2017 Predictions: Mobile Is The Face Of Digital

We put together our thoughts in anew 2017 Mobile Predictions report on what to expect in the mobile space next year across industries and roles.

In 2016 mobile evolved from a stand-alone channel to a baseline for all branded digital experiences. In 2017, mobile will continue to elevate customer expectations as it transforms even non-digital experiences – such as Starbucks “order ahead” functionality. There is no question that mobile moments are the battleground to win, serve and retain your customers. What a mobile moment is and where it surfaces, however, will become amorphous as it extends beyond smartphones to platforms and connected devices and then eventually lives in a consumer’s personal ecosystem.

App usage as we know it has likely peaked. In 2017, platforms will expand in importance as consumers continue to consolidate their time into fewer places on the smartphone. Already, they spend 84% of their time in just five apps. These experiences that we loosely still refer to as mobile (but not for much longer) experience will lives as fragments on third party platforms. Consumers will still use apps for in-depth experiences with brands, but will increasingly use fragments to get quick things done. Examples of popular third party platforms today include Apple’s iMessage, Facebook Messenger and WeChat.  

Read more

Google's Next Play: Your Assistant For Everything - Not Just Answers

This blog post is co-authored by VP and Principal Analyst Michael Facemire and Analyst Andrew Hogan at Forrester.

Google held an event in San Francisco this week to announce several new consumer products – a smartphone, a wireless speaker, Wi-Fi routers, a virtual reality headset and an updated Chromecast solution. All showcased an emerging strategic direction for Google and some killer engineering and design skills.

None of it impressed as much as the demos of Google Assistant – Google’s virtual assistant.

What is a virtual assistant, you ask? A virtual assistant is another name for an intelligent (personal) assistant. Virtual assistants orchestrate agents or services from third parties on behalf of consumers. Bots are one form of an agent. Virtual assistants rely on context (e.g., user input, localization capabilities, and access to information from a variety of data sources) to refine the quality of responses to a user’s requests. These assistants guess, but the guesses get better over time. “Virtual” implies that the service is digital and not performed by a human you’ve hired.

Google Assistant is a natural extension of Google’s path towards becoming the agent that sits between brands and their customers. The “holy grail” of becoming a consumer’s primary virtual assistant will be hard for Google to obtain, but holds unprecedented business value. Google is not alone in this race – Amazon, Apple and Facebook in the U.S. also have their sights set on being the trusted assistant for consumers.

Read more

Categories:

Mobile (Commerce) Executive Survey: Please take it!!! We'll Share The Results!

Each year Forrester fields an Executive Survey to understand and benchmark enterprise mobile initiatives. This year, we are updating the survey to help business executives not only to benchmark and mature their approach to mobile but also to help them integrate mobile into their digital initiatives more  holistically. (A marketer’s version of this survey will be released later this year).

Creating a strategy and building an operation to use mobile to win, serve and retain your customers is a complex task. Integrating mobile into a broader corporate strategy is even more complex. The survey results will help firms understand what strategies, technologies and operational elements (e.g., organization, process, metrics, talent, etc.) should be in place given their goals for mobile. All answers will be treated anonymously and only used in aggregate.

For your efforts, we will share a free copy of the topline survey results.

Read more

Mobile Search: It’s Different

This post is co-authored by Jennifer Wise, senior analyst at Forrester

Mobile search is essential. In fact, according to Forrester’s Mobile Audience Data, Q4 2015, 87% of US smartphone owners rely on browser-based search on mobile devices. And the data reveals that Google’s search engine is the most common path to a mobile site even for well-known brands such as Amazon, Walmart and Kmart.

As a top discovery resource, companies can’t afford to wait any longer to implement a mobile-first search strategies. The biggest seen mistake today? Either lacking a strategy completely, or treating mobile search the same way as desktop search. As Forrester Research’s Dr. James McQuivey says, “When businesses first adopt a technology, they do old things in new ways. When they internalize a technology, they begin to do new things.” Consumers use mobile phones very differently than they use desktop computers. So must Marketers.

Forrester conducted an in-depth analysis of how consumers use Google search on mobile versus desktop devices to parse-out how consumers use the two devices differently. Today, Forrester finds that consumers purchase a range of categories on their smartphones: insurance, travel, financial services products, and even pet food. For this research we focused on the travel category because consumers are so likely to research and book travel on mobile devices – Forrester’s Mobile Audience Online Survey, Q4 2015 reveals that 29% of mobile users have purchased hotel rooms and 22% an airline ticket on their smartphone.

To build on our Forrester insights, we looked at Google’s data and discovered that when it comes to mobile searching:

Read more

Responsive Web Design Is Not Mobile First

My colleague and coauthor Ted Schadler and I are watching with dismay as company after company shrinks its desktop website down to a small screen using responsive web design (RWD) techniques so it fits on – but isn’t optimized for – smartphones.

