Marketers are always falling in love with mobile’s latest “shiny new object” and new technology acronyms — 5G, BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy), NFC (near-field communication), RWD (responsive web design), etc. — and they’re constantly looking for the next platform, whether it’s virtual reality (VR), bots, artificial intelligence (AI), or the internet of things (IoT).
However, it is time to stop this quixotic quest for a paradigmatic new platform to replace mobile! Instead, recognize that mobile will activate these adjacent technologies to enable new brand experiences.
Over the past decade, smartphones have become a sort of black hole, integrating a huge array of sensors, but mobile is now exploding back out to our environments. Sensors and connectivity are expanding beyond smartphones to our wrists, bodies, cars, TVs, and washing machines as well as to buildings and “invisible” places in the world around us. The IoT is generating tectonic shifts among digital platforms and tech vendors, signaling a new wave of disruption, and unleashing new forms of competition.
The IoT is also redefining brand engagement by enabling marketers to:
Listen to their customers and analyze their real behaviors.
Create more frequent and intimate consumer interactions.
Facebook held its annual developer conference in San Francisco this week. Analysts at Forrester collectively fielded a lot of questions from the media, but most of them focused on bots and the Messenger platform. Here are my top takeaways from the event:
It's still early days for developer tools: Facebook approached F8 with a humble, honest tone and message about the state of its applications, platforms and tools for developers. Facebook didn't over promise. Every executive on the main stage to the breakouts in the "Hacker X" and "Hacker Y" pavilions offered an honest portrayal of where Facebook is today. Where is it? Facebook holds a very strong position in terms of total minutes of use and monthly active users across its various apps and platforms (e.g., Facebook, Whatsapp, Instagram, Facebook Messenger, Oculus, etc.), but they are just beginning to offer tools to developers. Developers of mobile apps want to borrow mobile moments on Facebook's apps/platforms because they don't own enough mobile moments themselves. Facebook is just in the earliest of stages of giving tools to these developers to help them borrow mobile moments effectively.
Talk about interesting times in the business of insurance. The year 2015 saw the attention-getting launch of Google Compare and its hibernation about 12 months later. Traditional insurers like Mass Mutual and Shelter Mutual got busy and launched their own direct-to-consumer digital quoting and sales businesses. State Farm was busy filing patents for by-the-trip car insurance and the means to measure just how stressed drivers were behind the wheel and rate their insurance accordingly. Prudential recognized that previously scary diseases were now chronic conditions that could be medically managed, launching life insurance coverage for HIV positive customers. AOL saw an opportunity and is now selling insurance to its members. And we at Forrester have been busy keeping track of over 700 disrupters across FinTech that have been capturing market attention and venture capital. Some of these firms like Lemonade are returning to the social roots of insurance. Lemonade's founders also appreciate that consumers are irrational economic animals and decided to hire a behavioral scientist to help them anticipate the crazy actions of homo sapiens. And yet some people out there still call insurance a boring industry!
Customers use digital experiences to help satisfy their needs every day. Digital tools expand our experiences and change our lives at home and at work. Digital is now intertwined into the fabric of our lives at work and at home. We expect digital tools to add value to us no matter what we’re doing. Some 89% of executives believe digital will disrupt their business in the next twelve months.
To keep up with the rapidly evolving digital expectations of customers, businesses must not just develop a digital strategy but also become a digital business. This means more than building a few bolt-on mobile apps. It’s a fundamental rethink of your business model within a dynamic digital ecosystem that impacts every aspect of your business.
Transforming into a digital business is complex enough. But the rapid evolution of digital products and services makes it even more challenging for business leaders to navigate the landscape of digital business. Slow innovation cycles jeopardize the survival of traditional firms, and winning businesses will move toward an ecosystem business model. Digital businesses need to embrace digital ecosystems that support the continuous exchange of information and data to create value.
To master digital business, business leaders must minimize the complexity of digital ecosystems and learn to create value within such ecosystems. Digital ecosystems drive faster innovation, more efficient production, and more agile go-to-market activities, because:
The last year has flown by: In just a few weeks the Mobile World Congress (MWC) is on again. So what can we expect from the leading global get-together of mobile-heads this year? In my view there will be:
Less hype concerning mobile device launches. The leading smartphone and tablet providers will announce or showcase new models of established product lines, including more wearables and watches, like Samsung’s Galaxy S7, Sony’s Xperia Z6, LG’s G5, Huawei’s P9, HTC’s One M10, and Microsoft’s Surface Phone as well as newcomers like the Nextbit Robin or the OnePlus 2 Mini. Yet, I expect more of an evolution than a revolution. Blackberry might provide more insights into its future as device manufacturer beyond the Priv. Both Apple and Google will announce their upcoming devices at their own respective events, not at MWC. I am interested to see which way the pendulum is swinging: device commoditization or real new innovation. I expect the former.
Increasingly intertwined messaging of big data and IoT vendors. Big data will play an important part in most IoT solutions. Ultimately, IoT is not really about things but rather about data. Mobile-connected objects create scale and various channels for sensor data that flows back and forth. I will listen to how the messaging for front-end, customer-facing and back-end operational activities are emerging among IoT vendors like Nokia, Telstra, GE, Ericsson, and Salesforce but also among firms like ABB and John Deere. I expect AI and machine-learning to play a growing role for big data and IoT initiatives.
Robust mobile commerce platforms are no longer a “nice to have” for retail organizations. A recent Shop.org and Forrester Research survey indicates that smartphone sales accounted for 17% of total retail sales in 2015, and that sales from smartphone devices grew 53% year-over-year.
