Mobile is replacing the web.
That’s the elephant in the room today. When I gave this keynote presentation to a packed auditorium at the CIO Summit in Chicago this March, I explained that too many companies are still trying to ignore the elephant. Despite mobile being one of the most talked about, blogged about and spoken about topics out there, there are too many companies still convinced it’s just another “trend.” This too shall pass, right?
Not likely. According to We Are Social, only 35 percent of the world has access to the internet, while mobile device penetration has reached 93 percent. A recent UN report found that mobile phones are more ubiquitous than indoor plumbing. The statistics are incredible, and only underscore the speed and magnitude of the mobile shift.
The move from the Web and PCs to mobile happened quickly: the iPad virtually wiped out the netbook market overnight and overtook PC shipments in less than five years. In large part, this is because the personal computer was never truly personal. It didn’t conform to our way of being; it asked us to conform to it. Neither the desktop nor its applications have ever been truly human-centric.
Contrast that with mobile devices, which often feel like extensions of ourselves. They’re always with us – in the car, at the movie theatre, sometimes even in bed – and they offer intuitive experiences that cater to individual preferences and habits.
How’s this for intuitive? When my daughter was just a year old, she wanted to play with my iPad. Without any instruction, she swiped to unlock and began flipping through pages of apps, hunting for an icon that piqued her interest, then tapped it with her finger to open. Her generation is a bellwether of what’s to come.
All Hail the (User) Experience Economy
Along with the rise of mobile, the nature of the web itself is changing. “Mobile-first” companies (think Uber, Instagram and WhatsApp) build lightweight websites that do little more than direct you to download their powerful mobile apps.
This is great for consumers, but it’s scary for businesses. Now users’ information isn’t being captured and stored via the open Web anymore. Instead, it’s siloed in apps or walled off within APIs. From a data perspective, this is a big deal.
How big? It’s transforming the way the entire digital economy operates, from search engines to advertising to CRM and beyond. As mobile shifts the epicenter of our connected world from websites to apps, companies must rethink how they interact with customers. The “mobile-first generation” – millennials and younger – will expect work environments to be just as user-friendly as their personal tech. In fact, they’ll expect to move between them seamlessly.
Contrast that with where we stand today. At home, we enjoy elegant apps like Simple, Runkeeper or Facebook’s Paper. At work, we’re stuck with Outlook, homegrown order procurement systems, and even (yes) fax machines. As Geoffrey Moore put it, “Saturday and Sunday, we’re masters of the universe. But Monday through Friday, we’re dweebs.”
The good news? Mobile is changing all this. It’s dissolving the conventional distinctions of business-to-employee (B2E) and business-to-consumer (B2C). As consumers, having now seen technology “done right” in the form of mobile apps that are intuitive, purposeful and easy to use, we now carry these same expectations into the workplace. There is dwindling patience for the convoluted, frustrating user experiences we have tolerated from corporate systems of the past.
Businesses, for their part, are starting to recognize the huge productivity gains of providing employees with apps that truly help them perform their jobs better. All of this is pushing us toward a new paradigm where there is no B2E or B2C, there is just the user – call it B2U. When a B2U mentality is adopted, we can stop creating one class of experience for customers and another for employees, and instead start thinking of everyone’s expectations as the same.
At the end of the day, whether we’re in “work” mode or “home” mode, we’re all individuals who expect positive user experiences. So for companies, adopting the B2U mindset is vital to attracting and retaining users now and in the future. After all, there’s only one “U.”
Want to learn more about the future of enterprise mobility and what exactly it means for IT? Check out our full presentation below: