Recently Gartner, the respected analyst organization, released their predictions about Mobile Consumer Applications In 2012. While I agree with most of Gartner’s consumer predictions, I wanted to talk about the impact of mobile on B2B organizations in the next year. Planning for 2012 is great, but it is important to understand what is actionable this year.
The difficult issue when discussing mobile is that it really addresses a wide variety of communication methods including: people finders, schedule organizers, text alerts, wake-up calls, mobile web sites, mobile coupons, voting, and Bluetooth. Another issue to keep in mind is that BlackBerry is still out selling Apple’s iPhone at a rate of more than 2 to 1. However, looking at application downloads and activity on both platforms shows that the iPhone has a higher level of user engagement and a more mature application store.
The important thing to remember is that most of the business world is still on BlackBerry devices, while the iPhone is currently a more consumer focused device. This is changing but when planning mobile strategies for 2010 it is critical to have a clear picture of the device adoption rate within your current and potential customer base.
B2B Mobile trends To Watch
1. Location-Based Integration With All Mobile Applications – Integrating location-based functionality into B2B mobile applications in 2010 will begin to set a trend that will become standard in years to follow. I will be writing a more in depth post solely about the implications of location-based applications soon. Meanwhile, in the B2B space we continue to hear about consumer location-based applications like Foursquare and Brightkite. While these applications clearly add a valuable layer of experience to social networking, the true power of location-based applications sits with B2B.
Social media connects people online, but adding location-based applications to mobile devices helps to foster online relationships offline. On this blog we have talked a lot about the power of relationships for B2B. If your organization values relationships, then location-based is a logical step in cultivating digital customer relationships.
Location-based functionality will become common place in CRM applications, B2B social networks and other applications. I don’t think wide adoption will occur in 2010 but it will certainly be the start.
2. Multifaceted Customer Service Applications – For years now B2B customer service, a critical customer retention and acquisition tool has been relegated to a 1-800 number and an e-mail address. Recently things like real-time chat and user groups have surfaced as an extension of customer service. In 2010 B2B customer service will begin to go mobile in a significant way.
Not only will customer service begin to go mobile, but it will also create new customer touch points in the form of mobile applications, text messaging, mobile chat and more. In the coming year it will not be uncommon to have a distributor use a mobile application, not just to check on the status of his order from the manufacturer, but to get push notifications about shipping or production delays, to ask a customer service rep a question via mobile chat, or see the top questions about a product in a user-forum.
3. Integrating Mobile Into Tradeshows – Industry tradeshows are not going away anytime soon in the B2B space. They are a staple cost in most annual budgets for B2B organizations. However, what has already started to change is the increased focused on maximizing cost of event sponsorships and employee travel, while at tradeshow events. Mobile is a major catalyst in helping to boot this ROI. In 2010 B2B organizations will begin to use mobile communications tools, like text messaging to spread word-of-mouth about tradeshow parties and events while building new opt-in databases for mobile marketing.
Do you agree? How is your organization handling the opportunity of mobile?