’s IoT Cloud Will Paint 360-Degree View of Customers with Big Data Analytics

All the data generated by connected devices in the Internet of Things (IoT) has been somewhat ambiguous and invisible to businesses. We all know that the IoT offers huge potential for data collection and analysis to improve customer experiences, but the how behind it has been somewhat elusive without a data scientists on staff and a hefty development budget to boot. This presents a problem, as McKinsey reports IoT applications could have a potential economic impact of $11.1 trillion per year by 2025 – an amount only reachable if companies can begin to make sense of the IoT’s constant data stream.

Last week, (SFDC) announced its plans to help customers intake, analyze, and act on both IoT data coming from the wearables around us but also sales and service data already in SFDC’s CRM tools. The product, IoT Cloud, “will ingest, filter and transform the data and then tie it back to the Salesforce platform where users can work with the data to understand their customers better,” according to early reports from TechCrunch. It’s powered by SFDC’s new operating system, Thunder, and built on four existing open-source big data analytics platforms, which you can read more about here.

Salesforce IoT cloud

Salesforce’s IoT Cloud seamlessly connects to its other service, analytics, and sales CRM products to offer a complete customer view.

The significance of SFDC’s investment in the IoT can’t be ignored. SFDC is banking on the prediction that data gathered from the millions of sensors around us, about our behaviors and preferences, will someday be equally as important (if not more so) than existing data about our actions within sales, service, and digital analytics software. In other words: someday, our devices may know more about us than we do, and businesses will be able to offer predictive products and services with the help of products like SFDC IoT Cloud.

I find this proposition both exciting (because, hey, who doesn’t want more relevant, real-time problem solving?), and also anxiety-inducing (because my connected products are basically making decisions on my behalf).

SFDC IoT Cloud will also begin to solve the current problem of interoperability between connected devices. Today, the most likely scenario is that our devices transmit data to the cloud, but the “cloud” isn’t a single repository. Rather, data exists in multiple silos, with no connection, limiting the ability for us or businesses to analyze it and trigger future actions accordingly. However, if smart products (for the consumer or corporate sector) can transmit their data to the same place, and SFDC is doing the heavy lifting in hardware configuration and software analytics, we can begin to break big data into smaller, more actionable pieces.

IoT Cloud is especially attractive to current SFDC customers. Now, they can begin to paint a truly 360-degree picture of their customers by accessing data points about actions that typically don’t occur within the traditional purchase funnel. IoT Cloud has vast applications for the B2B sector as well, with companies like Cisco already using it in conjunction with SFDC Wave Analytics and Service Cloud to monitor all equipment, including routers, switches and networkers. Then, as SFDC demonstrated at Dreamforce, Cisco customer service reps are notified if a switch within the network is causing serious problems and needs servicing.  

Although IoT cloud won’t be available until 2016, it’s certain that competition is taking note and will follow suit (perhaps another announcement will come from Oracle at OpenWorld this year?). Brands are smart to prepare now for the onslaught of even more customer data that will soon be readily accessible through the IoT Cloud. Once consumers experience ultimate personalization and predictive servicing, expectations will shift for all other brand interactions. And, it will be impossible to imagine life (interacting with “archaic” companies) any other way.

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Stripe’s In-App Commerce API “Relay” Improves Mobile CX, with Attribution Bonus for Marketers

Mobile commerce – when we shop on our smartphones and tablets – now accounts for 34% of sales globally, and during 2014, shopping app usage grew faster than any other category of applications. It benefits retailers to plan strategies around mobile commerce, aka “m-commerce” now, as consumers are increasingly turning to their devices to complete transactions.

However, it isn’t all roses and butterflies for customers looking to shop on their mobile phones. I recently covered a Jumio and Harris Interactive study that reports 56% of mobile users have abandoned a transaction on their devices. Why? There are simply too many user experience hoops, such as sign-ups, shopping carts, and page loads, to jump through to complete a purchase easily and efficiently. Poor mobile experience design is a huge hurdle to overcome, and fickle customers will jump ship at the first sign of time-wasting obstacles.

