What it is:
In telecommunications, the last mile refers to the final step in the process that connects the end customer to a network. In the broader business world, last mile refers to the final, often expensive and time-consuming step necessary to bring a product to a customer.
How it works (Example):
Let's say Company XYZ has developed a new technology that helps people use medications more effectively. It has completed a working prototype, but it relies on private, confidential information from doctors in order to work. Company XYZ is stuck on the last mile -- figuring out how to get a customer's medical information into the product so that it can make the final link between the business and the customer.
Why it Matters:
The last mile is often the most expensive, time-consuming part of product development, but it is the most crucial because it cements the connection between a business and a customer. In many cases, it can be far more expensive to tackle the last mile than to do any of the work that comes before it.