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The mobile wave is cresting: Are you paddling fast enough?

by Dave Hannon

June 26, 2013

By Dave Hannon

As a kid growing up in Massachusetts, I spent a lot of time at the beach, playing in the surf. And one of my favorite activities was (okay, still is) body surfing. What I think makes it so addictive is that every wave is different, so success depends on how you position yourself and time your "launch" in relation to the indivi
dual wave. You might get the ride of your life or go nowhere because you've missed the wave completely.

At the risk of overusing a metaphor, I think most businesses are at that point today. The "ultimate wave" is upon us and it's called mobility. Some of us see it and are paddling like crazy to catch it but some others might not think this is the "big one" they've been waiting for. There might be a better one behind it. Well this is the big one. So start paddling!

If you're still in doubt, here's some information to help convince you to start paddling.

  • It was only a couple years ago that the IT market gurus questioned if the tablet would become a business device and today the tablet appears everywhere in business, both as a tool and as a business strategy. Market researcher Canalys recently forecast that the number of tablets shipped globally will QUADRUPLE in five years from 2012 to 2017.
  • Only a few short years ago, it would have been nearly impossible to make a financial transaction on a cell phone. According to Juniper Research, today the value of mobile commerce transactions conducted via mobile handsets and tablets is $1.5 trillion. And by 2017, it will exceed $3.2 trillion. If that were a country, it would be the fourth largest economy on the planet, smaller only than US, China, Japan and Germany.

So it's incumbent on every business to think about where these sweeping changes will bring your businesses--soon--and be in front of that wave. Because just as in the dot-com era, we still don't have a full grasp of just how broad and fast the mobile wave will be.

According to this recent article by Deloitte University Press, the mobile changes "have been unfolding quickly, creating a growing gap between the status quo of today and the potential of tomorrow. Mobile is fundamentally reshaping operating models, business models, and marketplaces, at an often surprising rate. Merely having a mobile presence isn’t enough...Though businesses are taking note, there’s a big disconnect between consumer and employee expectations and corporate mobile offerings, including those offered by larger companies. And while organizations are starting to explore the possibilities of mobile technologies, the full potential for business remains untapped."

In fact, those of us associated with the IT space might be at a disadvantage in some ways because we have been paddling for a while and are on the top of the wave. But there are many other markets/regions/demographic groups that haven't started paddling to catch the mobility wave yet, so the growth is still gaining momentum and will change how we all work, live and play. I'm hard-pressed to think of an industry or even a job function that won't be changed by mobility.

Talk to your peers about how you can mobilize your internal and external processes sooner rather than later. If you've got ideas and you're not being heard, find someone that will hear them. And if you can't then you should take a hard look at the organization you're in. Because the mobility wave is going to carry some companies and industries all the way to the beach and leave others in its wake wondering what happened.

And take it from a Massachusetts kid, you want to catch this ride.

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