent view of the content. To deliver a more effective and delightful user experience, companies quickly look elsewhere.

More Mobile Apps, More IT Resources

Not content with mediocrity, you commit to providing a modern, reflowable experience for your content. So, where to begin?

Well, everyone uses apps these days, so why shouldn’t your team have one, too? Since you don’t have access to engineering resources, you take your request to the gatekeepers of all things technology: your IT department. However, IT, besieged on all sides by requests like yours, asks, “What’s the ROI?” With higher priorities on the list, they might be able to commit to an app for 2018. You decide to take your search elsewhere.

A Big Ask for Agencies

Next up, you approach an agency that builds custom apps. It costs a pretty penny, but after a few months of effort, you are pleased with the result: a crisp, custom app for iOS.

The roll out goes wonderfully. Adoption is high. People are actually reading your training content. You’re a hero. Encouraged, you broadcast the success story to other groups. And in doing so, you become a victim of your own success. Other teams ask for the same mobile-friendly content. But they use other devices, such as Samsung, iPhones, and Nexus tablets.

As it turns out, the agency’s bespoke app wasn’t architected to scale to so many devices. You’re left with two unattractive options: revert back to PDF for these new groups, or pay skyrocketing costs to enable cross-platform support. Things are getting complicated, but you plow ahead with the second option. And after another few months, you’re able to offer a native app experience for your content on iPhone, iPad, and Android.

Browser Overload

But then you find another division wants in on the action. And these guys want it through a web app. Specifically, Internet Explorer. To your horror, you’re told that not only will you need to build a web reading application, but your content is also going to need to be retrofitted to ensure it renders correctly on Chrome, Firefox, and Safari. None of this will be cheap. At this point, we wouldn’t blame you for throwing up our hands and admitting defeat.

The Bottom Line:

With today’s available technologies, PDFs are out of the question, but your mobile strategy shouldn’t result in an avalanche of expensive one-offs to get your content on every mobile device. Instead, we recommend looking for an integrated content solution that will give you control over content creation and distribution without an IT or agency dependency.

At Inkling, we focus on solving these hard problems so you don’t have to. If these pain points sound familiar, and you want to improve your mobile content offerings, drop us a line. We’d love to hear from you.

[eBook] Discover the 4 Key Trends in mLearning

Plan for the future of your learning and training content with this free guide.