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A new mobile revolution

LG’s Smart Home Service allows for ‘integrated home appliance management’.

Web mobility–via smartphones and tablets–is changing the way consumers and professionals interact with products and brands like never before. As the number of devices being sold worldwide continues to soar, consumers are looking to interact with brands on the move. We appear to have entered the smartphone revolution – an era in which our phones are becoming our lifestyle planners.

Technology and telecommunications have fused together to usher in the era of machine-to-machine (M2M) communications. The smartphone has become the hub of our everyday interactions with our households, because it has grown beyond a simple communication tool to an extension of our brain and personality.

For example, M2M is transforming the way we make contactless payments, monitor the efficiency of our vehicles and our personal health, or remotely control our thermostats and set top boxes – all from the palm of our hands.

This revolution has only just begun. According to a recent report from Navigant Research, the annual value of the smart appliance market will grow from $613 million in 2012 to $34.9 billion in 2020.

For brands, this valuation emphasises the new potential that can be found through M2M techniques. Mobile enables them to understand the consumer at the point of experience. It’s not just capturing response in-the-moment, but also getting them closer to the context around consumer behaviour.

AJ Johnson, director of innovation technology at market research agency BrainJuicer, explains: “Such technology is essential in adding the ability for brands to interact live with consumers at these ‘moments’ and thereby provide deeper insights into the ‘why’. Mobile enables them to fully understand the consumer journey and capture fluctuating emotions throughout that experience.”

Indeed, the mobile revolution has created an ideal observation tool for brands to capture individual, social and environmental factors that influence human behaviour. These observations can further be brought to life in photos and videos of ever increasing quality.

An example of this in action is British Gas’ Remote Heating Control application for home heating efficiency. It has been created to help customers take control of their thermostatic settings and programmes easily.

Dean Keeling, managing director of British Gas Smart Homes, says that the process is important for empowering customers: “Remote Heating Control enforces our vision that smart homes are the future. For British Gas this is another important milestone in our journey to help change the way our customers use energy. It allows the user to set their weekly heating schedule to match their lifestyle but also alter or override the settings on the go via a web interface, smartphone app or even by text message.

”When we trialled it with the government’s Technology Strategy Board, we noted that 95% of participants found the dashboard easy and intuitive to use. Those with smartphones logged in most regularly. It really has proved to be the most ideal observation tool for us.“



What is important though is that such tools do not just become the latest fad which deliver mounds of data and information but don’t really deliver any insight. 

Brands are constantly researching and developing ways to use the right tool(s) to get to relevant answers, the creative analysis process and the ability to put everything into business context. All remain crucial.

A trial of Near Field Connectivity (NFC) interactivity by out-of-home agencies Kinetic and JCDecaux – over 3000 people in Reading scanned poster sites – found that this type of experience works best if collateral has a strong call to action and offers dynamic content to open conversations with consumers.

Nick Mawditt, global director of marketing and insight for Kinetic, says: “The experience of interactivity elicits overwhelming positivity around the brand, able to drive both the conversion and the retention of customers. Our trial has resulted in real insight about the types of experience, our preferred technologies and the importance of relevant content which will inform the industry’s future.”

And away from the mobile device, the technology is now being found in our vehicles. Automotive manufacturers are hoping that the technology regularly found on smartphones could change the way we use our cars. A new white paper from Juniper Research has found that advancements in entertainment head-units and higher smartphone penetration will result in app-capability reaching a fifth of all consumer vehicles in the developed markets of North America and Western Europe by 2017.

The mobile revolution really is changing the way we act. As Luke Bradley-Jones, Sky’s Director of innovation and products, says: “The way people enjoy life is changing as customers embrace technology to take control over their habits. We know customers have busier lives than ever, which is why we’ve created Sky+ – they simply love the control and flexibility it gives them – and that’s why M2M is ever more popular.”

With so many exciting uses of the modern smartphone, it is a challenge bigger than ever before for marketers to engage consumers. Yet with expectations increasing, brands must embrace these new trends and consider mobility an important and ongoing business opportunity.



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