As millions of people adopt smartphones as their method of choice to access the internet, the mobile market continues to grow exponentially. There are almost 43 million smartphone users in the UK and over 2.5 billion smartphone users forecast worldwide by next year. However, as the number of smartphone users increases there is much to consider when developing a strategy for such a critical and massive market.
The concept of “mobile” is evolving constantly, and as the technology matures you can no longer call yourself “mobile-first”. You can’t just develop an app and assume you’ll be financially set for life, even if it was cutting edge at the time of release. Market trends and customer needs are always looking for the next best thing.
In order to be ahead of the curve, your business must factor in key areas in your strategy plan in order to keep your organisation a major player in the mobile market. In this article we’ll be taking a look at the four key elements every strategy must focus on.
Mobile-First is not enough
The “mobile-first approach” revolves around creating a singular mobile experience. However, this is no longer acceptable as your customers will want to interact with you from a range of different devices. It has become high on the agenda to adopt a user-first model instead. In this model, the user’s preferred digital channel is supported fluidly, even as they move between devices and the augmented and physical world.
The ultimate user experience needs to support new forms of interaction, not just a multitude of screens but also conversational, utilising Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR), among others. The “pull model” – where we expect the user to come to the app, also needs to be replaced with a “push model” that eliminates the mundane work for the user and delivers information and insights exactly when the user needs to take action.
Applications aren’t enough either
The world of applications is broad and messy, with full-blown applications, apps, websites, portals and more falling under the category. These are all now beginning to blur, at least on the user-experience level, as well they should—the user doesn’t care how they’re accessing something, their motive is accessing what they need quickly and efficiently.
Content is playing a big role as well. Traditionally we’ve seen in IT/development/marketing that creators and developers have been conditioned to think “I need a website, so I should get a CMS” or “I need an app, so I need a development tool or platform,” but content shouldn’t be siloed into one “application.” Content can be useful in many digital contexts, whether transactional or knowledge-based or anything else. This is driving the headless CMS concept.
Terms like “applications” (enterprise software), “apps” (mobile app stores) and “digital experience” (marketing around modern customer experience) have their own distinct connotations. It will be interesting to see where we end up, but one thing is for sure, we will certainly be talking about something different soon.
Cognitive and AI Technology is Now Everywhere
Artificial Intelligence (AI) adoption is surging, and it is transforming the world of business and consumer experiences. Due to this, AI is impacting IT and application development dramatically.
AI has always been on the fringe of IT, as developers are responsible for the systems that generate data to be analysed. IT resources are involved with the analytics team when it comes to preparing or loading data into a data lake. Yet, data science expertise has been managed as a separate team. That’s all about to change. Organisations are beginning to treat AI as a natural extension of the digital experience, seamlessly integrating it within the operations of a company, including IT and application development.
This integration opens up the opportunity to deliver a new kind of cognitive-first experience, where analytical predictions aren’t just part of the experience, but are often the driving force behind it. Imagine if your Machine Learning (ML) model detects an anomaly, automatically analyses and prioritises it based on severity, and then determines what the best course of action is needed. It will then flag an event that passes to another part of the digital experience. This could be a business rules engine that handles the action, or it could determine a human is needed and invoke a service to manage that, similar to a web chat. This could lead to fluid interactions across any number of mobile or conversational experiences.
Server-less Architecture is here
The cloud has become so prevalent that cloud support is assumed. It’s no longer a differentiating factor, so organisations are moving on to the next hot topic that is—and that’s AI.
However, not all cloud implementations are equal. There is a huge difference between deploying a monolithic application (including Java programs where the monolith is the archive file) to cloud servers, and embracing a cloud-native approach. Yes, both will get you out of the data centre business, but your compute costs, your ability to scale, and your agility in implementing small changes will be a lot more cost effective.
A cloud-native and server-less approach that utilises micro services is needed to deliver the kind of results you need be competitive today. You can get these through major players like Amazon (AWS), Microsoft (Azure), Google (GCP) or IBM (IBM Cloud), but for most organisations that’s too difficult. It also ties you to one specific cloud, which is a problem for organisations that do business internationally, as different jurisdictions require different cloud options.
The server-less approach makes it easy to support the “push model”, as well as to create models for other new digital experiences like The Internet of Things (IoT).
The Easy Way and the Hard Way
Until recently, modern cognitive-first mobility was out of reach for most average-sized organisations, and too complicated for even some larger enterprises to utilise with efficiency. However, along with the evolving trends in mobility have come corresponding changes in the infrastructure and tools available to businesses. Components such as Sever-less back ends, cross-platform native frameworks, API-based content management and new solutions such as “chatbots” and AR are not just for global organisations, but attainable for smaller organisations.
DIY implementations or working with just the few biggest players in the market still works, but it is less of a requirement. We’re excited to see cognitive mobility getting easier to implement, and for what it means for the future of mobile technology.
Mark Troester, VP of Strategy for Progress
Image Credit: Sergey Nivens / Shutterstock