Fix Your Mobile Foundations To Make The Most Of Bots, Agents, VR and Other Emerging Tech

Thomas Husson

Emerging consumer technologies such as bots, intelligent agents, extended reality, connected objects, and IoT will not replace mobile — instead, mobile will be the key to unlocking these new touchpoints.

Facing limited budgets, marketers feel pressure to prioritize much-hyped new consumer-facing technologies over their foundational mobile work. Jumping directly to the latest shiny objects of VR, IoT, etc., without first implementing a proper mobile foundation is a costly mistake, as marketers will not be able to effectively scale innovative technologies beyond a small testing audience. With over 5 billion smartphones forecasted to be in use worldwide by 2020, mobile will play a key role in activating adjacent connected experiences.

That’s one of the key messages of my new “2017 Mobile And Technology Priorities For Marketers” report written with my colleague Jennifer Wise.

In the past few weeks, I had the opportunity to sit down with many of our clients across different industries. A marketer at one of the largest CPG brands told me they currently had 18 chatbot pilots across the world! The Chief digital and customer experience officer at a global insurance company told me conversational interfaces is his top priority for the next 3 years. The SVP e-commerce and marketing at a global travel brand think extended reality will become a key differentiator. Beyond, these anecdotes, our quantitative survey among marketers, shows that:

  • 6% use intelligent agents regularly and 18% are piloting or planning to use them in the next year
  • 5% use bots regularly and 40% are piloting or planning to use them in the next year
  • 3% use augmented reality regularly and 30% are piloting or planning to use AR in the next year
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Consumers Will Manage All Brand Interactions Via Their Smartphones

Thomas Husson

I spent the last couple of months interviewing marketers and vendors to understand how brands integrate push notifications and in-app messages in their marketing strategy.

Even though my research was primarily focused on mobile apps, I was convinced that there was much more at play. In fact, brands that can harness the power of contextual data to consistently deliver customer value will deliver compelling brand experiences that will build brand preference and, ultimately, loyalty.

Even with the emergence of connected objects that send notifications, smartphones will remain the primary interface in which consumers will personalize their digital experiences. Smartphones will become the hub for most interactions between a brand and its customers. In the next five to 10 years, consumers will use smartphone apps to define and control the communication environment in which brands can interact with them. In particular, we see that:

  • Mobile will become the primary touchpoint for brands to engage consumers. Mobile traffic has already overtaken desktop traffic in five major countries: Nigeria, India, South Africa, Indonesia, and Poland.No doubt this will happen across the globe in the next couple of years. B2C marketers will become smarter in engaging customers via mobile, maturing their approach and moving progressively to the holy grail of one-to-one marketing.
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Build Trust Or Die

Thomas Husson

Trust is the most critical component to develop and maintain a healthy brand. Customers are more likely to trust experts, friends and relatives than marketing campaigns. That’s why it matters to deliver the experience you promise and to build a trusted community around your brand.

As marketers will need to use more personal data to power mobile and contextual experiences, we expect consumer distrust for brands to increase

No matter how quickly wearables and connected objects emerge in the next 10 years, mobility has already introduced a paradigm shift: the ability to collect and use data about individuals in the physical world. Mobility will change the nature of the data marketers can use and act upon. Data collected via mobile will be much more sensitive, more personal and more contextual. Via sensors on wearables or smartphones, marketers will access data on our bodies and our whereabouts in real-time. This represents a huge opportunity for marketers to power better marketing across all channels not just mobile. Mobile and connected objects will not only change the nature of the data marketers can access, it will also bring privacy concerns to the physical space and it risks breaking anonymization.

Together with my colleague Fatemeh Khatibloo, co-author of the report, we digged into our Technographics data to better understand consumers’ perceptions on mobile privacy. We also conducted many interviews to discuss with marketers, vendors, and regulators how they approach mobile data and privacy. Here below are a couple of facts we learnt:

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Mobile-First Will Not Be Enough

Thomas Husson

The global mobile revolution is still in its early stages! Forrester forecasts that there will be nearly 3.5 billion individual smartphone users among more than 5 billion individual mobile subscribers by 2019. Mobile will clearly be the new battleground where you must win, serve, and retain your customers globally. Mobile is no longer simply a digital channel; it is an opportunity to transform customer experiences and to invent new businesses. It will be the hub of new connected experiences in mature economies but the ultimate “converged” medium in emerging ones.

To move away from simply shrinking and squeezing their desktop PC websites and ads onto mobile, many B2C marketers have embraced the notion of “mobile-first”. They are starting to design websites and marketing campaigns with mobile in mind instead of simply retrofitting their approach to mobile. More often than not, mobile-first still implies that you consider mobile as channel. While you must design with mobile in mind and adapt your content to smaller screens, this approach won’t be enough to fully address the upcoming global mobile revolution.

Marketers must now leverage mobile to transform their customer experience and to act as a catalyst for business disruption.

■  B2C Marketers must transform the overall experience to win in customers’ mobile moments . . .Marketers must stop thinking about mobile as a goal or a strategy and start thinking about how it can help them achieve their overall marketing and business objectives. Only 14% of the companies we surveyed have started down this path, and only 4% of them have allocated the resources, budget, and organization needed to undergo their own mobile mind shift. Those that are investing in the mobile mind shift are pulling ahead.

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What Can We Expect At Mobile World Congress 2015?

Thomas Husson

I remember the first time I attended 3GSM in Cannes: It was primarily a B2B telecoms trade show and centered on DVB-H, WiMAX, and other technology-centric acronyms. Fast-forward 11 years, and Mobile World Congress (MWC) will be the center of the business world for a couple of days (March 2 to 5). Some things don’t change: We will continue to hear too much about technology. Simply ignore the hype, especially around 5G; it will have no impact at all on your marketing strategy for the next five years!

However, the list of keynote speakers is a good indication of what MWC has become: a priority event for leaders willing to transform their businesses. The CEOs of Facebook, Renault-Nissan, SAP, MasterCard, and BBVA will be speaking, and more than 4,500 CEOs will be among the 85,000 attendees (only 25% of which are from operators). It is fascinating to see how mobile has changed the world in the past 10 years — not just in the way that we live and communicate but also in terms of disrupting every business. I strongly believe that mobile will have a bigger impact than the PC or Web revolutions. Why?

First, mobile is the fastest and most ubiquitous technology ever to spread globally. People in Asia and Africa are skipping the PC Internet and going direct to mobile phones; they’re the ultimate convergent device and often the only way to reach people in rural areas. As Andreessen Horowitz's Benedict Evans put it, mobile is “eating the world”. It has already cannibalized several markets, such as cameras, video recorders, and GPS, and is now disrupting entire industries, changing the game for payments, health, and education, especially in emerging countries. Second, mobile is the bridge to the physical world. It is not just another “subdigital” channel. This alone has a huge impact on business models. Last, mobile is a catalyst for business transformation.

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