Representatives from customer experience management vendor SDL dropped in for a virtual chat this week, and our Preparing for the Future of Mobile E-Commerce webinar covered plenty of ground on what to expect in the near future around mobile.
Mobile Not Just Limited to Smartphones
Obviously, when we're talking about mobile, the iPhone is going to be a part of the conversation. It kicked off a massive wave of transformation in all aspects of our lives, not just e-commerce. The ripple effect caused by the wild popularity of the iPhone has forced other industries to quickly adapt to new changes, something they were clearly not ready to do said Philip Clement, sales and marketing director at SDL.
The landscape has broadened when it comes to mobile, and things like wearable technology are proliferating rapidly. Clement referred to wearables and other smart devices as what he calls sensory laden devices. There are shoes with sensors in them that can track how far someone has run, but there are also road sensors and sensors in airplanes, for example.
Google Glass falls into this category as well, and Clement also mentioned a tiny sensor called Tile that is meant to help people find lost items. It's a bluetooth enabled sensor that can be tracked by iOS devices. In fact, many sensory devices are smartphone companions, and this alters how people use smart devices and their phones. We can rent a car with an app, for example, so many people don't even have to go to a car rental agency at all.
These examples, along with other sensory laden items are changing how people interact with each other and the physical world of buying and selling more generally.
Big Data + Open Data
We've heard plenty about big data, and Clement noted most large organizations are well past the point of moving ahead with it. It gets talked about constantly, and it is important, but open data as an idea is much more exciting, he said.
While big data is sometimes unpredictable, it is something companies have to deal with in their own way, Lou Casal, senior director of product marketing at SDL's content management division said. It can't be avoided, however, as Forrester analysts have big data pegged as a US$ 25 to 40 billion industry by 2016. As was the case with the iPhone's introduction, companies need to adapt to this change, and many have slowly woken up to this fact.
Open data, on the other hand, is the more exciting subject, Clement said, because it frees organizations up to try new and innovative ideas. What if companies opened up their data via a secure layer for others to tinker with? Developers in this scenario would become akin to a product development team in a sense.
Clement used the UK government as an example of how it could work. The government began exposing massive amounts of data for people to use, and many new maps, tools, apps and innovative ideas have sprung up because of it. Not everything is exposed as open data, of course, but it encourages interactions between organizations and customers, something companies desperately need to understand if they are to survive constant change.
The idea of open data will be much harder for command and control heavy industries like financial services to accept, but security is really the only thing holding them back, Casal said.
There are four big trends underway that are changing mobile e-commerce, Clement said, and they are sensory laden devices, big data, open data and lastly, device diversity. This refers to the stunning variety of mobile devices now available, and companies need to quit using a one size fits all approach.
Instead, they need to be thinking about user experience on demand. Whatever device someone has, the experience people have is what's important, because if they have a good experience, there's a chance they will return and maybe even buy something.
Companies need to be open to this kind of adaptibility, Clement said, and it has to happen across departments. Each segment of an enterprise can't just focus on its part of a project. Technology, mindset and marketing all have to be working on improving the customer's experience. The companies that invest in adaptability will be the ones who earn the most steady long term growth, Clement said.
No webinar would be complete without some question and answer time, and Casal and Clement started off by talking about how exactly companies can go about embracing adaptibility. On the question of how to align departments in this cause, Clement said rapid prototyping is one way to go.
"Proof of concepts need to die," Clement said.
Collaboration is the key, he said, and the companies that have workers who embrace it will be the ones who can survive the transition. It's less about technology than strategy, in other words. As to what will be big in the next five years, Clement actually pointed to the developing world. For mobile e-commerce especially, places like sub Saharan Africa will become increasingly important.
In those developing parts of the world, there isn't any established Internet infrastructure, so most people's only exposure to it is through mobile phones. Most people don't have computers, but they do have mobile phones, and that is a big opportunity for many businesses, Clement said.
On the question of how mobile e-commerce changes will affect small and medium sized businesses, Clement said they were in a lot of ways in a better position to be adaptive. They don't have as many systems and processes already in place, and so can focus more quickly on what makes them unique. It's all about focusing on what those businesses can do for their customers, Casal said.
Big or small, organizations can take steps to move forward with this kind of plan. Put a roadmap in place, and take that first step, Clement said. There's constant change ahead, and the old ways of doing things simply won't work anymore, Casal said.
Prepare for the future of mobile e-commerce by checking out the entire webinar posted below. It's about an hour long, but there's plenty more in there than covered in this recap.
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