San Francisco startup Stripe released a set of tools last week aimed to make the m-commerce process smoother for customers looking to complete purchases within the app of origin. The API, labeled “Relay,” lets developers add payment functionality within the applications they develop, in turn allowing users to stay inside the app to buy rather than hopping to a mobile website or, worse, another channel to convert.

Take a look below at how Warby Parker has used Relay’s functionality within Twitter (one of Stripe’s initial partners) to more easily move customers along the purchase funnel within their tweets. This functionality displays and works seamlessly when users use Twitter’s native app to browse Warby Parker tweets on their smartphones.

warby parker tweet buy button

Warby Parker and Twitter using Stripe’s Relay API for easy in-app purchasing.

According to Stripe, mobile devices account for 60% of browsing traffic for shopping sites but only 15% of purchases. Their hope is that relay will help increase conversions by reducing friction in the mobile customer purchase process. Some companies, including Levi’s, Oakley, and Ted Baker, are even linking Relay to their existing e-commerce systems to create better mobile experiences.

Relay offers another, perhaps unintended, benefit to brands that are developing mobile strategies, though. That benefit lies in mobile attribution.

Proving the value of mobile and securing related resources from the c-suite has long been a challenge for marketing, e-commerce, digital, and IT strategists. My research on mobile customer experience design and digital transformation has uncovered how difficult it can be for internal change agents to make the case for mobile investment when little support is received from digital leaders. Can’t show me the ROI? Can’t provide you with funding for your program.

Tools like Relay could have a significant impact in helping mobile strategists prove the impact of mobile programs that are in their infancy, positioning them to receive the support needed to grow into larger, enterprise-wide digital transformation efforts that focus on improving all aspects of the digital customer experience. Before, customers would often begin their purchase process within a retailer’s app, but convert elsewhere, making it difficult to justify or prove mobile’s crucial role in the customer journey.

Now, with in-app payment being made simpler, that direct commerce attribution from mobile is easier to prove to executives who require results. It’s a win-win-win for developers, consumers, and marketers alike.

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Leaders Seeking IoT Inspiration Must Look to Other Industries for Growth

History has a tendency to repeat itself. We can all remember when social media was a fledgling marketing tactic, and companies experimented and tested their way to the maturity of today’s advanced social engagement programs. In my past research on digital transformation and mobile customer experience design, I saw brands traverse the same journey as they did in social – learning from one another, borrowing strategies, and cobbling together programs, campaigns, and internal infrastructures on their way to maturation.

And now, the world of wearables, connected devices, and the Internet of Things (IoT) is at the start of that same journey.

It’s a journey of many roads and moving pieces, with companies struggling to create seamlessly relevant customer experiences (CX) on new channels while still maintaining engagement on their tried-and-true media. It’s a journey that requires a willingness to fail, and fail again, until the right solution is pieced together. It’s a journey that forces industries and competitors to work together, looking to one another for inspiration, as the leaders in this space are all but determined, and innovation can come from the unlikeliest of sources.

I was reminded of this pattern in CX evolution around new technologies when reading a slew of news stories involving disparate industries working in parallel to solve similar problems – yet each unaware of the innovation transpiring next door. In my work, I’m often asked by clients to find similar examples of companies within their industry that have created successful IoT, mobile, social, et. al., programs. What I find most often, though, is that the most creative solutions and experiences depend on specific leaders and teams, regardless of vertical. It is extremely rare for one industry to excel far-and-above another when it comes to adopting a new technology to engage with customers.

This is especially true if an industry is bogged down with additional regulations or bureaucracy (ie. banking and pharmaceuticals), or if it’s funded less than another sector (ie. government and nonprofit).

