A few weeks ago we shared findings from research that found Latin American companies were among the most aggressive investors in developing mobile applications. That doesn’t mean Latin American companies will necessarily outpace their global competitors, however, in winning new business via mobile apps.
While companies will have to spend on mobile initiatives to benefit from them, the strategy behind the spending is a far more important indicator of success than simple dollar amounts. Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), sponsor of the global New Digital Consumer study, found little correlation between spending and mobile success.
TCS categorized survey respondents as leaders or laggards, based on how respondents ranked themselves against the competition on a seven-point scale. Somewhat surprisingly, there wasn’t much difference in what the two groups are spending on mobile initiatives.
It’s the Customer Experience, Stupid
TCS concluded that companies must focus on creating mobile apps that can offer high benefits to consumers when they are on the move. Sounds intuitive, right? Yet companies don’t always seem to grasp it – given the large numbers of apps that offer little more than the same kinds of static information contained on company websites.
In its report based on the study, TCS offers examples of companies that “get” it and offer mobile apps useful to consumers in the five stages associated with the lifecycle of any product or service: research, buy, use, maintain and renew. Insurers Humana and Aetna, for example, offer apps that help folks find doctors, clinics or hospitals while they are traveling that will accept their health insurance. Disney has a mobile app that enables theme park visitors to check wait time for rides and locate characters, among other functions. Also included are detailed case studies of several leader companies.
6 Essential Elements for Mobile App Strategy
TCS also shared what it believes are six essential elements for creating and executing an effective mobile app strategy:
Consider digital mobile consumers a new consumer segment, one that will require new product development and marketing strategies. Eighty-two percent of respondents categorized as leaders treat mobile consumers as a unique segment, vs. just 28 percent of laggards. Likewise, 85 percent of leaders had created products specifically for the mobile consumer, compared to 30 percent of laggards.
Segment customers based on the extent to which they are in motion and offer features based on their mobile consumption. Examples given include Progressive, which sends drivers weather alerts in hopes they will help prevent accidents, and an app from healthcare provider Geisinger that reminds folks of medical appointments and prescriptions that need to be filled.
Look broadly at mobile technology, following the lead of insurers that are exploring mobile gear that can be installed in customers’ cars. Progressive Insurance, for example, now has a device that can help determine personalized insurance rates based on a person’s driving habits.
Use data to provide superior mobile experiences. TCS found leader companies were four times more likely than the laggards to send special offers to consumers based on location data generated from mobile devices, more than five times more likely to use real-time data to interact with consumers, and more than three times as likely to change pricing data for mobile consumers
Offer device-specific mobile experiences. According to the research, 25 percent of leaders’ mobile apps were developed specifically for tablets, vs. 17 percent for laggards. Leaders say that by 2015, 23 percent of mobile apps will be designed just for tablets, as compared to 16 percent of laggards.
Experiment quickly and be prepared to make major changes in products and customer-facing processes. TCS points out that Starbucks is overhauling its existing retail experience with mobile consumers in mind rather than simply trying to retrofit its existing model. Starbucks has partnered with and made a financial investment in payments provider Square, which ultimately will enable Starbucks customers to order and pay for drinks using smartphones before they even enter a store, according to the coffee chain’s chief digital officer.