Knowing your target audience sounds like a marketing 101 topic, however it is a common pitfall of mobile projects. Learn why having a user-focused mobile strategy is the foundation of any successful mobile program.
Meet “The Mobile Innovator”
Many companies’ first mobile project goes a little something like this. A director with an itch to be perceived as “innovative” steps up to be the “mobile guy”. He negotiates budgets across teams to do a mobile test, and quite frankly getting something live will be perceived as a win internally.
After searching for a partner and spending that budget, a big sales meeting comes up and they launch the thing. The director stands on stage, the audience salivates at the thought of getting a new iPad, and the app is rolled out. Months pass, and oh no - no one is using the app. But why?
This is about the time that a sales manager pipes up and says, “I don’t know. Our guys just don’t like using the app. They prefer some other company’s tools that do the trick just fine.” Someone asks the analytics manager to pull stats on usage rates, and after the initial launch adoption rate is inordinately low. Frustrated, the “innovator” lashes out at his vendor and demands new features to improve adoption. The cycle begins again.
User First = Understanding People
Avoid this common pitfall. Although user experience and user research sound like fancy words, really it is about understanding people. Your company has people it serves. Who are they? Employees, partners, customers, end clients of those partners. Get to know them, their pain points, and obtain a better understanding of how you can better serve their needs.
Providing Utility, Providing Value
Then address those needs with a mobile experience. If you make it useful and solve a problem for people, they’re probably going to find it of value.
They’re not interested in your messaging and logos. They want utility, and they want it now. In the world of the mobile mind shift, customers expect any desired information or service to be available, on any appropriate device, in context, at their moment of need.
- Forrester, The Mobile Mind Shift, April 2013
There is a love affair at the moment between technophiles and Google Glass, but we’re a long way off for mass market appeal of this innovative, new product.
Warby Smart Frames
Let’s face it. Google Glass comes in at a whopping $1,500 price tag at the moment. Analysts project that with partnerships with eye wear companies like Warby Parker, suspicions over an upcoming contacts format, and future models being more cost effective to produce, Glass should be more affordable by 2014. But will that be enough to make the product “make sense” for the average consumer?
Glass Crunches Under Toddler’s Shoes
In it’s current version, a family owning a Glass headset seems improbable beyond just cost. The headset would need to be sized for various family members to wear (a toddler’s head up to an adult). Additionally from a durability perspective, iPads have gone through a phase where kid-friendly, plastic shells have been built to hold the device (pretty toughbooks). Google Glass in its current format is too breakable for consumers to have at home. When future versions have perhaps detachable glass panel that can be inserted in various headsets for each family member, the scenario of multiple users in one family may be better addressed.
Luxury Experiences - Phase 1.0, Fad
For now, Glass is a luxury item and a status symbol to spark dialogue about what is possible. Likely the first brands that will build consumer experiences with it will serve luxury, high-end markets. Imagine BMW creating a Glass app to enhance the premium driving experience. Or a private yacht company creating ‘admiral goggles’ that integrate with weather APIs or depth charts to help visualize open waters.
Brands may consider leveraging glass in-store. Lending Glass to preferred customers visiting the Burberry flagship store could provide a heightened branded experience. With Glass, unique information layers and a private curated tour of this season’s collection could be unveiled as part of an exclusive experience.
Hands-On Professionals - Phase 1.0, Meaningful
The most meaningful and interesting use cases that will come out over the next year to be in the ‘high risk’ professional field. Any people that are using their hands to do something important or risky that a book or a dashboard can’t get in the way would be ideal targets for Glass.
Surgeons monitoring vitals of a patient without looking away from the incision they’re making. Pilots seeing plane controls or altitude charts projected on a glass pane without having to look away from the horizon. EMTs on site with a patient that has just had an allergic reaction, and being presented with questions to ask family members to rule out local indigenous plants. Or race car drivers at F1 zipping around the track seeing alerts from their pit crew and real-time listings of car ranking in the race. The practical use cases for hands-on professionals are the truly exciting ones - not the phase 1.0 trinkets the media fawns over in the short-term.
Sensors coupled with mobile devices will transform health care as we know it. Plagued by a “break fix” model today, preventative health care is in its infancy yet offers great opportunities to transform the system as we know it.
Analysts contend that senors will provide the next wave of opportunities for patients to take a more active role in their health. By monitoring your own body’s data, larger issues can be detected at early stages and with diagnostic tools, analysis conducted can determine treatment paths or escalation to visit a doctor.
What does this mean in more “human” terms? As portrayed in infographic below, each day we generate thousands of pieces of data. Imagine if all those data touch points were aggregated to have one, holistic view of your body’s data, so you could make better health decisions.
My Body, My Data
Let’s take me for example. I’m a 29 y.o. female living in Austin, TX of average weight and height that eats pescatarian, is relatively sedentary and enjoys wine. MyFitnessPal tracks my physical measurements, weight, calorie intake and physical activity (or inactivity) levels. My Yelp check-ins suggest healthy, or unhealthy, lifestyle patterns (my badges alone would be a great indicator - ‘Bar Fly’ badge and ‘Jet Setter’ badge, oy!). Imagine a Pebble app that tracks how long I sleep and my blood pressure throughout the day. Geolocation on my smartphone could determine how long I’m at work each day and whether I take a lunch break outside the office (or not), or make it home by six (or not). What if even my iPad, iPhone and MacBook Pro also ran diagnostics against IP addresses to determine whether I’m computing for personal or for work in my “down time” outside of the office to assess my work-life balance score and anxiety levels. Lastly, perhaps there is a technology that scrapes words I generate on Tumblr, Twitter, or Facebook to derive a sentient measure of my emotions. All these data touch points can give me a much better profile of who I am, my health, and empower me to make better informed decisions about my body. Scary yet interesting, right?
