Mobile Computing Poised To Impact B2B In 2011

Unless you have been living on another planet, you realize that mobile computing and the ecosystem that surrounds it is a major growth industry.  5 years ago, mobile meant being able to make phone calls with your cell phone and perhaps accessing the internet with your laptop. Today, mobile means something totally different, thanks to the introduction of the smartphone, the Iphone, Google’s Android, and just this past year, the iPad. 

HorizonWatching Mobile Computing - 2011 Today, more people are working through remote or mobile access than ever before. Mobile devices are increasingly being used for web searches and applications traditionally done from a desktop. Over the last year there has been a focus on the development of mobile applications, services and cloud infrastructures, both public and private. These efforts will focus on delivering new innovative services to employees, business partners, consumers, and citizens on any device, anywhere.

To stay competitive organizations are extending their resources, data, and connectivity to people wherever they are…whether that is in face-to-face customer engagements or in an operational setting, such as a retail store, supply chain logistics, or field service. In addition, users are demanding access where ever they happen to be….whether they’re in their car, on a plane, in a hotel, or on a weekend camping trip.

Mobile email, mobile websites and mobile applications are becoming viable channels in which to conduct business.  As smartphone adoption continue to grow through the roof, we are now seeing with the popularity of the iPad the emergence of the tablet form factor. I believe we are moving towards a place where the typical business user might have three devices….a laptop, a smartphone, and a tablet. IT developers will need to accommodate all three display form factors into their application environment.

And as a result, the mobile application infrastructure will need become more sophisticated. Enabling technologies will be new devices, faster networks, new location-aware technology, and improved mobile applications.

One area of focus today is Mobile Marketing. Consumers are wanting to use their mobile devices to help them do searches, get information on products and services, and help them make purchase decisions.  As consumers get used to using their mobile devices for consumer product purchases, they will increasingly want to use their devices in a business context. Marketing and sales managers need to understand the potential uses of mobile devices and how to apply the mobile marketing techniques to increase sales.

Some Analyst Perspectives

“Brands seeking a persistent presence with their customers must have a strategy to engage with their customers via mobile phones.” – Forrester, Sept. 2010 (link)

“59 percent of mobile consumers plan to use their mobile phone for holiday shopping and planning holiday celebrations, not including making phone calls” – Mobile Marketing Association, Nov. 2010 (Link)

“Consumers are relying on their mobile phones for more than talking and texting these days. They are using them for everything from reading and writing emails to watching the news, trading stocks, and booking hotel rooms.” – Forrester, Sept. 2010 (link)

“Mobile Proximity Marketing In U.S. to Reach $750M By 2011 And Nearly $6B By 2015” – Borrell Associates, Oct 2010 (link)

Adoption Drivers:

  • Growth of smartphones/tablets
  • The application development community is focused on developing mobile web application services and improvements in apps, browsers, and search will push new adoption.
  • Growth of location based apps
  • Faster networks (4G )
  • Mobile worker efficiency and productivity
  • Gen Y lives mobile / wireless life and will expect that in B2B transactions
  • Mobile devices are increasingly being used for web searches and applications traditionally done from a desktop.

Challenges:

  • Integrating mobile into business processes
  • Mobile analytics
  • Coverage in rural and undeveloped regions
  • Cost, Security issues.
  • Managing productivity of a remote workforce.
  • Reliability of mobile technologies

Implications for B2B:

  • Innovative mobile solutions enable new business models
  • Business processes and applications have to be re-engineered for mobile.
  • Expect increased interest in technologies that can boost the productivity of a remote workforce.
  • Growth countries use mobile as a leapfrogging approach to connect the base of the socio-economic pyramid to the formal economy.
  • Emerging solutions will include voice search, location-aware, and mobile video.
  • There will be increased focus on the development of enterprise-based mobile applications, services and cloud infrastructures, both public and private.
  • Knowledge economy produces a global and virtual workforce.
  • Mobile becomes a critical part of Unified Communication solutions

Some key mobile trends to watch in 2011 include Voice Search, Location Based Services, Video, Gaming, Event-Based Marketing, and Augmented Reality. On the horizon are applications like Mobile Video Collaboration solutions and 3D Mobile Internet allowing customers to browse 3D pictures/videos of products.  All this has implications for business processes throughout the organization. Some older companies will need to change culture and transform workflows as a result.  CIOs and IT leaders need to understand how mobile fits into their organization’s enterprise wide unified communications and social collaboration strategy.

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