Social, Visual, Mobile, Virtual: Ready or Not, These Four Mega Trends Will Affect Your Business Part Three: Mobile

Social, Visual, Mobile, and Virtual: I refer to these as Mega Trends because they are (1) happening on a grand scale, (2) affecting business owners and executives whether they choose to do anything about them or not, and (3) they are changing the world as we know it. Moreover, while these Mega Trends are enabled by technology, they are more representative of the grander transformation that is happening as a result.

Ready or not, these Mega Trends are here; as a small business owner, what are you doing in the face of them? This article is the third in a series that focuses on the four Mega Trends in more detail, and discusses the options available to small business owners and professionals building a career alongside them.


Are you more likely to return home to pick up a forgotten mobile phone than a forgotten wallet or purse? I’m guessing that your answer is yes. Why is that?

We once took our Atrion team on a retreat where we brought in a Public Speaking coach to work with them on their technique and I learned something compelling.  Did you know that the single biggest fear human beings have is public speaking?  More so than bankruptcy, divorce, losing a loved one, or even death.  There’s even a running joke on the subject that says, at a funeral, people would rather be in the coffin than giving the eulogy.  It turns out that this fear is quite primal and goes back to the origin of our species.  Back when times were a lot tougher, people joined together for safety.  And if an individual was separated from the tribe or group they became prey. In that kind of a scenario, the instinctive fight or flight mechanism kicks in, raising our heart rates and pumping adrenalin in anticipation of preserving our existence in a hostile situation.  Public speaking invokes the same response.  When one is up onstage, it is as if they are separated from the herd, they stand out and don’t have the comfort of the collective.  I thought that very interesting.

Why mention this example?  Because I believe the anxiety we feel when we are without our mobile devices is rooted in the same concept.  We have become so accustomed to being connected due to these technologies that we feel isolated and alone without.  We don’t even need to be talking to anybody, but we take comfort in that accessibility.

Quite simply put, the Mobile Mega Trend is about connectedness…the ability to be reached or to reach out to anybody, at anytime from anywhere.  Now many of us might say that this isn’t such a Mega Trend anymore, I mean, after all most of us have mobile devices today anyway, right?  In fact, just how many of us leverage mobility?

There are approximately 7 billion people on this planet today.  How many mobile device subscriptions do you think there are?…over 6 billion.  How many mobile devices are sold every second?…40!  Cisco predicts that within the next 4 years there will be 15 million. More than 48 million people on earth have mobile phones but DON’T have electricity in their homes. Mobile technology has not only enabled this freedom that we enjoy, but has become a great equalizer for millions of people who might not have otherwise been connected to the world.

Work is no longer a PLACE, but an ACTIVITY

So how does this impact business?  Well, this Mobile Mega Trend has and continues to change our lives in that the line between professional and personal is virtually non-existent.  Our society is steadily evolving from a work-week/working-hours labor mentality to a “working moments” mentality, where we are more productive due to being able to insert work decisions intermittently in to our personal time.  The Mobile Mega Trend had made us far more productive.

But there’s a trade-off. Clients expect us to be more responsive and our employers expect us to be more accessible and productive.  But if we’re going to give up personal time to be accessible by mobile, we should also be permitted to use the same device for personal cases. Only fair, right?  This is one of the biggest conundrums with organizations embracing Mobile, “how do I ensure productivity if I also allow personal use?”  The answer is that we will all need to become more results focused and hold people accountable for those results.  In so doing, employees will have to figure out that balance between business and personal use of mobile technologies around the clock.

These devices are so personal to us; they even become a symbol of our personalities. I believe that productivity is further enhanced through freedom of device choice due to the comfort level we have with its use. Some people are iPhone folk.  Yet others are Android fans.  More and more people feel this way, and if organizations want to take advantage of this, we have to embrace this trend and ask ourselves not only how do we manage it, but even more importantly, how do we leverage it even more.

Think Big

It’s been predicted that there will be another 7 billion new mobile devices by 2015…that’s not far away.  And while this presents a considerable challenge to IT organizations from a cost and control perspective, I believe that we need to be more broadminded of the possibilities.  I would speculate that the majority of technologies that get deployed are probably no better than 70% utilized for what potential they could bring the organization.  We don’t take the time to explore new ways in which they can be used.  We don’t spend as much time as we could to drive adoption.  With Mobile being such a prevalent trend today, we should be looking more and more at mobile app development.  Think big.

I recently heard a story about a grocery chain in South Korea who thought big.  Recognizing that a significant percentage of their customers were working professionals with no time to get to the store, they created an online shopping experience. Of course, that idea isn’t unique. But what IS unique is that they recreated the store shelves using pictures and displayed them on the walls of the subways and public transit stations. As people waited for their trains they could peruse the virtual aisles. Using only their phones, they are able to scan, pay for, and specify the delivery address so that their groceries arrive at their door without ever having to enter the physical store.

Now THAT’s thinking big. We all can think yet bigger with regard to the impact mobile can have on our own businesses, even if simply looking at any remote or road-warrior employees that we have.  Mobile app development to better streamline business processes that these road-warriors contribute to can make a tremendous impact on productivity. Remember, that mobile device is not just a phone, web browser, and email platform…it can do a whole lot more if you embrace it.

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