Monday, 25 January 2010

The mobile revolution

The growth of mobile phones has been nothing short of breathtaking. According to the GSM Association on the 11th February 2009 worldwide there were 4 billion mobile phone/ mobile device connections out of a total global population of 6.6 billion. The GSM Association predict by 2013 will reach a staggering 6 billion connections. In the UK there are more connected mobile phones than people and phones outnumber PC’s by a factor of 3 to 1.

Despite the world economic recession, mobile connections are continuing to grow.
Over the last eight years or so, mobile phones have become very sophisticated with even a basic phone has the capability of storing a massive amount of data such as diary, names and addresses, playing music, taking and sending pictures, email, text messages, browse the mobile worldwide web etc. The richness of these devices is set to grow, and one of the most significant future developments will be the inclusion of Near Field Communications (NFC) on the mobile phone, this exciting technology will mean in the not too distant future we will be able to use our mobile phones to make credit card style payments using NFC contactless wireless technology. It is a well known fact that when most people leave home in the morning to head to work the three items they will not leave home without are their mobile phone, money and keys. NFC technology has the potential to replace both the money and the keys. Arthur D Little predict by 2012 over 170 million NFC handsets will be in circulation worldwide.

Whether you love them or hate them mobile phones need to form an intrinsic part of your business strategy now, not only from an operational perspective but also from a sales and marketing perspective or you will be left behind.

From an operational perspective mobile phone technology can have a positive impact on your business.
1. Mobile email
2. Mobile enterprise access
3. Enterprise mobility

Mobile Email
Email has become the corporate messaging tool of choice, If you have not already done it providing mobile email to employee’s that spend more than 20% of their working week out of the office will result in business benefit. Mobile email allows employee’s deal with important issues fast, removes the backlog of email on their return to the office, allows the flexibility respond to email any time anywhere, and more importantly improves customer satisfaction.
There is a vast array of mobile technologies that can facilitate mobile email from Smartphone’s to laptops with 3g dongles. Looking at Smartphones the Blackberry used to be the email tool of choice for the road warrior, however over the last 2 to 3 years there has been challengers to offering direct connectivity into enterprise email systems such as Microsoft Exchange, these devices offer flexibility and that all important choice. These are Apples IPhone, Windows Mobile devices, and recently Google Android handsets and Palm Pre the first mobile Linux phone.

Mobile Enterprise access
Laptops and Netbooks can also provide mobile email when wirelessly connected either via wireless LAN or via a GPRS or 3G network using either in internal GSM modem or and external USB 3G modem. Not only can you access your email on the move but also connect directly back into your company’s IT enterprise allowing access to whole host of information whist on the move. With the cost of Netbooks with 3G connectivity at less than £250.00 and all you can eat 3G tariffs for around £10.00 per month. The return on investment of a net book computer is in less than one month of purchase.

Enterprise Mobility
If you have task oriented fieldworkers then you should consider an enterprise mobility solution by replacing the paperwork they complete in the field with hand held devices and electronic forms can have a huge positive impact on your business, it commonplace to achieve a 25% improvement in efficiency whist reducing fixed costs Process replication should be your initial strategy in which existing paper based processes are replicated using mobile technology. This is achieved by creating workflows to identify which parts of your field worker processes will deliver the biggest return on investment. Businesses can expect to gain around 25% improvement in productivity whilst reducing the fixed costs of the business. In almost all cases, removing the cost of processing paper-based forms should give you a tangible ROI to prove your business case. It’s easier to do that, than to try and measure the return on intangible benefits such as productivity. Make sure in your business case you include the total cost of ownership, which should include items such as costs for the support of your field workers and their mobile technology, both in the early days of use and for any longer term support issues.

1. Operational efficiency
2. Improved productivity
3. Process compliance
4. Real time reporting and accountability
5. Competitive advantage

Mobile Marketing
Now you have mobilised your business from an operational perspective, you need to consider using mobile to get your message out to your potential customers. Philip Kotler said “The most important thing is to forecast where customers are going and to be in front of them”. Remember in the UK mobile phones outnumber PC’s by a factor of 3 to 1. Web usage on mobile phones is growing rapidly, on average 17.5 million people in the UK access the mobile internet using their mobile phone. Smartphone’s such as the IPhone account for 43% of internet access of all mobile phones. Despite this only 8% of businesses have a mobile web site strategy. Businesses need to take into consideration that the world is going mobile and as a result your web presence and future marketing and advertising strategies must reflect this. To see if your web site is suitable for the mobile internet revolution this web site will provide a free automatic assessment if your web site gets a bad score you should consider changing your web site to make it mobile friendly especially if you’re your web site allows customers to buy your products. There are many organisations out there that can help with the conversion and several tools available that can automate this process.

Mobile Payments
As I mentioned in my introduction the next step innovation in the mobile revolution will be mobile payments.In the not too distant future we will be using our mobile phones to buy everything from train tickets (replacing the current Transport for London Oyster card) to coffee from Starbucks. Electronic ticketing will become commonplace on mobile phones this new technology will take off around 2011/12 and will really change all of our lives businesses need to be aware of this technology and assess whether or not this will impact them and start planning support/adopt. NFC in mobile phones will change the world; it’s a well known fact that when people leave home in the morning to head to work the three items they will not leave home without are their mobile phone, money and keys. NFC technology has the potential to replace both the money and the keys.

No comments: