The Age of the Mobile Device

Bob Sutor recently blogged about mobile devices, noting that “the power of these gadgets isn’t in their touchscreens or their elegant design.  It’s in the variety of apps and communication services we can use on them to stay connected.  By thinking beyond the device, companies can prepare themselves and figure out how to make the most of this age of the mobile device.”

The disruptiveness of mobile devices to existing business models — even Internet-based ones — is difficult to overstate.  In fact, I believe the age of the mobile device will be even more disruptive than the age of the Internet, which, during the 1990s and early 2000s, disrupted entire industries and professions — the three most obvious examples being music, journalism, and publishing.

However, during those disruptions, mobile devices were in their nascent phase.  Laptops were still the dominant mobile devices and most mobile phones only made phone calls, though text messaging and e-mail soon followed.  It’s only been about five years — with the notable arrivals of the iPhone and the Kindle in 2007, the Android operating system in 2008, and the iPad in 2010 — since mobile devices started to hit their stride.  The widespread availability of connectivity options (Wi-Fi and 3G/4G broadband), the shift to more cloud-based services, and, as Sutor noted, in 2011, for the first time ever, shipments of smartphones exceeded total PC shipments, all appears to forecast that the age of the mobile device will be an age of massive — and rapid — disruption.

The IBM Midmarket white paper A Smarter Approach to Customer Relationship Management (CRM) notes that “mobile is becoming the customers’ preferred communications means for multiple channels.  As customers go mobile and sales teams strive to meet customers’ needs, midsize companies are enabling mobile CRM.  They are optimizing Web sites for wireless devices and deploying mobile apps directly linked into the contact centers.  They are purchasing apps for particular devices and are buying solutions that store CRM data on them when offline, and update the information when Internet access is restored.  This enables sales teams to quickly acquire customer histories and respond with offerings tailored to their desires.”

As Sutor concluded, “mobile devices are a springboard into the future, where the apps can significantly improve the quality of our personal or business lives by allowing us to do things we have never done before.”  I agree that mobile devices are a springboard into a future that allows us, as well as our businesses and our customers, to do things we have never done before.

The age of the mobile device is the future — and the future is now.  Is your midsize business ready?


This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet.