Wednesday, December 6, 2017

The Case For and Against "Peak App"

Peak app is the idea that the mobile app-driven smartphone economy has peaked and is now in relative decline.  Should you be concerned?

Whether it eventually proves to be true or not, examining the case for and against peak app does surface a number of relevant insights to consider as you chart your company's mobile apps' path forward.

The Case for Peak App
As background, I'm unsure where the term "peak app" originated; the first reference I've found online is from late 2014, apparently triggered by a Deloitte/UK study on the mobile consumer.  

Since then the concept of peak app has appeared sporadically in the tech media and sometimes elsewhere.  The concept picked up steam in 2016 when comScore published the 2016 U.S. Mobile App Report that included the following infographic:

As you might expect, much of the published thinking around peak app is why it's true.  And there are clearly some compelling arguments to be made in favor of the peak app theory:
  • While smartphones' share of digital media time continues to slowly increase, it's concentrated in fewer apps, dominated by Facebook, Google and their associated properties, which own the top six (and eight of the top 10) most-used apps
  • The mobile app ecosystem is saturated; most people don't download a single new app in any given month even though 40k+ new apps are added monthly to the app stores
  • Consumers spend almost half of their phone time on a single app (usually their primary social network) and 90% of their time on the five apps that they use the most
  • Consumer consciousness of potentially detrimental impact of obsessive smartphone use
As quoted in a Fast Company article, Brian Roemmele, an independent tech consultant who specializes in voice and commerce, says that "Peak app has already happened...  The new iPhone is going to do great, and it’s going to change a whole lot, but it’s not going to induce more and more app downloads. So that economy has shifted."

On another front, tech giants like Amazon, whose Fire Phone was a major flop, have a significant interest in pushing the peak app narrative as they've watched from the sidelines as Apple and Google revolutionized personal computing.  

Also quoted in Fast Company: "Mobile behavior is already set with consumers typically using about five apps a day on a mobile device, making it harder for brands to get users to discover and download new apps on their devices," says Ambika Nigam, Bloomberg Media’s global head of mobile app products. "However on Alexa, if you’re having a conversation and can organically weave your brand and content into the mix, it can potentially become easier for users to discover your skill."

In any case, these facts and opinions indicate that new consumer-facing mobile apps have a truly uphill battle in the stiff competition for consumer eyeballs and digital time share--and not just from other apps.

The Case Against Peak App
Given the peak app theory's arguments why would an enterprise or brand still make mobile initiatives a focus?  Here a few counter points from comScore's 2017 report:
  • Mobile users spend 16x as much time with apps vs. the mobile web 
  • Mobile apps consume over 50% of consumers' digital media time; desktop apps are a distant second at 34%--and the mobile web only sees seven percent
  • App usage--and a willingness to pay for apps--is much more common for younger users than older users
In a blog post titled "Why the Concept of Peak App is Just an Urban Legend" David Bolton points to several reasons why peak app is just not so:
  • Sensor Tower's latest report says that there were 13.2 billion installs in the second quarter—an annual growth rate of 12% or around 1.44 billion installs
  • Uber surpassed Facebook in terms of installs for Q2 2017--installed 6.5 million times compared to the six million downloads for Facebook’s core app
  • The Apple App Store had a year-on-year revenue growth of 52%, with Google Play showed an annual growth rate of 72%

Peter Dolukhanov earlier this year examined peak app theory and adds:
  • Mobile minutes have already increased 11% [in the UK] since March of this year [2017] with apps dominating that time
  • On a per-user basis, average app time up 14% in the last 6 months, and with users now spending on average almost 63 hours a month on mobile apps, versus 14 on mobile web
In summary, the case against peak app is that overall mobile app usage continues to grow in just about every measurable way and that consumers will increasingly pay for great apps (and not just games).

Magenic's Perspective
In Magenic's Mobile Practice experience we see two additional reasons to remain bullish on mobile apps.  

First, mobile apps are the "connective tissue" that tie together digital experiences of all types from IoT to digital reality to artificial intelligence and machine learning.  (Check out our webinar on emerging technologies, digital transformation and mobile.)

Second, we believe that emerging technology is enabling completely new experiences for which mobile apps will be the window to the world. 

In short, no other technology platform is so well positioned in terms of market penetration, context, immediacy and technical capability to enable brands to communicate effectively with their customers.

