Crossing the mobile chasm

In five years, will we still be talking about the mobile experience?

That might seem like a crazy question to ask at this moment. I mean, mobile is hot, right?

The data would suggest it is. In the U.S., we now spend more than 3.3 hours a day on our mobile devices, including phones, tablets, and watches. We’re on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. We’re playing Candy Crush or Words with Friends. We’re shopping on Amazon, ordering a latte from Starbucks, or buying movie tickets with Fandango. Simply put, mobile interactions and experiences play a bigger and bigger role in our lives every day.

(Personally, I wish I ONLY spent 3.3 hours! Raise your hand if you’re like me, helping drive that number higher.)

It seems today that every interaction with a company, a product, or a friend begins on the phone. We want to engage with the companies and brands we care about whenever we want. Day or night. At home, at work, on our commute.

We want that experience to be easy, immersive, and intuitive, like Spotify or Google Maps. We also want that experience to know us and follow us wherever we go, whether we’re connecting on a mobile app, talking to a smart home speaker, or engaging in a conversation with an AI-driven bot.

There’s no question that how we use our phones, and the amount of time we spend on them is transforming business. In 2008 there were fewer than 5,000 apps for Apple iOS. Today there are over two million. IT and business leaders now see mobile as a top three priority, and they are investing as fast as they can to meet the growing demand for mobile apps.

That’s when reality hits. Not surprising, developing great mobile experiences has never been easy, and until recently has depended on highly skilled and expensive mobile developers. And that’s just one challenge.

In my view, companies have to overcome some major hurdles to create truly successful mobile apps and experiences:

Companies and developers bother are fighting the High user expectations. Whether customers, partners, or employees, the audience for your app expects a “consumer” experience, and users have very little patience for a subpar mobile app. It’s not enough to be “mobile.” Your mobile experience needs to be awesome.

Access to data This should be a core requirement. Customers and employees expect your app to know their preferences and history with your organization. Additionally, there is a shortage ofexperienced developers, leading to a talent gap. So much so in fact that 48% of IT organizations already struggle to meet their need for mobile developers.

Mobile technology is constantly changing. Meaning you need the ability to update your mobile apps and experiences on the fly and quickly push out new versions to your users.

Uncertainty about where to go from here is perhaps the biggest obstacle because it’s the least defined. I hear from IT and business leaders all the time who know they need to move to mobile. But not knowing where to start, they put it off.

So yes, there are challenges. But there are also solutions.

These two trends excite me most: the emergence of the so-called citizen developer, and new low-code and no-code technologies that effectively allow anyone to develop software applications, including mobile apps. These trends are already having a significant impact in technology and may change forever the way think about applications and developers.

Giving nontechnical business users the ability to build apps with the correct governance and security.nd Business people are closer to end users. They have a better grasp of the needs of customers. They understand the problems to be solved.

Given the right tools, business users find the time and freedom to experiment. I can tell you from experience that’s a luxury most IT orgs don’t enjoy.

through trial and error what employees start to solve small problems which leads to solving bigger problems, especially in partnership with senior software developers. Suddenly, the organization’s capacity to build apps is unlimited — or more accurately, it’s limited only by the enthusiasm of business people to create great customer experiences.

Imagine this scenario. You work at a car dealership. You get an idea for an app to enable sales reps to take pre-orders and allow customers to customize the car they buy from you. Sales reps want voice capability so they can update orders on the go by simply speaking to their mobile device. At the same time, integrating AI makes it easier for customers to find the exact vehicle for them by using intelligent recommendations based on criteria such as their personal preferences and credit rating and your available inventory.

The great news? Citizen developers can build and launch that app today. As low-code development platforms evolve, we will soon see citizen developers go beyond mobile apps to create customer experiences in a wider and wider set of touchpoints.

According to our research, 74% of IT leaders plan to increasingly shift some application-building responsibilities to business users over the next 12–18 months. Today those business users are building for mobile. Tomorrow they could be creating experiences for smart speakers, IoT devices, augmented reality, who knows what.

At that point, we will no longer talk about the mobile experience. We’ll talk about the customer experience. Isn’t that where we ultimately want to get?

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