I got the chance to attend the Altimeter Mobile event at Altimeter’s HQ in San Mateo last night.

About 75 folks had gathered for this invite only event – everyone from analysts, to app vendors, to service providers, to brands, to enterprise.

The event was hosted by Altimeter mobile analyst Chris Silva, and was also attended by what seemed to be most of the Altimeter Team – Jeremiah Owyang, Charlene Li, Susan Etlinger, Esther Lin, and Jon Cifuentes were all actively participating.

The format was roundtable, with the larger group splitting into three discussion groups around what seemed to be the Altimeter framework for assessing mobile apps.

The Framework consisted of the following, in order of perceived ROI:

Enrich – how do the apps actually move the dial in terms of revenue / return, etc?  Example: Starbucks allowing customers to pay for coffee via an app has increased sales.

Engage – how do the apps move the dial in engaging end users, whether they be consumers or employees?  Example: ESPN sending push notifications for changing scores of a favorite team.

Entrust – how effective are the apps in giving the right people access to the right information in a secure manner?  Example: Field sales folks with access to the information they need to close a deal, when and where they need it.

This framework made a lot of sense to me from both an enterprise and brand perspective.

Clearly, if you can prove that your apps move the bottom line, you are getting somewhere.  But there are also indirect benefits to getting a better return from your existing systems by 1) engaging employees / end users in an always on capacity via their smartphones; and 2) making sure that your employees / end users have access to the right content when they need it.

On the enterprise side, collaboration and productivity would both fall under this framework.

Perhaps the only additional dimension that I would include in my own framework for evaluating mobile apps would be the Smartphone as a Sensor / Data Collection component.  We are just scratching the surface as to the sorts of data that can be captured via the smartphone whether it be explicit (e.g. check-ins), or implicit (geofencing, audio, etc.).

Thanks to Altimeter Group for a solid event.