We are entering a new phase of mobile development and innovation with profound implications on business and our daily lives. It will be a transformative time where cognitive technology available through connected, high-speed networks (such as 5G), augments all our activities, providing deeper understanding and insights that have never been visible before. This knowledge will come to us in context — that is, where and when we need it— and will be available through a multitude of devices. Some of these devices are already on the market, while others are only in the vision stage. Many of the things we think of today as being immobile will require mobile development to make them accessible from anywhere. As processing capability shrinks in physical size, we can embed it into virtually everything — even our medicine.
The first phase of mobility provided the foundation for the coming day of mobile pervasiveness. It introduced hardware with the functionality of many different devices into a single device: a smartphone that could not only make calls, but also send emails and surf the web. The functionality came to us in the form of apps on our phones, then our tablets and now our cars and appliances. For businesses, mobile was used primarily as a channel to transact, inform or communicate with customers and employees. Most businesses today are in this phase of mobile development, although the range of apps is now exponentially greater than those available on the first smartphones.
The “new reality”
The greater opportunity for business and innovation resides in the phase that turns the power of mobile into the essence of what they do and how they do it. Maribel Lopez calls this the “New IT” in her blog, “Moving Beyond Digital Transformation To A New Cognitive Contextual World.” I call it the “new reality.”
When everything becomes mobile, actions, behavior and expectations evolve. Simply reflect on how mobile has already changed our lives. We no longer need a TV to watch a movie, a library to do research or a classroom to learn a language. We can access and see into our homes no matter where we are in the world. Bring into the picture analytics, cognitive technology and augmented reality (AR), and the future suddenly becomes more interesting. Information overlaid on any surface will reveal relevant information through words, images and multiple dimensions when and where it is needed. Not only will you be able to see into the refrigerator without opening the door, but you will also be able to know what has expired and replace it using a voice prompt. With enough experience and embedded learning, the refrigerator might one day restock itself, make product recommendations to suppliers and be our nutritional advisor.
Imagine a retail business that maintains zero inventory. Products are simply images available to try on or try out by merely putting on a pair of glasses or by looking into an augmented mirror. Tell the mirror your preferences and voila, the order is custom-designed and delivered to your home. According to Technology Review, Wayfair, Lowe’s and IKEA are already experimenting with virtual and augmented realities to bring this capability to life. Apply similar thinking to the production line and defects revealed by simply looking at the object with a mobile device. Defects are fixed using instructional overlays directly on the object, or better yet, with a simple command of “Yes, fix it.”
Enabled through a foundation of mobility, the field for business innovation has never been richer. And, when driven by cognitive insights, it has never been smarter. What does this mean for your business, product and way of working? Consider the three following strategies to effectively jump-start mobile development:
1. Approach everything you do with a mobile mindset
Mobility is no longer for customer transactions only. It needs to be envisioned and planned for the entire enterprise. Make everything mobile-friendly — your entire value chain and all stakeholders, your stores, your employees, your customers, your product and the machinery and processes you use to design, manufacture, ship and deliver that product.
2. The device is nothing without the data
The value of mobility increases exponentially when you bring in analytics and cognitive computing. It changes the device from being a channel to being a personal luminary that crunches quantum amounts of data into relevant and valuable nuggets of information.
3. Think in mobile speed
As much as it hurts to say, time is not on your side. Things are changing too quickly to wait for proven solutions. If you wait, your competitors will steal the competitive advantage, transform their processes and make your customer experience irrelevant. Embrace new technologies and mobile development and imagine what they can do for your business.
There are no crazy ideas, just lack of execution. Welcome to the new reality!