So, should peak app concern you?  Maybe.  Whether or not peak app theory proves true, mobile product owners clearly must consider that while increasing audiences and share of digital time suggest there is still room for app growth, there are significant challenges to overcome to succeed in the consumer-facing app market.

Mobile Apps Mature--Now What?

Now that over 10 years have passed since the first iPhone was introduced--and more than nine since the first Android smartphone (remember the HTC Dream/T-Mobile G1?)--most of us have created multiple mobile apps for our customers, employees and partners.

And over time we've learned and gotten much smarter about how to approach mobile initiativesincrease our odds of success and mature mobile app portfolio management.

Today, it feels like mobile app development is a known process, we have our arms around it, and we know the recipe for success.  In many ways this is true; for example, the gap between iOS and Android has never been smaller.  Almost all of the mobile market is owned by two mature operating systems with little chance any viable third competitor will emerge on the near horizon.  Mobile is quickly becoming the dominant channel for eCommerce.  There are many effective cross-platform approaches to mobile development that save time, money and deliver engaging experiences.

However, the mobile story from the beginning has been rapidly evolving technology, innovation and disruption, and continuous transformation of customer experiences and expectations.  This remains the case today!

As you think about how your mobile apps need to evolve in 2018 there are three themes you should focus on:
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI)
  • New Experiences
  • Data-Driven Interactions; e.g., through Machine Learning (ML)
First, there's good news and bad news here.  The bad news is that incorporating AI/ML and creating new experiences is hard--there's a lot of data science and advanced, cutting edge technologies involved.  The great news is that much of the technology to drive these new capabilities is readily accessible as services.  In other words, you don't need to build it in your mobile app so much as figure out how to leverage it.

Let's look at some real-world examples.

Artificial Intelligence
An amazing AI mobile app that always brings a smile to my face is Seeing AI, an app that interprets the physical world for the sight-impaired.  I first learned about this app in early 2017 while it was still a proof of concept and highlighted it in a series of events about how emerging technologies are changing mobile.

The Seeing AI app leverages Microsoft's Cognitive Services, primarily the Vision and Speech API sets, and can even run some AI features when offline using CoreML (for Android you'd try TensorFlow).  (Note that Amazon, Alphabet's DeepMind and IBM's Watson have similar services).

The key takeaway here is that AI is a service you call (from your code), not something you build from scratch in your mobile app.   Incorporating AI into your mobile app has never be easier--the hardest part is figuring out what to do, not how to do it.

New Experiences
One of the things that mobile early changed about how we build apps is that no one creates user manuals or--in most cases--even basic tutorials explaining how to use an app.  Either you get it or you don't.  And if you don't, you uninstall.  For mobile apps, there can be no "you aren't using it right" scenario.

Two ascendant mobile experiences--chatbots and custom speech interactions (i.e., not generic Siri/Cortana/Assistant)--should be on your 2018 roadmap for experimentation.  There are an increasing number of very capable chatbot apps.  It's likely such an interaction model would both work for your business and be welcomed by your customers.

Led by Alexa, the AI-driven smart speaker market is red hot.  Brands are increasingly extending their reach via channels like Alexa Skills--even companies like Spotify, which were originally mobile only.

Back to the first thought regarding new experiences, can you get a chatbot or speech interaction right?  In some well publicized events (Tay, Alexa) even the big guys had embarrassing failures.  

While natural language interactions through chatbot or speech continue to improve, the analysts say that capabilities are now on par with human interaction.  And the key challenges you'd expect to encounter in a business environment, such as understanding intents, other languages and business domain-specific language, are being rapidly addressed through, for example, API services such as Translator Speech and Custom Speech.  

Exciting new technology is ready--you just need to figure out how to leverage it.

Data-Driven Interactions through Machine Learning
In short, "data-driven interactions though machine learning" means that we can create mobile experiences that are backed by predictive ML technology, learning and reacting in real time.

