Author Archives: Jaimy Szymanski

Five IoT Innovation Tips Inspired by Smart Campuses

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Companies looking to innovate on the IoT often look to industry peers and competitors for inspiration. However, there may be another source for new ideas and implementation: higher education institutions. With Google recently announcing its plans to turn Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Mellon University into a testing ground for IoT solutions, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison advancing student, faculty, and partner involvement with wearables through its Internet of Things Lab, “smart campuses” are gaining traction as feasible sandboxes for rapidly prototyping sensor-laden devices for both individual use and mass consumption.

Strategists are smart to take a page from these institutions, and others, when planning their forays into the quickly moving world of connected products and services.

1. Test, test, and test some more.
At Carnegie Mellon, Google plans to outfit thousands of everyday items – from coffee pots to bus stops – with inexpensive sensors to, “collect data and provide reactionary features.” By collecting data on multiple devices, and allowing the larger research community to develop and share IoT scripts, actions, multiple-sensor feeds, and applications in its IoT App Store, they can quickly assess interoperability issues and rapidly iterate.

UW Madison IoT lab

IoT Lab students at UW-Madison. [Credit: On Wisconsin Magazine]

UW-Madison’s IoT Lab follows a similar approach to efficient innovation, with 40 students executing 15 in-depth projects each semester. Follow at test-and-learn approach within your organization to quickly establish what’s working, what’s not, and why. The more data you have behind your experimentation and recommendations, the easier it will be to garner internal support and address naysayers.

2. Plan now for growth later.
Testing hundreds, if not thousands, of theories on as many devices is bound to output a significant amount of data. Broaden your horizons while analyzing the data, beyond your current project scope. Could a similar idea work in a different department, with a different product? UW-Madison involves faculty from various disciplines throughout IoT initiative development to aid in extension of applicable programs and add academic insight. Carnegie Mellon University also plans to eventually use its IoT campus learnings and successes in a citywide application for Pittsburgh.

3. Run with simple, yet specific, ideas to garner proof-of-concept wins.
At College of the Holy Cross, biology lab freezers send email alerts when their temperatures vary too far from acceptable. This is a simple, yet effective, use of IoT sensors to prove their value to the university and beyond. Carnegie Mellon’s connected apps also peaked Google’s interest.

Snap2It app

Carnegie Mellon’s Snap2It app allows for quick connection to printers and projectors via smartphone photo. [Credit: Carnegie Mellon University]

From Snap2It, an app that connects users to printers and projectors simply by taking a smartphone photo, to Impromptu, a system that access shared apps only when needed (ie. waiting for a bus), Carnegie Mellon had proven its commitment to using the IoT to better student life – prior to Google’s involvement. Within your organization, spend time assessing the market and weighing opportunities before moving forward with an IoT initiative. Through the process, you’ll uncover quick wins that provide utility to customers, use fewer resources, and prove the value of wearables to your company.

4. Involve outside partners to further advance and support your efforts.
IoT program planning, strategizing, testing, and implementation isn’t cheap. It requires many internal and external resources to get off the ground – resources that often don’t have a budget-line from the CFO. Follow the lead of UW-Madison. By involving the startup community, small businesses, and larger corporations in its IoT Lab, they’re able to fund projects and deliver results to those outside the university who are interested in the outcome and its application to business growth. Consider partnerships with other organizations who can also benefit from IoT innovation. Also look to city and municipal officials, nonprofits and educational institutions, and those outside your industry for partnership opportunities. It’s not just high-tech companies that want to innovate on the IoT; a connected network of devices offers promise to nearly every industry, including healthcare, manufacturing, hospitality, retail, and more.

5. Allow for continuous improvement, even after launch.
A “living laboratory,” as Carnegie Mellon refers to its Google-funded IoT campus, allows for continuous innovation and idea validation over time. Although not every company may have an endless pool of funding and resources for IoT endeavors, it’s important to ensure you have a process established for how to assess successes, and failures, of wearable initiatives over time. When operating on top of the IoT, change is imminent if not constant, and technology leaders must plan accordingly to maintain relevance with consumers.

