Saturday, 1 March 2014

Mobility for Last Mile Connectivity

Today’s world is moving at a lightning speed. No, I’m not talking about earth’s rotation speed about its own axis or its orbital speed around the sun. I’m essentially talking about fast changing lifestyles of people & shorter product lifecycles. In today’s India, travelling & movement of people within the country has increased to a large extent. Moreover, people just do not want to lose contact while travelling. The need to stay connected (especially in young & middle-aged generation) is starting to become one of the basic needs of humans. Add to that busy schedules, online payment services & you’ve uncovered a new business domain – ‘Mobility’.
One industry was bound to make a huge leap of progress due to this need of mobility – the E-commerce industry.  Naturally, it has recorded really big numbers in terms of growth. ( 88% y-o-y growth in the last year, details as per economic times report - ) E-commerce growth can be attributed to a few other reasons too, viz., standardized products (consumers do not need to check the product quality physically, since most product categories have adopted standardized manufacturing) & online payment services (there are so many alternatives to cash payments available today).  
How exactly has this become possible? Let us have a glance at technological breakthroughs achieved by mankind in the last 2 decades: First one is wireless communication. Whether you are using GSM/CDMA with 3G,4G connectivity, GPRS, Bluetooth, ZigBee, Wi-Fi; you are using some form of wireless communication. Admittedly, some of these technologies have been invented far back than last 2 decades, but they have really become power friendly & consumer-friendly in the last 2 decades. Second one is nanotechnology. Nanotechnology has enabled such miniaturization of almost all devices that it is astonishing to believe the improvement in sizes & processing powers of devices just 15 years ago.
Businesses of course have to keep up with technological & lifestyle changes & hence companies have been focusing more & more in the area of Mobility. Mobility can be deployed by organizations in 2 ways – Enterprise Mobility (as a supporting platform to accommodate BYOD style of working [Bring-Your-Own-Device]) & leveraging Mobility as a tool to engage customers. A few mobility solutions are already available in the market. However, most of them cater the need of enterprise mobility. It would be really interesting to see the innovative solutions in the area of customer engagement & customer loyalty.
Today most of the companies have a hard time connecting to their consumers. This is particularly applicable for FMCG industries, where volume of sales is so high that currently companies don’t even bother recording the names of even the frequent customers. Mobility technologies could be a great enabler to actually link organizations to their customers.  Here are some of the ways through which businesses can leverage mobility to engage with their customers:  1) CRM   2) Transaction Tracking 3) Targeted Advertising   4) Incentivization

First one is CRM (Customer Relationship Management). Mobile CRM stands to be a great way for a company to engage with its customers. It provides tremendous amount of time & place flexibility to the customer. They don’t have to stand in long queues or wait for an access to PCs to interact with the company. Some part of this was already being provided through IVRs, but now smartphones & Internet connectivity have really brought the Customer Helpdesk in the palm of consumer’s hand. Companies can do Servicing & Troubleshooting as well as solicit Instant Feedbacks through mobility. Second way is Transaction Tracking. Customers don’t do all their transactions at a specific outlet or on the PC. Through mobile devices, most of their transactions can be recorded.  Mobile devices present businesses with a 24x7x365 touchpoint to reach their consumers. Next step in customer mobility is Targeted Advertising. If transactions of customers are recorded, we can draw out patterns & based on those trends targeted advertising can be sent to the customers. Furthermore, since a company gains lot of info about the buying patterns of a consumer, accurate & more importantly instant incentivization can also be done through mobility.

Thus businesses exploring the terrain of consumer mobility stand to gain a lot from it. Organizations however, must re-think their approach & attitude about the mobile computing world. Some tips can be found here – Proper implementation of customer mobility solutions can really go a long way for companies in creating long-term & fruitful engagement with their customers.   

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