Innovation

Why interconnected mobile devices will force businesses into a new era of open ecosystems

Forrester predicts that mobile devices will become increasingly connected, and businesses that want to keep up need to plan for an ecosystem that will dwarf current IoT initiatives.

Building a slide deck, pitch, or presentation? Here are the big takeaways:
  • Forrester predicts that mobile devices will continue to be the most popular computing platform but will cease to be siloed, app-driven devices in favor of becoming part of an interconnected ecosystem.
  • Businesses that want to stay relevant will need to adapt to an increasingly connected ecosystem by planning for more robust APIs, considering all possible ecosystem components, and learning to separate valuable data from garbage.

Forrester Research has released a report which argues that mobile device interactions are the future of business/customer interactions and that not enough businesses are doing all they need to do to keep up.

Smartphone, Forrester says, will continue to reign as the most popular consumer tech device in the next decade. Businesses that interact with customers digitally may need to invest up to $20 million to stay competitive, but Forester states that only 43% of businesses are currently doing so.

Simple interactions to solve customers' immediate needs are the key to succeeding in the future of digital interaction, but getting started can be daunting for many companies. To make matters worse, Forrester said, too many businesses are focused on older silo-based models and not open, connected ecosystems that will drive the future of consumer technology.

The problem with silos

When businesses interact technologically with consumers they often go with multiple strategies (like apps, email marketing, and chatbots) that don't talk to one another. The end result is strategy overlap and confusion for consumers.

Consumers, Forrester said, don't think in terms of different channels of contact—they simply want something that works. Interconnectivity is increasingly a part of that mindset, as evidenced by the success of apps from Target, Walgreens, and Walmart, each of which offers certain deals for customers who use the app in one of their stores.

SEE: Enterprise IoT Research 2017: Benefits, Trends, and Security Concerns (Tech Pro Research)

But Forrester found only 14% of businesses are taking an approach like the three above mentioned companies. Instead, most companies are focusing on increasing app download numbers without ever thinking how those apps interact with other connected technology.

What businesses can expect from the future of mobile technology

Forrester predicts that the coming years will bring more connections between tech products. Tell Alexa to add an item to your grocery list, for example, and you'll get a notification when you're near a store that's having a sale on that item.

Interactions like that, where one product or service taps into another to aid consumers, are what Forrester calls "borrowing mobile moments," and any business that wants to succeed as technology moves away from siloed applications into shared ecosystems will need to adapt to this new way of doing things or be left behind.

There's a lot of innovation required to succeed in Forrester's vision for a connected future, and one of the biggest hurdles may be cost. As mentioned above, Forrester's data suggest that it may cost upwards of $20 million for a business to adapt to a shared ecosystem model.

Forrester has five recommendations for any business worried about the future of mobile technology.

  • Know what customers are using: Smart homes are a perfect example of shared ecosystems. While an Amazon Echo may be a hub for a connected home, hardware from different manufacturers will be connected to and used alongside it. Successful businesses will consider all possible connections to accommodate all customers.
  • Be ready to use consumer data effectively: The future of connected, easy-to-use technology involves anticipating the needs of users. To do so, businesses will need to make use of data in ways they never have before. Customers are also becoming more savvy about the value of their personal data, leaving businesses to produce better results with less info as time goes on.
  • APIs are the future: Tech products will all be talking to each other, and Forrester says there's no reason to assume there will be any backend or front end connections between communicating products. Having well-defined APIs will be essential to ensure connectivity to multiple types of devices.
  • Plan for temporary and dynamic connections: Interoperability means that products and services that have had no previous connections will need to interface with each other. Forrester says those connections will often be temporary and ad hoc, and that businesses should prepare their software and products for these kinds of short-term partnerships.
  • Plan for more incoming data and more outgoing requests: As more people start using connected devices, the amount of data businesses take in will grow exponentially. Start planning now for APIs that give third parties access to data your organization has collected and get ready to spend more time sifting through masses of data for useful information.

You can learn more about Forrester's vision for the future of digital experiences by downloading the full ebook.

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About Brandon Vigliarolo

Brandon writes about apps and software for TechRepublic. He's an award-winning feature writer who previously worked as an IT professional and served as an MP in the US Army.

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