For example, it was recently reported that the Department of Defense (DoD) is kicking off a new partnership with many tech giants including Apple, Hewlett-Packard, and Boeing, to bring wearable technologies to soldiers in combat. The goal is to create wearable devices, as part of soldiers’ uniforms, to monitor vital signs without restricting range of motion or becoming a distraction during combat. The partnership will likely spend years developing these technologies – technologies, that, already exist in another industry: professional sports.

NFL wearable sensor

Two sensors will be embedded in NFL uniforms, beneath the shoulder pads. [Credit:]

This season, NFL players will be wearing sensors beneath their shoulder pads (see photo above) that will track where they are on the field, their speed, distance traveled and acceleration more accurately than ever before. I’ve also written about Reebok’s Checklight over at MobileFOMO – a device that sits under NFL athlete helmets and emits a colored alert light when a significant hit is suffered. Both of these technologies are tested and proven to work under duress. It would serve the DoD well to examine the use of wearables for tracking vitals and location within other relevant industries before blazing an entirely new path (perhaps even the fashion industry). As the adage goes, “there’s no need to reinvent the wheel.”

There are countless other examples where innovation is happening in one industry that, with a little creativity, could be applied to solve another industry’s problems – all with less time in research and development and, therefore, less resources invested. I’ll be chronicling other opportunities for collaboration and cross-vertical learning here at WearableFOMO in the future as I analyze them. In the meantime, I advise strategists to take a look outside of their own company, competitive set, and industry to find the real magic. If history repeats itself, IoT adoption will surely follow suit of its tech predecessors in its evolution.

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Apple Doubles Down on “Mobile” Experience Design for All Devices

With its highly anticipated product announcements Wednesday morning in San Francisco, Apple reinforced its focus on creating a seamless, cross-device experience that truly puts mobile functionality first. From a new-and-enlarged iPad Pro to slick enhancements to the Apple TV experience, it’s clear that Apple is dedicated to keeping users on its devices throughout their customer journey by never veering from an intuitively mobile (and, familiar) experience design.

Let’s take a closer look at the event’s three major updates: iPad Pro, iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, and the Apple TV upgrade.

iPad Pro

Apple’s iPad Pro is basically a souped-up iPad that nears laptop operating power and functionality. Starting at $799, it features a 12.9” (!) screen, allowing enough room to display two apps at once and truly multitask. Multitasking becomes even easier for customers that also purchase the newly unveiled Apple Pencil – a high-sensitivity stylus for $99.

ipad pro

[Credit: Apple]

Mobile users have long cited their devices’ small screens as a reason for turning to desktops to perform everyday tasks, from shopping online to ordering takeout. Apple’s unveiling of the iPad Pro shows they’ve got a pulse on consumer needs around mobile devices and are filling the gap accordingly. As PC sales are already on the decline and tablet sales have plateaued, it’s likely that hardware like the iPad Pro will jump-start another round of laptop cannibalization. Interesting product to launch though, as Apple’s MacBook sales are still steadily growing. The iPad Pro could steal share from the company’s own competitive product set.

iPhone 6s and 6s Plus

The most interesting update to the iPhone 6s and its larger 6s Plus counterpart is the inclusion of 3D touch, tactile in-screen technology that sense fingertip pressure and gives touch feedback to users. Pretty nifty! The goal of 3D touch technology is to change the way users interact with multiple applications at once. For example, if you want a sneak peek at one piece of information within an app (ie. a location), you can simply hold pressure for a moment in App 1 to be given the preview you need in App 2, without going through all the load times (see image below). It reminds me of the “Quick Look” functionality for products on many e-commerce websites.

iphone 6s 6s plus 3d touch

[Credit: TechCrunch]

Why is this update critical to mobile experience design? It gets at the root of how we’re beginning to use our applications. We’re looking for succinct experiences that solve very specific needs, often using multiple apps to achieve one result. In addition to 3D touch, the new iPhones will also sport a 12MP back/5MP front camera, new metallic color options, and a welcomed payment plan to upgrade your smartphone annually.

