Organisations are increasingly relying on digital agencies like SapientNitro and AKQA to lead their mobile strategies, rather than their in-house IT departments.

According to a recent report by Forrester, these digital agencies now constitute 40-50 percent of the design team on mobile projects. Meanwhile, 57 percent of IT decision makers claim that building a comprehensive mobile strategy is either a low priority or not on their agenda for 2013 at all.

This is concerning, given that new app design budgets at large companies range from $217,000 (£135,000) for each mobile app to $358,000 (£223,000) for a tablet app. The suggestion is that companies are spending large amounts of their IT budgets on external agencies, rather than within their own IT departments.

One of the main reasons for this is that most in-house IT teams lack the skills and expertise that digital agencies and mobile development specialists can offer in the areas of user experience (UX) design, mobile middleware and application delivery.

This is unlikely to change any time soon, as Forrester's research reveals that only 17 percent of IT decision makers consider hiring IT staff with mobile development skills to be one of their top mobile priorities for this year.

Many IT departments also lack the back-end infrastructure needed to meet the high transactional demands of mobile apps, according to Forrester.

However, continuing to rely on external bodies to lead mobile strategies will ultimately result in conflicting technology approaches, a multitude of suppliers and no coordinating body.

“As technology leaders of the organisation, it's time for CIOs to step up and lead a mobile engagement strategy to help their business and IT leaders execute efficiently,” said Forrester analyst and author of the report Nigel Fenwick.

He puts forward eight best practices that CIOs can follow to implement a mobile engagement strategy. These include creating a mobile centre of excellence, aggregating project budgets to fun infrastructure, and managing projects internally as much as possible.

However, this does not mean that CIOs have to go it alone. The report states that, by selecting the right partners, organisations can use them to fill the gaps that cannot be filled internally, and also transfer skills and expertise to their own teams over time.

“CIOs must position IT to collaborate with product developers and marketing professionals to identify opportunities that arise as part of the company's digital business strategy,” said Fenwick.

“By understanding how existing capabilities are transformed by new digital and mobile technologies, we can connect the present to the vision of the future.”