December 30, 2010
Patrick Meyer has held line and senior marketing consulting roles with The Coca-Cola Co., Gillette, Nabisco and the Miller Lite, Virgin, Pepsi, VW, Jeep/Dodge/Chrysler, and Unilever brands. He has been a thought leader with WPP Fusion 5, NOW Inc. and HUB magazine as well as “The Marketing Insider” on weekly talk radio’s The Advertising Show.
Patrick serves on the boards of numerous marketing and technology related companies as well as the Villanova Business School.
How do you define mobility?
I draw a distinction between mobile and mobility. Mobile is very focused on devices, technology and business solutions. Mobility brings insights and a lifestyle shift. It speaks to a bigger phenomenon about people and companies being empowered to work and live in a more fulfilling, more rewarding or more complete way.
How is mobility growing your business?
Sourcebits revenues come from application development across multiple mobile and Web platforms. So we are growing mobility and it is growing us. We help our customers grow by identifying insights and then using those insights to create mobility applications that drive their businesses.
Can you share an example of an app based on a market insight?
Sure. We recently created an app called Knocking Live based on an insight from a study that said something like 92 percent of people yearn to reconnect at a higher, more frequent, and richer level with their friends and their family. Knocking Live enables you to “knock” on someone’s phone and start a mobile-to-mobile broadcasting video of what’s going on in both worlds. I might “knock” to show you my dog or my kids. You would see my world in real time on your phone and I would see yours. There’s no upload, no download, just spontaneous connection and sharing. That’s a richer experience than if I text or email you. It’s a great example of how mobile and new technologies can deliver against an insight.
As the category matures, will apps be based more on needs than novelty?
Right now, you’ve got two types of app development. The first is done by entrepreneurs with a great idea and a business model linked to downloads or advertising. That’s more novelty and spur of the moment.
The second kind is creating branded apps that deliver solutions to customer needs that are connected to a company’s brand and business. For branded apps it’s critical to have a strategy. We recommend creating not just an app but a mobile roadmap. We do it for our clients in about six weeks and it’s all about gearing their app to insights, the dynamics of the mobile category, and the drivers of their business. That’s a critical piece. To drive revenues, your application development needs to be connected to the annual marketing plan, the long range plan, and the business model.
Do you approach consumer and enterprise apps differently?
Yes and no. Being connected to the drivers of the business and to user needs is important in either case. But the context for adoption is different.
For consumers, developers need to be very aware of what’s out there and define the uniqueness. An app has to have a killer function, compelling news and wow wrapped around it. And you have to launch it with a mobile launch strategy – not a typical marketing launch strategy – or it will sit in the basement with the other 200,000 apps.
Enterprise users are being heavily influenced by their experience with consumer apps. They want intuitive design in their enterprise solutions regardless of the platform they are on. They want information, resources and communication in their work lives in the same way they have them in their personal lives. It’s shifted the power away from the CTO or CIO toward CEOs who love their iPads.
So mobility in business is focused on getting the right data into the right hands at the right moment?
It is and it’s unbelievable how this is transforming companies. It used to be “get me the report on the sales data.” Now people want the data with them in real time. And, once they look past their own needs, executives are seeing an opportunity to leverage mobility in their businesses overall. They’re thinking about how they can better engage with their customers, empower their sales force, and use data in a better way.
What’s an example of that evolution?
We created an iPad app with a series of applets for the executive team at one of our clients to let them easily access their 2011 plan, their insight data, advertising, brand news, merchandising programs, etc. They were so excited about it, they bought 200 iPads, handed them out loaded with the applets at their sales meeting, trained everyone on how to use them, and a week later went to an expo to present to major customers and conduct intercepts on people walking through the expo.
It was a huge success. Although 60 to 70 percent of the success was probably the novelty of the packaging and only 30 percent was the content because the data was a couple of weeks or months old. The client recently asked us to help them access their SAP, IBM, and Siemens information via their mobile devices so that their executives can have all of that data in real time wherever and whenever they need it. The lesson we’re learning is that, going forward, apps may be connected with long tentacles back to legacy systems but they will need to function, look and feel incredibly simple, like consumer apps.