With mobile’s stake now planted so firmly in the ground, it is critical that the technology solutions used to support transactional mobile sites and apps provide the scalability and flexibility required today to stay ahead of the innovation curve tomorrow. With this in mind, we are pleased to announce that the Forrester Wave evaluation of mobile commerce and engagement platforms is now live.
Among mobile commerce and engagement platforms, which Forrester defines as commercial solution partners for the technology, development, and/or ongoing support of their mobile websites and/or mobile apps, we have identified four core competency traits. These include:
An obsession for mobile commerce trends and metrics. The best of these vendors do not just build and support mobile technology; they live and breathe mobile commerce — it's in their DNA. This means they are at the forefront of what works and what doesn't when it comes to how mobile experiences support conversion metrics.
A continually evolving, common platform on which they support all of their clients. Unlike traditional agencies, these vendors are not building tailored capabilities for each client. Instead they onboard all of their clients onto a common (often software-as-a-service [SaaS] based) platform.
Yahoo’s board met yesterday amidst disappointing financial results that have failed to live up to the expectations of its investors. Prevailing rumors suggest that the board under pressure from investors will vote to break apart the business and sell the pieces.
While it is true that the majority of Yahoo’s revenue comes from online advertising, the future is clearly mobile. Mobile phone numbers are more important than email addresses, and consumers already use their mobile phones more than two hours a day in the U.S. Global expansion depends on mobile.
Power in mobile depends on two core factors: audience and data. Here’s why.
Audience will draw in developers, advertisers and service providers. Today in mobile, audience depends on a strong presence in social networking, instant messaging, and media (e.g., video, music, games, news and books).
Data is the context that drives the value of the audience. The more context brands have about consumers to offer them insights about needs and motivations, the better brands can win, serve and retain those customers in their mobile moments. Winning in data includes access to email, browser, maps, search, wallet, commerce, health, fitness, home and automotive data - as a start. Those who own the mobile OS (e.g., Apple, Google and Microsoft in the U.S.) own the trump card in data.
Simply put, despite a host of strategic mobile acquisitions (e.g., social media, mobile analytics) and new talent, Yahoo! is still too small. It lacks the scale of Facebook or Google. This makes Yahoo a good partner, but not the booming, independent success that each of these businesses has become.
Forrester survey data highlights the urgency for the CIO to complete the mobile mind shift. In the age of the customer, great mobile solutions are the basis for catering to clients, empowering employees, and optimizing supplier and partner relationships. Yet, the mobile mind shift has its roots in the consumer environment. Most of us have gone “mobile native” over the last few years, having grown accustomed to using apps on our smartphones and tablets at home. This has changed the way we think, look for information, communicate with others, and conduct transactions.
Mobile is now a vital part of the CIO’s business technology agenda to help enhance customer experience, employee productivity, and new revenue channels. Every CIO will need to provide his organization with mobile solutions that support these business requirements. The lack of a comprehensive mobile approach with dedicated interdisciplinary teams for mobile and digital initiatives will translate into lower revenues and many business failures in the years ahead. The most visionary and forward-looking CIOs, meanwhile, are using mobile to build the steppingstones for their digital transformation:
Businesses that are most mature in mobile also have the fastest revenue growth rates. Forrester survey data highlights that the most “mobile-mature” organizations also have higher revenue growth rates than the mobile laggards. Mobility is thus an important revenue driver.
A few days ago, at an event hosted by Continental, Deutsche Telekom AG, Fraunhofer ESK, and Nokia Networks, I came across an interesting example of an emerging mobile Internet-of-Things (IoT) solution: the initiative to “connect the Autobahn” in Germany. The goal of the Digitales Testfeld Autobahn initiative is to develop a platform that allows a wide range of players to access a common platform for digital services in the context of Germany’s road infrastructure. The event also included a test drive to highlight how driving “assistants” in connected cars could communicate with a latency of about 15 milliseconds. Discussions at the event underlined several insights that CIOs should consider when devising mobile IoT solutions:
Ecosystem partnerships create more value for IoT solutions than standalone approaches. At the event, Deutsche Telekom’s CEO, Continental’s Head of Interior Electronic Solutions, Nokia’s VP of Strategy, Fraunhofer-Institute’s Head of Embedded Systems, and Germany’s Minister for Transport all pointed to the necessity for close cooperation to make the “digital Autobahn” platform work. Proprietary OEM technologies will not boost the connected road infrastructure. Continental told us that open IoT systems create more value than closed systems for the company and its customers. To uncover its true potential, the “digital Autobahn” platform will also need to be open to third parties like weather forecasters, retailers, and entertainment companies. This means that CIOs need to support open APIs.
2016 will be the most consequential year for companies on the path to customer obsession, and that includes adapting to empowered customers who expect to get anything they want immediately, in context on their mobile devices. Today that represents nearly 50% of consumers in the U.S. alone. The consumers pick up their mobile devices 150 to 200 times a day. In aggregate, that adds up to nearly 30 billion mobile moments each day. These mobile moments are the next battleground where companies will win, serve and retain their customers. Tragically, few companies will make the leap. Those that do will reap the rewards.
What role does mobile play in customer obsession, and how can businesses leapfrog their competition to deliver superior customer experiences? Here are three ways Forrester predicts mobile will change the ways business leaders operate in 2016.
1. Mobile will act as a catalyst to transform businesses in the Age of the Customer.