Fix Your Mobile Foundations To Make The Most Of Bots, Agents, VR and Other Emerging Tech

Emerging consumer technologies such as bots, intelligent agents, extended reality, connected objects, and IoT will not replace mobile — instead, mobile will be the key to unlocking these new touchpoints.

Facing limited budgets, marketers feel pressure to prioritize much-hyped new consumer-facing technologies over their foundational mobile work. Jumping directly to the latest shiny objects of VR, IoT, etc., without first implementing a proper mobile foundation is a costly mistake, as marketers will not be able to effectively scale innovative technologies beyond a small testing audience. With over 5 billion smartphones forecasted to be in use worldwide by 2020, mobile will play a key role in activating adjacent connected experiences.

That’s one of the key messages of my new “2017 Mobile And Technology Priorities For Marketers” report written with my colleague Jennifer Wise.

In the past few weeks, I had the opportunity to sit down with many of our clients across different industries. A marketer at one of the largest CPG brands told me they currently had 18 chatbot pilots across the world! The Chief digital and customer experience officer at a global insurance company told me conversational interfaces is his top priority for the next 3 years. The SVP e-commerce and marketing at a global travel brand think extended reality will become a key differentiator. Beyond, these anecdotes, our quantitative survey among marketers, shows that:

  • 6% use intelligent agents regularly and 18% are piloting or planning to use them in the next year
  • 5% use bots regularly and 40% are piloting or planning to use them in the next year
  • 3% use augmented reality regularly and 30% are piloting or planning to use AR in the next year
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What To Expect From Mobile World Congress 2017

It's that time of year again! From next Monday (February 27) through March 2, 2017, Mobile World Congress (MWC) will take place in Barcelona. I attended this event (then 3GSM) for the first time in 2005 and it is fascinating to see how the event has morphed from a B2B telecoms technology trade show to one of the largest business conferences around the globe. This year’s MWC theme is “The Next Element” which may seem broad but I quite like this idea that mobile is elemental and has become part of our daily lives. By analogy with the previous industrial revolution, mobile is like electricity: once you have access to it, it is a disruptive enabler of adjacent technologies powering more powerful innovation. Mobile is barely entering its teenage years.

Consumers now use mobile as a sixth sense. If the human senses serve as effortless faculties through which we access information on the world around us, then mobile has become the sixth sense. It brings digital to consumers in their daily lives. It has truly become the face of digital.  That’s the main challenge for marketers: as mobile becomes the primary interface between your brand and your customers, you must leverage mobile to accelerate digital transformation and transform the customer experience you deliver. A lot has to happen behind the scenes for marketers to be able to deliver real-time contextual experiences on mobile. That’s why it makes a lot of sense for marketers to spend time in Hall 8.1 where most marketing, advertising and app vendors will be gathered.

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VR Will Transform Marketing Experiences But Not Before 2020

Virtual Reality generates lots of buzz and massive investments. Isn’t it the next computing platform according to Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg? Hasn’t Magic Leap - the most secretive start-up- raised up to $1.4 billion to deliver on that promise?

Together with my colleague Samantha Merlivat, we decided to evaluate the opportunities VR will open up for marketers. In the next decade, we believe that unlike any channel to date, VR will offer highly immersive and intimate experiences with a future integrated with social and IoT. This unique combination will create not just new storytelling capabilities, but also opportunities to craft whole new experiences as part of the brand offering. Companies like Facebook are betting on VR to fulfill the dream of what Second Life tried to achieve in 2007: enabling social interactions and gatherings within virtual spaces. Moving forward, VR will be enhanced by sensory devices that increase the immersive and realistic nature of virtual experiences and transition the users from passive participant to live actor. Think of it as “human teleportation”.

We’re not there yet. Let’s look at the facts. Magic Leap has not launched anything yet and TechCrunch is right to question its PR approach. Device penetration is still niche and will remain so for a couple more years. Content costs are high and production is complicated. Forrester estimates that critical-mass consumer adoption of high-end VR headsets is at least five years away. In the meantime, 360 video content will flourish on low-to-mid-end VR devices, but 360 video is not a truly immersive VR experience. Benefits for brands and consumers alike are limited.

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The Hidden Power Of Mobile

Most marketers agree that mobile is a strategic priority. However, they fail to appreciate the true power of mobile: its ability to radically improve their entire marketing plan by linking consumer online and offline behaviors.

While consumers use mobile as a sixth sense to digitize the offline world, marketers still think of mobile as a subdigital channel.

Marketers must reconsider mobile’s role in their entire marketing plan. They should:

  • Link Mobile To Offline To Unlock Its Full Potential

To bridge digital and offline marketing, marketers must rethink the total impact of mobile ads, use mobile to augment traditional marketing campaigns, and apply mobile data to improve overall marketing effectiveness. Mobile data is the new customer gold mine, providing both personal data on individuals and the world they live in as well as contextual data combining offline and online behaviors in real time.

  • Start Measuring Offline Attribution Now

Marketers must put mobile at the heart of their identity resolution plan and work with data partners to make the most of emerging mobile offline attribution solutions. Given the importance of sales in physical stores, it matters to understand not just if mobile drives traffic to store but the extent to which it increases total sales.

Clients willing to know more, “The Hidden Power of Mobile” Report is available here.

According to Forrester’s mobile maturity framework, less than 20% of brands leverage mobile to transform the entire offline experience. If you want to benchmark your own mobile maturity, take about 20 minutes to answer our questionnaire. We will share back with you the aggregated topline results.

Join Our 2016 Global Mobile Executive Survey

For the past few years, Forrester has fielded a Global Mobile Executive Survey to understand and benchmark mobile initiatives. This year, my colleagues Julie Ask, Jennifer Wise and I are updating the survey again to help marketers and business executives benchmark and mature their mobile strategy and services.

Planning and organizing for the use of mobile technologies is a complex task. Integrating mobile as part of a broader corporate strategy is even more complex. However, some players are leading the way and working on infrastructure, staffing, and competencies that are hard to see unless you look closely. If you want to understand the role that mobile is playing in various organizations, what their objectives are, how they measure the success of their mobile initiatives, and a lot more, you just have to share with us your own perspective and we will aggregate the answers.

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The Future Of Messaging Apps

Two years ago, Forrester made the claim that mobile was the new face of social. With more than 3 billion users worldwide, messaging apps demonstrated one of the fastest-growing online behaviors and passed social networks. The reach of these apps is huge, which presents a strong relationship promise for marketers.

From Line’s IPO to WhatsApp’s new privacy policy via Snapchat’s latest offerings or Facebook Messenger’s bots, messaging apps make the headlines. Together with my colleagues Xiaofeng Wang and James L. McQuivey, we have digged into this consumer phenomenon to better understand the opportunities it will unlock for marketers in the coming years. We expect messaging apps to play a key role throughout the customer life cycle but more specifically to enable brands to deepen conversations with their customers during the retention phases. Why? Because messaging apps combine the three keys to powerful relationships in any digital environment: frequency of use, emotional connection, and convenience.

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After Brexit, Will Paris Become The New Startup Hub In Europe?

Paris will be the capital of technology innovation and startups for the next three days with more than 5,000 startups, 400 speakers, 30,000 attendees, and 100 top VCs attending Viva Technology Paris.

CEOs and CMOs of the largest French companies will attend and speak as well as Eric Schmidt from Alphabet/Google, John Chambers from Cisco, David Marcus and Sheryl Sandberg from Facebook, Tim Armstrong from AOL, Robin Li from Baidu, Yuanqing Yang from Lenovo, and many others.

Vendors will demonstrate lots of innovation, including Sony Playstation’s Virtual Reality, Tilt Brush and Jacquard by Google, and Facebook’s pop-up, not to mention numerous talks and roundtables on AR, VR, drones, robots, 3D printing, wearable tech, machine learning, and connected cities and homes.

Let’s face it: Until now, London was the primary digital hub attracting lots of startups, investor money, and digital talent. Following Brexit, Forrester expects digital and customer-facing talent to migrate out of the UK. Beyond company headquarters, there is a new competition between Paris, Berlin, Dublin, Amsterdam, and Barcelona, and many other cities to attract startups and R&D centers.

The timing is perfect for Viva Technology Paris to offer a unique opportunity to showcase France’s assets:

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Master Mobile Moments To Win In The IoT World

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.

I’ve just published a new report, “The Internet Of Things Redefines Brand Engagement,” which looks at the benefits that IoT will open up for marketers and how IoT and mobile will overlap in the years to come.

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.
  • Differentiate their customer experience.
  • Build new offerings and business models.
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Beyond ROI: Showcasing The True Impact Of Mobile Marketing

My colleague Jenny Wise and I just updated the business case report of Forrester’s mobile marketing playbook with new data, examples and primary research.

B2C Marketers know mobile is a strategic imperative but the vast majority don’t strategically integrate it in their marketing-mix with only 13% saying they do so systematically. Only 27% of marketers we surveyed told us the ROI of their mobile marketing campaigns was profitable and a stunning 67% told us they simply cannot measure it!

Why? Because marketers:

  • Don’t align objectives and KPIs. There is a misalignment between their top objectives — improving customer satisfaction and transforming customer experience, which they barely track.
  • Can only start to benefit from vendors’ advanced ROI tools. Greg Stuart, CEO of Mobile Marketing Association, sums it up better than anyone else: “It seems crazy that CMOs haven’t pushed vendors to do marketing mix measurement comparing TV, mobile, and all other media and that the MMA, working with our research partners, is the only entity to have developed an industry methodology for an opportunity this obvious and big”. You can find out more on MMA's SMoX research here.
  • Find it difficult to measure the impact of mobile on other channels, especially offline.
  • Have limited mobile expertise of their own.
  • Can’t prove they need it to take budget from existing pools.
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The State Of Mobile Marketer Tactics: 2016

I quite like this provocative sausage dog picture because it forces marketers to think differently about responsive web design (RWD). More often than not, marketers scale content down to fit a smaller screen; because they then claim that they use RWD and have some mobile apps, they think they have checked the mobile box. In fact, RWD was by far the most common tactic that marketers were using or planning to use in 2015: Only 9% of marketers we surveyed are not planning to use it. When fully implemented, RWD can improve the user experience, but more often than not, it’s implemented as a quick fix to the problem of multiple screen sizes. It often prevents marketers from thinking about the need to contextualize offerings for different devices. Customers do not necessarily want the same content across all their screens. However, a scarily high percentage of marketers we surveyed — 47% — admit their mobile services are primarily a scaled-down version of their PC services. In short: 

  • Marketers misuse mobile marketing tactics. B2C marketers often focus too much on piloting the latest mobile shiny objects and, unfortunately, do not invest enough in adapting to mobile experiences’ core touchpoints -- like email or search -- that most consumers use to engage with brands.
  • Use mobile to transform brand experiences. Too few marketers think of mobile as an opportunity to transform the brand experience. To really differentiate themselves, they should develop mobile-unique interactions delivering visible value with apps, messaging, and online-to-offline tactics.
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