Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Mobility is the Conduit of Business Transformation

This week I am teaching mobile and social strategies and will be visiting four countries in four days.  This type of schedule is a blur of airports, meeting new people and learning more about how mobile and social solutions are being used in the real world.  While on these trips I have a lot of time to ponder on flights.

I have been thinking a lot lately about the the word conduit - a means by which something is received and/or transmitted, as a useful way of describing mobile devices.  Mobile devices are a conduit for voice communications.  Mobile devices are a conduit for social networks.  Mobile devices are a conduit for email, news, data collection, photos/videos, and now as e-wallets and mobile payments.  So much of our lives are now run through this conduit.

In the last couple of weeks I have spent time with over a dozen companies keenly interested in the impact of mobility and social trends on their business.  In each case, the impact will be different, but significant.  In many cases the impact of these trends will be monumental.

Let's talk about retail financial services for a moment.  In the book Bank 3.0 by Brett King, he states, "Retail financial service brands today are a collection of experiences, increasingly defined by multichannel interactions and customer discussions and debates in the social media space."  The term multichannel interactions means communicating with a bank or other retail financial services company through a variety of different means including online, call centers, mobile, ATM (machines), physical offices, etc.  Increasingly, however, these interactions are via mobile devices.

King uses the phrase a "collection of experiences" to describe a financial services company's interactions with customers and prospects.  These experiences, often via online and mobile, are now the discussion of the blogosphere and social networks.  As a result, it is critically important that companies invest time and money to ensuring these experiences are the best they can be.

Social networks are accelerators for good or bad.  If something good happens, the world can know about it in seconds.  Likewise, if something bad happens the world can know about it in seconds.  The rules of the PR game have changed.  Increasingly people go to their networks for recommendations rather than to the manufacturer of the product or the provider of a service.  They trust their networks more than the companies providing the product.

Companies need to operate their businesses and invest in their businesses to meet their customers via the channels their customers are using.  If customers are moving away from visiting physical buildings and preferring to interact with a company via a mobile app, then companies need that mobile app to be the very best possible.  Companies that resist supporting the interaction channels preferred by their markets are in trouble.  If you work for one of these companies - right the ship.
Kevin Benedict, Head Analyst for 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.