Here's a scary number for you – Forrester forecasts that companies will spend about $900 million on mobile process reinvention services in 2013, a number that will more than triple in 2014. WAIT! Before you break the bank, know that reinventing business processes for mobile is more about optimizing specific steps in any process to enhance a person's mobile experience than it is about wholesale and complex re-engineering. Based on interviews with more than a hundred CIOs, vendors, integrators and mobile design firms, Clay Richardson and I have developed a three-step process to help narrow the focus and you can read all it in our latest research report, Mobile Engagment Demands Process Transformation in the CIOs Mobile Enagement Playbook.

To redesign processes for mobile engagement, focus on task orientation and process atomization. Task orientation helps people take the next step in whatever process scenario they are operating in at the time. Atomization is the decomposition of brittle, hard-wired processes into flexible, actionable, task-oriented artifacts. You'll need to valuate each process based on how a mobile app can take advantage of the user's physical "context" to deliver guidance and how much time the user can save by acting immediately in that context. Finding the right targets is a three step process:

  • Focus on customer engagement, field enablement, and employee productivity.Our interviews identified three areas where mobile engagement and process improvement come together today. Across all industries, the most important mobile applications focus on: 1) customer engagement and the process of interacting with customers on an ongoing basis; 2) field enablement to allow operational staff who work outside of the office to digitize manual or paper-based processes; and 3) employee productivity to empower employees to make decisions based on data at the exact moment they need to. There is clearly a lot of overlap in these scenarios so identify processes that touch customers directly at any point in their interaction with you, processes that cross channels, live in the field and have human interaction and those that are just plain inefficient or expensive to execute.
  • Identify where physical and historical context can drive faster task completion.With a list of key processes in hand, you need a way to prioritize and focus on those processes that can benefit the most from mobile engagement.Evaluate your process on two dimensions: (1) the value of context to the outcome as good mobile app will analyze your immediate context — where you are, what you are doing, and what you are likely to do next — before displaying content or asking you to take action; and (2) the window of time for completing a task or process as the goal is efficiency — doing something faster, eliminating unnecessary or undesirable steps, and codifying the way something is done to reduce exceptions.
  • Redesign processes to skip or accelerate those tasks.To use a person's context to allow him to quickly accomplish a task will mean breaking down the back-end processes into discrete components, what we call "atomized processes." Atomization is important because by decomposing business processes into discrete units, you can match the process to the user's journey through the real-world process, not just the online experience.

In the report, you'll find lots of examples from companies like Red Robin International, Gayloard Hotels, Eli Lilly and Company, Trane, Enterprise Rideshare, Peapod Mobile and The Ottawa Hospital. I have yet to meet a business leader or CIO who couldn't use this simple three step system to unocver some real opportunities with just a couple  of minutes of thought. Clay and I would be really interested to hear from you about ideas you have for connecting mobile engagement with process transformation in your company .