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When Connected Devices Make Decisions, the “80/20 Rule” Risks Losing Significance

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The Pareto Principle, more commonly known as the “80/20” rule, is commonly referenced in both business and economic applications. Essentially, the Pareto Principle states that 80% of the output is achieved by 20% of the input. Dating back to the twentieth century, this rule of thumb has been used to explain the economics behind everything from wealth distribution to employee efficiency, car accidents to criminal activity.

The Pareto Principle, otherwise known as the 80/20 rule is commonly referenced in business and economics.

The Pareto Principle, otherwise known as the 80/20 rule, is commonly referenced in business and economics.

Although the Pareto Principle’s roots are chiefly economic in nature, its many applications rely on observing human nature and the output of associated activities. So, what happens when you take humans out of the equation? When the devices around us, connected in an intricate Internet of Things, communicate, does the Pareto Principle still apply?

Let’s examine a few common applications of the Pareto Principle and how, with the increased connectivity of the devices around us at home, in business, and in our cities, the 80/20 rule may no longer hold significance.

20% of the workers do 80% of the work.

Although only 10% of industrial operations are currently using the connected enterprise, it offers tremendous potential for greater efficiency and productivity among machinery and employees. Food and beverage company, King’s Hawaiian, found that by adding just 11 connected machines to a factory’s existing operations, they were able to double their production, speed time to market, improve asset utilization, lower total cost of ownership, boost workforce efficiency and better manage risk.

And that’s by the addition of only 11 machines. Imagine what entire fleets of connected machines could do for the manufacturing sector, an industry primed for IoT disruption and benefit in 2015. And, when these connected machines replace a portion of an error-prone human workforce, they will undoubtedly throw off the balance of the 80/20 rule in favor of device-to-device communication, decision-making, and efficiency.

20% of car drivers cause 80% of the accidents.

Google self-driving car

A Google self-driving Lexus at a Google event outside the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

Recent data released by Google and the State of California showcases the safety rate of self-driving cars. According to Google’s report, its self-driving cars have been in 11 minor traffic accidents since it began experimenting with the technology six years ago. And, all of these accidents were caused by the other vehicle, driven by a human, not a computer.

If we can apply this accident rate (and at-fault rate) to a larger data set over time as driverless cars become mainstream, it will undoubtedly have an impact on this particular application of the Pareto Principle. Self-driving cars currently report a zero percent fault rate for accidents, so the 80/20 principle may still apply in the short-term, as human-driven cars outnumber their self-driving counterparts on the road. However, as self-driving cars grow to occupy the majority of space on the road, the percentage of “drivers” responsible for accidents will likely decrease.

In business meetings, 80% of the decisions are made in 20% of the time.

Let’s apply this percentage breakdown to an hour-long meeting. If five decisions are made by the meetings end, then four of them were made in only 12 minutes. Now, if we add sensor-laden devices to the mix, that deliver real-time, actionable data, that ratio is bound to shift.

Cisco is working on technologies that allow for rapid IoT data collection and analysis to influence the speed of informed decision making. They’ve found that, without needing to move device data to a central repository for analysis, organizations can improve their their ability to make decisions more quickly. When you have the right data at your fingertips, aided by machine analysis that can make decisions where humans were once needed, your meeting will likely produce more than one decision in that remaining 48 minutes you’re on the conference line.

Of course, there are some instances where we cannot yet imagine how the IoT would have an impact on the 80/20 rule. Does a more connected infrastructure in our cities change the fact that 20% of criminals commit 80% of the crimes? Does a bar filled with sensors alter the assessment that 20% of patrons consume 80% of the alcohol? Elements of human nature will always be susceptible to the Pareto Principle. It’s when we allow the devices around us to take over for actions and decisions we once made that we’ll need to reassess the 80/20 rule’s statistical validity.

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GPS-enabled Wearables and Apps Offer Safety Net at Privacy’s Expense

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Just because you can track someone, should you?

GPS is the feature-du-jour of many connected devices, mobile applications, and other wearables hitting the App Store and Google Play markets. Many of these newcomers target parents and families looking to protect their children and loved ones, as it’s easier than ever to keep tabs on others’ safety using our everyday devices.

Want to know where the kids are on their commute from school? Transport with Uber-like Shuddle, or track them with a Circo once it hits the shelves.
Chance, Sassy, and Shadow run away? Hopefully, they have collar Taggs.
Has Grandma wandered off? Find out quickly with GPS SmartSoles.

