Following up on yesterday's look at mobile platforms, today I will look at two other elements that will shape the mobile experience in the next three years: people and progress.
The people are what have begun to drive the market forces both inside and outside the enterprise in 2012. As we move further into this “Post-PC Era” with a massive consumerization of IT, understanding the people that continue to drive both functional and practical mobile development is crucial.
Source: IDC – March 28, 2012 – Worldwide Quarterly Media Tablet Tracker, PC Tracker, and Smartphone Tracker
For the purposes of people and mobility, notably where we will see evolution over the next 3 years, we should look at the following areas:
- Consumer to Consumer
- Business to Consumer
- Business to Business
- Business to Employee
Consumer to Consumer
The natural coupling of social and mobile technology is continuing to evolve as one of the most powerful technology disruptions ever and is poised to grow exponentially for the foreseeable future. Consumers will continue to expect technological breakthroughs that support rapid communication between each other.
Products like Google+, Huddles and Skype group chats are only scratching the surface with regards to how video communication will evolve on mobile devices.
Another key area where consumers and mobility will continue to have a disruptive effect is crowd-based events like sports, concerts and expos. Consumers are already connecting organically through Facebook, FourSquare and Twitter at public events and some organizers have begun to embrace mobility through check-ins. What I envision is an even greater amount of interaction between people.
Quickly sharing media and ideas with each other relating to the last goal or the current song being performed will become the norm and will be even more seamless than it is today.
Business to Consumer
So if people will be connecting with each other even more in three years amongst themselves, it will be critical that organizations continue to create and embrace platforms for this sharing to occur.
It is one thing to have armies of consumers providing feedback to each other regarding a product or service, but it is something entirely different to become part of a community and engage. Many organizations have had both success and failure through social media, but the blinding speed at which mobility can connect consumers will continue to accelerate.
Marketing campaigns will continue to evolve to embrace mobile technology. One major area that I see improvements coming is the QR Code. Today, I would characterize the QR Code as a bit of a gimmick. There are great uses for them, but they tend to be overused, platforms do not have built-in support for them and many consumers simply don’t get the concept.
In order for the QR Code to be a real success over the long haul, devices will need to be more aware of codes. Having to open a specific app just to read the codes diminishes their value. It is like requiring special glasses to read a billboard. The result may be great for those users who have the special glasses, but how likely are people to put them on each time they ride by your billboard?
Business to Business
Mobility in a business to business context is probably one of the least mature in 2012 and stands to be the category that gains the most from mobility over the next 3 years. Interactive mobile solutions between partners will enable greater visibility on supply and distribution channels, market intelligence and customer feedback.
Business to Employee
Mobility and Business to Employee may not be the sexiest of combinations. We are not going to see applications that capture our hearts and minds like Angry Birds and Words with Friends. Instead, the developments in mobility for employees will be applications that improve response times to issues, increase access to knowledge within the organization and allow greater flexibility.
Whereas the Platforms and People are the more predictable elements in the equation, there is a third area that needs to be discussed, progress. What do I mean by progress? Progress is the development of further disruptions surrounding mobility. Without disruptive changes (mobile, wireless, cloud), there is no breakthrough progress in technology.
Some of the disruptions within mobility over the past 20 or so years have included the following:
- Digital (CMDA/GSM)
- 3G (EVDO/HSPA)
- App Stores
- Real Web Browser
- 4G (LTE)
SMS changed the way we communicate. Cameras on phones enabled us to share media instantly. GPS removed our reliance on purpose-made GPS devices. App Stores allowed us to quickly find and install programs on our devices from a variety of developers. A real web browser is redefining how people consume the World Wide Web. 3G and 4G have enabled us to have more robust functionality due to increased bandwidth and decreased latency.
So what is the next disruption? What is the next piece in the mobility puzzle that creates a whole new array of future potential?
LTE VoIP Possibly, but how does it cause a disruption (aside from the network operators loss in revenue)? We will see rather pervasive deployment of LTE by 2016 in the developing world according to the recent Cisco Visual Network Index report, so the groundwork for this disruption is already being laid down by the networks.
Near Field Communications The jury is still out if NFC will create a new “debit card.” Will people trust 3rd parties such as their network provider or Google to act as a purchasing agent on their behalf? We should not limit the scope of NFC to just payments and instead understand it as a solid technology for any type of close-proximity transactions. Sharing may be the biggest win for NFC.
??? What else is out there? What is the next disruption that is being developed right now?
Mobility in 1000 days will be very similar to today’s world, but improved across many facets. In the developed world, 4G network speeds will be more prolific and the same for the devices that run on them. In the developing world, slower speeds will improve more gradually, but 3G hardware will be relatively reasonable as developed nations phase out the hardware.
One of the biggest hurdles that mobility has needed to cross over has been the speed problem. 1X was not doing it well for a robust, interactive mobile experience. 3G made life much better, but streaming video can still be challenging. 4G takes us past the functional hurdles.
Everything else now becomes focused on the user, from progress in general, to the platform and to the people themselves.
Editor's Note: To read the first part of this article: