Pressing the right keys

Updated: Jan 4 2013, 02:36am hrs
It is time now for brands to practice connected thinking, bringing together expertise from user experience, marketing and technology

Shubhradeep Guha

To understand how far mobile can go, it is important to understand how far it has come. Altogether, 21 million smartphones were sold in India in 2012 with a compounded annual growth rate of 56%, 40% search queries were from mobile devices, and the number of mobile Internet users in India stood at 50 million. With gadgets getting cheaper and connectivity getting faster, mobile teledensity is expected to reach 97.4% by 2014. In 2015, it is projected that 72% of the online access will come from mobile broadband. With increasing availability of low cost GPRS and 3G featured handsets, mobile is poised to create huge disruption in the way businesses interact with consumers. This phenomenal uptake of tablets and smartphones is driving huge change, and the need for change is in the ways brands meet consumers. It is an opportunity for brands to develop next-generation customer experiences that raise the bar of convenience and to build deep, engaging and long-term relationships with their customers.

Mobility has transformed consumer behaviour. As voice and gesture control become more common, our technology (mobile included) will adapt to us, rather than us adapting to it.

Mobile has made digital 24x7. The enablement and freedom of connection that tablets and smart-phones have afforded is changing our expectations.

* Mobile will revolutionise commerce. As different types of devices get connected to the cloud, mobile technology will help us navigate the world more seamlessly. From televisions to tablets we will see even more unified experiences across platforms. Mobile subscribers will enjoy greater functionality and versatility from the future generations of wireless devices. Mobile comparison shopping applications such as eBay mobile application with barcode scan and search feature will give consumers new ways to compare prices on the go across stores and e-commerce sites and influencing buying decisions.

* Mobile money will have a transformative impact. Mobile money products that facilitate person-to-person money transfers and payments towards essential services such as utilities is likely to fuel growth. Another big impact will be in our buying behaviour. Besides promoting micro-transfers and remittances, mobile money will unlock buying potential of segments that do not have debit and credit cards.

* Mobile will lead a brands customer experience. Just a few years ago, the idea of mobile taking the lead in customer experience would have seemed ridiculous. But consumers have changed the channel on brands. Prepare for the new PC phones and tabletskeeping in mind that India is expected to have 400 million 3G connections in the next few years.

In India, mobile web usage surpassed desktop Internet use this year, and brands must adapt accordingly. The brand is the experience and the experience is the brand. In the near future, mobile will be pivotal to the quality of that experience. Mobile will, without doubt, play a critical role because mobile is the primary channel to create and fulfil demand in real time. Mobile is now significantly more important to most brands, and has become an integral part of the multi-channel experience they offer to consumers.

* Mobile will facilitate social experiences. Enabled with their smartphones, social and mobile shoppers will not only look to shop on-the-go, but share their preferences with their friends and family, rate, review, recommend and refer various products and services while shopping.

Mobile presents an enormous opportunity in India in spite of many challenges that exists around demographics, data connections and diverse handsets. A radical transformation through higher customer engagement using mobile technologies is under way. To take advantage of this rapidly changing landscape, brands will need to gain a deep understanding of the customers and context, create immersive user experiences grounded in the understanding of target demographics and limitations of their devices and technologies.

Brands that practice connected thinking bringing together of expertise from user experience, marketing and technology will be at an advantage.

The author is vice president and global capacity lead, SapientNitro.