Apple TV upgrade

The new-and-improved Apple TV touts its own App Store, a retooled OS, and a multi-touch remote. Watching the demo actually made me reconsider my decision not to purchase one this year, as its interface navigation mirrors the native experience of Apple’s other mobile devices seamlessly. Add to that its integration with a Siri on steroids who can locate any TV episode (or part within), movie, or app with few hints to what you’re looking for. Never again will you have to search through Law and Order: SVU episodes for “that one guest starring Patricia Arquette.”

The remote itself has a glass touchpad on top, encouraging users to swipe through apps and entertainment icons for browsing and selection – just as you would on an iPad or iPhone. The mirrored functionality in navigation, as well as connected social TV apps from the likes of MLB, is the bridge needed to keep the TV alive within our homes. When faced with unlimited entertainment options on our in-palm devices, who wants to turn to an archaic TV and, most likely, fractured experience? Apple new TV box solves that problem.

Today’s event featured a few other updates too, like a reminder of Apple Watch’s upcoming OS2 launch and a new iPad mini, but those upgrades were inconsequential within the larger picture of Apple’s commitment to seamless mobile experience design. I was a bit disappointed to see such little unveiled in terms of Apple Watch upgrades though, as I believe Apple is just skimming the surface of what it could do for wearable experiences within our connected lives. My colleague and Circle Click CEO Anne Ward was also hoping for an “Apple Home” announcement today as a platform for our personal IoT, but alas, that too was missing.

For now though, it’s encouraging to see such a large hardware player like Apple pushing the industry forward in its approach to mobile-first experience design. I’m excited to see what brands will build on its foundation.

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IoT Retail Market Projected to Expand Fourfold, Includes Hardware and Beacon Spend

Mastering IoT in retail is a complicated puzzle, often requiring not only hardware and/or beacon installation, but also software data kits (SDK), data analytics, and customer permissions. Although the challenges are aplenty, they’re not insurmountable. At least that’s what Juniper Research is banking on in its recent predictions for a booming IoT retail market.

According to its report, The Internet of Things: Consumer, Industrial & Public Services 2015-2020, by 2020, retailers will spend $2.5 billion in hardware and installation costs to capitalize on the IoT, a 4x increase over its estimated $670 million spend in 2015. Their estimate includes both beacons and RFID tag costs. Retail’s commitment to IoT innovation will contribute to the growth of non-consumer IoT device share too, with Juniper Research also projecting 70% of IoT devices to be commercial in nature by 2020.

It’s no secret that retailers are facing a hefty price tag when looking to create programs centered on wearable technologies, connected devices, and in-store GPS and NFC technologies. But, the potential benefits are vast and yet untapped by many marketers:

  • Provide consumers contextually relevant information and promotions, based on their location in-store and (if connected to a predictive analytics strategy and software) past purchase behavior. This contributes to a more relevant and valuable customer experience for shoppers.
  • Enhanced visibility of highly trafficked, and avoided, areas of the store, useful for mapping end-cap promotions, signage, and staffing during heavy sales periods. The latter contributes to richer customer service programs that benefit shoppers while deploying the most cost-efficient amount of resources.
  • Real-time, “smart” inventory tracking and even dynamic pricing based on stock levels and online pricing, as reported by Juniper Research. We’ve written about RFID’s potential in a similar context within healthcare environments, too. Target and Zara have been experimenting with RFID technology over the past year.
  • Additional data collection to provide a 360-degree view of customer behavior, linking online and offline paths to purchase by connecting consumer data via unique identifier. This is a bit more advanced, but possible using customer log-in or loyalty data.

One company attempting to ease the hardware + software burden for retailers is Estimote. They’ve recently launched a new indoor location system that uses what they’ve dubbed “Nearables” paired with standard beacon technology and app install to triangulate the location of in-store shoppers (see image below).

estimote nearable beacon

Estimote’s in-store “Nearable” beacons work with its app to triangulate customer location.

