First Friday: Mobile in 2020

Bob Egan, chief analyst and CEO of the Sepharim Group of Falmouth, has worked with over 2,000 enterprises during his 30 years of focus on mobile and wireless. A globally recognized industry thought-leader, Bob joined Cape Cod Technology Council’s First Friday Breakfast Series to discuss mobile strategies and technologies for businesses and organizations.

In his talk, “A look forward : mobile in 2020” Bob illustrated how to use mobile to grow your business (and how to not grow your business by not using mobile). According to Bob, we face a situation in our business, where every aspect is about to change, or should.

We may think the market has already peaked, since everyone already has a smart phone, and wonder how much more can we possibly consume. However, the amount of data showing up is growing exponentially.

We’ve gone from main frames – of which there were perhaps a few hundred thousand around the world, to PCs, to smartphones, and now to 40 billion units which fall under the “internet of things” category,  including 4 billion smartphones. Mobile is the new center of investment and development. This is about changing the dynamics.

“The potential of the internet of things is not limited by its hype, but our imagination,” he said.

Desktop as a platform is collapsing. There has been a massive shift from desktops to mobile devices, which consumers use as supercomputers (while businesses do not). Consumers have nothing to risk by switching to mobile.  We use our phones for data more than for calls. We text more than we call.  Our mobile phones are now more powerful than a lot of the desktops in offices. We need to be thinking about them.

The tools available are getting better for use as a mobile development platform. According to Bob, we have two choices: be a disruptor or be a victim. People are using your data on their cell phones. Are you at their mercy, or using it to your advantage?

How do you entice people to do more business using mobile? We do business with people we like and who are responsive. How do we become that person, using technology?

We can start by reducing friction. If a transaction takes too long, or too many clicks, potential clients are lost. We need to address  lack of agility, and be careful not to get overwhelmed by big data. We need small, well conceived data, to make transactions personal, trustworthy, immediate, and predictive. The most successful businesses are easy to use, with excellent reputations for being trustworthy and as advertised.

Big business ideas are beginning to change. Uber has no vehicles, Facebook creates no content, Airbnb owns no real estate, Netflix owns no cinemas. What they do have is analytic and soft assets that drive business velocity. They can make changes quickly in real time.

What if you only did business on a phone? How would your business change? There are a lot of businesses taking that position today. Bob said Halliburton gave employees the choice of laptop and tablet and encouraged employees to play with both first. The tablets won.

In summary, Bob advised that mobile is the new platform of scale and innovation, and we should prepare ourselves for an explosion of network consumption. To take advantage of consumer trends, modernize your back office to become as agile as the people you want to use it. Success in digital business is about earning trust. Make it secure and safe.

The phones we carry have internet of things sensors already built in. Let’s make sure we’re using them to our best advantage.

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