Tech for Tomorrow

Doug Mow

Mobile, Applications for the Future and a New Generation of Customer Experience

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When the holidays come around it's always interesting to reflect back to see what's happened in our industry. New Year's is just another day but it comes around every twelve months and gives us a marker by which we can measure progress.

One year ago, I posted that social media had become inevitable. Compared to the same time in 2008, Twitter had become inexorable and was a required component of any online marketing strategy. This week, Twitter raised $200 million creating a $3.7 billion valuation. That certainly makes them a force to be reckoned with regardless of whether or not you believe in micro blogging and reading about what your friends had for lunch.

What was the major development in 2010? From the customer experience perspective, the major developments would have to be iPhone 4, iPad (Tech Product of the Year ) and Android. These hardware devices created a market for apps that has seen hyper growth throughout 2010. According to recent IDC research, "Application developers have churned out more than 300,000 mobile apps in just over three years. " And, we are only seeing the beginning. Applying Moore's law to processor speeds in handsets and tablets, these processors will very quickly approach 5 gb speeds and will have storage capabilities in the gigabytes. The mobile app market will explode exploiting this level of capacity and performance. Device shelf life will be six months max. Within six months, that new-fangled, state-of-the-art phone you just bought will be trumped. iPhone 5 anyone?

On the network side, two Sundays ago Verizon Wireless lit up their 4G LTE network. With speeds of up to 5 mbps up and 12 mbps down wireless network speed now exceeds DSL and rivals standard cable modem. Of course terrestrial speeds are moving up as well but the point is we will soon have ubiquitous high speed network connectivity (compatible handsets not available until mid 2011). Combining the two, iPhone 4 availability on Verizon remains one of the most highly searched topics on the web.

I've already heard it - "Yes! The return of client server! Vindication!" True, but only in the most basic sense. The mobile platform offers so much capability that the only similarity with the prior version of client server is the multi platform processing model. Consider location-based services, mobile search, mobile commerce and shopping, context-aware capabilities, social media and pattern recognition. If you are shopping for a car in the New York City area there are at least five dealers for each car manufacturer in a thirty mile drive radius (the maximum amount you are willing to trade off a good price for distance to your dealer). As you drive through Northern New Jersey stopping at Nissan dealers your phone knows where you are and where you are stopping. By conducting a search for Nissan dealers it can show you all the dealers in your stated radius preference. By searching for a specific model it can show you how much the car is listed for at each dealer and the dealer's location. A social link can show you how many of your contacts are customers of the Nissan dealer in Southern Connecticut, the furthest you are willing to drive, and whether they are satisfied with their customer experience. You choose a model and color as you drive from dealer to dealer and the app shows you which dealers have them in stock and their prices. You choose one for the final sale and activate GPS for directions because you don't want to buy this online. You want to enjoy the sport of haggling with the dealer and you want to visit the service department to see for yourself. That's just the beginning. You then have to register the car, insure it and schedule periodic maintenance.

Back to our retrospection - one year ago, this would have seemed a little farfetched. But, by the same token, nobody would have thought possible the iPhone constellation app - StarMap 3D. True, many of us speculated the impact of the convergence of social and mobile , but some of us did not include many of the more native mobile capabilities. Now it seems like we have unlocked the door to a new realm of limitless possibilities.

What is required behind the scenes to make this work? While the front end is slick and consumer-friendly, IT shops understand the inherent complexity in building the foundation for this kind of future. Many mobile apps like this one will support a process. In this case, it is automobile purchase. The successful app will not only support shopping and comparison; it will also help manage registration and insurance, as well as downstream service appointments and warranty. That's what will determine stickiness and success. Will it be mobile BPM? Probably not. More likely, it will be mobile enabled process flow. Content management and portal interfaces will also be critical to present the right information at the right time to the right device. And analytics will also be key. What is the #fail rate of each car dealers' service department?

Deep breath - looking forward, what do we have? The richest palette from which to build advanced applications in history. The opportunity to be part of surge of innovation. I don't know about you guys, but that's why I'm in this business. Better than caffeine.

What's your view on the biggest development of 2010? What do you predict for 2011?

Doug Mow blogs from a business executive's perspective about IT trends, tech news and life in the trenches of an Enterprise 2.0 transformation.

Doug Mow

#CMO of Courion Corporation responsible for all branding, communications, messaging, online and offline marketing. Courion is the leading provider of access management tools that provide maximum access to corporate IT assets with minimal risk.

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