Mobile Is Exploding
By the end of 2013, there will be more mobile devices in use than there are people on Earth according to Cisco. There’s no question that mobile represents a substantial opportunity for businesses to reach prospects, engage them in new ways, convert them into customers, and build sustainable relationships. While mobile has established its legitimacy and value, it’s still fairly new, with customers and businesses still trying to figure out the best ways to fully leverage this platform amidst the significant software and hardware innovations we’ve seen in recent years. 2013 will mark another year of tremendous growth in mobile, with Gartner and IDC forecasting worldwide sales of between 1.0 and 1.2 billion mobile devices. Additionally, emerging service models and features like location-based services, augmented reality, and mobile payments will continue to mature while new service models will be enabled by technological advances. So, as a business owner, what should you look for in 2013?
Trends To Watch
Device Ubiquity Accelerates: With another 1.0 to 1.2 billion units in forecasted sales for mobile devices in 2013, tablets and smartphones will become further engrained into the daily lives of your prospects, business partners, and employees. This represents a remarkable opportunity to do several things including: ensuring that your online presence (e.g. corporate website, ecommerce site(s), business portals, etc.) are truly “mobile-friendly”, and exploit opportunities to leverage mobile devices to make your employees more productive on-the-go. Please note that this means much more than just simply having you online presence appear on mobile devices, but ensuring that your online presence is convenient, efficient, and tailored to the form factor and usage context of smartphones and tablets.
Location Based Services Evolve: From location-based marketing delivering targeted ads based on a user’s geographical proximity to a business, to location-based loyalty programs rewarding customers who frequent certain establishments and “check-in”, location-based services will continue to grow and evolve in 2013.
Mobile Payments Still Fragmented: Mobile payments will advance in 2013, though the current level of fragmentation will continue to hurt widespread adoption. Some of the most prevalent mobile payment models include SMS-based solutions, Mobile Web and Mobile App models, NFC-Based Solutions, and Carrier-Based solutions where purchases are added to your cellular bill. Multiple mobile payment solutions are vying for the leadership position, from Google Wallet to Apple’s Passbook to NFC-based solutions such as the one recently announced by Samsung & Visa, but none of these options have achieved critical mass yet – though if Apple includes NFC support in the new iPhone this year, it and Samsung could help NFC pull away from the pack.
So, in light of the above trends, what should you do next? When planning and executing mobile-related technology initiatives for your business, keeping the following 4 tips in mind will help ensure your success.
Focus On User Adoption: User adoption is central to realizing the business value of any technology project, including those focused on mobile devices. Many technology projects fail because the user’s needs are not considered & verified early enough in the development process. To succeed, you must provide a useful service and structure it in a usable and efficient manner to make it attractive for your target audience and gain adoption. Think comprehensively about mobile and how to integrate this platform into your business’ marketing, services, and support models to maximize the business potential of this platform.
Good Design Is Paramount In Mobile: Keep user-experience design & usability front and center in your mobile pursuits to ensure that you are including the right features in your solution and designing truly useful and efficient workflows into your solutions. From user research to usability testing to user interface design, this is a critical discipline to include in your mobile pursuits, which can pay great dividends in the form of high user adoption, increased sales, and employee productivity gains.
Prioritize Your Features: Less is more in this day and age and this especially applies to mobile. Launching a streamlined app with the 5 key features your customers really want is better than releasing a comprehensive app with 20 features – where most of those features are seldom or never used. Be ruthless and analytical in your feature prioritization. This will get you to market faster, with the features your customers truly want. Also, listen to your customers’ feedback post-launch. They will tell you the features they’d like to see in future releases and that should factor heavily into your product roadmap for the app.
Be Mindful Of The Form Factor: Consider the form factor when designing mobile solutions to maximize the utility of that solution and increase adoption of that solution. Smartphones are different from tablets and both are different from computers. Thoroughly think through the value proposition for the mobile solution and the use cases that make sense for the target platform: smartphone (typically transactional, quick-hit, one-handed operation, app used while multi-tasking, limited screen real estate, etc.) vs. tablet (typically focused use, two-handed operation, longer usage periods, more screen real estate, immersive experiences, etc.).
Wilson Toussaint Jr. is President and CEO of Erin Gerald Affiliates, a Professional Services firm that helps clients grow their businesses using The Web, Mobile, and Social Media. Follow him on Twitter for insights on using technology to grow your business. He is a Senior Executive with over 20 years of management consulting and industry experience leading technology-based product development initiatives, many of which have produced 8 and 9-figure annual revenue streams. As a Senior IT Executive for a $1B Global Education Company, he led the implementation of a next-generation Internet-based test delivery platform that generated over $1.2 billion in revenue in its first 5 years of operation – an effort that won CIO Magazine’s Bold 100 Award in 2005.