The need for mobile is deeply rooted in our modern habits. With the development of affordable smartphones, many sectors and industries have been impacted. Smartphones have changed the way we use internet. Yet, a lot of digital executives still see it as an incremental business. But the rise of mobile devices brought new specific usages that not only need to be added in companies’ digital strategy, but be integrated.
Let’s go a bit back in time, when the first mobile websites appeared. Developers had to adapt websites to mobile format: create responsive or adaptive websites. Mainly by resizing desktop versions to make them readable on a smaller screen. And so those websites have been rebuilt. But responsive or adaptive design is not only about getting smaller visual assets. What is really at stake with mobile transformation is adapting structure and purpose of a website to meet mobile users’ expectations.
New ways to enable websites have been developed, with less consuming technologies, so that m-sites could load faster and be accessible with slower and less stable connections. To improve navigation, digital teams have to take into account the specific needs of a mobile user. Their role is to select useful functionalities and clear out heavy, non-relevant ones. For example, they can use geolocalisation to build new mobile-centric features. To adapt the architecture and make it easy for a mobile user to navigate through pages, they can use side menu, also call “Burger menu”. This king of menu is an easy way for the user to hide and show different entries and parts of the m-site.
To help developer address the need of flexibility, Google published simple guidelines when they changed their search algorithm in favor of responsive websites.
In addition to that, a new way to access the internet and create interactions appeared on mobile: mobile applications. Instead of a unique, centralized touch point (the browser), mobile users are facing multiple touch points with their own universe that can interact with them through notifications.
By being so, mobile apps offer optimized interfaces for different kinds of usage. For example, e-commerce applications, like Asos will improve navigation through its products and have a better display of their details.
As applications offer specific and closer experience with a product, they allow developers to create a never-ending contact with the user by completing the initial desktop experience. Following the example of e-commerce, it is now possible to start purchase items on your mobile, browse through the different products, add the ones you like to your cart and then finalize your purchase and buy them on your desktop. And vice versa.
Social networks such as Facebook or Twitter, understood this trend. They are interesting to analyze because they adapt their products to mobile and found ways make it profitable. They created networks of apps and made themselves ubiquitous in their users’ life. In their last report, Forrester showed how predominant social networks were on mobile usage. In the US, social networks represent the biggest part of minutes spent on app (14%).
They took advantage of geolocalisation by enabling people to share their location, mobile photo sharing (Instagram), live stream (Periscope)…But the most successful part of their mobile transformation is in advertising. They manage to create one of the most efficient native ads (integrated in their product in a way they don’t look like ads) of mobile advertising market. Their success is due to their ability to target ads.
Through applications, they can reproduce the interaction one get with console gaming. And at the same time developed “fast-gaming” through simple addictive games. Gaming applications use most of mobile specific functionalities: tactile screen, gyroscope, GPS and camera to create Augmented Reality…
At the end of the day, applications offer such rich products, that new mobile-only businesses emerged. The most significant examples are of course, Snapchat, that allows users to instantly share photos and videos that delete themselves once viewed; Uber, famous for its disruptive effect in the transportation industry; and also Tinder or Happn, mobile only dating applications.
Now the real question is to know how far the mobile transformation is going to go. Companies are taking mobile seriously, but do not always know how to implement it and use it to add value to their core business. One of the possible reason maybe that mobile is seen as an additional business whereas it really is incremental.
Will one day, m-business and e-business be as one?