Categories: Strategy and Leadership
No CEO can afford to ignore the smartphone technology trend that is changing everything about how we do business. According to recent Morgan Stanley research, mobile internet is ramping up much faster than desktop internet did and is projected to outpace it in the next five years.[i] It is coming on faster than any previous technology has, so you can either choose to develop a strategy and use this opportunity to your advantage, or you can fall by the wayside as your competitors take the lead.
A Changing Landscape
New Business Models – Smartphones are changing the way companies do business in a number of industries. Carriers, for example, are looking for ways to keep up with the new bandwidth requirements. In addition, smartphones have led to a regression back to client-server models. While the web enables users to choose whatever browser they want, companies that develop software apps have to offer one for each specific phone. In a recent technology article, Larry Dignan notes that mobile devices are “hamstrung by primitive business models.”[ii]
New Marketing Models – With GPS tracking and location-aware technology, advertisers can offer deals based on where the user is at any given time. For example, Groupon offers special promotions contingent upon a certain number of people signing up for them. The company has an app that uses GPS tracking to determine where a user is and then offer “groupons” for that area. All one has to do to see the value in this model is look at the success of Groupon – it was recently valued at $1 billion and the founder and CEO has said that there are hundreds of businesses on the waiting list to get involved.[iii]
How You Should Respond
New technology is always scary, especially when it impacts your business. You have two choices in how you respond – either let it overwhelm you or embrace it and figure out ways to create new revenue streams. With the former, you run the risk of not only losing out on new opportunities, but of being put out of business altogether. Remember how web-based solutions annihilated packaged software systems that only worked on the PCs they were installed on? History does and will repeat itself, so smart CEOs will learn more about this technology and try to figure out ways to make their customers more successful.
B2C Strategies – B2C companies such as Amazon.com and eBay have developed apps so that users can access their services easily and effectively on their smartphones. In addition, social networking tools like Twitter and Facebook are maximizing mobile technology potential as well. Foursquare uses GPS tracking to enable users to “check in” at various venues in their city, letting friends know they are there, offering recommendations on what to buy, and racking up badges that can get them discounts from local vendors. Other B2C companies can use this to their benefit by developing applications that offer hours, promotions and other key information to users.
B2B Strategies – Innovative B2B companies are also broadening their offerings to include this new market. Rippinger Financial Group, an employee benefit and compensation planning company, is one example. RFG has created an application that will provide access to an employee's health records on his/her smartphone. This means that visits to the doctor will be simplified dramatically as users search through their records to answer questions on health forms. Such an offering gives RFG a competitive edge over other companies because it enhances the user experience.
Creating Your Strategy – The most important part of creating a mobile strategy for your business is knowing your audience. Understanding the needs and desires of your potential customers is the only way to create mobile solutions that will resonate with them. Recruit people throughout your organization, specifically ones who interact with your customers, and brainstorm ideas on the kind of problems you can solve with new technology. Is a specific problem the Achilles’ heel of your industry? Come up with ideas on how to be the first to fix that problem for your customers.
Consider a certain popular burger restaurant here in Austin, Texas. The restaurant has a flash website that is very attractive when viewed on a desktop computer. Yet if a potential customer is in the area and wants to find out menu, pricing, location or hours information on his/her mobile device, it is impossible. Most mobile devices do not yet support flash. Likewise, you do not want to miss out on business opportunities by ignoring the practical needs of your target audience.
Our company, Journyx, helps customers intelligently invest their time and resources to achieve per-person, per-project profitability, and we are currently working on developing these applications for smartphones. Imagine how location-aware technology can simplify time and project tracking by suggesting that while you are in a certain location (e.g. at a client's office), you are most likely working on a particular project or task. After 14 years of working with and listening to our customers, we know that they can benefit from this type of technology.
Time for a New Game Plan
Smartphones have taken the world by storm and businesses that want to stay competitive cannot afford to ignore them much longer. Whether your target market is consumers or other businesses, you will need to find a way to accommodate the growing user experience by developing a wireless mobile strategy. Once you see how profitable it can be and how jealous your competitors are, you will know that you have made the right choice.
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