Friday, May 10, 2013

Digital Transformation, Retailing and Mobile Technologies

Today I read the results of a report from Google titled, How In-store Shoppers are Using Mobile Devices that states the following, "One in three shoppers uses their smartphones to find information instead of asking for help from a store employee.  In some categories 55 percent say they do this when shopping for appliances, 48 percent for electronics, 40 percent for baby care and 39 percent for household care."  Those numbers point to a significant change in retailing.  They point to a self-help transformation enabled by mobile devices.  Companies that want to thrive in retail must embrace these behaviors by acknowledging them and adapting their strategies.

Here are some more interesting results from the report:
  • 79 percent of smartphone owners are smartphone shoppers
  • 62 percent utilize a smartphone to assist with shopping at least once a month and 17 percent utilize mobile to assist in shopping at least once a week
  • 84 percent of smartphone users, utilize smartphones to help shop while in a store
  • 53 percent of smartphone users, utilize their device in-store to make price comparisons
  • 39 percent of smartphone users use their smartphones to find promotional offers while in store
  • 36 percent of smartphone users use their smartphones to find location/directions to stores
  • 35 percent of smartphone users use their smartphones to find store hours.
Retail is not the only place experiencing significant changes due to mobile technologies and other innovations.  Books are becoming ebooks, DVDs are giving way to streaming video, album sales have morphed into single song sales online, classified ads have moved from the local newspaper to Craig’s List, bank branches are losing their relevance as mobile banking apps gain in popularity, product research is done on mobile devices, college degrees are being earned online and consumers are self-diagnosing their illnesses via mobile and online research.  All of these market and behavioral changes are due to what is termed digital transformation.

All industries will be impacted to some degree by the digital transformation that is happening in 2013. However, industries driven primarily by information, such as healthcare, education, financial and public services, will experience some of the most profound changes.

Specific functions in companies such as marketing, online sales, customer support, etc., will experience significant changes because of the digitization.

Digital transformation is happening as a result of technology innovations, cultural and population shifts, evolving societal behaviors, and changing market expectations.  Even traditional industries not generally associated with leading edge technologies are experiencing the effects of this digital transformation on their interactions with employee, partners and customers.

Leading these digital transformations are developments around SMAC (social, mobile, analytics and cloud) technologies.  These developments change our interactions, communications and expectations on how people, organizations and businesses should engage with each other.

Mobile technologies, including smartphones and tablets in particular, are transforming entire industries.  Today when people want answers they search the Internet or a connected data source.  When they want to remember an upcoming event, they add it to a calendar supported by their mobile device.  When they want to save information, they write a note, record an audio memo or take a digital photo/video and save it to their mobile devices and connected personal cloud storage services.  When they want to communicate with friends, family members or healthcare providers they use their mobile devices, apps and social media technologies.  When they want to research products, read reviews and find locations and prices they first reach for their smartphones.

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Kevin Benedict, Head Analyst for Social, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud (SMAC) Cognizant
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Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I am a mobility and SMAC analyst, consultant and writer. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.