The Data Digest: The Best Things In Life Are Free (Apps)

I recently completed James L. McQuivey's Digital Disruption, which is well worth the read if you have not yet gotten your hands on a copy. The book analyzes factors that allow for the emergence of digital disruptors — individuals who are pushing the envelope of product efficiency by harnessing available digital capabilities. In the book, James mentions that most digital disruptors are under age 35 because these individuals were “the first to grow up in a consumer economy where free things were not simply promotional tools . . . [they] internalized the idea of free from the consumer side, which led to the kinds of rapid digital adoption curves that run through the body of digital disruption like arterial supply lines.”

This is an intriguing point because it hints at young consumers’ evolving expectations of free tools and content. For the upcoming generation, the capacity for digital productivity and entertainment free of charge is less of a privilege and more of a norm. Today, consumers can get what they want quickly and cheaply; therefore, they expect that their needs will be met faster and more frequently than ever before.

This idea is particularly relevant when it comes to mobile interaction. The overwhelming majority of consumers say they only access mobile application content for free. Analysis of Forrester’s Consumer Technographics® data reflects this sentiment: While some consumers state they may pay a one-time download fee for gaming or music apps, most would exclusively choose free media:

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Tablets Hold Their Own – And Then Some – In Work-Related Application Usage

Tablets drive worker productivity in part due to their hyper-portability, as I argued in a recent blog post. Workers can (and, we showed with data, do) use tablets in more places, places where they wouldn’t (and don’t) take their PCs.

The top question I’ve received about tablet hyper-portability is this one: “Tablets are very portable, sure, but are people using them as creation devices or as (mere) consumption devices?” The general assumption behind this question tends to be that “creation” activities are equal to “productivity,” while “consumption” activities are not. I believe this is a false dichotomy, however. Consuming the right information at the right time can increase worker productivity in and of itself. Let me offer a few examples showing how that can work:

  • Retail sales associates using tablets with customers. Retailers are equipping sales associates with tablets to use on the retail floor, creating richer interactions with customers – and driving higher sales.
  • Physicians conducting patient rounds with tablets. Physicians can gain rich, immediate insight into their patients’ health records – saving time and driving more accurate diagnoses in less time. They also use the tablets to show patients results (like x-ray images), creating a better patient experience.
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The Hyper-Portability Of Tablets Drives Worker Productivity

Technology’s value to a business derives at least in part from its ability to increase productivity. The 1987 Nobel Prize winning economist Robert Solow demonstrated that technology increases the productivity of both capital and labor to create economic growth.

Some technologies radically reshape productivity. Take, for example, the cotton gin (1792), which fundamentally transformed labor. A quote from Wikipedia claims: “With a cotton gin, in one day a man could remove seed from as much upland cotton as would have previously taken a woman working two months to process at one pound a day.” By profoundly increasing worker productivity, the cotton gin revolutionized both the textile and agricultural industries.

We’re living through several technological revolutions of our own right now – in, for example, cloud services, mobility, and big data. One technology that leverages all three to some extent is the tablet, a device I follow very closely.

Tablets drive worker productivity through a variety of vectors. One of those vectors is portability. In our Forrsights Hardware Survey, we asked IT decision-makers who either support tablets today or plan to support them soon why they would do so. IT decision-makers’ #1 answer, at 62%? Because tablets are a “more portable form factor than the traditional laptop.” This response eclipsed end user preferences, ease of use considerations, and other possible answers.

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The Data Digest: Using Internet-connected Devices While Watching TV

On Sunday, February 24, TVs around the world were tuned to the 85th annual Academy Awards show (aka The Oscars). While the very first Academy Awards ceremony took place in 1929 — with guest tickets costing only $5 and fewer than 300 people attending the event in the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel’s dining room — today the event is broadcast live to millions of fans across 200 countries. But The Oscars’ impressive growth in viewership is not the only thing that signifies the changing times; the technological advances that the awards program has embraced position the event as a leader in the modern-day media consumption landscape.

In 2011, Oscar.com’s supplementary footage offered an overwhelmingly popular second-screen viewing experience; it won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Creative Achievement in Interactive Media. Several weeks ago, the Academy launched a second version of the official Oscars app that engages consumers all year round but provides exclusive real-time updates during the dazzling event itself.

The Academy’s mobile development, which allows consumers to connect with supplemental real-time content for an enhanced entertainment experience, is a timely one: Forrester’s North American Technographics® Online Benchmark Survey (Part 2), Q3 2012 (US) shows that 69% of US online adults use Internet-connected devices while watching TV today. Not surprisingly, younger consumers are most likely to turn their devices into TV companions: 61% of 18- to 24-year-old multitaskers use a mobile phone to interact with programming-specific content.

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