As a manufacturing executive, you likely find yourself engaged 24/7 with critical issues such as global competition, talent wars, industry consolidation and eco-manufacturing trends. Well here’s something else you should add to the menu of “what’s keeping me up at night” -- the form and readiness of your digital ecosystem in an increasingly mobile, touch-based and contextual world.

So the next logical question is, what the heck is a digital ecosystem and why is this the next big sleep killer? We define it as the locus of online and digital touchpoints that you use to interact with customers, partners and employees, such as your website, email, search engines, blog and portals.

Now here’s the sleep deprivation part: chances are your ecosystem is primarily -- if not entirely -- oriented and optimized around the mouse/desktop, while your sales force and customers are increasingly becoming primarily mobile and tablet users. They’re quickly migrating beyond the desktop for email and search, often relying on touch and mobile devices to interact with you.

If this isn’t happening to you yet, the advent of Windows 8, the constant escalation of Apple (IW 500/9) and BYOD (bring your own device) in the workplace and the activities of your competition will change all that.

You may already be piloting a tablet program with your sales force, if you haven’t rolled it out already. You also may have noticed your competitors doing the same thing. As you strive to innovate, differentiate and grow, upgrading your ecosystem to one that is both device-ready and context-ready becomes more urgent each day. So, how exactly do you get from today’s desktop world to the device/context-ready future?

As important as it may be, re-architecting an ecosystem that has taken years to construct is a bit of a “boil the ocean” initiative. Because of this, many brands, including those well-known to consumers, are sitting on the sidelines.

If your need is clear and urgent, where and how do you begin? Often the conversation shifts to a sexy app but it’s generally not the approach that will deliver the most value and business impact. If you haven’t yet developed a mobile strategy, that’s a great place to begin.

Ask yourself a series of questions:  “What are the key business objectives and pain points mobile can support? What segments should I focus on? How can I improve my product with mobile? What competitive advantages can mobile provide?” Think about the areas where you’ll have the most reach and business impact; they’re often located at the bottom of the mobile evolution pyramid.

Mobile evolution pyramid.