Why Mobile Myopia Threatens Your Business

In August 2013, Uber – a service that connects passengers in need of a ride to drivers with a few taps within their mobile phone app – was valued at $3.4B despite only $125M in projected revenue for 2013. They have raised $360M. Why is their valuation so high? Because they have transformed a customer experience through mobile and disrupted an industry ecosystem. Companies in Silicon Valley talk about “uber-izing” their customer experience. Uber has become an English verb.

Uber isn’t simply a mobile app. Their goal wasn’t to do something in mobile. Uber is a business that harnesses mobile technology and phones to deliver a phenomenal service. They used mobile to achieve a much bigger goal.

eBusiness and marketing professionals need to shift their thinking as well. Too many focus on mobile as a goal unto itself. They treat mobile as a project rather than an enabler of new services or, more broadly, new engagement models with customers.

Business professionals fund mobile as a project rather than as a product or core element of their infrastructure required to compete today and in the future. Sadly, among eBusiness professionals surveyed by Forrester, 56% spend $1M or less annually on mobile – barely enough for a mobile website and an entry-level mobile app.

The shift in thinking required begins with understanding the full impact that mobile can have on your business. mCommerce, for example, is not the big opportunity for most retailers. The big opportunity lies in influencing brick-and-mortar commerce by driving customers into your stores and getting them to buy more stuff.

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When Will Mobile Web Traffic Surpass PC Traffic For You?

A few of our clients have shared with us their mobile traffic and forecasts. Quite a few - especially retailers - expect mobile (in this case phones and tablets) to surpass non-mobile traffic by Black Friday if it hasn't happened already. This tipping point will be the catalyst for many discussions:

- What web site is my primary web site? Or is there such a thing if I use responsive design tactics?

- How should I be dividing my resources among screens? The backend infrastructure is shared, but PC front end work still takes the lion's share of resources. 

- Is consumer use of the web changing? 

- Is overall usage climbing with mobile? or is mobile or tablets cannibalizing PC traffic? 

Take a look at Branding Brand's report for more stats and information. It's loaded with good stuff. 

 

Mobile Services Help Wipe Out Dengue Fever

Mobile services in the developed world let people share pictures of themselves in the park or scroll through a retailer’s mobile site on the morning commute. For people in emerging countries, their influence can be more profound. A story recently covered by The Economist shows how mobile is being used to not only change, but also save lives.

In Pakistan’s second-most populated city, Lahore, the number of confirmed dengue patients fell from 21,292 (with 350 deaths) in 2011 to just 255 (no deaths) in 12 months after authorities drafted in mobile handsets to fight off mosquitoes. Officials equipped over one thousand city workers with cheap smartphones and had them record the anti-dengue treatment work they were carrying out around the city, whilst tagging their location. This created an online map showing where and when dengue was infecting people, whilst helping to predict where it would next flare up so that fogging treatment could be better targeted.

An important element of this is about people trusting in mobiles capabilities; whether it’s leading them to a nearby restaurant or protecting their credit card information. A study in medical journal, Lancet demonstrated that sending text messages to remind Kenyan patients to take their HIV drugs correctly improved adherence to the therapy by 12%. A recent trial by American firm, WellDoc found that a behavioral psychology m-health scheme that gives advice to diabetics had more effect than putting them on the leading diabetes drug.

Over the next few months Forrester will be conducting some research in this space and are continuingly looking for interesting examples, so please forward any along.

Google Acquires Waze: What It Means

Maps are only growing in importance as they become the primary portal on mobile phones for a growing list of information and services. As Apple showed us last year, it's critical to own maps - and to do maps well, particularly as a growing percentage of time is spent discovering, accessing, and engaging content within maps. With that said, it's not immediately clear to me what justifies a $1B+ (reported) price tag for Google’s acquisition of Waze, but I'll assume they did great due diligence or offered a high price to get a deal done.   

For instance, many companies do acquisitions for audience, but Google's audience - even just on Android or Google Maps is substantial. Waze's website says 30M users; other sources say 50M. Apparently, engagement among users is high ... but is it well distributed? Are there enough active users in each market for the same excellent experience?

However, Waze does add new features that Google Maps doesn't already have e.g., the ability of users to report traffic issues, police cameras, broken down vehicles - you name it. Layering user-generated content into maps in real time in a way that makes sense and is useful to everyone at that place at that moment is not typical. Mobile needs to be highly contextual in ways people are beginning to understand, but are really struggling to implement well.  It also increases speed to market if Google/Android team were otherwise developing this on their own.

With maps integrated into every retail, travel, banking, insurance, (ok go down the list) app on your phone, I don’t think any company can have too much map technology, or too many engineers/developers for maps and navigation technology. 

Augmented Reality - Using Games As A Marketing Tool To Drive Traffic To Your Physical Locations

This is my last, "I saw this cool thing in mobile today" blog for the week.

Check out this video

The video is called "Field Trip" and shows off some of the features of Google's Field Trip app. It's a short, but extremely compelling video that shows how mobile can be used to personalize your world - whether it is a wander about the bay area (this video) or your childhood home. You can consume someone else's story or tell your own story. Not to be creepy and it isn't Halloween, but what if you could use augmented reality - digital overlay of content triggered by location or recognizing an object/symbol - of grave stones? Visiting a cemetary could be SO cool. Visting your apparel shop, grocery store, airport lounge, restaurant, bank branch, healthcare clinic could also be cool IF you use your imagination. 

Google's Ingress game layers both content and a game onto the physical world. (watch the video)

What's in it for the eBusiness professional? 

