The holiday season has drawn to a close. Aunts and uncles have flown home; kids have returned to school; parents have started to receive hefty credit card bills. In some sectors, this is the time where organizations take stock of their performance over the holidays and start preparing to execute their strategy for 2013.
But before forging ahead too far into the New Year, we believe that business executives – from all sectors – should take a few minutes to instead look back to see how the mobile market changed over the holiday shopping season and what the implications of this change are on the wider marketplace.
The reality is that many of the mobile gadgets and technologies now in use within the modern enterprise were first introduced into the market wrapped in shiny paper and a bow. Smartphones were initially aimed at the consumer market but are now ubiquitous business tools; tablets saw uptake in the hands of consumers long before they came into the boardroom; even early cloud technologies were first tested in consumer markets before becoming the ‘killer’ enterprise app that it is today.
So it only makes sense that savvy business executives should be identifying and assessing mobile trends and technologies that emerged over the past two months to see how they might adjust their enterprise strategies going forward.
One trend that is undeniable is the continued uptake of mobile shopping this year (PayPal reported a 193 percent jump in mobile payment volume on Black Friday versus 2011). The numbers indicate that consumers are increasingly comfortable conducting transactions on their mobile devices. And – having tried, tested and trusted mobile payments during the holiday season – these consumers will come to expect this convenience from all of their vendors and merchants.
But it is not just about mobile payments. Mobile devices are increasingly being used during the whole shopping cycle – to compare prices, view product information, get store locations, and download coupons. Nielsen recently found that 78 percent of mobile shoppers used their smartphone to find a store, 68 percent checked prices online and 39 percent used mobile coupons. And what is interesting is that mobile shoppers tend to stay connected ever after their purchases, and are starting to comment on social media channels about their experience, the product and the brand.
The lesson here? Those organizations without a mobile commerce/payment strategy had better move quickly to develop one or risk being left behind by their more advanced customers.
But the holiday season also introduced newly commercialized technologies that will surely have far-reaching implications for the enterprise as well. Take augmented reality (AR) technology for example. Yes, AR glasses and automobile heads-up displays may seem like fun and quirky new technologies today, but it is soon to become big business. The holiday season saw toy makers introducing AR technology to their toys and retail stores, in an effort to sell more products. Children visited ‘Digital Box’ kiosks in Lego stores, for example, to see their favourite Lego characters in action and Ikea shoppers waved their smartphones at a paper catalogue to get a 3D model of their chosen furniture. Nokia also launched its City Lens App, based on a 3D map of the world to make finding shops and restaurants simple using a phone’s camera viewfinder.
According to Gartner, AR is a logical extension of location-based and context-aware mobile interactions. The market is believed to be on the verge of exploding. A recent study by Mindcommerce suggests that AR revenues will exceed USD3 billion by 2015 and Juniper Research suggests that AR applications will enjoy more than 2.5 billion downloads each year until 2017.
While that’s great news for tech firms and game developers, it also has implications for other sectors and industries. In addition to the retail sector, innovative organizations in the mining, logistics and automotive sectors are already experimenting with how AR technologies can drive greater efficiency, lead to better product development, or improve services within the enterprise. The value of AR to an organization’s technicians and sales forces is obvious; their use in the boardroom only somewhat less so. But already we are starting to see new approaches and business models take shape that tap into the wider spectrum of AR capabilities, particularly from media and telecom providers, clothing manufacturers and public service organizations.
That is not to say that executives should be bending their business models or reinventing their market strategies to incorporate every new technology or fad that gains popularity over the holiday season. Rather, the winners of the mobile age will be those enterprises that are able to identify valuable innovations, integrate them into their existing business strategy and then leverage their new capabilities to become more efficient, effective or customer-focused.
The telecom, media and technology (TMT) sector will play a key role in this shift by helping businesses adopt, adapt and become adept at integrating these new mobile technologies. But first, TMT organizations will need to fully develop and communicate their own value proposition within the ever-shifting mobile market space.
Clearly, every sector has a lot to learn from this past holiday season.
By Sanjaya Krishna, KPMG in the US