Mobile Only: Week 34
Benjamin Robbins, an EMF member, is spending the next year working solely from a single mobile device. Each week he shares his thoughts and experience with us on what it means to be mobile-only.
This past week I moderated a panel on mobile in retail. It was a really engaging panel in terms of both content and audience participation. I have to admit it felt a little bit like cheating. Retail and mobile is such a fun and exciting topic to discuss, it is easy to see why everyone loved it and was so engaged. It makes your typical discussion on enterprise mobility seem like a real snoozer. Retailers and their associative marketing organizations are willing to invest to push the boundaries in order to connect with the consumer. Sometimes it is cool and sometimes it borders on creepy, but in either case they are demonstrating some fantastic results through combining real-time data and mobility. Enterprise mobility should sit up and take note.
An oversimplified explanation of a marketing department’s raison d’etre is to deliver messages that influence you. Those messages can be about brand, or a specific product, or ideas. With the threshold of one billion smartphones on this planet now crossed, marketers around the globe are salivating at the opportunity to deliver those messages directly to you; not only to you, but to you an instant before you make a decision (usually a purchasing one). Better still, to you just before the instant you didn’t realize you were about to make a purchasing decision.
All of this is made possible because we are creatures of habit. We really are quite boring. Because of this, patterns are easily discernible. With this knowledge, organizations are able to perform analysis on historical data about you and/or your demographic that can, with surprising accuracy, predict your behavior. This analysis is then matched to the right messaging, which is delivered to you real-time a la your mobile; it’s Big Data and mobility in action. It’s here, it’s now, and it is only the beginning of what’s possible. The more data is collected, the more these data sets can be tied together, and the more capable our mobile devices become; all this means you will see this type of interaction more in your day-to-day existence. If the marketing departments are doing their job correctly, you probably won’t even notice.
The consumerization of IT has helped lead enterprises down the path of finding simpler and more effective ways of conducting business. Consumer devices are so fun and easy to use that we beg to bring them to work. Consumer apps that are so intuitive and require no user manual make us realize how bloated and laden our enterprise apps and processes are. In the same way, our consumer experiences with data in real-time will prove to be so effective that smart enterprises will apply these same approaches to making data just as effective.
In many of the tasks we perform at work there are ways of measuring success. There is no reason for enterprises not to collect and track these measures. Given some time and by leveraging the right toolsets, an enterprise should be able to create systems to inform me that I’m about to miss a deadline, lose the sale, or need to order parts. Better yet, systems should make suggestions on how to correct the issue and only need my approval to take action. All of this, from data collection, to correction, to approval, will happen on my mobile device powered by a real-time capable system behind the scenes. In the same way that my consumer experience will inform and drive my decisions, my enterprise experience should be the same.
For too long data has been infrequently collected, isolated, hoarded, and only used to look at past performance. Marketing departments, driven by the motivation to connect with consumers, will demonstrate to enterprises the power of combining real-time data and mobility. This isn’t to say there aren’t innovative solutions coming from the rest of the enterprise. However, most departments outside of marketing are content with the status quo and don’t have the same innate need to better connect data, mobility, and performance.
Retailers who don’t reach consumers in a real-time, mobile way will find themselves fading into the past like the Sears catalog. In the same fashion, enterprises that don’t begin to collect data, look for patterns of success, and build systems that inform employees about issues before they happen might as well buy employees crystal balls—they can use them for as poor a guess about the future as a fortune teller, and they’ll need them for a second career when the enterprise goes out of business.
Benjamin Robbins is co-founder and Principal at Palador, a firm that focuses on providing strategic guidance to enterprises in the areas of mobility, apps, and data. You can follow him on Twitter. Mr. Robbins resides in Seattle and blogs regularly at http://remotelymobileblog.com