"The Future Of Mobile Is User Context": What It Means For Content & Collaboration Professionals

My colleague Julie Ask has just published an important report, "The Future Of Mobile Is User Context," introducing how companies will use the new intelligence and capabilities of smartphones to deliver better customer experiences in their own context. I quote here from her report:

"In the future, improving the convenience of mobile services will be achieved via improving the use of context in delivering mobile experiences. Consumer product strategists must anticipate what their customers want when they fire up their phones and launch an application or mobile website. Intuit’s SnapTax, for example, must leverage a customer’s home state to file the appropriate tax forms.

"To help consumer product strategists get ahead of this evolving expectation, Forrester has defined a vocabulary to help consumer product strategists discuss, plan, and execute on the opportunity to deliver services, messages, and transactions with full knowledge of the customer’s current situation. Forrester calls this the customer’s 'mobile context' and defines it as:

"The sum total of what your customer has told you and is experiencing at the moment of engagement.

"A customer’s mobile context consists of his:

  • "Situation: the current location, altitude, environmental conditions, and speed the customer is experiencing.

  • "Preferences: the history and personal decisions the customer has shared with you or with his or her social networks.

  • "Attitudes: the feelings or emotions implied by the customer’s actions and logistics."

 So what does mobile context mean for content & collaboration professionals? At least four things jump immediately to mind, and I'm sure you have others:

  1. Your employee mobile apps will also need to incorporate context into the experience. When TripIt can open my itinerary and show me directions to the changed gate for my flight (something that would be possible with location context), it won't be long before I expect my email client to shovel a customer's urgent email to the top of the inbox knowing that I'm standing outside their office. And if I'm in a moving car, I may still want notifications, but in a summary form for quick scrolling.
  2. Your collaboration vendors' need to support native apps on mobile devices gets even more important. Without native apps or great JavaScript libraries on a mobile browser, the mobile context will be ignored. We're just finishing a Wave on mobile collaboration that goes into vendors' mobile collaboration support, so more on this coming soon.
  3. Your content systems will get yet another layer of complexity in the delivery layer. Add the user's situation to the other parameters (operating system, form factor, input device, etc.) you must track and address. As if Web + Mobile weren't enough, now we'll have to deal with customerss or employees' context as well.
  4. The interaction design of core applications must incorporate context as well as other device-dependent features. This one's for application developers and designers, but it's important. A new programming layer is emerging focused on the interaction APIs. Yammer, Salesforce, and WebEx have teams dedicated to this today.

What's on your mind as opportunities or challenges for taking advantage of smartphones and tablets full of sensors, data, and context?


Measuring customer experience - mobile context

If I accept that context is important, and by extension interconnected applications/services, for mobile users, how can a company measure the end-user experience ? Currently we can only measure quality of experience up to the edge of the network (QOS), but not actual experience on a mobile user's screen. Is that correct? If yes, what do you propose as a set of measures?

Future "Cat and Mouse" game of hardware and applications

Short of getting direct feedback from end users, measuring satisfaction is NOT going to be simple. And it's a known fact that end users are reluctant to bother providing feedback UNLESS it's due to a SERIOUSLY negative experience.

I see one of the greatest challenges going forward being hardware/application interface and ensuring changes to one does not adversely effect the other. As hardware vendors attempt to improve to capture larger market share, they are unwilling to open their architecture to application developers (except their native OS), so there may be a "lag time" between roll-out and seamless functionality every time there's a change.

And if application developers can't shorten time to market for their upgrades, fickle users will jump to one who can.