I downloaded Apple's iOS 6 this week with anticipation of the 200+ new features, and because I am an absolute Apple fanboy. The boast of "turn by turn navigation in Maps" stirred me to reflect on how the smartphone is changing entire industries, and in many cases, rendering them obsolete.
GPS, maps, atlases, etc
I went to rent a car on a recent trip to speak to the Greater Illinois PCC about social media and direct mail. They asked me in line whether I needed a GPS with the car. I almost laughed. "Nope, I'll just use my phone." While in the car, a co-worker called me and asked if I had printed out maps to the venue. "Maps! What are those? I'll just use my phone," I casually responded. Then I reflected on how cool I must've sounded.
Phone books, rolodex, calendar
Things I use phone books for: allowing me to reach high items in my kitchen, slamming down on a counter for emphasis, impressing my friends with feats of strength. See below:
No, that wasn't me in the video, but phone books are almost entirely obsolete.Your Rolodex has been replaced by your contacts list, and that handy calendar with N*Sync on it has to say "Bye Bye Bye" (I apologize to all who actually got that reference). Point is, the smartphone has replaced these scheduling devices, which leads me to...
Alarm clocks, wristwatches, stopwatches...
CD Players, disposable cameras, MP3 players...
Books, magazines, repair manuals...
You get my point.
The smartphone will never fully replace these items, but it has certainly put a dent in the demand for them. And as smartphone and tablet technology becomes more and more sophisticated, more industries will be affected. The time is now to start thinking about what channels/devices your customers really are using to interact. The answer is becoming more and more clear: mobile, social, video.
Forrester calls this age the "Age of the Customer." Many will argue "It's always been about the customer!!" True, but the customer has never had the level of power to let the world know about a bad customer service experience with a simple touch of a button. Product reviews are immediately able to be posted to YouTube, and if they aren't inflammatory, there is little a brand can do.Integrating mobile, and more specifically mobile apps, as part of a multichannel approach will keep your business ahead of the curve.
A marketer must figure out where the conversation is happening, and become involved, or at least aware, of what's being said. Mining this data for valuable insight will then help you stay ahead of the curve. Are all of your banking customers accessing your site from a mobile phone? Do you have an app for that? If you sell audio video equipment, do you have an app to facilitate their purchase, leave reviews and share directly to social networks?
Utility companies that offer usage history and bill-pay through an app; A car company that lets you design your dream car and pairs you with financing options through an app; pizza delivery through an app; This is the future. Do you have an app for that?