Who's using ML in mobile?  Here's a few examples:
  • Netflix uses linear regression, logistic regression, and other machine learning algorithms to perfect its personalized recommendations by means of ML
  • Tinder's "Smart Photos" feature shows a random order of your profile photos to people and analyzes how often they’re swiped right or left. This knowledge allows Tinder to reorder your photos by putting most popular ones first. This system is honing itself constantly
  • Google Maps' "Find Parking" feature uses anonymous aggregated information from users who decided to share their location data as input to a standard logistic regression model. Then the app--based on the dispersion of parking locations--predicts when, where, and how difficult finding an empty spot will be
Or, if you want to experience something different, try "The JFK Files" a website that uses a variety of AI/ML technologies to explore recently classified JFK files released by the government.

Again, the technologies required to make practical use of machine learning in your mobile apps exist and are ready.  One way to explore getting started is Microsoft's Azure Machine Learning Studio, which will expose your algorithms via web services your mobile app can consume.  Another is to explore Amazon's Machine Learning capabilities for Android or Apple's CoreML.

Time to experiment!

At Magenic Technologies our Mobile Practice experts guide clients' mobile initiatives from ideation to strategy to execution to lifecycle support and governance.

Our emerging technologies experience in the mobile space makes us an ideal partner for companies who desire to take the next step in mobile engagement that will differentiate their users' brand experience and deliver objective value.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Avoid 7 Common Mistakes that Lead to Mobile App Failures

Are you excited about developing a new mobile app?  I'll break it to you gently: A couple years ago Gartner's research indicated that less than one percent of consumer-targeted mobile apps succeeded.  

I doubt much has changed in the last several years as Adeven (now Adjust) reports that over 60 percent of apps in Apple's App Store have never been downloaded at all and for apps that do get downloaded, more than 75% are opened once and then never again. From another angle, analyst Andrew Chen says that the average app (that actually gets downloaded!) loses 77% of users in three days and as much as 90 percent in one month.  

Unfortunately, the rate of success for employee- or partner-facing enterprise mobile apps isn't a whole lot better--some estimate that about 80% fail to reach expectations.

The good news is that even with odds like these there are seven common mistakes that--if avoided from the outset--will substantially increase your probability of success.  Note that we'll focus here primarily on product strategy issues and not technology--which has its own unique set of common mistakes--because in my experience having the right plan will eventually overcome most technology issues (but not vice versa).  Furthermore, let's assume that you've chosen a winning idea based on a rational prioritization of opportunities.  What could go wrong?

#1 - No Product Owner
Product owners are critical to any product's development--mobile or otherwise.  However, mobile initiatives are often organized where there's a product sponsor who's generally uninvolved other than periodically receiving a status report and a business analyst who dutifully records requirements but isn't positioned to make the myriad consequential decisions needed to bring a valuable product to market.  This is not a recipe for success.

Typically, the lack of a product owner also will mean that there's little or no product vision.  Sure, version 1.0 or an MVP may be spec'd out but then what?  The reality is that it's extremely unlikely version 1.0 will meet business objectives.  The product owner must create a roadmap that they believe will deliver progressive value and then plan to take a test-learn-adapt approach to product evolution.

Once you've identified a product owner, make sure that they don't have "blinders" on; in other words, that they don't mistake themselves (regardless of relevant experience) for a target user.  Common mistake.  Product owners must constantly engage target users if they want to truly understand value.  While it's true that users don't always know what they want, they can tell a product owner if a feature will be valuable or not.

All in all, somebody's gotta be a very active and empowered product CEO.

#2 - Lack of Product Perspective
Many enterprise teams tend to think of a mobile initiative like a system upgrade.  That is, we'll do this app as waterfall project, it'll be delivered on time and within budget, we'll all declare victory over pizza and beer, and then we'll all go do something else.  Maybe we'll look at it again next year.

This approach will never work for a mobile app of any sort, at least not if you're looking to make a durable, effective investment.

First, your mobile app is a product, not a project.  That is, while a project is typically focused on delivery of a single mobile app release, a product is focused on achieving business outcomes throughout a product lifecycle spanning multiple mobile app releases.

Second, a product lifecycle means that your product owner plans a series of frequent product updates, each designed to test out a new means of achieving business results by gathering data, measuring KPI impact, and so on.  No "big bang" monolithic release.  Note that users will tend to forgive a product feature misstep or bug introduction if the product team promptly addresses it through a new release.

Third, to support a market-relevant mobile product you must use an Agile methodology for development, complete with modern application DevOps practices and appropriate automation.  The mobile space is subject to an incredible amount of flux in terms of technology, competition, innovation, etc.--only an Agile approach will enable your product team to quickly and effectively respond to these vectors.

Finally, ensure that your measure of success is not making a date or coming in within budget.  That's for projects, not products.  So, how should you define success?

#3 - Poor Definition of Success
I am continually amazed at the frequency of mobile initiatives I encounter where the stakeholders have no concept of what will constitute success.  Or they've chosen poorly thought-out measures that are not connected with business impact.  

Here's the deal:  If your app isn't impacting business results-oriented KPIs it's going to be a failure.

Consequently, it's crucial that your product owner clearly defines what success looks like, how it will be measured--and how it will move the business forward.  Ideally, success is measured by quantitative KPIs backed by a mobile analytics strategy.

After product KPIs are identified, the product owner must continually prioritize the product roadmap based on each feature's contribution toward KPI (business results) realization.  

It's also important that KPI progress (or lack thereof) should be regularly socialized within the organization.  Why?  Let's look at the next topic for an answer.

#4 - Inadequate Financial Strategy
Now that we've agreed that you need a product owner focused on product development that can be measured in terms of business results, you'll need to plan a funding strategy to support the product lifecycle.

The mistakes in this category we want to avoid include:

  • Only allocating funding for Version 1.0 and then maybe a maintenance release next year
  • Failing to make a business case based on business impact expressed as KPIs
  • Failure to put product development cost in context of expected business outcomes
  • Failure to consider cost of all the expertise required to bring a product to market, keep it relevant and updated throughout the product lifecycle
  • Failure to communicate product progress (for better or worse) to keep funding coming
In short, mobile product development is probably going to require substantial financial commitment.  If you've chosen the right opportunities, the rewards will be well worth the investment.  

The key point here is to avoid being unrealistic from the outset about what success is going to require financially.

#5 - Failure to Meet Expectations
Did you know that there are about 2000 flashlight apps in the both the Apple and Android app stores?  Most of them have never been downloaded.

While mobile app product teams don't intend to create yet another flashlight app, many of them ultimately do because they fail on any number of users' expectations:
  • Lack of Valuable Features - The app is just a port of web features or doesn't do anything truly useful
  • Lack of User Experience Design - The app feels like a website and not an app and/or is difficult to quickly grasp how to use
  • Lack of Testing - Too many bugs, poor performance, lack of device support, etc.
  • Lack of Innovation - Nothing different, feels dated, no use of new technologies
  • Lack of Support - Lack of timely response or resolution of issues
  • Lack of Brand Integration - App feels disconnected from or inconsistent with other brand channels and experiences
The list of expectations can go on and on.  The main point is that your product owner must understand your target users' expectations and ensure delivery of a product that they will find valuable--and soon cannot live without!

#6 - Failure to Experiment
We once told a prospective client that we could not deliver all the business outcomes they wanted in the MVP release of their mobile app.  They were upset and suggested we didn't know what we were doing.  On the contrary, we said, at this point you don't know what your users really want.  And it will take you multiple experiments (and app releases) to find out.

Mobile, probably more than any other channel, requires constant experimentation.  The need to experiment is driven by constant change in mobile ecosystem technologies, changing user expectations, and an evolving vision of what value mobile should provide.

Assuming you or your product owner know what your users want is a mistake.  Taking a continual test-learn-adapt approach to your mobile app will help you discover what your users really want.

#7 - Lack of Awareness and Marketing
Unlike the ball field in Field of Dreams, if you build it, they (users) will not magically come.  Improve you chances with a focused awareness and marketing effort!

Recently we were talking with a client getting ready to launch their first mobile app.  They'd checked off just about every launch prep task but one: Their internal employees who serve customers directly didn't know anything about the app.  Imagine the brand impression when customers had questions and employees knew nothing and couldn't help.

Whether your app is targeted for internal employees or to external customers awareness and marketing are crucial to your success.  And the communications need to be internal and external just as if you were launching any new service.  An app is not merely a technology or channel play--it's part of your business strategy.  Treat it that way.

Building a successful mobile application is a real challenge.  Improve your odds of success by being sure to avoid the common mistakes we've discussed here.

Magenic has years of experience guiding our clients to build impactful mobile apps that deliver real business results.  Whether you're just getting started or need help adding to your app portfolio, we can help you make informed, pivotal decisions that will best position your app for success.