Marketers simply stick Nearables on various structures within the store and, when users have the app running in the forefront (background capabilities are in the works), retailers are privy to a world of data on foot traffic uploaded to the cloud for analysis. Nearables can also be tracked on the app, allowing users to search out specific departments, promotions, and products with ease. Users can track other friends using the app, too.

Estimote’s Nearables and associated data emporium signal the continued evolution and convergence of IoT, mobile, location intelligence, and real-time marketing – all of which are necessary pieces to complete the data science puzzle and deliver contextually relevant experiences. All the while, these solutions hinge on one important requirement: customer installation of applications and a willingness to dispense data for commercial use. Evolution must occur in data privacy standards in tandem with technological advancements, or we’re left with plenty of bright, shiny objects, but no one to use them.

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Google Raises Expectations for Mobile-Friendly Sites with App Install Interstitial Ad Penalty

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Tuesday, April 21, 2015, otherwise known as “Mobilegeddon,” was a day of importance to website operators worldwide, as it was Google’s deadline for getting all sites up-to-speed with mobile optimization requirements. For those sites that didn’t make the deadline, they were faced with demerits from Google’s search algorithm which now docks mobile-unfriendly sites in search result placement. Large text, easy to click links, user-friendly navigation, and responsive design elements became paramount in mobile site development for businesses of all sizes.

Now, Google is set to strike again. As of November 1, 2015, the search giant will double-down on its push for better mobile customer experiences, this time with a focus on interstitial ads promoting app installation that stand as a barrier between mobile search results and the desired web content.

In an official statement this week, Google announced this impending update to its Mobile-Friendly Test:

“After November 1, mobile web pages that show an app install interstitial that hides a significant amount of content on the transition from the search result page will no longer be considered mobile-friendly.

Rather than push users to an app install via interstitial ad, Google recommends using a less intrusive banner ad (see Fig. 1 below). This serves the purpose of driving app installs while still maintaining a desired customer experience for mobile users in search of information, not an interrupted journey. And, as reported by Business Insider, this shouldn’t affect the $4.6 billion mobile app interstitial advertising revenue market either, as the majority of these interstitials come directly from publishers promoting their own apps, not an outside ad spend budget.

Figure 1. Mobile interstitial app install ads vs. Banner app install ads

google interstitial mobile ad ban

Left pair showcases an interstitial ad, prompting app download. The right pair showcases a smaller banner ad inciting app download, contributing to a better mobile user experience. [Image Credit: Google]

With 60% of its search traffic driven from mobile devices, it serves Google well to focus on maintaining and creating optimal search experiences on smartphones and tablets. By continually upping its standards of what defines a mobile-friendly experience, Google is also raising the bar for foundational CX requirements across all industries. Digital, mobile, marketing, and customer experience strategists should already be delivering responsive, intuitive, and native mobile experiences, but a little push from Google doesn’t hurt in providing incentive in boosted SEO.

The purview of these additional requirements added to Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test are not aimed to burden developers, but rather decrease user frustration in achieving the desired result from their actions. Plain and simple: Don’t be the interruption between steps of mobile conversion. Deliver what’s expected, or design your journey to achieve different results. There’s a reason why users are turning to a mobile web search vs. your app in the first place.

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Consumers Charged with Innovation When Healthcare Industry Lags in IoT Adoption

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With healthcare IT spending under a microscope, all investments must have a proven business case. Unfortunately, this can leave little room on the table for innovation. Leaders are tasked with responding to the most immediate hospital and clinic needs around regulation and infrastructure, rather than examining new opportunities for growth in emerging technologies like the IoT.

It’s a classic chicken-and-egg scenario for those pining for resources to get IoT programs and initiatives off the ground: IT leaders with tight budget constraints require proof of results to invest, while change agents need resources in order to provide proof of concept. It’s an unfortunate tug-of-war between fulfilling current needs reactively and creating solutions for problems proactively that may benefit more patients in the future.

