The influence of mobile developments on all industries is vast, fast, and absolutely game-changing. For businesses, this means both exciting opportunities and threats. We spoke to three mobile veterans – Alex Newman, head of mobile EMEA at OMD International; entrepreneur, investor, UK government advisor and AdMob founder, Russell Buckley; and Dennis Jones, CEO of Judo Payments – about how mobile is disrupting SMEs in the UK.
What’s the most exciting development in mobile right now?
Alex Newman: We are seeing big developments in the use of mobile as an in-store shopping companion, as micro-targeting comes into existence. Developments such as Bytelight, which provide new and exciting ways of talking to consumers when they are in particular in-store locations, are opening new possibilities.
Russell Buckley: It’s got to be the confluence of the end of the PC Era and the start of the Mobile Era, just as the Wearable Era is kicking off. Speed of change is going to mean huge opportunities and threats for new and old companies alike.
Dennis Jones: When the internet opened up access to information it opened barriers to smaller companies, making it much easier to compete. Now mobile is facilitating similar opportunities.
Which industries are being most disrupted by mobile right now?
Russell: Desktops and laptops are on the way out, so that has to be the biggest disruption in the last 20 years. But mobile also disrupts everything from alarm clocks to A-Z maps, from cameras to make-up mirrors.
Dennis: The media. The payment industry. The hospitality industry. Many industries are driven by the sharing economy. Companies like airbnb are cutting into hotels, car sharing services, even plane sharing services. Retail is also affected by mobile, in terms that it’s becoming easier to find exactly what you want. Small businesses have the most flexibility to take advantage of the mobile revolution – for big business it’s a big risk to change their business model, but small business can experiment really easily. Their ploy is to grow by taking advantage.
Which industries will be disrupted the most in the next couple of years?
Alex: Health and education.
Russell: This accelerating trend isn’t going to change, with everything from identity, over health monitoring to education poised for rapid change.
Dennis: Retail will be increasingly affected. Then home services – anything from people that do repairs in their home, any delivery service, window washers, dog walkers, all professions that used to be highly localised, will be able to create bigger, sustainable businesses.
What percentage of UK businesses would you say are “mobile first”?
Alex: Ten per cent, if not less.
Russell: One per cent.
Dennis: Really low. Probably one per cent.
What “solutions” should business owners be most sceptical about?
Alex: QR codes.
Russell: I’m still very sceptical about location-based marketing in its purist form. I also worry about the “Let’s YABA do” approach to mobile. “Yet Another Branded App” rarely works as a strategy, at a time with over one million apps competing for mindshare and a tiny, tiny percentage achieving any kind of longevity it terms of usage.
Dennis: The way people should be thinking about this is that mobile should never lock you in for a long period of time.
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