mobile mind shift
October 17, 2016

How to understand your customers’ mobile mind shift

By Paul Laughlin

When I first received a copy of this book, when it was published in 2014, I didn’t think it would be so relevant. Understanding a ‘mobile mind shift‘ sounded like just a fancy way of presenting advice for e-commerce leaders working on moving to mobile.

Now, having read this engaging work, I can see how relevant it is to all business leaders (including customer insight leaders).

There is much more to think about than you might first imagine. This practical book makes a good case for explaining why you can’t just port your website. It’s also much more involved than just having a dynamic presentation layer, that will adapt to the device (i.e. screen size) being used.

Packed full of findings from Forrester’s Mobile Mind Shift surveys, the structure of the material takes you through the different elements you need to consider.

Starting with understanding the needs/wants & current challenges of your customers (or employees), it helps you see how a different perspective (on what helps) can make all the difference.

Key mobile themes

Central to the theme of this book is the concept of ‘mobile moments‘. Those opportunities when the data & functionality available from a mobile app could make a task easier or quicker. Because the design principles for mobile mean focussing on only 1 task at a time & delivering functionality that will not require training, this can require some thought. But, the enabling potential of knowing the user, their location, shared details & past behaviour – all these can mean a very different potential solution than past digital design for computer users.

Everything is clearly explained in simple terms, so this is a very approachable book (for business leaders as well as technologists). Another advantage is the wealth of case studies included. Just like another book by Forrester analysts, that we reviewed, each chapter includes at least 2 case studies. Each new point is demonstrated in practice through those case study examples, so you can see how it would apply pragmatically in your business.

Master the Mobile Mind Shift

After a short introduction, Part One introduces the main terms used. The idea of a Mobile Mind Shift (basically level of maturity in adopting mobile solutions & using increasing sophistication of apps to get things done – driving higher customer expectations ‘in the moment’). This is supported by proposed metrics & a dashboard to use a qualitative tool for assessing your customer expectations & business readiness to meet that demand. In this part of the book a methodology is also introduced for delivering such solutions, the IDEA Cycle. I stands for Identify (moments & context for requirements), D stands for Design (the mobile experience), E stands for Engineer (particularly back room processes & systems), A stands for Analyse (performance, usage & outcomes).

From a Customer Insight perspective, it is great to see this methodology focus on customer/consumer understanding from start to finish. There is rightly a challenge to really understand current experience of your customers or employees and a number of times when it is obvious that ethnographic research is relevant. The final stage, of ensuring all developments are designed to capture data & analytics solutions are in place to enable ongoing analysis of how well the solution works for customers, is also very encouraging. A number of times it is confirmed that you will find you want more data than you first imagine. So, it’s good to see this built into the iterative cycle (akin to some Agile methods).

The Mobile Business Shift

Part 2 of this book moves onto the implications for businesses of this new way of thinking. It clearly makes the point that you can’t just apply traditional sales, marketing or product thinking – as if mobile was just another channel. Rather, the requirements emerge from observation, from using insight to truly understand which mobile moments exist on current customer journeys. Through case study examples, it is striking how differently marketing, sales & product opportunities can emerge, from focussing on moments in the journey & their context. In a number of examples, the capability of knowing geo-location, the user & past behaviour make it possible to deliver much improved experiences (often through focussing on just one task in that moment).

The Mobile Systems Shift

That theme, of breaking processes down into the most important task to achieve at that moment, is continued in Part 3. This section of the book helps the leader consider both ‘back office‘ implications & opportunities to improve internal efficiency by spotting employee’s mobile moments. Successive chapters cover the implications for workforce, technology platforms, process redesign & people. As well as the need to understand your employee’s experience and break processes down into atom-sized tasks, another key theme is APIs. It is clear that most of the cost of implementing successful mobile apps is the cost of changing transactional systems. This is not cheap, but can be approached in a way that future proofs these past investments for other opportunities. Cloud computing has a big role to play, where businesses are comfortable to outsource. By developing open Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), mobile apps can call those needed in different orders to achieve the relevant task at that moment.

The Future Shift

The final part of this book is a single chapter on the ‘future shift‘. If you hadn’t been convinced by the rest of the book, this will settle the argument that the world is changing fundamentally. Those businesses who are not able to shift their offering, to meet growing consumer demands for relevant apps, personalisation & data in the moments they need them, will not survive. This chapter ends on a summary of 4 ways to approach the next steps needed, which bear repeating here:

  • Start with your customers & your assets
  • Design for mobile moments
  • Rent what you need, own what you must
  • Be ready to launch learn & adjust

Sound advice for technology teams & insight leaders. Hopefully this evolution of application development is a further opportunity for Customer Insight teams to work closely with IT. Together they should ensure that use of technology really does make a difference for customers & continues to evolve with their changing needs.

Is your business ready for your customers’ mobile mind shift? This very helpful book should help you answer that question & get started on closing your gaps.