How Mobile is Changing Customer Interaction

Eric Carlson | May 2, 2012 | Mobile Strategy

I was giving a talk at an executive offsite last week for one of our prospective customers. This talk was around the trends, use cases, and concerns of mobile technology in the coming years. I thought it would be beneficial to share some of the discussion and comments here.

The Methods of Customer Interaction are Changing

Although the smartphone and tablet are a consumer initiated revolution, they have significant impacts on your business – and I’m not speaking about the impact from BYOD (Bring Your Own Device):
Mobile vs. Desktop users graph
The methods of how your customers are going to not only find but also interact with your business will change significantly in the decade ahead. With the rise of mobile use comes the expectation that your business is capable of interacting quickly and effortlessly with these devices – in methods beyond just the mobile browser.

As an example for the prospect mentioned above, they sell directly to buyers of their manufactured goods. Today, their buyers call or email the outside sales force to get product information, receive quotes, etc. This process is inefficient; it requires a significant amount of back-and-forth communication, it’s fraught with errors, and it’s slow. However, the client engineers that design the solutions that use these products interact very differently. They’re younger, more willing to use a smartphone or a tablet, and typically make decisions without picking up a phone. They perform product research, product support, and make their buying decisions completely based on information they find online available to them. These engineers of today will be the buyers of tomorrow – and this organization sees how this fundamental shift is placing them at a competitive disadvantage if they don’t change their strategy.

Is this a “mobile problem”? Not entirely, but it’s an excellent starting point for their strategy in approaching mobility.

What Does “Mobile” Mean to Your Organization?

Seth Godin recently had a great post on this subject:
[quote_left]We don’t have a telephone strategy. The telephone is a tool, a simple medium, and it’s only purpose is to connect us to interested human beings.
And then the internet comes along and it’s mysterious and suddenly we need an email strategy and a social media strategy and a web strategy and a mobile strategy.
No, we don’t.[/quote_left]
Companies are putting effort and money into meetings about “mobile”; mobile technology discussions, mobile platform development tools, mobile app development, etc. Many of them are looking at this device as “another screen” – a rush to deliver our same corporate processes, same corporate applications to this new device as quickly as possible.

However, given the fundamental shift in customer interaction as discussed above, are you going to extend your current methods of interaction to these mobile devices? Or are you going to use mobile devices as a tool to decrease the “friction of communication” and as a key differentiator for your business?

The former is easy, there are tons of solutions today to extend current ERP, CRM, or Document Management tools to your sales force. The later, we feel, will be the challenge that separates organizations over the next decade.

We work with companies to help them define their “mobile strategies” – it’s a term that we use because everyone understands the meaning and containment of work. However, when you peel back the packaging and look at the output we provide, we’re helping our clients simplify their processes, tools, and data to have more productive and elegant communication with their customers, partners, and employees.

Want to hear more? Check out our eBook: Realize the True Value of the iPad in the Enterprise, or watch our recent iPad in the Enterprise Webinar video.

Eric Carlson

Eric is a seasoned leader with a keen eye for emerging technologies. He is well respected in both technical and business circles, due to his ability to match up the right amount of technology "geekiness" with business understanding to craft truly unique solutions. As a seasoned executive, with startups through successful exits to his name, Eric has the experience to advise companies on the discipline and objective approaches that are needed to turn ideas into reality. Eric can be reached at eric.carlson@propelics.com or on twitter at @ericjohncarlson.

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