My passion for the convergence of technology and the communication disciplines placed me at the first ever Mobile March over the weekend, a mobile event focused on the intersection of mobile technology and trends, and the multitude of ways mobile development is affecting business. Mobile March is the offspring of Mobile Twin Cities, an event held monthly that focuses on trends and software development on all mobile platforms, founded and led by Justin Grammens.
The day-long event brought together mobile enthusiasts from all walks — software developers, communicators, marketers and advertisers — to learn about and openly discuss the topic of mobile technology; where we are, where it’s headed and what it all means – so far as we can tell at the moment. The event was formatted as a dual track series, allowing attendees to mix and match business and mobile development tracks or just stick to either track all day. There was something for everyone.
The event had many highlights, and of course not all can be covered here, but the one theme that stood out to me was “Marching Together.” Evolving technologies and the integration of them into existing business practice is not monopolized by any one person or company. It is, and will remain a learning curve for all of us. As the day progressed, it held that Mobile March was merely an educational forum intended for people to productively collaborate and walk away with better information to more effectively implement appropriate mobile elements into business strategy. Here are a few event highlights. Hope you find useful.
IT’S A GREAT TIME TO BE PART OF MOBILE
Keynote, Mark Mosiniak, director of business development for Best Buy Mobile, gave a well-rounded presentation that spoke to the rapid evolution of mobile (see below) and how Best Buy is making modifications to fit in this space to proficiently help the consumer make the best buying decisions for their mobile needs. “What today is all about is getting us together to share ideas. Not just in our ecosystem, but ultimately to make mobile easier for the customer and consumer,” said Mosiniak. Best Buy’s initiatives include education and digital support for customers to make purchasing a new, or even foreign or updated mobile device, more manageable and helpful for the buyer. Key points us marketer/communication folk (or other) can take away:
Mobile technology is advancing quickly…
- 10 years ago 3G licenses were signed, the first pocket PC devices were introduced, the first mobile game was introduced (remember snake?) and the first Bluetooth enabled phone hit the market.
- Three years ago RIM owned the marketing in email centric devices, Internet browsing was possible but not engaging, 3G products hit the market in force, and Apple announced the iPhone.
- In the past year the first Android phone was released, 2,500 apps in the Android marketplace, there were 20,000 apps on iTunes and 8 million downloads.
- Today, Android is fastest growing platform with 30,000 apps, 4G products are on the market, 150,000 iPhone apps are on iTunes with more than 3 billion downloads, there are 4 billion mobile users worldwide, people are transferring what they do on their PCs to their phone, and people want their mobile experiences to be fast, simple and solve immediate needs. There are so many platforms — Windows, Palm, Symbian OS, iPhone, RIM, Android —We need to think beyond iPhone and Blackberry. There is a lot of opportunity here!!!
The majority of people DO NOT have Android or Smartphones… they have TEXT!!! We are the uber geeks, not consumers! The point here being that, thinking from a tech savvy box isn’t always a good thing, as the majority of the population runs on less sophisticated technology, but uses it well and via SMS. We should focus marketing efforts here. “Consumers want that brand, color or price point, not complicated application arrangements that require vast amounts of knowledge they don’t have to operate. Developing apps that actually relate to the consumer market would be a much better spend in developer time. We don’t need yet another Twitter app. The creativity comes in how you’re building the relationship with the customer, not the creativity in the app!!!
Mark’s 5 Ideas for Mobile (notes)…
- Single Sign On – Different sign ins are inefficient and so difficult from a usability standpoint. Users should have a universal sign in for all of their accounts.
- Blur the lines between customer service and marketing – At Best Buy, they use ‘Tips and Tricks’ video that train and teach users how to operate their technology better. This could be applied to almost anything. It’s no different than it’s always been, but now we have the ability to provide help digitally. Make use of it!!!
- Online to Offline – Barcodes for customers via SMS, i.e. text this number to get customer reviews from the Web interface or Web site on your mobile, 2D barcodes, etc.
- My phone is my wallet – Create the ability for mobile checkout, i.e. Best Buy’s Rewards Zone tap and go and pay pass
- Small Business need apps too!!! – Obviously, small business rarely has the resources a larger organization may have to there are certain similar traits that can transfer from biz-to-biz,
Where is the $ in apps?
- The purchase point (people purchasing the actually app)
- In the life enhancing ability of the app to the consumer
- Marketing of the applications
Mark’s slide deck can be found here.
HOW TO SET STRATEGY IN MOBILE
This panel discussion was solely dedicated to mobile strategy (although people so badly want to focus on tactics – always makes me chuckle). Panelists were Damon Allison of Vision Information Services, Robert Shidla of Verizon Wireless, Scott Thomsen of Launch Media and Doug Rozen of Carlson Marketing.
Immediacy and snackability are two of mobile’s distribution channel perks; they allow users to get a taste of something very quickly.
What are key considerations if you’re thinking about mobile strategy? (notes)
People get blinded by the shininess of mobile. This is marketing; you need to have a codified vision of success. Walk, run, leap begins with the foundation of thinking and planning. At the end of the day these are marketing programs. We are talking to the consumers – start thinking about what the challenge is you’re trying to solve. With a plan, be willing to adapt. This ecosystem is moving at a rapid pace. What you have today will be different in 18 months. KPIs and ROI should remain consistent. What are you trying to achieve? What’s the delivery mechanism or carrier mechanism? If you don’t have in house capabilities to determine your mobile strategy, find a partner (agency/mobile development company) that thinks about who the customer is, what the customer is thinking and possesses the knowledge of what technologies your audience uses in order to determine what to do next.
There was far more to the events of Mobile March. A lot on the development side and more on the business side. Here’s a broader recap from the Minnov8 gang. If you know of other recaps, feel free to share links in comments. I look forward to the next Mobile March and how much will have changed by then, from both a mobile development standpoint and how we’ll see mobile marketing transform. Looking at the current chronology, I can only imagine how things could change in the next six months to a year. Thanks to the event organizers Phil Wilson, Linda Cummings and Justin Grammens for putting this together!