Let's talk about how our expertise and experience can help you avoid pitfalls and implement best practices that will make your mobile investment durable and effective.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

"Mobile is Product Management" Podcast

Recently I had the pleasure of working with Mike Fishbein of AlphaUX to record "Mobile is Product Management" (July 3, 2017 - Episode 107).  This episode is part of Mike's podcast called "This is Product Management," a weekly interview with "the brilliant minds across numerous disciplines that fuel modern product teams."

During this 36-minute episode we talk about my experiences in mobile product development over the years, as well giving my perspectives on the following topics:
  • What does the future hold for mobile apps?
  • How should mobile fit into an organization's overall digital transformation strategy?
  • What are the unique challenges and most common mistakes associated with mobile development?  How can these challenges be solved?
  • Why is waterfall development insufficient for mobile apps?  What approach works?
  • How do you estimate mobile development cost when assumptions about product lifecycle are uncertain?  Why use a "test-and-learn" approach?
  • What tools do you use for mobile product development throughout the lifecycle?
  • What lessons did I learn from my experience leading The Home Depot's entry into consumer mobile apps?
Whether you're a product owner/product manager or a technologist I believe you'll find useful insights in this discussion of my experience and perspectives on mobile product development.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

What iOS 11 64-bit Support Means for Your Mobile App

Much has been made recently of Apple's announcements regarding 64-bit app only support in iOS 11.  In fact, iOS 11 will simply not run 32-bit apps.

Originally, iOS apps were 32-bit only.  Then, as you may recall, Apple iOS began supporting 64-bit apps starting with the iPhone 5s, eventually requiring all new apps submitted to the App Store starting on 2.1.2015 to include 64-bit support.

In order to prepare users for 64-bit only support, starting in iOS 10.3 Apple began notifying users who opened 32-bit apps that when they upgrade to iOS 11 the app will no longer run.

How big of an issue is this?  Online sources (Sensor Tower) estimate that at least 8 percent, or about 187,000 apps in the App Store today, do not yet support 64-bit operation.

What's new with iOS 11 with regard to 64-bit support boils down a few key things.  If your mobile app is still 32-bit support only:
  • It will no longer show up in App Store search results.  However, users can get to it for download via a direct link.
  • You will have to add 64-bit support in order to send an app update to the App Store.
  • Your users will not be able to run your app unless their iOS version is iOS 10.x or below.
However, depending on your particular scenario, the 64-bit requirement may or may not be immediately relevant.  Let's look at several common scenarios:
  • Public-facing App in the Apple App Store.  Most likely you've already made the move to support 64-bit.  If not, it's imperative you do so before iOS 11 launches.
  • Enterprise-facing App in the Apple App Store.  If your users are on managed devices running iOS 10.x or below and have a direct download link you're ok for the moment.  If your users use their own devices (Bring Your Own Device, or BYOD), you need to add 64-bit support right now.
  • Enterprise-facing App in an Enterprise App Store.  If your users are on managed devices running iOS 10.x or below you're ok until you decide to upgrade the device OS to iOS 11.  However, if you support BYOD, you need to add 64-bit support right now as most users will elect to upgrade to the latest version of iOS as soon as it's available.
In addition to ending 32-bit app support, Apple is making a number of other changes in iOS 11 that may require you to update other aspects of your mobile apps.  Apple is also adding new features that your users will want you to support.

The Magenic Mobile Practice can help you understand what changes in iOS 11 (and Android Nougat) will immediately impact your mobile app portfolio, as well as making informed choices regarding which other features will be advantageous to implement now or in the near future.  Let's talk about how we can best keep your mobile apps on top and working to your strategic advantage.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Emerging Tech Fuels Digital Transformation Using Mobile

** This topic is a frequent joint presentation I do with the Xamarin Team at Microsoft and will be the focus of a webinar on 7/20/2017. **

Mobile technology, according to Forrester, is "the face of digital."  What does this mean for mobile technologists and digital product managers?  It's this:  "Mobile is [the] gateway to new interactions that are rapidly gaining customers’ mobile moments."

Emerging technologies, such as machine learning, the Internet of Things (IoT) and digital reality are fueling new experiences that significantly raise the bar for enterprise mobility.  Let's dig in and look at a few examples.

