Almost every business now acknowledges that mobile is an important aspect of business and marketing, however only some possess a proper understanding of it. Google, in the 2nd edition of its Mobile Playbook, refers to this as the ‘knowing-doing gap’ and backs it up with a recent IBM report that indicates there is a clear gap between the number of marketing leaders who recognise the importance of mobile and those who actually have a good understanding of how to utilise it.
Herein lies the challenge; marketers need to accelerate their understanding of mobile strategy and execution in order to take advantage of this new business imperative. At the centre of understanding mobile technology is a need to understand those that use the technology.
Users – driving demand and setting the direction
With the rapid and increasing adoption of mobile technology and apps by consumers, businesses that have not yet engaged with mobile urgently need to bridge the knowing-doing gap.
Shifting consumer loyalties are an indication that customers want companies to supply them with mobile options. For example, it has been observed that customers will switch banks based on the quality of a bank’s mobile app. Their loyalty is based on the value they perceive and value is closely tied to the technology they choose.
“If you don’t meet potential customers where they are – then you may never get to meet them at all”
In a recent DigitLab paper; we explain the rise of the Social, Mobile, Agile, Researched and Transformed (SMART) customer, who is someone used to the convenience of technology and has learned to harness the knowledge and power it provides. This customer is becoming a formidable force in the shaping of business strategy.
Customers with mobile devices in their hands are armed with all the tools they require to make informed decisions, and so are affecting the operations of all sectors.
At the end of the day, what business executives need to realise is that if you don’t meet potential customers where they are – and clearly they are increasingly in the mobile space – then you may never get to meet them at all! And as for existing customers, you may not be able to retain them if they realise that a competitor is better able to cater to them in their new mobile reality.
While consumers of the past could be persuaded, herded, even hoodwinked into purchasing decisions by clever advertisers, their own ignorance and limited supply, among other things – today there exists an entire generation of empowered consumers who are harder to capture. This is the generation that has grown up with the Internet and as such has access to more information, more outlets, and more resources than ever before.
These individuals, often known as Millennials, are a major part of the workforce and are moving into positions of leadership. The way that they see and understand technology in general, and the Internet and mobile in particular, is fundamentally different from those in previous generations.
“There is no single answer to creating a successful mobile strategy”
Millennials, possibly more than most, intuitively understand what constitutes a successful mobile solution. They expect an engaging experience along with functionality, and I hasten to add that this expected functionality shouldn’t seek to emulate legacy solutions like web or desktop applications when mobile’s unique characteristics – think portability, geolocation and camera – would do the job better. One of the key characteristics of mobile for the Millennial is its ability to connect multiple channels. Multi-screening is becoming a clear trend and mobile phones are the glue.
Remember that Millennials don’t necessarily see themselves as demanding but their expectations are high owing to the fact that they have only experienced life as being technology enhanced.
The mobile-only consumer
Cultures with different socioeconomic circumstances and/or belief systems embrace and utilise technology differently. One shouldn’t be unsurprised therefore that the role and experience of mobile in developed, Western nations has proved to be different from that of developing and/or Eastern nations.
Developing nations, with their un- or under-developed Internet infrastructure and higher connection costs, have for decades experienced hindered technological growth, but now, as costs drop and infrastructure improves, these nations are catching up. With regard to mobile, this situation has resulted in a leap-frogging effect. Whereas in developed countries consumers are becoming Mobile First consumers, consumers in developing countries are mobile only consumers.
In places like Korea, Japan, Africa and Brazil, consumers have skipped the PC generation and have jumped straight to the mobile era. Although Smart Phone and tablet penetration stats are still behind those of developed nations, the consumers in these countries are more familiar with their mobile device as a contextual, connection tool than are Westerners. The reason for this is that for consumers in developing nations mobile is often their only access to the Internet.
Accelerating your mobile maturity
The quickest way to kick-off or accelerate your growth in this space is to surround yourself with partners and advisors who have experience but also recognise that the landscape is continuously changing.
As you get to grips with context and the unique value propositions that mobile offers, you will find yourself growing in your understanding. Apps that find traction with users and attract unbelievable valuations will make sense to you strategically. Your business will become more receptive and open to innovation in this space and the technology will be improving every step of the way.
There is no single answer to creating a successful mobile strategy, but the answers are found by continually growing in your understanding of this ever-changing opportunity.
About the author: Mike has won the respect of business by his determined approach to helping business navigate a diverse and complicated world of Digital and Business. Mike’s digital agency DigitLab was voted one of South Africa’s Best Digital Agency by The Bookmarks Awards in 2012. Mike is also an entrepreneur and businessman.