Tagg Pet

Tagg app and collar wearable lets users track pets easily.

The ability to track each other (and, ourselves) for safety’s sake certainly isn’t something new. To be honest, I’ve longed for a Lifeline device since the wise age of 10. It is, however, much simpler to access and understand GPS technology and its data output when our smartphones and tablets are already enabled with these capabilities. There’s no need to hire a private investigator or spend hundreds on a bluetooth tracking chip when checking in on a family member’s location is as easy as opening an app. This seamlessness and ease of use may offer convenience and peace of mind, but at what cost to privacy?

We all can think back to our childhoods when moments of private solace were accessible and (remotely) within our control. Running to the corner store after school, biking to a friend’s house, and even sneaking out at night were at least rituals, if not the norm. Although the world has evolved and crime can sometimes be a realer threat today, the expectation and right to privacy remains.


Life360’s check-in and GPS tracking features.

Take Life360, for example. An app of choice for 50 million families, Life360 markets itself as the ultimate tool for avoiding the inane “where are you?” texts that spring up six to eight times per day, during normally hectic weeks. Each family member, as part of a private circle, can turn their GPS on/off within the app so that others can see their location with ease. Users can also set up familiar locations to automatically “check in” once they’ve arrived at home, work, or school.

I can already hear the faint sound of teenagers reeling aloud at parents knowing their every move.

From Life360, to its predecessor Glympse, to other aforementioned navigation/social networking apps and wearables, the safety concerns mitigated with their use are indeed alluring and key benefits. In fact, App Annie data indicates that “safety” is among the top App Store search terms that lead iPhone users to Life360. I won’t refute that safety benefits of such apps do exist. I am questioning the ethical dilemma at hand, though: at what point do we draw the line between the information we can gather and that which we truly need to?

Data collection for safety’s sake is desirable, but it indeed is a slippery slope into a violation of privacy. As it becomes easier to automate, track, and analyze the data we give and receive, a human element of caution must be present. Continually weighing safety concerns against other lifestyle needs is the only way to ensure the right balance between risk and reward is maintained. Because, technological innovations will never cease to blind us with new data tracking possibilities primed for abuse.

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Shifting from Novelty to Utility Offers Promise for IoT Adoption Growth

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Through each new phase of technology development, consumers have fallen prey to “bright, shiny object syndrome.” Is it new? Does my co-worker have it? I must own it! … (regardless of its usefulness or applicability to my life.)

The Internet of Things has brought about an entirely new slew of products, gadgets, and wearable technologies that have consumers coveting thine neighbors and swooning over newly connected product features. But, what happens when the novelty wears off? We’re left with loads of products with little utility, and we move on to the next fad without looking back.

Or, worse yet, too much novelty can send consumers running in the other direction before even trying wearables on for size. According to data from Business Intelligence and Affinova, 41% of consumers feel strongly that IoT products they have seen or heard about are gimmicky, and 58% feel strongly that they won’t upgrade to IoT devices unless they can be more than just a novelty. If brands are looking to increase sales of wearables and related technologies, they must prove a product’s utility beyond sheer convenience, whether in the form of efficiency, cost-savings, health benefits, or other useful properties.

Take the sports industry, for example. At 2014’s CES, InfoMotion Sports Technologies unveiled the 94Fifty Basketball for $295. It’s equipped with nine lightweight sensors and a bluetooth chip to relay data back to an iPhone app – data about the ball’s backspin, its arc, and the force of the bounce. However, it can’t track if the ball went into the basket nor if a shot was taken (without a pass from another player first). A prime example of novelty for novelty’s sake.

Reebok Checklight Wearable

Reebok’s Checklight wearable identifies when athletes have taken a heavy hit.

Compare the 94Fifty Basketball to recent efforts in the sports wearables arena from Reebok and FITguard. Reebok partnered with mc10 to develop the Checklight – a device that sits under NFL athlete helmets and emits a colored alert light when a significant hit is suffered. Along the same vein, Force Impact Technologies developed the FITguard mouthguard that incorporates motion sensors to detect forceful blows to the head and face, also emitting flashing lights when players withstand a heavy hit. These wearable technologies offer true healthcare utility to both players and their coaches in determining whether or not athletes should continue playing.

