Next generation mobile will see the physical and cyber world colliding to produce a fundamentally different era, according to a mobility panel of experts at Venture Atlanta last month. As marketers, we have kept a sharp eye on mobile for years, watching prospects march toward an inevitable tipping point of mobile adoption. That tipping point has passed, and now people are more likely to open an email or look at a website on a mobile device than on a desktop or laptop. We have adjusted by creating apps or responsive websites that open seamlessly on any device in any browser.
But now we are on to a new set of marketing and business challenges. Here are some takeaways from the Venture Atlanta panel that dived into what’s now, and what’s next, in mobility. The panel included Laurent Therivel, SVP Mobile Strategy for ATT; Cameron Coursey, VP Product Development Emerging Devices for ATT; Alan Dabbiere, Chairman of Airwatch by VMWare; and Georgia Senator John Albers.
What has changed over the last five years?
It has become a smartphone world. Five years ago only a select few had a smartphone. Now even middle school kids have them. The panel noted that 90 percent of phones being sold are labeled “smartphones”. Will regular cellphones soon become an interesting blip on the technology timeline?
It appears the answer is yes, and that smartphones will eventually become the remote control of our lives. The majority of value created going forward will be devices that can speak to one another, whether it’s running your home security and TV, having a health check-up over your smartphone, or other solutions that have yet to be designed.
The challenge will be to sort out what is actually creating value, and to address the complexity of connectivity. Is it actually that helpful for your smartphone to turn on the toaster? How do we create an ecosystem that is affordable and useful, and that is making life better?
What are the biggest challenges/opportunities now and ahead?
Video traffic will continue to make up a greater and greater portion of total traffic and stress the system.
The Internet of Things (IoT)
How profound is the IoT is going to be? As discussed in a previous blog, the cyber world and physical world are going to interact more. The things around you will become alive. Your car will drive you. There are approximately 8.5 billion connected things today. It’s going to be up to 50 billion things by 2020.
A Democratization of IT
A lot of innovation centers are popping up that allow people to access IT in a very different way. You no longer have to be an IT professional to start an entrepreneurial venture. It democratizes the process.
How will companies be using mobility?
It has become clear that we cannot separate business and personal devices. People want to carry ONE device or one set of devices and use it for every aspect of their lives. This brings security challenges. Look for more use of sensors and thumbprints on devices.
Mobile can be used for training purposes and to change the way you evaluate and curate employees. Airwatch Chairman Alan Dabbiere says his company puts out a 5 to 10 minute training video each week. Then the employees are asked 3 questions about it to affirm they have watched it.
From the consumer side, companies can provide a cyber/physical crossover to shopping. For example, a shopper can tag clothes he/she likes at a store and send them to friends and crowd source a thumbs up or thumbs down. Then the shopper can easily make a later purchase since the tagged items are on his/her phone. The applications of this physical/cyber crossover are endless and provide great entrepreneurial opportunities.
What does all this mean for marketers?
Just as the possibilities for mobile product development are hugely expanding, new opportunities for prospect engagement are also being created. How will we as marketers leverage the new mobility? The first step will be to take a fresh look at buyer personas, particularly their mobile behavior. Campaigns can and should become ever more granular and localized.
This will be a major challenge over the next five years, and could be a competitive differentiator against companies who do not take advantage of new marketing opportunities in the physical/cyber crossover and other areas. Ultimately, success won’t depend only on the new products that will be created – it will depend on our ability as marketers to tell the story of how the new products improve lives. Success will also depend on making smart decisions about which new technologies to access to deliver that story.
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