Blog: The Top Four Mobile Musts in 2014
By Sam Gaddis, Mutual Mobile
From Apple’s Touch ID and iBeacons to Google Glass and beyond, 2013 proved to be a big year for mobile, particularly in its relation to payments. Analyst firm Gartner predicted worldwide mobile payments to increase 44 percent from 2012 to 2013—a major proof point for the growing trust in m-payments. More than that, we saw an unprecedented number of mobile devices in the hands of consumers; Cisco estimated that by the end of 2013, the number of mobile connected devices would exceed the world’s population.
Despite the breadth of mobile innovation that gained visibility in 2013, when it comes to consumer adoption and widespread usage within the mobile market, we’re only just getting started. With last year’s positive jumpstart, 2014 promises to be mobile’s best year yet, and I’m expecting the following mobile trends to come out on top and influence payments and financial services innovation.
Smartwatches Find a Friend in Mobile Payment
With major players like Samsung, and disruptive startups like Pebble and Cuckoo, announcing smartwatches last year, tech enthusiasts believed that the new mobile accessory would be all the rage, but with media and consumers alike failing to understand its unique function, the smartwatch continues to see mediocre reception at best.
Critics question whether the once highly anticipated accessory will see an early end, but I’m thinking smartwatches will find success through a much-needed relationship with similarly struggling mobile payments. Early mobile wallet players will adopt smartwatches and provide value with mobile wallet integration at the point of sale—no fumbling for your phone—making smartwatches sought after in the retail environment and pushing mobile payments mainstream.
Once this happens, I expect to see an expansion in the offering provided through mobile payments. Completing transactions via mobile is one thing, but imagine if consumers could open accounts, apply for credit or refinance loans—all through their mobile devices rather than going into a physical location. Smartwatches and mobile payments open the door for total mobile banking and commerce in 2014.
Shopping Becomes Instantaneous
Already we’re hearing of companies that are working on same-day delivery services for online shopping. eBay’s “eBay Now” service is a prime example, but it’s just the beginning for the online shopping and delivery market, which has a massive amount of potential in 2014. By year’s end, I expect we’ll see geography becoming irrelevant to shopping—a consumer will be able to purchase a pair of shoes or a new shirt through his mobile devices on the way into the office, and the package will be sitting at his front door by the time he gets home that day, regardless of where the item originated from.
Your geography will become less relevant for banking, too, as we see consumers’ expectations for instantaneous services expand past retail into other industries. We’ve watched banks transition this way over the past decade from solely brick-and-mortar locations with limited hours, to 24/7 ATMs, to around-the-clock online access to banking. The next frontier includes banks creating tools and services that enable consumers to open a new account and authenticate their identities from anywhere at anytime, thus opening up the market for banks in any region to vie for new customers nationwide.
Spotlight Shines on Voice Activation
Motorola Moto X’s hands-free controls; voice capabilities in the XBox One; updates to Siri—2013 broadened the idea of vocally communicating with your devices. This year voice activation will be front and center.
Always listening, contextual voice-activated experiences will be a differentiator for the Android in 2014—Google will open voice search to developers, giving them an easier path to design apps that provide the user with an incredible experience around voice. And as we approach 2015, voice activation will have spread to a number of markets, serving as a key feature for mobile device control, gaming and even banking.
Take banking, for instance—voice activation can greatly enhance a consumer’s experience in a number of ways. Your voice, a unique identifying characteristic, can be used as a high-tech password to initiate transactions. Looking from a different angle, voice activation soon could serve as a notification mechanism, alerting consumers to changes in their bank accounts such as new deposits, processed charges or low balances. As financial services providers look to differentiate their offerings, mobile voice activation seems like a completely plausible way to keep consumers connected in a unique way.
Tech Becomes the Norm
One of my favorite predictions for this year is the idea that the traditional “tech company” will all but disappear, as more and more companies look to technology as a way to strengthen their product offerings. Brands will strive to deliver on promises and differentiate from their competition with mobile or digital offerings that accompany their physical products.
This will apply to all types of products, from shoes to automobiles, and we’re already seeing early indications of what could be. Shoe manufacturers are working to transform athletes’ workouts with a distinct product—the Nike+ platform; car insurance companies like Progressive are debuting products like the ‘Pay As You Drive’ program with Snapshot; even Oakley is partnering with Surfline to crowdsource intelligence from thousands of surfers’ data to create Surf Report, an app that brings the surfing conditions worldwide directly to your fingertips. The product quickly becomes just one part of what a can help companies relate to their customer base and build additional brand loyalty.
By year’s end, we’ll be part of a society where thousands of people will interact with personal and retail devices using only their voices, connect with their banks in ways never before imagined, and purchase items via a smartwatch and receive it that same day. Companies will all be assuming the tech moniker to add technological value to physical products.
We know these changes are coming, but how, as a company, do you prepare? The key is to have a deep understanding of your customers’ needs and meaningfully embrace new tech trends before your competitors, even in an industry like banking that may be slower to adopt tech trends. Not only does this give you a chance to explore your options, so you aren’t stuck playing catch-up down the road, it establishes your company as an industry leader and instills a sense of trust and expertise with your current and potential customers.
Sam Gaddis guides Mutual Mobile’s go-to-market strategy and is responsible for opening conversations in new accounts. As chief marketing officer, he has developed a keen understanding of where in the enterprise mobile works and, more importantly, where it often doesn’t. Recently, he helped launch Mutual Mobile’s consumer and enterprise strategy practice. Sam can be reached at email@example.com.