Let’s examine a few other examples of how connected products can create value as part of the IoT ecosystem:

  • General Electric believes that using IoT enabled products and processes has the potential to make oil and gas exploration and development just 1% more efficient, resulting in a savings of $90 billion.

True IoT innovation moves past the “gee whiz” factor and focuses on the potential that lies within the connection of smart products to one another.

Apigee Link

Apigee Link enables secure linking of devices to the internet.

Rather than simply adding a remote control to existing products and services, companies are beginning to push boundaries by first eliminating barriers to entry for developers looking to innovate on top of the IoT. One such company, Apigee, offers an API-first IoT platform, Apigee Link, to enable device makers to securely link previously unconnected devices to the internet and grow ecosystems with other devices, apps, customers and partners. This allows companies to securely take the first step into transforming into a digital IoT platform business – the foundation needed for creating meaningful wearable device networks.

When we’re faced with fewer hardware and software barriers to entry in creating connected product ecosystems, wearable tech can offer greater utility to consumers and enterprises alike. Pew Research Center reports that 83% of experts believe wearable tech will have a “widespread and beneficial effect” on the public by the year 2025. This prediction may indeed come to fruition if developers and businesses pursue connected products that, when working in concert with other devices, offer lifestyle and bottom-line value over fleeting novelty.

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IoT Automation Enables “Do It For Me” Consumers Amidst Data Privacy Concerns

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There’s a cold, hard truth about Pinterest: You can pin all the projects and recipes you want but, without the skills, time, or motivation, you’re left with no more than a few online boards stocked with pretty photos and nothing to show (your mom) for your efforts.

As someone who’s never been much of a DIYer, I appreciate brands and startups increasingly catering to a new type of consumer – those, like me, who prefer to conserve energy with instant access to desired products and services with the tap of an app. I can get groceries delivered with InstaCart, hop an Uber to my next destination, and have Washio take care of my dry cleaning. If I’m looking for a unique furniture piece for my apartment, I can turn toCustomMade, and I can wow my friends with a four-course dining experience courtesy of Feastly chefs.

A couple of key trends contribute to this new “Do it For Me” or DIFMe segment of consumers. One, is the collaborative economy (aka the “sharing economy”). The collaborative economy connects consumers to each other, via the startups and brands that enable them, to borrow vs. buy, rent vs. own, and use pre-approved networks of contractors and other sharers to enjoy products and services on-demand. Participating in the collaborative economy makes it easy for consumers to throw out DIY attitudes to save time (and, sometimes, even money) in everyday life by harnessing the power of the crowd.

The Internet of Things is another enabler that takes things one step further, into the realm of before-demand delivery. When the smart, sensor-filled objects around us communicate, they quickly learn our preferences, patterns, and behaviors. The result is increased support of the DIFMe lifestyle. Rather than having to manually request a product or service on my own, connected products use predictive analytics to solve problems before I realize I have a need.

Nest and Mercedes-Benz

Nest application display in Mercedes-Benz console.

Take Mercedes-Benz for example. The luxury car brand recently partnered with smart home control product Nest to enable its cars to communicate with Nest thermostats. When a driver arrives or leaves the house, his or her Benz signals to the home’s Nest, adjusting the temperature accordingly. Because, who wants to be bothered with having to turn down their home’s temperature from their smartphone, when your car can simply communicate for you?

If this seems far-fetched (or at the very least, quite niche), that’s because it is for most. According to Acquity Group, only 7% of consumers own an IoT device and a mere 4% own one in home. But, that doesn’t mean companies aren’t seeing preliminary results. Besides bettering customer experiences, Harvard Business Review reports that executives who are “early adopters” of IoT witness a myriad of benefits of other benefits that include enhanced customer service (51%), increased revenue from service/products (44%), and more information to feed big data/analytics efforts (35%).

The last goes hand-in-hand with a challenging privacy roadblock in achieving greater consumer adoption. When brands begin to collect and analyze consumer data via IoT networks, they face strict standards (both legally and in the court of public opinion) to ensure data is handled securely. Early adopters and younger generations may be more willing to trust their data in the hands of brands, but companies have a long way to go where the general populace is concerned. Until more customers begin to adopt connected products as part of their lifestyle, and relinquish data control for its benefits, companies face an uphill battle. TRUSTe reports that the vast majority of consumers (79%) are concerned about the idea of their personal information being collected by smart devices. And, another 69% feel they should own their on-device data.

