ADOTAS – If there’s one device trend that describes our era, it’s the decline of stationary computing (desktops and most laptops) and the rise of mobile devices, with the promise of the Internet of the Things not far behind. While it has clear implications for consumers, this trend of a completely connected, mobile world also has a huge message for anyone building apps or products for the enterprise.
It all goes back to the driving force of the mobile revolution — the huge difference between data you can use, and data you can use at the point when you need it most. Good data is great, but you’re a lot more likely to use the data that’s actionable at just the right moment.Data that tells me where a restaurant is located is always welcome, but data that tells me how to get to the restaurant as I’m driving is even more powerful.
A lot of the advances in computing over the last 20 years boil down to the technology world figuring out how to deliver useful data right to your desktop or laptop. Now, we’re in a mobile revolution (which is evolving into the Internet of Things). That revolution is driven by the ability to bring data to critical points of action and consideration. Mobile devices are physically there, and able to provide relevant information when I wake up, go to sleep, am at work, at home, where I eat, where I watch TV, and where I walk. That basically makes our mobile devices the data providers that are becoming an extension of our own selves.
So, if you need to understand why mobile is overtaking desktop, that’s your answer. All things being equal, data that is an extension of you is a lot more useful than data that sits in one spot alone. Hence, the slow decline of desktop and the rise of mobile.
Of course, the way we work with data as consumers is no different from the way we work with data as professionals. In our era of big data, we’ve gotten very good at finding information and parsing it to make it informative. There is no better example than the digital advertising industry. We now have information to drive and support advertising decisions, significantly improving the entire process. However, there are still many business applications that have not been able to bring that important data closer to the point of taking action—in other words, weaving data into our work personae.
So, the question becomes: How do we go beyond forcing people to step outside of their workflow to find valuable information — and really weave the data people use into the professional lives they lead?
Here are three points to consider that, from the apps and features I’ve seen that have lived or died, can’t be emphasized enough when choosing a workflow application:
1. Think hard about where your solution will be used. In a way, this is basic UX: No matter how valuable the solution, if you can’t pull data up easily at the moment of decision, the more likely you are to forget about it. Conversely, if you can get to it at the right moment of decision, you’re in a better position to leverage simplicity, habit, and mandated enterprise processes.
2. Ask very specific questions that capture subtleties. If you’re looking for a data decisioning tool, like data visualization, process mining or data mining, where in the decision-making process will data be most helpful — is it in the initial consideration, or right at the point of action, or in the post-decision analysis? A critical follow-up question: how interoperable is the offering with the tools and screens your market is using at the precise point you’re trying to engage?
3. Make round pegs for square holes. Sometimes, a product won’t fit with the ways your market does business—and that needs to be fixed. For example, Pandora digital radio faced challenges wooing traditional radio ad dollars, in part because the processes and data that radio teams at ad agencies use doesn’t sync with the ways that digital ads are sold. But after they had an infrastructure allowing them to sell digital ads as if they were radio ads, they saw a real impact.
While the argument that mobile data will revolutionize all business applications rings true, it is even more compelling for digital applications in the advertising industry — whether you’re an attribution tool, a data provider, or an ad server. That’s because, unlike traditional media, which has clear business standards, digital is by definition always changing. Consequently, people are changing their work processes all the time—one year you’re measuring last click, the next you’re measuring digital GRPs; one year you’re buying from ad networks, and the next from exchanges. Those consistent changes in what you’re measuring and where you’re buying from do not just change what you do at that moment, but they change the entire process and operations you encounter on a daily basis. Just as mobile was created to bring applications into a fluid life, businesses need to bring applications into fluid working processes in order to survive.