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Tapping into mobile’s hidden value


Innovative platforms, products, and services ramp up mobile’s potential

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Mobile has become pervasive in society, accounting for an ever-increasing number of both personal and commercial interactions. Yet, even for its meteoric growth—there are now more mobile devices in the world than people—the vast potential of mobile is mostly untapped.

While the benefits of mobile are indisputable, organizations still struggle with capturing its full value. And even the most successful endeavors fall short of established goals more than half the time.

However, by strategically aligning initiatives, securing C-suite support, managing certain components of the mobile portfolio internally and striking a balance between commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) and custom applications, organizations can learn to tap into the vast, unrealized value of mobile.

The return on investment (ROI) for mobile currently accounts for only a fraction of what is possible. Like an iceberg—the small, visible tip hiding a veritable mountain of ice below the waterline—mobile has as its potential untold millions of dollars of untapped value.

Today, some progressive mobile organizations are beginning to recognize the opportunities available and are moving aggressively to launch new platforms, products and services to take advantage. However, even the most insightful companies often develop and release mobile offerings on an ad-hoc basis, instead of as part of highly coordinated strategic initiatives designed to foster consistent, long-term customer value and business growth.

A deep dive

This executive report, based on surveys of more than 1,000 Global C-suite and mobile executives from 18 industries, will explore the vast opportunities hidden from view—the mountain of the iceberg beneath the surface. Further, we will show how different groups of organizations—Growers, Opportunists and Experimenters—approach ROI.

Finally, we will use the best practices of the most successful organizations in our study, as well as insights gained from analysis of responses to questions in our interviews, to provide a path forward for those organizations wishing to explore new opportunities for greater ROI on mobile.

Mobile is pervasive and still growing

More people today have access to mobile devices than banking services. In fact, the number of mobile devices (7.9 billion) exceeds the world’s population (7.35 billion). Mobile, for most of the populace, has become essential to everyday life. And it has become indispensable in the way we do business.

For example, more than 27 percent of global online transactions are conducted through mobile devices. By the 2010s, it is estimated that 30 percent of all travel sales in the United States will be generated through mobile devices.

By 2021, the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for total mobile data traffic is expected to increase to 45 percent. In response to this tremendous growth, our study revealed that organizations are planning to triple their mobile investments, going from 13 percent of IT spend to 40 percent over the next three years.

Hey, big spender, how about speedier ROI?

Executives surveyed indicated that they currently dedicate at least 13 percent of their total technology spend to mobile initiatives and plan to increase that allocation to 15 percent in 2017. In addition to spend, they also reported they plan to grow the number of initiatives undertaken.

The big spenders, which represent one-third of survey respondents, plan to spend at least $15 million USD on mobile initiatives next year. Also, 22 percent of companies plan to undertake ten or more mobile initiatives by 2017, while another half is planning between five and nine projects.

Totaled, approximately 72 percent of the executives we interviewed plan a minimum of five initiatives over the next 12 months. Beyond just planning for a greater number of mobile initiatives and investing more money in them, these executives said they look for payback periods of less than a year.

In fact, 62 percent of executives indicated their most successful projects pay for themselves in fewer than 12 months, considerably faster than the two-to-three-year payback for typical technology projects.


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Additional content

Meet the authors

Pete Teigen

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, IBV Mobile Leader


Shamayun Miah

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, Global leader,IBM Mobile Center of Competence

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Originally published 01 July 2016