December 24th, 2012 by Kelly Liyakasa

We’re a week or so away from the New Year, so let’s ring it in right with a little digital future-speak.

Mobile devices: there’s no question your tablet and smartphone are changing the way you buy and the way you seek counsel for your customer service needs after the fact. And, according to Tata Consultancy Services’ new study “The New Digital Mobile Consumer,” businesses are beginning to realize they, in turn, will need a corporate application development strategy.

In a December feature on mobile optimization, I shared some findings from Forrester Research that close to half of retailers still had not made their Websites or purchase paths mobile-compatible. But, it appears, that’s changing swiftly.

In a ResearchNow survey of 664 companies, half of whom were “leaders” in catering to the digital mobile consumer, and half who were more or less “laggards,” TCS found that by 2015, the percentage of consumer sales transactions on mobile devices will grow 58 percent. And, in that same span of time, 37 percent of marketing campaigns at North American companies will be designed exclusively for mobile devices.

In an interview with TCS’ Global Head of Mobility, Satya Ramaswamy, he told me that “there is no greater acknowledgement of the digital mobile consumer than fundamentally changing your own processes and products.” You’re beginning to see more maturity in how companies develop pathways to their products and services via mobile. Leading companies now have at least 25 percent of their mobile applications tailored to the tablet, specifically, to reach highly profitable customers, TCS finds.

“The overreaching theme that we see in terms of the success of the mobile application user experience is going beyond user experience to user engagement,” Ramaswamy says. “So, things like – how do you actively engage with the consumer by making things very contextual, very relevant and potentially using things like gamification to make it a more engaged interaction?”

Take digital industry leader, Starbucks, which launched a unit called Digital Ventures in 2009 to figure out how to serve the consumer who swears by these two words – “coffee” and “quick.” In the fourteen months leading up to May 2012, 45 million payments at Starbucks happened on customers’ mobile devices with an 8 percent increase in same-store sales in 2011.

In each of the industries TCS surveyed, such as travel, transportation, telecom, retail, and media, key executives expect sales, marketing, and customer service interactions over mobile to increase dramatically. In fact, by 2015, over 3 in 5 apps or 61 percent of apps, are expected to run on both smartphones and tablets respectively.

Though about 60 percent of TCS mobile projects are enterprise-related, 40 percent or so are consumer-facing. Ramaswamy sees evidence that lines are beginning to blur, as more brands look to deploy native Web hybrid applications. “When the whole [mobile] momentum started, there were a lot of sales-related applications, but increasingly they are becoming customer-service type of engagements,” he points out. For example, TCS designed the iPad flight cabin crew application for British Airways that houses a frequent flyer’s information, so that a flight attendant knows whether they like white or red wine, and how often they fly. This makes mobility a sales, loyalty, and service catalyst like no other.

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