First, machine learning is an application of artificial intelligence based around the idea that we can give machines access to data and let them learn for themselves.  Or, thinking about it another way, machine learning is using computing power to perform tasks that formerly only people could do but at a super-computing scale.

What makes machine learning--which is not new--especially compelling now is that accuracy has improved to a level that is on par with human cognition.  For example, speech recognition error rates are under four percent, powering not only Siri and Cortana but also "digital assistant" devices like Amazon's Alexa, Echo, or Google Home.

But digital assistants are just the tip of the iceberg.  Microsoft, for example, has created a wide range of "cognitive services" APIs based on machine learning and artificial intelligence that open up incredible opportunities to create engaging mobile experiences.

Let's look at an example.  Prism Skylabs, is a San Francisco-based company that helps customers search through closed-circuit and security camera footage for specific events, items and people.  Their Vision app uses Microsoft's Computer Vision API to return information based on visual content processing.  For a few light-hearted examples that use similar technologies, check out or  

What could you do with machine learning technologies behind your mobile apps?

The Internet of Things (IoT) isn't really new at this point, although it's still an emerging technology in that we're still figuring out what business value we can create when we add and exchange data with newly connected devices.  Three trends add texture to the opportunities IoT presents for digital in general and mobile in particular:
  • Shift of Moore's Law.  Original observation:  Every two years chips become twice as powerful.  Latest trend:  Same chip computational power but every two years price goes down by half, moving toward nearly free chips that are in everything and enabling emerging technologies quickly going mainstream.
  • Everything Connected.  IoT has always promised to connect everything; however, that's become much more feasible--and in near real-time--with the advent of extremely fast 5G Internet.
  • Program the World.  Software is eating the world, yes.  IoT will continue to disrupt industries and how we live in unexpected ways, thereby extending mobile apps' reach ever deeper into the most basic aspects of work and life.  From an enterprise perspective, every business will become a software business.
Here's a couple of examples of how mobile and IoT are fueling digital transformation: 
  • ThyssenKrupp has implemented sensor-based predictive maintenance on elevators and has reduced downtime by 50% by feeding that data via a Xamarin mobile app to technicians and management in near-real time to accelerate service and operational decision-making.
  • Schindler has built a mobile app called FieldLink using Xamarin that enables elevator technicians to optimize their day. Similar to ThyssenKrupp, Schindler has attached sensors to elevators and escalators that are feeding back important data into their systems which enable them to predict and prevent problems before they occur.  Their system in turn is sending over 200 million messages per day back out to technicians in the field using the mobile app. The app also optimizes the technicians day by pushing service incidents to the technician nearest to the customer site in real-time.
What new business capabilities could you build using data from the Internet of Things?

Like machine learning, digital reality is not new.  The Sensorama, built by Morton Heilig in the 1950s and patented in 1960, is probably the earliest virtual reality (VR) device.

Today, digital reality has subdivided into three main types:
  • Augmented Reality.  Digital content on top of the real world.
  • Mixed Reality.  Digital content that interacts with the real world.
  • Virtual Reality.  Digital content separate from the real world.
Augmented reality (AR) is the easiest of the three to implement and we see a lot of examples today--think Pokemon Go.  Another example is an aquarium in Tokyo that wanted to solve a wayfinding issue where customers had a difficult time getting to the acquarium from the underground.  To solve the challenge, they created an AR mobile app that enabled customers to follow virtual penguins all the way to the aquarium!

Mixed reality (MR) places interactive digital content in the real world.  Microsoft's HoloLens is the major MR device in the market right now, although others like Magic Lead and Meta are also innovating in this space.  For sure, the applications of MR seem to be endless.

Unlike AR or MR, virtual reality (VR) is digital content--and an experience--totally separate from the real world.  You're transported to and fully immersed in a different place.  Mobile VR, using things like Google Daydream or Google Cardboard, is pretty simple.  More complex VR experiences--for example, using Oculus Rift--are much more immersive and realistic, although currently more the domain of gamers than the enterprise.

One negative perception of digital reality, however, is that can be an isolating experience.  On the contrary, VR enables deeper connections through an immersive experience, effectively giving us the chance to almost literally walk in another person’s shoes.  Chris Milk, a filmmaker and storyteller, calls VR the "ultimate empathy machine."  He and his team created an immersive experience called ”Clouds over Sidra” which shows the story of a day in the life of a young Syrian refugee girl.  Backed by the UN and UNICEF, Clouds over Sidra proved to be an exceptionally effective fundraising tool.