So for most, it’s, “DIFMe please … … as long as I know how you arrived at the result and what personal data was used and shared among devices (and, companies).”

Brands must be wary when walking the fine line between seamless experience delivery and breaking consumer trust. Just because users are willing to share their data to save time and energy in their connected lives, doesn’t mean it’s a free-for-all. Companies can avoid customer frustration by clearly outlining what data they’re collecting, how often, for what purpose, and whom they’re sharing it with. Transparency is key to heightened customer engagement, satisfaction, and, ultimately, retention.

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Smartphones Become Remotes in a World of Connected Devices

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In 2009, a mere 18% of the U.S. population was connected to the Internet via their mobile devices. Fast-forward to 2014, and we see 64% mobile connectivity —an increase that can be attributed to many factors, including smartphone price decline, the onslaught of social media apps, and the ever-connected mobile lifestyle that each new generation increasingly embodies.

As we near full population connectivity, we must ask ourselves: what then? When all humans are connected to each other with the world’s information at their fingertips, the only ways to innovate are to improve existing mobile experiences and transform our devices into something more.

If we treat smartphones as our personal remotes to control the products, services, and objects in our lives, innovation takes center stage. Enter the sensor era, otherwise known as the “Internet of Things,” wearable technologies, or connected devices. By the end of 2015, Intel estimates that there will be 15 billion connected devices that use wireless technology to talk to each other … and, to us.

What data will be transferred during these connections?
What will those conversations produce?
And, what changes are inevitable—for consumers and businesses alike?

As a digital experience analyst, I study the evolution of disruptive technologies and how they impact our lives. From social to digital, mobile to wearables, I’ve been brought on board by MobileFOMO to help guide the development of a new initiative, launching in fall 2015: WearableFOMO. WearableFOMO’s contributors will explore not only devices that you physically wear, but also the many other connected devices in our lives. This includes smartphones too, as, for all intents and purposes, they’re attached to our palms anyway.

When we examine mobile through the lens of the Internet of Things, we see it’s both a P2P communication device and a necessary conduit to connect us to an intricate network of on-demand services and smart products. They’re the original wearables, necessary tools through which we orchestrate life experiences.

According to venture capital firm KPCB, smartphone users already use their devices primarily for “just in time” information. From turn-by-turn navigation and following breaking news (both 84%) to learning about community events (79%) and getting help in an emergency (52%), we already turn to our phones in immediate need. As we begin to relinquish control to the connected products around us, real-time response and predictive analytics take over, and these immediate needs are seamlessly fulfilled—without manually running a Google search or opening a series of apps.

Over the coming months, I’ll be exploring these connections and trends, here and on WearableFOMO. Together, we’ll keep pulse on how consumers are using new technologies to solve their problems, and how businesses adapt. I’ll regularly bring new research forward to help understand why the Internet of Things and mobile experience design matter. And, I always welcome your feedback and input.

In the meantime, I welcome you to browse my latest research completed at Altimeter Group on my LinkedIn page. I look forward to sharing insights, having conversations, and helping business leaders like you navigate the world of wearables (and what comes next).

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Mobile CX (Re)design: A Catalyst for Digital Transformation

This article originally appeared as a guest post on

Clear Mobile PhoneIn order to inspire great digital transformation within an organization, strategists must provide proof of concept on a smaller scale. Often times, change agents focus first on transforming their approach to mobile customer experience (CX) design, in order to make the case for overhauling the company’s entire approach to digital CX strategy.

Over the past two years, my colleague Brian Solis and I have researched the evolution of digital transformation through the lens of CX, and how mobile plays a key role in furthering digital transformation efforts. We found that strategists struggle with rallying stakeholder support and garnering resources for digital transformation if they have no proof of its benefits and potential ROI. Executives demand results to invest, but resources are needed to incite change. It’s a classic “chicken and egg” scenario.

The good news is, strategists find success when they position mobile as the ideal use case for proving the business benefits of focusing more deeply on digital customer needs, problems, and expectations.

