The Future of Mobile
How do you feel about this now, looking back on last year’s actual timeline?
I think any prediction made early last year has to be taken with a pinch of salt – nobody could have forecast what was really going to happen in 2020. My overall prediction was that we would begin to see a “more natural” digital experience, with mobile technology shifting away from screens as a primary interface. It’s almost the opposite outcome; last year the world has probably spent more collective time in front of screens than ever.
How did last year impact your prediction?
We were knocked off course. But it’s interesting – COVID showed blind spots and gaps in all the technology markets including mobile.
Big advancements in technology are rare. In the mobile device timeline, we have large handhelds, pocket handhelds, SMS, internet connectivity, touchscreens – those are the main points of mobile evolution. We don’t tend to see a world-shaking stride in a single year, but more of a rolling journey – technology is invented, then innovated upon continuously until it works (or fails). The market has to follow too – often markets are not ready for incumbents until it “catches on”, or until it is a really strong product.
I think last year set out a clear need in the global market for improvements in mobile technology. Mobile gaming, social activities and communication tools were definitely trends of 2020. When I talked about technologies like IoT, voice, and wearables, AR/VR last year as potential incumbents, I still believe that they will play a bigger role in the near future. This is because we have relied on mobile so heavily in 2020 that we can definitely see the room and the need for improvement.
How did last year change our perceptions of mobile technology?
Internally for every workforce the shift to remote working put mobile devices near the top of the priority list straight away. Connectivity became unavoidable practically overnight, and some businesses struggled more than others to adapt to this. For many people this hasn’t presented a huge shift in their digital habits, but for others it has been, and has swelled the number of people who rely on mobile devices.
From a commercial perspective, businesses are more eager than ever to build and perfect their mobile apps. In the B2B space mobile technology has become necessary in all kinds of contexts – connecting distributed workers, remote stock management, digital verification – these concepts are now fundamental to many business’ strategies. The impact last year had on the B2C space was absolutely immense, and mobile was part of the answer to navigating challenges such as customer retention and acquisition.
With a pinch of salt – what do you think will happen this year?
I wish I could say for sure! Still, we can see the trajectory of mobile tech quite clearly, it’s really always been there.
Firstly, from a collaboration point of view: we know the opportunity for great improvement is there, now it’s about implementing it. Developing new ways of consuming content will be a significant experimental area in the near future, as people crave interaction better than screens alone can provide.
An important part of a successful mobile app strategy is flexibility – being able to pivot as demands quickly change. So, lots of businesses are now adopting a mobile first approach. Mobile can be truly integral to so many business goals. With an app strategy that is based on consistent business logic, it is not necessary for mobile teams to reinvent the wheel when they need to meet new demands.
I don’t expect revolutionary change will come out of nowhere: COVID and its impact has slowed a lot of the world’s productivity down. Still, change in mobile technology will happen incrementally: last year proved that change is needed.