So why will digital reality be a key driver of digital transformation for the enterprise?  First, even two years ago 75% of the Forbes 100 already had a VR or AR experience.  Chris Cavanaugh, writing recently for Forbes, says that "biggest trends that we are all going to see over the next year is the use of virtual reality and augmented reality."

Digital transformation driven by emerging technology always has one thing in common:  mobile.  In fact, emerging technologies are cementing mobile's position as "the one device to rule them all" rather than supplanting it.

Getting your arms around emerging technologies, how to effectively use mobile, and how to fit into your digital transformation journey is a complex undertaking.  Magenic Technologies specializes in digital transformation through technology and can guide you each step of the way.  Let's talk about how we can help you add the jet fuel of emerging technologies and mobile to your digital transformation.

Take a Mobile First Approach to Digital Transformation Strategy

** This post is also published as a POV paper -- download it here **

It’s no secret that mobile technology is revolutionizing the way business interacts with customers. In fact, analysts such as Forrester Research argue that many businesses’ customers may never interact with them using PC or laptop again. 

In the future, researchers say mobile devices will become the centralized hub for all connected experiences. Forrester calls this phenomenon the “mobile mind shift” and notes savvy brands are rearranging their priorities to focus on making mobile engagement easier, more efficient and more appealing for smart but time-starved customers. 

Companies that fail to implement the solutions needed for a mobile-first digital transformation strategy—including mobile augmentation or extension of other channels— are about to find themselves left in the dust. 

Of course, for nimble new startups and disruptors a mobile-first or even mobile-only strategy is often the plan from the start. They have the advantage of fresh technology and streamlined processes aimed squarely at mobile customers. 

Conversely, established companies often find they must launch a digital transformation strategy that modernizes interaction models and supporting systems. 

Think contextual journeys, not just mobile 
Implementing a truly effective and durable digital transformation strategy isn’t achieved by thinking “mobile first” and then simply designing and building applications geared toward smartphones and tablets. 

Rather, mobile first is a perspective that can be applied to almost any customer interaction because it emphasizes contextual journeys, not just a mobile channel experience. Consequently, a key approach is research-based evaluation of the real-world journeys your customers make that focuses on increasing effective engagement every step of the way. This process will surface customers’ most desired modes and channels of communication, many times including mobile. 

Note that the mobile first perspective and resulting customer journey-centric approach is an imperative for all parts of the organization, not just IT. Each part of your organization should be actively involved in trying to understand customer needs, their pain points and their preferences for interaction. Each department must re-imagine how to engage and empower customers to accomplish their goals across channels with a priority on mobile experiences.

Creating effective mobile engagement 
After customer journeys are freshly understood—and in light of the innovative opportunities emerging technologies provide, creating effective mobile-first engagement requires making a series of incremental bets about how you can most effectively engage customers, influence their behavior and improve business outcomes. 

Organize your bets in product road maps and plan for implementing supporting technology. Plan to take a “test-learn-adapt” approach with each product release that will enable you to continually improve outcomes while also more fully engaging customers. Be sure to collect as much quantitative data as possible to provide clear insights and determine impact. 

As you continually analyze the multiple data points gleaned—customer preferences, locations, behavioral histories, time sensitivities, etc. —you can continually tweak the way you do business, solving pain points and creating the interactions and benefits most likely to delight your customers. Your entire organization must align to understand customer needs and preferences and re-imagine how you can help them reach their goals most effectively. 

Getting started 
Now making this happen requires transformation leaders have a deep understanding of your enterprise ecosystem, complex mobile product development, emerging technologies and the Agile methodologies that will preserve product flexibility while ensuring quality and responsiveness. In most cases your business will also require a significant overhaul of standard policies regarding security, privacy, compliance, legacy integration and usability. 

Magenic’s deep expertise in mobile product strategy, customer experience design, development, integration and quality assurance/testing makes us a valuable partner when it comes to envisioning and realizing your mobile-first future. Talk to us about best practices and how to avoid common pitfalls when making the turn. There’s no time to lose for companies that wish to compete in a rapidly changing mobile-first world.