For example, at Starbucks, Chief Digital Officer and EVP of Digital Ventures Adam Brotman used mobile as a catalyst for digital transformation. He previously led a cross-functional mobile team at Starbucks that brought together people from multiple departments to craft the company’s mobile vision and strategize against mutually beneficial objectives. “I started with mobile; that was the heart of it where we really acted as a team,” he said. “That worked well and catalyzed, moving into web where we were charged with figuring out what our mobile web strategy looked like and how it connected to our loyalty and payment groups. From there, it snowballed pretty quickly.”

Using mobile as an initial catalyst to spark cross-functional working groups, Brotman was able to create the momentum needed to begin refocusing the company around a unified digital approach. In 2011, Starbucks realized major strides on mobile, mobile payment, loyalty, social, and e-gifting. By 2012, Brotman’s team and other departments, like IT, were already working as one larger cross-functional team operating in unison toward common CX goals and objectives.

Although mobile lights the fire for larger digital change, it is still widely misunderstood and requires a new approach to CX architecture.

In late 2014, we expanded our research on digital transformation, looking more closely at mobile’s role in retooling how companies approach CX design. We spoke with more than 23 mobile stakeholders, from digital strategists to executives to industry thought leaders, at organizations spanning a variety of industries. I was surprised to learn that, although we knew that mobile plays a huge role in catalyzing digital transformation, it is still widely misunderstood and underfunded today.

Some companies are approaching mobile through the lens of advertising alone, without incorporating it into larger, top-level customer experience design efforts. Other companies are unwittingly forcing channel-hopping and multiscreening due to an incomplete understanding of their customers. Overall, mobile customer engagement and experience architecture is far behind what consumers desire, creating a severe chasm that’s swallowing customers as they leave brands for competitors offering more mobile-friendly (and, mobile-only) app and site experiences.

The mobile problems strategists face mirror those felt on a larger digital scale, and in many other silos that execute against digital priorities. This primes mobile to be the ideal case study for strategists looking to steer the greater digital ship—a ship that would otherwise require more time, support, and resources to change course.

In order to set the foundation for digital transformation with customer-centric mobile experience and strategy design, leading companies follow four key steps. We’ve found that adhering to these best practices better engages customers and produces greater bottom-line results:

  1. Map the Mobile Customer Journey: Study the mobile customer journey as it exists today, including devices used, challenges, and opportunities within each. Delve into data specific to your mobile customers to define “day-in-the-life” mobile personas that inform customer-centric strategies.
  2. Re-Imagine the Mobile Customer Journey: Design a mobile-optimized journey, by device, to win in each moment of truth. Experiment with strategies that prevent channel-hopping or multiscreening while also complementing other channels. Define a series of intended mobile experiences at each stage of the customer journey, aligning each with customer personas and related data.
  3. Measure and Optimize: Define intended customer response and desired outcomes at each step in the mobile customer journey, by screen. Link back to business goals and shorter term KPIs to measure progress and optimize engagement in each moment of truth.
  4. Create Alignment Through a Test-and-Learn Approach: Present customer findings, the newly minted mobile-first journey, and key business outcomes to the greater working team around mobile, digital, and CX. Run a test pilot of the roadmap to validate research and ideas and gain internal support.

Bolstering mobile strategies based on a rich understanding of customers (data!) will increase the likelihood of success for change agents who are striving to connect the CX dots on a grander digital scale. It’s a symbiotic relationship that requires digital transformation and mobile to be adequately resourced and collaboratively strategized under a common digital CX vision in order for both to thrive.

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The mobile lock-screen: A new frontier in mobile customer experience innovation

This post originally appeared on Altimeter Group’s blog.

What if your smartphone’s lock screen could serve as more than a security barrier to your favorite apps, next phone call, or incoming texts? What if it could be the place where you receive the latest content from your favorite news sites, as well as a portal for connecting with your friends?

That’s the premise behind Locket, a lock screen app that allows its users to seamlessly access content tailored to their self-identified interests, directly on the locked screen of their phone. This means they can view and engage with content, without ever having to find and open an app.