Companies have delightedly embraced responsive web design as the one-size-fits-all solution to mobile, tablet, and desktop sites. In a recent survey of digital business professionals, we found that 93% are using, piloting, or planning to pilot responsive web design.

That sounds great on paper. After all, RWD is a very practical approach to developing websites that render on any device. But when mobile tasks diverge from desktop tasks as they often do in commerce, the one-size-fits-all approach taken by most responsive retrofits will fail to delight or even satisfy customers on smartphones or desktops.

People do different things on their smartphones than on their desktops or tablets (see figure). To delight and serve your customers in their mobile moments of need, you need to give them exactly what they need to move forward in their immediate context. So if you can't reach all customers with an app – AND YOU WON’T! – you will need to deliver an app-like mobile web experience.

Read more

Google I/O Recap: Google Rises To The Virtual Agent Challenge

Google took a few big steps forward at Google I/O 2016 to fill in its portfolio to win, serve and retain customers in their mobile moments. Three new product announcements should propel Google forward. They include:

  1. Google Home. Google Home looks like an incredibly promising (and necessary) entry into the home virtual assistant or agent hardware market. Like Amazon, Google led with a story of entertainment and media followed by that of virtual assistance. Google claims the combination of natural language processing, artificial intelligence and years of experience with consumer inquiry patterns via Search will push it beyond the competition. Google’s entry validates the space and its vision to sit between the consumers and their favorite brands. However, Google also failed to offer answers to questions such as a firm date on availability, price or access to the service – how open will access be for brands who want to engage their consumers on Google Home?
  2. Allo. Allo is late to the instant messaging game, but on time for the bot frenzy. Brands are exploring bots that offer customer service or support and help them sell products and services. Google will launch Allo this summer with a host of well-known brands such as OpenTable, Uber and GrubHub. Like Facebook -- and despite a dependence on advertising revenue -- Google did not announce any opportunities specific to marketers for advertising or broad consumer engagement. Google will still facilitate consumers getting reservations or finding concert tickets – sitting between the brand and the consumer. The strategy is both expected and smart.
Read more

Smart Watches Need (More) Killer Applications

Smart watches are not a must-have device – yet. The novelty of the device – combined with early adopters eager to have the next great thing – has carried smart watches from an obscure idea to a well-known device, but neither critical mass nor mass market adoption. So what’s missing?

Smart watches or similar wearables will hit critical mass (20%) and then mass market adoption (> 50%) only once consumers adopt these five applications:

1.     Notifications. Among consumers surveyed by Forrester, 40% are tired of pulling their phones out of their pockets or purses. Moreover, according to a study conducted by Mary Meeker from Kleiner Perkins, more than 60-70% of consumers’ mobile moments are simply a quick glance at their devices to get information they need to make a decision or take action. Notifications could range from a sports score to a reminder to pay a bill. Smartphones and apps are overkill for these interactions or mobile moments.

2.     Payments. Mobile payment solutions from companies like Apple, Google, and Samsung, among others, are game-changing. The combination of near-field communication (NFC) and payments drove adoption of the current generation of smartphone upgrades. Mobile payments remove friction from the payment process both online and in-person. For example, I use my Apple Wallet so often that it took me six weeks to realize that my ATM card had expired.

Read more

Facebook F8: Important Takeaways For Digital Business Pros (Hint: Keep Calm About Bots!)

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:

  1. 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.
Read more

Bots: The Next Big Thing In Mobile? Not So Fast.

Everyone is buzzing this week about bots with Facebook/Messenger’s anticipated launch of bots on its messenger platform. What is a bot you ask? A bot is a chat-based interface that helps consumers complete tasks -- ordering take-out food, chatting with their doctors, or checking the score of a big sports game. Many believe that this next step -- bots in conversation with consumers -- is imminent. We agree, but not so fast.

There are a few trends playing in favor of bots becoming the next big user interface:

  1. Apps put a huge burden on consumers. The app ecosystem forces consumers to orchestrate getting the content and services that they need -- sometimes in a single app, most times through a composition of many. And this doesn’t even address individual app quality -- too many of them are simply awful. We're forced through processes translated from online that make no sense on the go or on our mobile phones.
  2. Bots foster natural communication. Having a bot is like having an assistant. You can chat with the bot, ask the bot to do things for you -- like order take-out or get a new lipstick. They are a natural extension of how we communicate and use our mobile phones.
  3. Consumers spend 84% of their time in just five apps each month. Chances are that one or two of those are social media, instant messaging,etc., as a handful of mobile giants like Facebook, Google and Apple in the US own a disproportionate number of customers mobile moments, measured both by time and data. Consumers are asking for a better experience.
Read more

Yahoo’s Challenge: Mobile. Yahoo’s Answer: China.

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.

Read more

Categories: