Smartphones and tablets have completely changed the way we live. Where the web enabled us to interact digitally when in front of a computer, mobile has put this digital world at our fingertips 24 hours a day, wherever we happen to be.
This ability has led to a change in mentality. We now expect – at our convenience – to carry out common tasks using smartphones or tablets. Forrester calls this the 'mobile mindshift'. This expectation goes beyond simply wanting some form of interaction: we expect the right type of interaction, based on context and need.
This mindshift is seeing mobile becoming the 'front door' to your organisation, and replacing the computer as the primary method of interaction for some routine tasks. A website on its own is no longer sufficient as a digital offering. Organisations, whatever sector they operate in, need their products and services – business-to-business (B2B), business-to-consumer (B2C) or business-to-employee (B2E) – to be available via mobile.
Why mobile matters
Growing market: Quite simply, mobile is a huge market. From 2013 to 2014, the number of smartphones in the world will double to two billion. The market will only continue to grow as phones become more affordable.
Additional form of customer engagement: This market represents an incredible opportunity for organisations to interact with customers at new times and in new locations, complementing existing methods of interaction. More interactions means more opportunity to understand how customers are behaving, which means you can better tailor your products and services to support their needs.
And with it becoming ever easier for people to switch to other organisations, meeting their expectations is important. By giving the customer the service they expect, they'll have no reason to leave. And once others hear about the quality of your mobile services, they'll flock to you.
Efficiency: Mobile can make your entire operation more efficient. A 24-7 mobile offering empowers individuals to do routine things themselves, rather than needing to speak to your staff. This could be making a change to their account, checking an order status or reporting a fault.
By enabling convenient self-service, you provide a better experience and reduce the demand on more costly channels, such as your contact centre. This frees up resources that you can focus on areas that deliver greater business value.
Moreover, mobile can enable your staff to work more efficiently, because they won't need to be at their desks. Mobile gives them the freedom to work on the go: suddenly 15 minutes between meetings becomes productive time to respond to emails; someone who has a flash of inspiration at home can make sure it's recorded and not forgotten.
Healthcare workers can record and file notes using a tablet, rather than needing to find a desk with a computer. Council staff can instantly report broken streetlights or fly tipping, even if this isn't their primary role.
Mobile can release you from the shackles of paperwork, reduce errors, enhance Data Quality, improve visibility of ongoing processes and reduce costly storage and transportation of paper. Mobile makes all of this and more possible.
Driving new business: As Forrester points out, the value of mobile to your organisation will go beyond what simple statistics show. Your mobile eshop may only account for a fraction of sales, but what about the customers that use their smartphone to find the nearest branch, or browse your eshop, decide what they want, and then go into a bricks-and-mortar store to buy the goods?
Similarly, financial services organisations can provide product information via the web and mobile, but require an individual to come into a bricks-and-mortar branch to apply. The mobile research may be what makes the individual choose a particular financial provider over another.
In both these cases, mobile has driven new sales, but without advanced tracking, it's hard to measure the impact of mobile.
If you do implement advanced analytics, mobile gives you the opportunity to understand better how people are using your services. This can enable you to cross-sell and upsell more effectively.
Why you should act now
Mobile has brought about a fundamental shift in mindsets. Everyone – customer, employee or citizen – now expects to interact with any organisation using their mobile. More importantly, they expect this interaction to be tailored to their needs in the specific context they find themselves.
Get it right, and you'll be able to capitalise on new opportunities and streamline your organisation. But don't underestimate how challenging mobile can be to get right. However great your website is, you can't simply shrink it down and think you've got a great mobile offering.
People use mobile for different purposes; you need to understand this and build the right experience. Get it wrong, and your competitors will be all too happy to whisk your customers away.
- Tim Franklin is IPL's Enterprise Solutions Director. He specialises in understanding business needs and designing world-class solutions.