Locket Screen Shot

Locket, which was named one of 2014’s best apps by Google, also allows for content curation and sharing directly from the lock screen. All of this is enabled through an intuitive, image-heavy interface that requires no additional app deeplinking to complete tasks. The content visuals are beautifully rendered, filling up the entire screen in a way that demands engagement. Its unintrusive advertising experience is as mobile CX-centric as it is attractive, seamlessly serving native mobile ads that are also targeted based on user interests.

Locket’s ultra-intuitive UX makes it a prime candidate for acquisition by social networks such as LinkedIn or Facebook, which are already beginning to play in the lock screen content arena (Facebook Home offers a snapshot of social content from the likes of Tumblr and Instagram) and news/content curation space (LinkedIn Pulse aggregates stories from handpicked sources). Both of these networks have work to do though in creating a simpler, more seamless mobile experience. This is where Locket excels.

Locket is also developing a new app called ScreenPop, which offers direct-from-lockscreen messaging capabilities within a UI that looks eerily similar to Snapchat. ScreenPop adds another layer of functionality to a user’s lock screen, making it even easier to complete common tasks such as taking and sharing a photo, with fewer taps, swipes, and inter-app navigation.

Locket’s quick jump into the mobile messaging space brings up the question: How long before existing applications also make the leap to lockscreen usability? And, how loyal does a user have to be to an app to assign it placement in the most easily accessible place on their smartphone?

Locket’s focus on custom content curation and ScreenPop’s shining messaging capabilities are solid catalysts for a new era of lock screen real estate development. It won’t be long before other companies follow suit and vye for this prime location (as many vendors already are in the home screen advertising arena). Luckily, Locket has really done its homework in researching its users’ mobile needs in order to offer a simple, easy to navigate, downright smooth user experience. This positions it as an excellent foundation for bigger players to build off when wider user adoption merits the need for swift lockscreen innovation.

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The Inevitability of a Mobile-Only Customer Experience Webinar: Your questions, answered

This post originally appeared on Altimeter Group’s blog.

Thank you to everyone who attended Altimeter Group’s webinar on Tuesday, “The Inevitability of a Mobile-Only Customer Experience.” Brian and I were thrilled and grateful to see people joining from around the world, ready to engage with us while we shared insights from our latest report on how companies are approaching customer-centric mobile strategy design. If you missed the webinar, or want to rewatch it, you can view the recording and slides here.

At the webinar’s close, we were able to answer a few questions from the audience, but didn’t have quite enough time to get to all the queries that came in throughout the presentation. You can find additional answers to the most popular question themes below. Please leave a comment if your question remains unanswered, and we’ll reach out as soon as we can.

What are the advantages of disadvantages of a mobile-only customer experience?
Advantages of a mobile-only customer experience are plenty. In our research, we found that, when companies focus on creating self-contained mobile experiences that center on customer needs, wants, pain points, and expectations, they’re rewarded with greater customer satisfaction. This increased satisfaction translates into higher Net Promoter Score (willingness to recommend), higher lifetime customer value, and lower customer churn rate. Additional benefits can be found in the figure below.

Mobile CX Results

Looking at the disadvantages, the chief drawback of creating a mobile-only customer experience is that many consumers have already learned that they need to use multiple channels to convert or complete an action. It is now an ingrained behavior that will take time (and, initially, additional resources) to change. Most companies unwittingly teach their customers that mobile is only part of the experience loop when they force channel-hopping and multi-screening. Eventually, these customers will recognize that they can again follow their mobile instincts and rely on one device, app, or mobile-optimized site to complete their entire journey. At that point, less resources will need to be spent on optimizing a cross-channel experience.

Is a multi-screen strategy still relevant for certain applications?
The short answer is, yes. Even customers who live a chiefly mobile lifestyle will undoubtedly need to switch between screens for reasons that can include context of engagement (e.g. when driving, it’s safer to use your vehicle’s “mobile” technology than look at your cellphone), screen size needs (e.g. it’s easier to edit photos on a laptop due to more screen space and greater mouse dexterity), or even portability (e.g. it’s more convenient to switch from your iPad to iPhone when going out to run errands). Companies should strive to create mobile-only experiences with the hopes that, in the process, they’ll end up with more intuitive, native experiences on each device that offer simplicity in navigation and robustness in feature set.