We’re also learning that real time data can be that much more powerful when overlaid with data from other sources. For example, we developed a geo-enabled app where you can push a button standing in front of a commercial real estate building and instantly get a complete property profile – what it sold for, the current valuation, the demographics of the neighborhood, how it compares to other properties in your portfolio, etc. When we show this to clients, they see how real time data can be combined with geo data in enterprise apps and how that enables the sales force, executives, national accounts people – everyone – with an advantage to help grow the company.
We see mobility as a growth driver in multiple parts of the customer lifecycle. Are you seeing companies take a lifecycle approach to mobility?
Absolutely. Mobility unlocks everything. It enables you to take your product or service places you’ve never been before. In just about any category you can think of, mobility is either totally reinventing the category or shifting it significantly.
For example, we’re working on an app that’s based on a whole new business model for sports entertainment. Consumers buy everything – tickets to a game, concessions, jerseys and sports memorabilia – via their phone. The system has CRM, social, and loyalty elements built in. Consumers can buy an item, consult with friends, even use video, texting, email, etc. The more they buy, the more they’re rewarded. Their ranking goes up and they work their way to elite access as they share with friends. That information goes with them to the venue where their ticket and their status is on their device. They have the ease, convenience and security of linking sports venues, retailers, and credit card accounts – things that are important to their lifestyle – through mobility apps.
What should companies consider when developing a mobility strategy?
First and foremost, mobility in an expanded sense needs to be part of your total 2011 planning process. Don’t silo mobility, asking “should we be doing stuff on phones?” Look at mobility in a macro sense thinking about your whole business model in a different way and looking for vulnerabilities and opportunities.
Second, focus on how mobility connects to your growth drivers, how it impacts your business. Don’t run off and do an app just for the sake of having an app. Identify your objectives and strategies and how mobility is going to work with those.
Third, create an episodic pipeline. Plan your roadmap so that three months after you come out with the initial app, you have an evolution launched or in the works. Maybe you started with an iPhone app and you went cross platform to Android. Users will expect you to continually add platforms or expand capability because technology is always changing. And, from a brand standpoint, the roadmap gives people time to become aware of your company and to be loyal to it.
Fourth, we recommend creating a mobility lab – a team of people who are building the pipeline for you over a couple year period. They worked on the first app, they’re working on the second and third app, sometimes concurrently, and they’re evolving with you so it’s efficient.
Fifth, if you’re doing an app for consumers, launch with a mobile model. When we launched Knocking Live, for example, we launched with cyber PR, blog and tweet teams in selected forums, viral videos and key events including tech blogger oriented events like the Consumer Electronics Show, and the South by Southwest conference.
What are the pitfalls to avoid in a mobility strategy?
Remember there’s a difference between a mobile app and a mobility strategy. You’ve got 22 versions of Android, one iPhone, no one’s really sure what’s going to happen with Windows 7, Blackberry, and the 800 pound gorilla is Nokia. A lot of people say it’s too complex to figure out and they default to letting people find them on a mobile optimized website through the browser. The problem with that is, consumers don’t go to a browser first on a mobile device like they do on a computer. They go to an app. If they are looking for directions, for example, they use the Google maps app before they go to the browser and search the Google maps site. The app will be faster and will give them the information optimized for their device. It may also have specialized functionality the user couldn’t access in the mobile version of the browser. That behavior makes having a mobility strategy important.
Lastly, people don’t always think about metrics when they start adding mobility into the mix. We build dashboards into our apps so our clients are aware of key metrics like adoption, use, and customer satisfaction.
How will mobility change how we live and work in the next few years?
Here are my top five:
- Rocket speed will be normal. Right now there’s Wi-Fi, 3G and 4G. Some apps work great on Wi-Fi but you can’t use them on 3G. Soon, everything will be high speed.
- All financial transactions will be handled via Smartphone or smart device with dramatically less currency exchange.
- Access in and out of venues and other places will all be handled via digital signal from your device to other devices reading those signals.
- Whether you’re using your device for productivity or entertainment, you’ll be connected to others instantly. Live, video and social 3.0 are all big themes.
- Big and small devices will be seamlessly linked. You’ll be able to go from watching your favorite movie on your phone, to showing it using a projection unit in the phone, to seeing it on a big flat screen, all automatically as you move from room to room.