The business impact of multifunction device consumer adoption

MachineThe use of multifunction devices, smartphones and tablets clearly continues to change the way people buy and interact. They also impact the ways we work and contribute to digital transformations as we know them in the third platform (social, cloud, etc.). And there’s more: a look at various levels of how multifunction device consumer adoption impacts business in many different ways.

Social/digital business and mobile are more related than we often think. However, it’s not just about marketing or social business. Just look at how we use multifunction devices in several other business functions, beyond social and marketing. Digital transformation also is about how we connect information (intelligent information management and content management, away from a systems of records approach), people, processes (collaboration), technology and all business functions to achieve maximum efficiency and great customer/user experiences.

Technologies have what we tend to call a disruptive effect on business because people embrace them. And the increasing adoption of multifunction devices will continue to impact us all.

In research by Accenture about the way people purchase and use consumer electronics we can see more than just the evolutions in the consumer electronics industry itself. It also shows the evolutions regarding media consumption, marketing, retail, banking and other activities where these devices are intensively used.

Context-aware technologies, as we see them in TVs and gaming consoles, for instance, reshape the user experience and the ways we interact – literally – with the services offered by these devices. The exact same phenomenon can be seen in the differences between how people buy or inform themselves on tablets versus smartphones. Different screens , context and experience equals different business consequences. Context awareness, 3-D cameras capturing gestures, NFC and augmented reality join the ranks of the overwhelming amount of technologies that got introduced in the multifunction devices and often mobile devices these past few years: gyroscopes, sensors, cameras, compasses, you name it.

Digital transformation and multifunction dominance

Location and context of use become increasingly important and at the same time location becomes of no importance for consumers themselves: they increasingly share, inform, ask, compare, buy and interact, regardless of time, space, location and context. Mobile marketing will continue to grow but not simply as advertising. It will become as multifunctional as the devices people use are and as the multi-channel or omnichannel behavior of consumers.

Furthermore, although that vast and vague concept called ‘mobile’ is often mentioned from a marketing viewpoint, it’s about much more than that. The whole business will be impacted – and in many enterprises it’s already the case. Evolutions such as the consumerization of IT and BYOD, often driven by employee demand to be able to access data and work resources when on the go, is just one example and again an emanation of the evolutions in the digital business.

Some examples:

  • Social/mobile CRM. The use of CRM, for instance, grows as sales people and field reps get access to mobile CRM. Aberdeen Research conducted a survey that clearly showed sales reps and other workers would use the CRM system more and better if they could access it in a mobile way. Research by CSO Insights, showed 64% of sales people reach their goals against 58% when no mobile CRM is used. Needless to say that CRM – more specifically Social CRM – is one of the components of social and digital business. Again social meets mobile to transform traditional processes into proactive social business possibilities. According to a survey of 223 CRM decision makers by Nucleus Research, the use of mobile capabilities in CRM increases average productivity by 14.6%. Especially among salespeople, productivity gains are showing. Social CRM has a positive impact on productivity as well (11.8%), Nucleus Research adds.
  • Collaboration. Other examples include an increased possibility to collaborate and take decisions, regardless of time, place and platform. Accenture found nearly 60% of consumers say it improves their productivity to take conference calls and use collaboration tools from their personal devices. Nearly one-third of respondents use their smartphone for work-based social networking and social collaboration (tools). 39% of tablet owners use work-based social networks and 33% use collaboration tools on their tablets.
  • Connecting different worlds. There is also the ability to bridge online and offline activities, as we see in the omnichannel customer service and retail evolution but also in other digital business areas and with connected systems as important drivers.
  • Cloud adoption. Finally, refering to the previous point of integration and bridging systems and online and offline, let’s not overlook the importance of the impact mobile devices have on the ‘de facto’ adoption of public cloud services, again an important component of social business from the technology perspective.

We have passed the stage of SoLoMo (Social, Local and Mobile) and are moving towards integration around customers, people, teams, projects and purpose. We are also far beyond social business and entered the age of digital business since quite some years now. And it’s not just about the screens we use today anymore either.

Some evolutions in that regard:

  • As said, consumers increasingly want multifunction devices.
  • The ‘big 4′ (PCs, HDTVs smartphones and tablets) are all climbing at double digit rates.
  • All of these ‘big 4′ are fighting over the multifunction preferences of consumers.
  • Consumers become not only channel-agnostic (in simple words: they don’t think in terms of channels as marketers do) but also platform-agnostic.
Mobile consumerization and social collaboration – source Accenture
Mobile consumerization and social collaboration – source Accenture

The latter fact is important for marketers who are developing mobile apps or integrated mobile campaigns and adapting their channels such as email to the mobile reality today: people use multiple operating systems and are not afraid to experiment. But the same also applies for your employees. Add to that the fact that the ‘other screens’ will continue to become more multifunction, new devices and the challenges and opportunities become clear. In fact, you see exactly the same happen in the enterprise. The demand for apps, able to turn on any mobile device and OS, is growing.

Multifunction means multichannel but also multipurpose. Work and ‘social business’ are part of that evolution and the devices and screens merely the input and output of connected systems driving that purpose without us realizing the technology behind it. It’s business: social, mobile and digital. And always human and driven by what people want. Multifunction devices are part of that changing ‘want’, across all business functions.

‘Mobile’ and ‘multifunction’ are catalyzers in what makes the lines blur. It’s the blurring of the lines and the dissapearance of traditional silos and disconnected systems/processes with more autonomy for teams across the enterprise that helps driving digital business and changing collaboration.

That’s indeed disruption. And opening the doors for more agile, satisfying, real-time, people-centric and bottom-up innovation.