The Parse announcement this week that they're shutting down their service got me thinking about the 'mobile maturity curve' and how we see it affecting our customers. I've been around the mobile business since “before apps were apps”, to borrow a phrase from a former colleague, and seen plenty of change in that time. When Steve Jobs announced the iPhone in 2007, he strongly believed that mobile web was the answer for all consumer needs that Apple didn't satisfy with their first-party apps. The dev community vehemently disagreed, and as a result Apple announced the App Store in 2008.
A Little App History
Over the years from 2008 until today, I experienced firsthand the challenges of building apps and running a mobile business without the proper infrastructure. At a previous company, we built our own mobile analytics service using Oracle BI because nothing like Mixpanel or Swrve existed yet. Analytics were core to how we ran our business. They enabled us to measure engagement, retention and revenue across our different product lines.
We built our user onboarding flow, 'rate my app' flow and customer feedback flow in native iOS and Android code, using valuable developer time to do so. We never A/B tested any of those flows because developer time was too valuable and already allocated to revenue-generating product initiatives. It wasn't until 2012 or 2013 that we sent out our first push notification.
Fast forward a couple years. Our lead iOS developer heard that one of the web analytics vendors we were using had released support for native mobile apps. He integrated their SDK into the app so we could do some basic feature usage measurement. The product managers adopted it and started to use the reports to guide development efforts and the roadmap. The marketing team never looked at those reports. They were busy sending emails and didn't have much influence, if any, on the actual product.
Nevertheless - we were slowly moving forward along the mobile maturity curve.
Why Mobile Needs Marketers
Which brings me back to today and the Parse announcement. With the best will in the world, those mobile app teams that are still using a service such as Parse to send push notifications are probably low on that curve.
More 'advanced' companies have already moved responsibility for the mobile marketing channels out of the developer's hands, taken them out of the product manager's set of responsibilities and have handed them over to the marketing team. At the same time, CMOs have realized the potential of the mobile channel. After all 51% of all digital engagement now occurs on a mobile device and that number is growing.
Yes, the announcement by Facebook that they are shutting down Parse is hard on some development teams. But it's also a good forcing function. It provides an opportunity to transition mobile marketing to the marketing team where it now belongs. Using a modern platform such a Swrve, the marketer can manage their mobile marketing experiences, and build interactions with users, in a way that doesn't require asking a dev to help them every time they need to make a change.
Business-level campaign and user engagement metrics are available at their fingertips, and they can experiment at low cost to ensure every message or experience that is shown to their users is effective and in line with the other channels they are using. I'd suggest that anyone who is now moving off of Parse take a look at Swrve or something similar.