I'm not necessarily suggesting a scavenger hunt in your store. Ingress + Hint Water did pull this off - not a hunt, but what is a game that combines digital with the physical world as a game board? I remember when Starbucks ran a scavenger hunt that started with a SMS-based trivia game more than five years ago. It was a huge hit. 

Check out this campaign

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How Important Is Getting Your App On Your Customer's Phone?

I'm traveling to Atlanta next week. Today - Friday - I decided late in the day to book a hotel room finally. 

I'm sitting at my desk. I'm figuring there will be some time on hold. I'm multi-tasking ... so I use my PC to do a quick search, find some nearby hotels and get a couple of phone numbers. I'll use my office phone with a headset and my hands will still be free to edit a document. 

I start with brand A. I place the first call and talk to an idiotic IVR that puts me into a doom loop. I hang up. I call back and get a person. The person can't book a discounted rate so gives me another phone number to write down. I write it down. I throw it in the trash.

I shift to brand B. I place the call to the hotel. A man answers. He transfers me to an IVR asking for my home phone number. I don't understand. I hang up. I call back. The same man answers. I said, "I think there must have been a mistake. I thought you placed me on hold, but I got dropped into an IVR." Man replies, "oh no - that IS our reservation system." I reply, "you don't have people making reservations." He replies, "No - just the hotel reservation system - the IVR." I reply, "I don't make reservations with IVR's." I hang up. (Sorry - but it's insanely tedious - at least in this case ... my home phone number??? C'mon - they don't need that to book my room)

I pick up my phone and click on my "hotel icon" to open the app. Within 2 minutes, I've booked a hotel - all of my information stored - and spent $750. 

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We Advocate Mobile-First ... But Do You Want To Be Mobile Only?

The SF 49ers will soon have a new stadium in Santa Clara, CA. This May 30th article from the SF Examiner describes the new stadium as "entirely cashless and ticketless." The assumption is that "... the fans will be carrying around smartphones." "Software engineers are already building apps to order food, watch instant replays, listen to play-by-play and check bathroom lines from the seats."

As a mobile analyst, I love the concept. Has anyone every been to a conference though with thousands or tens of thousands or 68,500 people? How's your Internet connection? 

I trust they'll test this. 

Why Can't I Get Service IF I Don't Own An iPhone?

There are several things that caught my attention about this article - 

 

1) The iPhone displayed as part of the overall cover story photo. The service doesn't work without a mobile phone - and in this case an iPhone. 

2) Only works - it seems - from the article for iPhone owners

Is it okay to target iPhone owners only? They representat a lucrative target and ... you can't serve every customer. You can't build for every platform. 

Walmart Takes Contextual, Pragmatic Approach To Mobile

Walmart's Global Head of Mobile, Gibu Thomas, just got off stage here at CTIA in Las Vegas. He offered an overview of Walmart's approach to mobile which, based on our research, is dead on. It's solid. (I dropped in a partial/paraphrased transcript below; read the details if you'd like, but a summary/analysis is up top here). At times I felt like he was following our research stream because the language was so similar; he even quoted James McQuivey from 1999: "When consumers adopt new technologies, they do old things in new ways. When they internalize technology, they begin to do new things." 

(And I'll sound like a bit of a broken record here as I've said so much of this before. The difference now is that retailers like Walmart are implementing and talking about the results.) 

- Mobile opportunity ($) > eCommerce opportunity. The opportunity in mobile is not primarily mCommerce, a number that Sucharita Mulpuru and Forrester Research put at 8% of eCommerce sales in 2016. In 2016, eCommerce will be about 10% of retail sales. The mobile-influenced number at more than $700B (forecast) in the US makes mobile-influenced sales the bigger number. The opportunity in mobile is a combination of a) influencing sales ($$$) and b) giving consumers the ability to buy anywhere/anytime ($). You can't just shrink/squeeze an experience onto a small device; this is too mini-eCommerce-centric and misses the bigger opportunity. 

- Consumers who use mobile devices are more engaged and spend more. OK: there is a bit of a chicken or egg here. Do more loyal, frequent shoppers download your app? Or do consumers become more loyal once they download your app? The answer is both. At Walmart, mobile app users spend 40% more each month and make two more trips per month. Our highly engaged users spend 77% more each month and make four more trips per month than the non-mobile user.

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Google Glass -- What eBusiness Professionals Need To Know -- This Early

Google Glass owners were in the minority last week at Google I/O 2013, but I still felt left out not having a pair. I was one of the “have-nots” this past week. It’s still very early days for Google Glass, but there is enough insight into the potential for eBusiness professionals to begin thinking about the possibilities. Some may argue that Google Glass is a fantasy product at $1,500 that will never take off, but a lot of people doubted the tablet and iPad as well. In any case, it's safe to assume that more and more devices will have interactive, connected displays. These displays may be flexible — they may be a wristwatch. The same thinking around highly contextual information delivered in small bits still applies. 

First session on Google Glass development was oversold, so to speak. There was standing room only with at least one overflow room. Intense. I was also fortunate to attend a women’s maker event the evening before with Jean Wang (see video of event and Jean story). She shared the history of the devices.

 

I’m sitting in the “Fireside Chat” session as I type this blog post. I can literally feel the temperature rising as the bodies crowd in. It’s 15 minutes before the start . . . and they are already turning people away. It’s intense, like trying to get into Iron Man 3 on the opening weekend. There can’t possibly be a product attracting more attention right now.

Vision for Google Glass: “Technology is there when you need it. It’s not when you don’t.”

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