I was recently in Nottingham speaking at the Mobile Marketers Conference 2012 hosted by Nottingham Trent University on why we should bother about mobile at all. Why does mobile matter?

I have a two year old nephew who enjoys being the centre of attention. At a recent family gathering he clearly felt that he wasn’t being paid enough attention and so was demonstratively putting his point across. He wanted to watch CBeebies. Being ignored he decided to take matters into his own hands and wandered over to the TV where he proceeded to tap and prod at it. He was clearly quite confused as to why it wasn’t reacting to his commands. The day before he had been happily swiping Angry Birds across the screen of my iPod touch. Surely everything should react this way!

This is why mobile matters.

The Internet changed everything

The Internet changed everything, and the pace of change has been incredible. From its humble beginnings helping Dungeons and Dragons players find pixelated porn to its full integration into every aspect of virtually everyones life, the meteoric rise of the Internet has been unstoppable. Today it’s used to find information, plan routes, compare prices, book holidays and theatre tickets, purchase goods and services and cheat at pub quizzes. It has permeated every aspect of our work and social lives.

Social media, through the mediums of Twitter, Facebook and the like is now our main source of review and recommendation. These networks are able to break and track international news stories quicker than the main stream, traditional, news outlets. Social media has been an advertising revolution. Find us on Facebook is now the default end point of any TV ad.

Businesses must be online to survive. Time was that the Yellow Pages was the place to go to find a florist or a bookshop. Now Google is king and the Internet is our source of all such information. Businesses must have a website to simply be found. Location is not important. We can buy things from online stores without even knowing where they are.

  1. Google
  2. Purchase from random site
  3. Goods arrive
  4. Simple

Mobile changes it all again

But here we are, in the middle the mobile revolution, and it has all changed again. Now your users are not attached to their desks. The context in which they are accessing your goods and services is not fixed or consistent. They might be sat on the sofa, talking to their friends, having dinner, waiting at a bus stop, they could be anywhere. They might be in bright sunshine, or a noisy train station. They might have broadband wifi or slow GPRS, or even no connectivity at all.

Our mobile devices are personal. They hold personal data and have access to personal accounts. For many the mobile is the first thing that they see in the morning and the last thing they see at night. We take these devices with us everywhere and they are always on, always connected.

This convenience has led to a change in the type of sessions that users are engaging in. Users are now having more frequent sessions but they are much shorter; constantly dipping in and out throughout the day, stealing a few seconds online here and there. There is also an emotional attachment to these devices which affects the way in which users view the services that they access through them. Your mobile is an extension of oneself. It always feels a little bit odd to pass your phone on for somebody to ‘borrow’. Consequently if the service has a negative impact on the mobile device the impact on how the user perceives the service provider is magnified. You can read a little more about this here.

A major milestone in relentless growth

With over a billion smart phones now in use around the world it is expected that access to the Internet via a mobile device will overtake that of a desktop by the end of 2013. This estimate seems to be continually revised as the explosive growth in the adoption of this technology continues to exceed expectations.

There are lots of statistics being thrown around which you can adapt to suit your own purposes but one number really stood out to me that the number of feature phones (camera phones of the not so smart variety) is now in decline; dropping 4% in Q4 2011. This may not seem like a headline figure but what it says is that the default device that is being handed out to those who have no preference, but just need a new contract, is a smart device. Where it became impossible to not own a feature phone, it will soon become impossible to not own a smartphone. Consumers will have a smartphone even if they do not know what one is. This is a major milestone.

Driven by youth

The huge growth in mobile is being driven by young people. According to the office of national statistics (sept. 2011) 75% of all 16-25 year olds access the Internet while they are out and about. Smartphones and Tablet computers are replacing TV’s & Laptops in the lives of our teenagers and young adults. This shows that we have at least another 10 years of growth in the use of mobile technology and if you are not interested in this demographic yet, as they grow older, you well be.

More than just a mobile website

When you come to considering the development of your mobile strategy there is much more to think about than developing a mobile website. No longer are we to simple think about screen sizes and resolutions. It’s the context of the user that is having the greatest impact on how our content and services are being consumed. Questions like; where is my user, what are they doing, who are they with, do they have a reliable connection, is it noisy and a host of others to do with their surroundings are now key pieces of information when developing, designing and delivering services and content. As Tablets replace the family desktop and laptops and as Smartphones continue to take their place as the goto device to get that quick, online, job done, simply offering a stripped down version of whats on the desktop website is not enough.

An enterprise revolution

As mobile devices win the hearts and minds of consumers this is having the inevitable impact on the workforce too. The way in which we do business is changing. Our employees are now coming to expect the same level of portability and responsiveness that permeates other areas of their digital lives, in the workplace. Lots of roles within organisations have no need of workhorse desktops and laptops. Reading and writing short documents and using a web browser are now the domain of the Tablet. Tablets seem like the obvious choice of sales people on the road, pickers in the warehouses and sales assistants in stores. Smart devices in enterprise are soon to become the norm.

Mobile has changed everything

Mobile has changed the experience of us all as we interact online. The nature of these interactions is changing our expectations of the experience of our digital lives. The emotional connection that we form with our personal devices can lead to a very negative impression of an organisation should the experience not live up to our new expectations. Mobile has changed everything and it is now time to look at the impact of mobile apps and mobile web on your organisation and to develop a mobile strategy that will serve you going forward.

If you need any help developing a mobile strategy or simply want to discuss anything raised in this post then get in touch with Rob.

Mobile Marketing & Apps Conference 2012