From 27th February to 2nd March this year, over 100,000 people attended the Mobile World Congress 2017 in Barcelona, Spain.
More than 2,300 companies participated in the event with exhibitions covering connected Internet of Things (IoT) devices, virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and Artificial Intelligence (AI), robotics, drones and more.
Although it's easy to find headlines from such events about the latest VR tech, one mobile space that is often overlooked is the interconnectivity of apps, a movement that is already well underway.
At the turn of the century, mobile began its steady ascent, marked by the switch from 2G to 3G in 2001. 3G was a significant leap forward because it meant that users were able to access the internet on mobile devices.
In 2009, the widespread uptake of 4G began, and last November mobile and tablet internet usage had exceeded desktop for the first time worldwide. Of course, we are now waiting for 5G, which will promise even greater speeds and no doubt result in greater mobile usage.
More mobile means more apps, and more apps inevitably leads to more interconnectivity.
Take Apple's Siri for example. In 2016, Apple expanded Siri's powers to beyond just calling someone for you or googling something. Thanks to the iOS 10 update, Siri is now able to order you a pizza via the Dominoes app, send a WhatsApp message for you or book you an Uber.
In the years to come, we can certainly expect Siri to further integrate with other apps. At the Apple Worldwide Developer's Conference (WWDC) in June, Apple announced that it would be unveiling person-to-person payments in iOS 11. At first, it will be through Apple Pay and iMessage, but it is logical for Siri to play a role in this process. "Hey Siri, send my brother $50 bucks," will soon be just another command.
App integration isn’t just happening when you are out and about since AI such as Siri is now appearing in the home space. At WWDC 2017, Apple also announced the Home Pod, its entry into the increasingly competitive and crowded AI-powered assistant market. Home Pod now joins Google's Home and Amazon's Echo in the race to fully integrate the web into our lives. According to Accenture's Fjord Trends 2017 report, the next ten years will see the home being controlled through the integration of multiple connected devices. Accenture identifies Thington, a service which combines different smart devices into a single interface, as an example of one such service, and expects that we will see more in the years to come.
Simple purchases and commands are one thing, but virtual assistants still have a way to go before we can trust them with more complex tasks. The most obvious issue is that they still have trouble understanding us. A recent study by consulting firm Stone Temple found that Google Assistant leads the pack, getting 90.6% correct of the 68.1% questions it answered. Google Assistant was followed by Microsoft's Cortana (81.9% correct of 56.5% answered), Apple's Siri (62.2% correct of 21.7% answered) and Amazon's Alexa (87% correct of 20.7% answered). Are they improving? Yes. But would you trust them to handle your banking? Not yet.
The other issue comes down to privacy and security. As companies work to deliver more seamless, integrated and ultimately personalised experiences, they find themselves with a familiar trade-off. They can give us convenience, but at a cost. In exchange they need access to huge amounts of data, including your personal information, buying preferences and previous search queries.
Regardless of these challenges, AI-powered mobile app integration will no doubt push forward. So how well prepared are organisations? Joint research by Roshandev Singh from LogMeIn and Steve Nuttall from Fifth Quadrant delivered a webinar in 2016, looking at how today's companies are dealing with the rise of mobile.
They found that while most organisations (66%) see the mobile channel is important, only 26% are devoting resources to optimising mobile to improve Customer Experience (CX). Singh and Nuttall identify five reasons why organisations need a mobile engagement strategy:
- Over a third (37%) of customer interactions are via mobile devices.
- A mobile experience impacts retention (67% will do business again after a good experience, 9% after a bad)
- Customer spend and contact options are correlated (22% of customers would spend more through their mobile device if it were easier)
- Purchases made from mobile devices are increasing (18% in 2015, an estimated 22% in 2016)
- Consumers want to find info fast (45% give up searching in under a minute)
Singh and Nutall also predict that mobile will be the focus for channel integration, rising from 26% to 57% over the course of a year.
As integration continues to increase, the smartphone of the future may look very different. Instead of with pages and pages of apps, we may end up with a single app - a digital assistant that takes care of everything.
The next Mobile World Congress will take place in Shanghai from 28th June – 1st July 2017. To learn more, visit the official site.
How's your mobile CX strategy? For more information on how Fifth Quadrant can help, contact us.