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Digital Transformation

Forrester's 10 Mobile Trends for 2011 – Now What?

I’m a strategist on mobile and social technology.
I won’t claim to be one of the best, nor even a shining example of innovation (I’ll leave that to greater egos than mine) but I know two things hold true for corporate strategy at all levels.

  1. The more you know, the stronger your strategy will be.
  2. The more you know, the less you know.

Forrester just released its report on 10 2011 Mobile Trends. It’s a great read, and contains some valuable pointers for the future.
But to me it points up a third truisim about corporate strategy – Nobody ever went broke predicting the future … for everybody else.
When it comes to predicting your own company’s future, the stakes are critical. Smart companies – in deciding how to invest in mobile – should heed forecasts (both internal and external), understand and communicate with the crowd and (in the immortal words of the Kinks) Give the People What They Want – and then give just a little bit more …
But watch the deeper, long-term trends, watch your competitors’ behavior over time, anticipate the smart moves you’ll want to make a year or five from now and carefully map a flexible path to the future to maximize ROI.
So what should you make of Forrester’s 2011 Mobile Trends? The company (rightly) gives itself a B+ for its 2010 forecasts, and predicts the following:

1) Use of the mobile/social/local combination will explode but will generate little revenue

As a rule, I’d agree. But if your model is locally-delivered goods and services, your company would be wise to extend your brand into the space where people could be making purchase decisions based on their friends’ opinions and activities.
Build a mobile app now that people need. (At Perficient, we design and build them, so we can help – plug, plug.)

2) 2011 will be the year of the “dumb” smartphone user

Absolutely right. The booming ubiquity of Android-powered devices and Apple’s extension of iPhone/iPad data-service licensing to Verizon – representing nearly half the world’s smartphone market – make this a lead-pipe cinch.
Assume that you’re no longer looking at niche-y gadget-geek numbers, but at the growth of a mass smartphone (and tablet) ecosystem.

3) The mobile fragmentation problem will continue in 2011

Quite. More platforms and interaction protocols (iOS, Android, HTML5, SMS, app-vs-web) means more targets to hit with your limited number of mobile-tech arrows.
Research carefully, anticipate your market’s future, aim for its technological heart, and shoot smartly. Put your business where onto the platform most-likely used by your customers.

4) The app versus mobile Internet debate will continue – and remain irrelevant.

In the end, Forrester says, “curated” apps can offer better service for some businesses, but the Web is the only ubiquitous mobile platform on smartphones – and will prove cheaper to support than ever-evolving mobile OSes.
Don’t make the mistake of choosing one over the other, as both have significant value to the enterprise.

5) Mobile marketing spend will surpass $1 billion as consumers spend billions via mobile

Yep. I won’t claim to know the numbers, but as I pointed out, a lot of smart money is pointed at mobile this year.
If you’re selling anything that can be bought online, you’ll need solid mobile marketing strategy as well as solid mobile sales strategy, because your competitors already see the writing on the wall – or will before too long if they’re paying attention. Make sure you’re the one doing the writing.

6) Mobile will increasingly prompt consumers to interact with their physical environment

This prediction is curious to me, as it assumes that NFC (which I wrote about here), QR codes and augmented-reality apps will be adopted widely enough to have significant impact in 2011.
I think this is the year that the more propeller-beanied companies will score big PR hits with those technologies, but it may be a year or two before adoption grows broad enough to support them as core mobile strategy pivots. Get to know them, and see if it makes sense for you to invest ahead of the curve.

7) The attention paid to 4G will vastly outweigh the impact of these new networks

Agreed. Blog chatter on the importance of 4G is overflowing by the petabyte. Forrester points out launches of LTE in Sweden, 4G (Verizon) in the U.S. and LTE in Japan late last year. But it will take years for the hardware in networks and handsets to catch up.
Don’t panic about 4G. Yet. Unless your business model requires you to pump video or other high-bandwidth media to mobile customers, you can wait and watch in some comfort.

8 ) Companies will invest first in convenient services for customers; acquisition will come second
In the hierarchy of benefits that mobile offers — revenue generation, cost savings,
and convenience — convenience will reign for the next year. Consumers will engage with
or download apps from brands that they trust. Mobile product and service professionals —
particularly in the travel industry — will invest first to keep their most lucrative customers
happy. The more direct financial returns realized through revenue gains and costs reduced
or avoided will elude companies until consumers substantially adopt and use mobile services.
A near-term focus on the financials as a primary motivator puts the cart before the horse.

Well-said. Mobile is a critical investment, not a quick bottom-line strategy.

9) Casual gaming will continue to lead the mobile charge for content companies

Forrester somewhat buries the lede here – their actual point is that content companies will increasingly ape game companies’ use of subscription, microtransactions and in-app purchase to bolster their bottom line.
If you sell goods or services that can be sold – or sold into – online, this is a strong strategy regardless of your industry. Smarter companies are already retooling their point-of-sale model for the handheld screen.

10) The term “mobile” will mean a lot more than mobile phones

As anyone who’s been watching the boom of iPad sales be followed by the majestic long tail of Xooms and Galaxy tabs and their ilk could tell you, mobile strategy needs to reach far beyond phones.
If it has an interface and lets the user touch the Web, it absolutely needs to be part of your mobile strategy.
The smartest companies will be those that focus not on the pipe but on the content and functionality – not the pipe – and then assemble the technology needed to put them through to any interface imaginable.
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We have some good ideas on how you can win the war before your competition even gets its boots on.

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Mack Reed

I am Innovations Director with Perficient's Interactive Agency CC, and a lead consultant, focused social strategy, mobile development and user-experience design. Our division specializes in helping brands and businesses find their footing and thrive in the volatile, fast-evolving intersection of people, process and technology. If your company needs insight or solutions in social media, mobile strategy, marketing and user-experience design, drop me a line. I'd love to talk with you.

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