As most hospitals are not-for-profit, prioritizing hospital IT needs comes down to what is most beneficial to the organization now, for the lowest cost. TechTarget research uncovered that a compelling IoT business case is the greatest need to seriously drive wearable technologies forward within the healthcare industry. Today, they found that most leaders focus on the challenges facing IoT adoption (otherwise known as “biometrics” in healthcare circles), such as inaccurate clinical data, lack of interoperability among systems, and added security risks.

In order for biometric-based technologies to reach its projected $12.5 billion market potential by 2024 (see chart below for revenue breakdown by region), these challenges will have to be swiftly overcome. Because, the potential benefits are aplenty. According to a recent Tractica report, the upside of implementing biometrics-based technologies includes improved administrative processing, patient safety, workflow and authentication processes, pharmacy dispensing, and remote monitoring. I’ve covered the potential application of RFID deployment in hospitals previously, too.

biometric market projection

The healthcare industry has a ways to go, though, and in the meantime, patients and the companies that serve them are taking IoT innovation into their own hands. When an industry moves slower in tech adoption than the general consumer populace, people begin to create ideal experiences independently, often hacking the current options available to them.

artificial pancreas

An “artificial pancreas” technology kit. [Credit: Business Insider]

That’s exactly what a couple did to solve the current issues facing diabetes sufferers. Together, Scott Leibrand and Dana Lewis, along with a small group of engineers and developers, assembled an “artificial pancreas” to manage Lewis’ insulin for her. They developed the artificial pancreas as a hack to the current insulin monitor and pump that required consistent monitoring and manual administration. The pancreas is a group of electronics that mimic the functions that Lewis’ is missing, with a Raspberry Pi mini computer taking data from a USB stick and glucose monitor and transferring the recommended dosage to the insulin pump. As reported by Business Insider, the data is then automatically uploaded online in real-time, so Lewis and Leibrand can track it on-the-go.

Or, consider research currently being conducted by the University of California San Francisco Memory and Aging Center. Faced with the fact that many dementia patients require around-the-clock care, and facilities often can’t afford the overhead required to deliver it, researchers created a “care ecosystem” built on the IoT that tracks patient behaviors via in-home sensors. Data is reported back to “care navigators” who can monitor irregularities and engage accordingly. The care ecosystem, currently in clinical trials, would provide huge cost-savings to hospitals, clinics, and other care facilities by more efficiently deploying resources on an as-needed basis as determined by machine learning automation.

Innovation in an industry as regulated as healthcare is slow-moving and requires a lot of internal collaboration among those wielding the purse strings. Until the industry as a whole has evolved to the point of delivering services built on the IoT as the status quo, pockets of innovation will continue to grow in silos among consumers, educators, and even companies that support the growth of connected devices to advance patient care. It’s only when every stakeholder begins to work in concert that solutions become scalable enough to deliver results and establish a new baseline for the healthcare experience.

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Poor Mobile Payment Experiences Force Customers to Convert Elsewhere (Or Not At All)

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Mobile commerce experience design is a tricky game for digital leaders. Customer expectations are extremely high in the desire for a seamless, efficient purchase process, and the moment that’s interrupted or stalled, they’re jumping ship for another channel (or, a competitor). In fact, a recent study by Harris Interactive and Jumio found that 56% of smartphone owners have abandoned a mobile transaction, with only 36% of the same cohort making a second attempt on a desktop device. Either succeed on the first try, or bid 2/3 of your customers goodbye. A more detailed breakdown of abandonment by industry can be found below. 


The causal factors for abandonment are as varied as users are fickle. From belabored account registration walls, to complicated payment processes, to a distrust in mobile security, customers demand a mobile payment experience that is as simple as traditional payment methods, yet aligns more closely with their increasingly mobile lifestyles.

That should be an easy CX strategy to develop, right? Piece of cake.

