One of the key things that differentiates mobile phones from any other device is their ability to deliver a constant stream of real time data coupled with the processing capability to help consumers make a wealth of decisions based on this information. Tablets — we're going to leave home without them, and the majority of connections are over Wi-Fi. Wearable technology collects real-time information and may have applications/display, but we aren't yet seeing devices with the same flexibilty as the phone. The highly anticipated Pebble may yet be the device, but for today, it is the phone. (My colleague Sarah Rotman Epps writes a lot on these devices — see the rest of her research for more information).
With that fact established, my open question is, "Who is making my life better with this ability to process information near instantaneously to help me live a better, healthier life . . . or at least how I choose to define it?" I think the key to measuring mobile success must lie here — from the perspective of the consumer first before mobile will deliver huge returns in the form of revenue or lower operating costs.
Let’s take a step back, first. You started as the “mobile person” two to three years ago. You siphoned a hundred thousand dollars or so from the eBusiness team budget and got a mobile optimized web site and maybe an application or two built. You measured your success by engagement – web traffic and application downloads. Maybe you measured direct revenue. Life was easy.
Two to three years later, as eBusiness professionals, you’ve got some experience with building, deploying and maintaining mobile services. You’ve added tablets to your portfolio. Hopefully you’ve convinced your organization that you need at least a 7-figure budget. Most industries have seen clear financial returns on these investments so that hasn’t been too hard. As eBusiness professionals working on mobile, you were feeling a lot of love.
In 2011, you benchmarked yourselves versus your competition. You looked at native applications by platform and key functionality on mobile web and applications. You took a deep breath and said, “ok, we’ve done it. We have mobile services. We’ve checked the box. Mobile web traffic and sales are growing. We’re good.” Perhaps others with fewer services are thinking, “I can see what we need to do. I think we can catch up if I can get some budget.”
The thing you are seeing though is – the finish line is out of sight. Mobile has only gotten more complicated – not less. No one feels comfortable. No one feels they can slow down, stop spending, or rest. Anxiety levels are high.
What am I even talking about? Think about how you use your mobile phone. Do you contact your closest friends? Do you shout and swear at your local telecom provider's IVR because your new home Internet service isn't working as advertised? Do you shop? Bank? Read books? As a result, your phone knows if you are happy or sad. Your phone knows where you live, how fast you drive and where you spend money. Creepy? Maybe if your phone tells you your wife isn't going to like that shirt you are buying. Less creepy if your phone knows you are a Starbucks addict and they are giving away free coffee today. What defines creepy to some extent lies in how much value you perceive in a service. We call this context - what an individual's situation, preference and attitudes are. How you use it will define how creepy it can be.
Your phone will know more and more about you based on some technology that will be in the phone that can sense what you are doing or your feelings, for example. Your phone will also understand your preferences based on how you use the phone. We wrote a lot about this in 2011 - re what is means to you as an eBusiness professional. (See report)
I've written a lot about the notion that the "Future Of Mobile Is Context" this year at Forrester. Since publishing this research this spring, I've been searching for examples and case studies of innovative uses of context. (See how marketers and eBusiness pros can leverage context.)
Coca-Cola is allowing consumers in Hong Kong to enter a sweepstakes by virtually collecting bottle caps from a 3rd screen (TV, movie theather). The audio signal from the commercial triggers the application/ syncs the user's motion with the video. The acclerometer is used to assess the quality of the motion of the user's mobile phone — the device that is used to catch the bottle tops virtually. See video.
Why is their use of context sophisticated?
In the research, I describe the four phases of evolution.
Phase 1: the basics — leveraging location, time of day, etc.
Phase 2: layering intelligence — so, not just time of day, but time of day relative to an event
Phase 3: using new technology in phones (e.g., sensors, two cameras, etc.)
Phase 4: more sophisticated use of the sensors and technology to control the device
Coke's campaign is what I would call a v 2.0 use of mobile (they are enhancing another touchpoint - see research) with some Phase 3/4 context. They enhance the video/commercial experience by getting the consumer to be active. The act of collecting the bottle tops gets the consumer off the couch and to interact with the ad directly. I think it's very cool.