The birth of a revolutionary new mobile ecosystem only three years ago radically changed the way individuals engaged with technology, with one another and the world around them.
Shortly after the genesis of this new ecosystem, industry analyst began forecasting, as measured by smartphone penetration, rapid growth and adoption. Actual growth, however, has far surpassed even the most optimistic projections of only two years ago. This can be seen in the above graphic.
The power of this new ecosystem is infusing fundamental change in long-established industries. This can be seen in the following examples:
- Retail: Consumers are now using mobile ecosystem to change the shopping experience, make more intelligent purchase decisions and save money. No longer is the retailer in full control of what happens inside the walls of their stores. Consumers are now leveraging the mobile ecosystem to get competitive pricing, check product features, access promotions and even purchase competitive products – all from within a retailers’ store. In fact, the latest numbers from PayPal indicate that mobile-enabled Holiday shopping up 516 percent over the prior year.
- Entertainment: Consumers are drifting away from traditional entertainment platforms in favor of mobile. Television manufactures are seeing a decline in TV sales growth – despite a continual reduction in retail prices – as video content is increasingly being consumed via mobile technologies. The same thing is occurring in gaming. The sales growth of game consoles is declining as consumers are doing more gaming on mobile devices. Audio content, which has long been moving away from CD’s, is increasingly being distributed and consumed via the mobile ecosystem.
- News and Information: Consumers are moving away from traditional print media in favor of content delivered via the mobile ecosystem. Centuries old industries are tittering on oblivion as consumers migrate from physical books, magazines and newspapers towards electronic media that is delivered and consumed via the mobile ecosystem.
- Healthcare: Consumers are using the new mobile ecosystem to help manage and monitor their health. Consumers are using the ecosystem to control their diets, track their physical activity and report on their health goals. The mobile ecosystem is also being used to monitor – on a real-time basis – the state of consumer health. Biometric sensors that interface with consumers’ mobile devices are providing doctors with remote access to their patient’s vital signs. For the first time ever, doctors are now well positioned to proactively address problems before they become critical issues.
- Education: Institutions of higher education are using the mobile ecosystem to change the learning experience. The mobile-enabled classroom facilitates a participatory environment where the students become actively involved in the acquisition and sharing of information. In support of this new environment, the role of the professor is also changing from that of ultimate authority to that of a facilitator. The professor’s job is now to teach concepts and help students navigate and use the rich pool of information available via the Internet and help them discern the good information from the bad. With mobile technologies, learning becomes an active experience rather than passive responsibility.
- Finance: Banks, financial institutions and wireless carriers are working aggressively to leverage the mobile ecosystem to redefine decades-old payment processes. The mobile ecosystem is seen as a powerful tool to enable companies to own a greater and greater share of the consumers’ wallet. When combined with product promotions, mobile payments are seen as a means to fundamentally redefine where, when and how consumers shop, pay for and account for their acquisition of goods and services.
The scope of this change has proven to be so profound and far reaching that an increasing number of companies are diverting budget dollars from less measurable customer engagement solutions into those that involve mobile. As the capabilities of mobile technologies increase and the utility and power of mobile-enabled implementations expand, mobile and the mobile ecosystem will assume a more and more dominant role in peoples’ lives.
So what does this mean to digital signage? Three things:
- Consumers will increasingly look to their smartphones as the primary source of information, entertainment, commerce and institutional engagement – both in and out of home. They will increasingly become completely dependent on being connected. They will be trained to keep their eyes and attention keenly attuned to their phones. They will come to largely ignore any external sources of content that will compete with attention to their smartphone.
- Digital signage must become an integral part of the mobile experience if it is to be more than just pretty images. Digital signage deployments must contemplate, reinforce and promote the mobile experience. Viewers must be trained to expect that the purpose of digital signage is to facilitate a mobile engagement appropriate to the venue in which it is installed.
- Those that deploy and operate digital signage must become schooled in the methods, procedures and technologies for linking digital signage with mobile technologies. They must understand the mobile model, how consumers interact with mobile technologies and the various solution-sets that can be leveraged.