Through my research on mobile customer experience design and digital transformation, I’ve uncovered that companies struggle when designing mobile experiences that are built on legacy CX strategies. New channels require a new approach to reaching customers at the right time, on their terms. Because, when mobile Millennials encounter even the smallest crack in your app experience design, they’re spending their dollars elsewhere.

And, it’s not just in-app or mobile commerce experiences that require retooling. Organizations must also consider how they’re bridging online and offline commerce experiences with mobile devices. Enter the world of mobile in-store payments, ala Apple Pay, Paypal, and Square. The biggest hindrance to strategies revolving around these payment systems today is their limited acceptance at brick-and-mortar stores due to the additional technology hardware installation required. As a result, Deloitte reports that less than .5% of the global population completed an in-store mobile payment in 2014, with the number expected to grow to 10% by the end of 2015.

samsung pay

Samsung Pay, launching this year, utilizes existing credit card hardware to allow for mobile payment, without the need for NFC. [Image Credit: GeekNewsBlog]

This prediction could shift dramatically in the near future, however, with Samsung’s recent release of its new Note 5 and Galaxy Edge 6+ – both of which will tout Samsung Pay, a contactless mobile payment system that comes standard on these devices. What makes Samsung pay different, and superior to, the likes of Apple Pay is its ability to integrate with existing credit card readers using “magnetic secure transmission” without the need for new hardware or NFC technology. This not only eliminates the usual barrier to entry storefronts face in offering mobile payment options, but also encourages customers to quickly pay using their mobile wallets. Mobile payments are seamless in all locations accepting credit cards, eliminating friction and the risk of a fractured mobile experience.  

If the value of mobile payments is expected to hit $1 trillion USD worldwide in 2017, and expand at a CAGR of 39.1% through 2020, companies must begin re-examining and supplementing their mobile experience and payment strategies now. This isn’t a trend to react to, but rather proactively design mobile-first experiences today to keep customers on-channel through conversion. Your platform has been lit on fire; it’s time to refocus on the demands of your digital customer and design mobile-first experiences, including payment strategies, accordingly. Get started with these steps from my recent report, previously covered in MobileFOMO.

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Mobile Millennials Redefine Downtime With Micro-Moments of Leisure

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When our smartphones are connected to our palms, it can be hard to find a minute alone. Constant notifications from others wanting replies or simply wanting to be heard creep in at every moment for connected Millennials who eat, sleep, and breathe with phones in hand. According to creative technology agency MRY, this creates a mobile relationship that is fraught with contradictions and absent of an “off” button.

MRY’s latest research into consumer digital behaviors uncovers that Millennials are the most distracted generation to date, with technology serving as the catalyst for a growing attention deficit as compared to preceding generations (see Fig. 1). This always-connected normalcy has created what MRY dubs, “The Leisure Paradox,” wherein Millennials suffer from a love/hate relationship with the technology many grew up with. For example, although nearly half (48%) of Millennials worry about spending too much time on their smartphones, 60% believe smartphones enhance their leisure time. Quite the conundrum.

Figure 1. Smartphone-Induced Distractions, Millennials vs. Gen X

MRY millennial microleisure

The report unveils a myriad of other data points, gathered through polling and interviews, around Millennials’ mixed mobile emotions, including:

  • Forty-eight percent have tried implementing a “no phone at the dinner table” policy with friends and family, but 71% also agree that smartphones have made it easier to plan things they like to do in their leisure time.
  • Forty-nine percent agree smartphones make it hard to focus on a singular task, yet 66% also agree that smartphones have greatly enhanced their leisure time by giving more access to leisure activities.
  • Forty-six percent agree smartphones make it difficult to get away from work at home or on weekends, while 51% agree that smartphones provide a means to reduce stress during a busy work day.