How do you see customer demographics, like age, affecting mobile strategy design?
Customer data is the key to unlocking how to design the most innovative, engaging mobile experiences. Although younger generations (aka “digital natives”) are statistically more apt to use their mobile devices throughout the day, more often, to complete more tasks, that doesn’t mean that older demographics should be ignored when designing and redesigning mobile experiences. Spend time learning about your customers through digging into the data: their purchase decisions, lifestyle studies, brand interactions, and mobile and digital channel behaviors. Use the questions below as an initial guide (additional examples from companies interviewed can be found in the report). From there, you’ll see that multiple personas with varying demographics would benefit from a more complete mobile experience.

Key Questions to Answer About Your Digital and Mobile Customers:

  • What touchpoints do they frequent during formulation, pre-commerce, commerce, and post-commerce? How often, and for how long?
  • How do they use each touchpoint during the purchase decision cycle (what action is completed at each step)?
  • What devices are used to take the customer from awareness through advocacy?
  • What uniquely defines our mobile customers?
  • What is different about their customer journey?
  • What are their expectations, what do they value, and how do they define success?
  • How are they influenced, and by whom? How and whom do they in turn influence?

What are companies doing to capture and build customer information based on interactions from mobile devices?
In our research, we uncovered that brands most often incorporate mobile customer data in two ways: known customers (via unique ID, like a loyalty program or other login) and unknown (those who are unidentifiable). For both categories, data such as mobile usage, engagement, time on app or mobile site, etc., are easily accessible data points that can be tied to each step of the ideal mobile experience. For known customers, brands are beginning to identify at what point during the purchase decision cycle customers use mobile, when they jump to another channel, and when/where they eventually convert to purchase. This information is key to support why each step of the ideal mobile experience is critical to keep customers on-channel and contained throughout brand engagement.

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Mobile-first customers and new content consumption habits are redefining journalism

Woman using her Mobile Phone in the street, night light environm

This post originally appeared on Altimeter Group’s blog.

As attention spans wane, listicles reign, and traditional journalism often gets left by the wayside for the shorter form content needs of mobile customers. When accessing information on-the-go, it’s critical for the content delivery experience to be intuitive to their screen, device, and application. Often times though, that’s still not enough to stand out from the noise.

Mobile-first customers are ushering in a new era of journalism, where content must not only inform up-to-the-minute, but also engage as part of an overall mobile experience that jives with their lifestyle to satisfy needs, solve problems, and deliver on increasingly high expectations.

Re-imagining mobile experiences and strategies with customers at the core is critical to connecting with them in relevant and innovative ways. As such, journalists must also follow suit with brands that are putting audience research front-and-center when strategizing how to better connect with customers (readers) throughout their mobile journey. Today, mobile audience persona development and journey mapping are equally as important as quality reporting and editorial calendaring.

In addition to delivering content in a user-friendly way within an app or mobile-optimized website, it’s also important to consider mobile opportunities that are tangential to the core content offering–such as social TV and gamification experiences. With mobile as “first screen” for many customers (especially during breaking news, live events, and sportscasts), connected social networking and gaming components often become the primary content offering, leaving traditional television news, events, and programming in the background.

This leaves a trove of untapped opportunity for journalists, publications, and media companies to pull in readers using these new tactics as part of a native, intuitive, and incentivized mobile content experience. In a recent conversation with Hicham Jorio, VP interactive media, from Excitem.TV, we discussed how these social and gaming experiences are becoming increasingly relevant and engaging for his clients’ consumers, as they’re designed around real customer data gathered over time, often through social identity log-in (i.e. Facebook Connect). They’re no longer looked at as promotions or sponsorships, but rather real content offerings that are supplements to traditional news and event coverage.

During last year’s Emmy’s, Jorio said Excitem.TV worked with the Television Academy to create a campaign that engaged fans around their Emmy winner predictions. Run through Facebook, the game allowed groups of friends to create ballots that predicted winners by each category, and share their wins (or, losses) live as the results were revealed on-air. The campaign was a perfect example of combining entertainment news with social TV and gamification components to result in highly engaged viewers that produced and shared content on behalf of the Television Academy.

Although the need for access to real-time reporting will never disappear, mobile customers are contributing to a new era of journalism that demands more from content and ad creators. The more that content can foster opportunities for interaction, sharing, and conversation, the greater potential to grow meaningful reader relationships that endure even the slowest of news days.

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