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A Decade of Mobile: A Retrospective on the Industry’s Evolution

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Posted by Adam Croxen on 15 Oct, 2019

With more than five billion unique mobile users around the world, it’s safe to say that we are living in a mobile-first world. 

Over the last decade, mobile has transformed into an omnipresent utility tool that entertains, informs, connects, and assists us in completing numerous jobs – from ordering pizza to catching a cab.

For a business to achieve a successful mobile experience, it’s no longer acceptable simply to provide a responsive website that works on mobile. Users now expect enterprises to devote time, money, and thought to offer compelling, dedicated mobile apps to support their customers.

The last 10 years have seen mobile progress from self-service to self-control, and now toward the AI-driven goal of automation of the mobile experience. Self-service involves the most user interaction, whereby a user is required to search and make selections for themselves. Self-control is a step beyond this, as the user is presented with pre-selected options based on data and personalisation to pick the best choice. AI goes even further, by anticipating the needs of a user and completing tasks or offering recommendations, or even making the choice for them.

Adam Croxen

Mobile has transformed into an omnipresent utility tool.

Adam Croxen, Future Platforms

In the last decade, the meteoric rise of digital-first businesses like AirBnB, Spotify, and Uber, which have been powered by digital innovation, have provided more personalised mobile services that are often uniquely tailored to its users.

In response to this, analogue businesses have struggled to adapt and to realise that in order to compete in digital, let alone mobile, they need to challenge their existing way of doing business. Like the web before it, these businesses initially saw mobile as a marketing channel (where they would utilise it to increase brand awareness, or provide offers and additional information), not a channel to deliver and enhance how they service and support their customers.

In the last decade, however, traditional enterprises have evolved their mobile strategy, starting to use it more as a tool for utility, first by digitising existing services and then developing new offerings based on the opportunities mobile offers. The disrupted started to disrupt themselves.

Spotify mobile app

Domino’s Pizza, for example, has gone from being a phone-based pizza delivery business to an m-commerce market leader. First, the pizza giant digitised its existing ordering process, then enhanced it over time and invested heavily in mobile.

Domino’s has continued to work on its digital customer service offering by redesigning its existing consumer app and adding a driver tracking option, with real-time data feeds which provide improved transparency over pizza deliveries for both the business and the customer. Its amazing 280% increase in revenue over the last ten years has been fuelled by digital (and some pretty good pizza) but more importantly, by their continual focus on the user needs.

User-centric design has been talked about for years but has intensified over the last ten, as mobile users expect more and more from service providers. Here, the focus has deepened as a result of the push toward automation and seamless user experiences.

Services are attempting to not only deliver to users’ needs and expectations, but to anticipate them and deliver them before users even open the app. These improvements are shifting mobile toward a zero user interface (UI) approach. Traditionally, users would need to open their phone, go to the app and navigate through it to complete a task or find information.

Through zero UI, however, the need for all this interaction is reduced or removed as mobile becomes smarter and more integrated with each individual’s user needs and habits over time. This results in personalised home screens, notifications, and lock screen messages, which anticipate a user’s needs. Voice assistants, like Siri and Google Assistant, also play an important role in reducing direct interactions with our mobile devices.

  Services are attempting to not only deliver to users’ needs and expectations, but to anticipate them.

Over the last decade, mobile has undergone a journey from self-service, through to self-control, and, increasingly, a move toward automation. This has been driven by technology and an increased focus on user needs. The result, when successful, is mobile strategies that improve efficiency for businesses and customers, increasing engagement and loyalty, and collecting data and insight to inform the future evolutions of services and even businesses.

To find out more about how to create a successful mobile strategy that focuses on your users, then talk to one of our team members today.

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