As a result of The Leisure Paradox, the traditional split of work vs. play throughout the Millennial’s day doesn’t adhere to the traditional 9-5 work schedule. Rather, daily and evening downtime for younger generations looks a lot more like this (see Fig. 2):

Figure 2. Theoretical View of Millennial Daily Leisure Timeline

MRY millennial timeline

Knowing that small bursts of leisure are intermittently engaged with throughout the day, brands must adapt their advertising, marketing, and content strategies accordingly. MRY shares six key inflection points throughout the day that companies can facilitate micro-leisure, adapting to and satisfying their Millennial audiences (see Fig. 3).

Figure 3. Day-parted Marketing Channel Recommendations

MRY millennial day parting content

Then, once brands understand the when and the where they should be engaging Millennials throughout the day, they can focus on the how. MRY offers the following recommendations for organizations looking to reach Millennials on their level in order to maintain relevancy:

  • Adopt short-form as the format of choice for content aimed at Millennial audiences. This means focusing on communicating key messages in a matter of seconds.
  • Understand the right “etiquette” within each channel to speak to Millennials in their own language and avoid being awkward.
  • Capitalize on emerging mobile ad and content formats designed to tell stories with the functionality Millennials are used to: flicks, clicks, and taps.

MRY’s full report, “The New (Micro)Leisure,” here.

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Barcelona Among Smart Cities Paving the Way for Consumer IoT Adoption

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Residents of Barcelona, Spain, may be introduced to the connective power of the IoT by their municipal government faster than their own personal adoption of smart devices. Barcelona is among a slew of global cities that are successfully using connected products, services, and other sensor applications to control and monitor their city’s energy use, waste management (see photo below), public safety, and more. With less than 10% of online adults owning a wearable device, it’s possible that our cities will evolve quicker than we will in using, and benefiting from, the IoT.

Barcelona smart city

Barcelona, Spain, utilizes sensors throughout its city to monitor irrigation needs, waste management, and air conditions. On the city’s website, residents can view real-time data on a map (above) from the city’s connected devices. The yellow markers in this photo signify trash receptacles; sensors monitor their capacity and alert city officials when they need tending to.

Just how effective are connected objects when considering their impact on economies? Business Insider reports that IoT deployments are expected to create $421 billion in economic value for cities worldwide by 2019, as a result of installing an anticipated 5 billion devices. Add to that, Frost & Sullivan finds that smart products can typically provide energy savings of up to 30%, and generally have a two- to three-year return on investment. That’s an excellent incentive for city governments to invest in innovation that serves not only their own interests, but also those of their residents.

But, IoT innovation depends on one crucial piece of citywide infrastructure: high-speed internet. More than 100 cities have already joined the Next Century Cities coalition to work toward bringing their residents gigabit-speed internet connections. These high-speed connections will serve as the foundation for a myriad of connected services stemming from sensor-laden equipment. From reducing traffic congestion to monitoring air pollution, these “IoCity” solutions will bring additional constituent value and may even aid in attracting future tourists and residents.

Tourist destination Barcelona, Spain, is among the most connected cities worldwide, setting pace for other local governments looking to solve resident and municipal needs through the use of decision-making devices. One such use of the IoT in Barcelona is its monitoring of city park and property irrigation needs with the tap of a (tablet) button. Via in-ground sensors, Barcelona’s environmental leaders are able to track ground humidity, temperature, wind velocity, sunlight, and atmospheric pressure. The connected irrigation system sends data back to the city’s central software system from 178 points throughout Barcelona, allowing managers to track watering needs and project future resource allocation and plant growth.

According to MIT Technology Review, Barcelona’s irrigation system is one of two dozen smart systems that the city is currently building. It’s inevitable that other global cities will follow suit once benefits are further realized and publicly reported. From smart cities, to smart campuses, to smart homes, the environments we spend time in may evolve quicker than our personal behaviors can adapt. It’s hopeful that these environments will serve as catalysts for further consumer adoption of wearables and the IoT as a means to foster innovation on a larger scale with greater global impact.

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