Memphis Businesses Learn to Ride ‘Mobile Wave’

Tuesday, February 22, 2011, Vol. 126, No. 36

A cross-section of the Memphis business community that included professionals from the financial, home services, marketing, medical, real estate and information technology industries gathered Friday at Comprehensive Pharmacy Services, 6409 Quail Hollow Road, for a conference called “Preparing for the Mobile Wave.”

Image: Shutterstock

Hosted by Vanick Group, a full-service Information Technology services provider led by principals Lou Powell, Larry Slavick and Jim Van de Vuurst, the conference’s purpose was to educate participants in the ways in which increased mobile use can affect their businesses, methods for developing mobile technology, and mobile adoption trends to watch.

Mobile Web trends for 2011 include faster devices, more affordability, more personalized use, location preferences, convenience apps and rewards-driven marketing, something many retailers are starting to embrace.

“It’s not going away; it’s not a trend,” said Powell, who gave the presentation. “The longer you wait to get in the market place, the further away you’ll be from your customer.”

For the first time ever in 2010, mobile devices outsold PCs, and technology research company Gartner Group says that by 2013 mobile phones will overtake personal computers as the most common Web access device worldwide.

Currently, almost 30 percent of mobile phones in use are smart phones with Internet access. That adoption rate is expected to increase to nearly 70 percent by 2013.

“This is the most radical change in the marketplace since the Internet took off in the 90s,” Powell said.

He also said while the majority of smart phone users are individuals with higher incomes, that’s changing quickly, driven by marketplace competition and the availability of lower pricing packages.

People who’ve never owned a PC are accessing the Web using smart phones, giving businesses the opportunity to reach potential new customers online, but the key lies in understanding how to engage them.

“Mobile is relevant, mobile is growing, mobile is going to have an impact on the world and your business,” said Powell.

Many businesses make the mistake of duplicating their existing website. Mobile site content should be streamlined with simplified options that encourage immediate engagement.

A mobile site differs in that its focus should be on the ease and enjoyment of user experience rather than on robust business information. It should feature rich functionality, personal service experience and the retention of settings and preferences.

Powell said people of all ages access the Web through mobile devices, but some businesses mistakenly alter their brand image when they go mobile thinking mobile users are predominantly a younger group. It’s crucial for a company to be consistent in its brand image and strategy.

And since there are no mobile use standards in place for companies, each will have to decide whether or not investing in the creation of apps, which engage users on a deeper, more personalized level, will be of value to their business.

“It’s definitely in its infancy,” said Powell. “Everyone is struggling to do the coolest thing.”