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.
Customer-obsessed businesses will take personalization to the next level in 2016. By the end of 2016, Forrester forecasts that 4.8 billion individuals globally will use a mobile phone, and as that number continues to grow, customer-obsessed business leaders have vast opportunities to deliver great customer experiences via mobile.
Mobile moments -- a time when consumers picks up their mobile devices to get what they want in that moment of need -- are the next battleground where to win, serve, and retain customers. Many executives believe they should manufacture and own these moments through their native branded iOS or Android apps. While this is, of course, one way to serve their best and most loyal customers Forrester research found that consumers use fewer apps and concentrate the vast majority of their time in just few apps.
This week Facebook released “Reactions” for two pilot markets: Ireland and Spain. The new reactions available for posts? Love, haha, yay, wow, sad, and angry.
Myself and Forrester analysts Jennifer Wise, Samantha Ngo, Brigitte Majewski across mobile, social, and advertising pow-wowed on this new addition. Here are our thoughts:
Facebook wins from this move. Hello new and granular consumer data. Facebook can continue to optimize its own news feed experience, and grow monetization of its data with improved audience profiles and targeting for ads – on its site, and everywhere else.
Brands may get better sentiment data... Marketers need to go beyond counting likes, so what about counting “angries” vs. “yays” instead? Counts can suddenly mean positive or negative sentiment. Funneling these sentiments into consumer insights can help 1) inform ad targeting with refined consumer preferences and affinities, 2) test emotional story arcs, and 3) fuel retargeting. A clothing retailer could target consumers who react “wow” to dress posts. But the big “if” is: will Brands own Reaction data? We’re hoping yes.
Last year, the number of smartphone subscribers in the world surpassed the number of feature phone subscribers. We expect the share of people using smartphones to grow at a rapid pace through 2020, when 87% of all mobile subscribers will have a smartphone. Several factors will drive this trend, including the falling average selling price of smartphones, the increasing availability of low-cost data plans, greater 3G penetration, and the continued rise of mobile messaging apps, social media, mCommerce, and mobile apps. The majority of new smartphone subscribers will come from Asia Pacific and Africa; the opportunity that developed markets present to handset manufacturers is primarily in the form of handset replacement. According to our recently published Forrester Research World Mobile And Smartphone Adoption Forecast, 2015 To 2020 (Global), in 2020 there will be more than 5.4 billion active smartphones in the hands of more than 3.6 billion subscribers across the globe. Some of the implications of rapid smartphone growth are as follows:
Shortening the smartphone replacement cycle in developed markets.In most developed markets, smartphone penetration is saturating; vendors are expected to launch programs like Apple’s iPhone Upgrade Program to increase smartphone sales by shortening the replacement cycle. And it’s not just the US; handset manufacturers or telcos may launch similar programs in other regions with high smartphone penetration, including Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, the Netherlands, Norway, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, the UK, and the United Arab Emirates.
As change agents, CIOs, CTOs, and technology and strategy managers need to help design great mobile moments that drive revenue growth, improve the customer experience, and eventually help transform their organization’s business model. Technology will play a major role in this endeavor. To succeed, it is important to remember that:
There will not be one single new revolutionary mobile technology. Many mobile technologies are coming of age; their true potential will unfold through the intelligent combination of mobile technologies to support mobile moments. The goal for the CIO should not be to chase the latest mobile technology, but rather to combine emerging mobile technologies in the most effective manner.
Mobile has moved well beyond smartphones and tablets. Mobility is now embedded in nearly every business process in both the consumer and business markets. Wearables and all sorts of devices and machines are becoming part of the mobile universe. The Internet of Things will also have a strong mobile dimension.
CIOs must focus on the mobile technologies with the greatest user impact. As CIOs create their business technology (BT) agendas, they need to take a more proactive approach to understanding and investing in emerging technologies for competitive differentiation. CIOs need to identify and catalog the customer impact of the main emerging mobile technologies that will help their organizations thrive in the age of the customer.