On this note, my father battled alcohol and nicotine in his 30’s through early 50’s. He has been cold turkey now for ten years. What was his breaking point? Data. Quitting his addictions made sense when he understood his body better. Doctors assessed his liver, lungs and other organs and gave him a prognosis on how much damage he did, and how long he’d need to be clean to give his body a chance to start reversing damage. Imagine how having body data accessible to all could help scare straight other people and put them on a path to a healthier life stye.
Public Insurance Option for Preventative Health Profile
Beyond empowering people to take a more proactive role in their health, opportunities will exist to streamline the insurance industry. Let’s face it. It is broken today. Pundits argue a health care option for all can’t be granted, as the infrastructure would collapse.
What if to receive free health care granted by government, you had to give up some privacy and share body data. Forget the food pyramid, if your BMI was within a certain range, your calorie intake was within certain averages, and you burned 1,000 calories a week you’d get free coverage. Create a public option to incentive people to live a healthy life style - reward the low risk profiles.
Chalkboard. Paper. Pencils. Pull-down maps. Posters tacked to walls. Classrooms haven’t progressed much since the early 1900’s, yet what it is like to be a child has.
According a study in 2010, 8- to 18-year-olds spend about 7.5 hours a day interacting with an electronic device (TV, smartphone, video game console, etc.) So why is it how kids learn, via textbooks, has stayed the same?
Many schools are participating in trial programs leveraging tablets in the classroom. An August 2012 Mashable article estimated that there were 1.5M iPads in the classroom and schools purchased about 47K iPads after the first month-and-a half after its release. (To view a full list of largest iPad deployments in K-12, see Eric Lai’s spreadsheet.)
In interactive we think a lot about serving the needs of the user. Today’s user is part of a digital generation. They’re tech savvy, raised on touch screens, and potentially never knew a feature phone let alone a land line.
To bring curriculum to life and make it relevant to today’s users, text books must reboot. Putting tablets in the classroom is a great start. The next step will be textbooks being redesigned for a multimedia format.
This past October my husband and I were in San Diego for a wedding. We stayed near Mission Beach and decided to go out for a stroll.
We encountered a classic car club. “Grey hairs” sitting in 70’s lawn chairs proudly looking out from behind dark tinted glasses. Chrome glistening in the sun under 30’ palm trees. Quite a sight.
While I lack a deep understanding of hot rods, I can appreciate good design and craftsmanship. Down to painting pinstripes on the engine, every inch of these vehicles were detailed - with love.
Rat Fink Pride
The following excerpt is from a Fast Company article by Cliff Kuang, ‘The 6 Pillars of Steve Job’s Design Philosophy’:
Fifty years later the fence still surrounds the back and side yards of the house in Mountain View. As Jobs showed it off to me, he caressed the stockade panels and recalled a lesson that his father implanted deeply in him. It was important, his father said, to craft the backs of cabinets and fences properly, even though they were hidden. …In an interview a few years later, after the Macintosh came out, Jobs again reiterated that lesson from his father: “When you’re a carpenter making a beautiful chest of drawers, you’re not going to use a piece of plywood on the back, even though it faces the wall and nobody will ever see it. You’ll know it’s there, so you’re going to use a beautiful piece of wood in the back. For you to sleep well at night, the aesthetic, the quality, has to be carried all the way through.”
Pictured above: signed interior of the original mac, see link for full image of all signatures.
The Enterprise iPad Tsunami
As of April 2012, 94% of Fortune 500 companies and 70% of Global 500 were either testing or deploying iPads for enterprise use (source: MacObserver). With large scale iPad rollouts comes an incredible opportunity for iPad content creators - specifically for iBooks.
The Demand for Content
The content challenge is often initially overlooked, and companies focus first on evaluating whether to build a custom iPad app, out-of-the-box iPad app, or utilize a collection of free iPad apps to enable their employees. What they quickly discover is no matter how elegant a iPad application system you select, that content the goes on the app will determine your adoption rate by your users.
Your presentations, PDFs, product spec sheets, corporate videos, product imagery, and engineering diagrams that will be housed within iPads are likely outdated, redundant or not optimized for an iPad’s high resolution, multi-touch, multimedia experience.
These legacy marketing materials are often built with Microsoft Suite, and will at least need to be converted over to a format like Keynote or an iBook. Even better, which materials that get ported over will be prioritized, re-evaluated, and undergo a design refresh to ensure they content is an elegant as the new system and hardware you just invested in.
Needed: iBooks for The Enterprise
Why will iBooks be in such high demand in 2013 and beyond? Companies will quickly determine it is an insurmountable task to tackle the following tasks all at once that are involved with deploying iPads across the enterprise:
An easier starting point of a phased solution goes something like this:
The Hunt for iBook Agencies or Specialists
Want a business concept for 2013? Try this. There is a tremendous opportunity for good storytellers and designers to join forces and create iBook agencies. Try doing a few searches today for ‘iBook designer’ or ‘iBook developer’. I certainly couldn’t find any.
As iPads penetrate the Enterprise, content creators for the iPad will be in strong demand. Current agencies will need to adapt and hire specialists that can tell multimedia stories, know how to create eBooks, and can think like publishers.
Separately, there is a tremendous opportunity for small, start-up shops to make a decent living strictly working off of client’s existing assets and materials, collaborating with clients to prioritize stories they need to tell, and then creating beautiful iBooks to feed hungry iPads.
Learn More about iBooks
12.13.2012 Update: A peer recently found the following information (link) regarding Apple’s recommended iBook partners. Looks a though there are a few folks specialized in creating collateral for iPad or iBooks specifically.