How 'going digital' really means 'going mobile'
Organisations should treat going digital and going mobile as the same thing
In this month's issue of Arabian Computer News, we've compiled a list of the top technology predictions for the coming year from analysts and vendors. And perhaps the most mentioned word this year is ‘digitisation'.
By now, we're pretty familiar with the term, and in this case, it means exactly what we think it does. Businesses are going digital, not only in their interactions with customers, but also in terms of the processes and communications internally. Whereas before you might have had an analogue approval process for one project or another, now, you'll have an entire workflow set out in a digital application, tracking everything that's said and done, providing tons of data and ensuring total accountability.
That kind of thing has been on the rise for some years now, and there's no doubt that that's where enterprises are heading. In terms of internal processes, it's become clear that everyone needs to go digital, and it's only a matter of time until everyone does. However, I'd contend that going digital internally can only get you so far. There's only so much optimisation that can take place on the inside, but for the company to grow and excel, you need to push your digitisation efforts outside of the organisation.
And this is where mobile comes into play. Whether you're a B2C company or a B2B one, going digital when it comes to customer interaction increasingly means going mobile. It's easy to see why. If you're reaching out to consumers, your total addressable market is vastly enlarged by mobile. There are well over two billion smartphones in use today, compared to the PC market's install base of 1.5 billion units. That means that going digital doesn't just mean making your services available online, but making them optimised for mobile.
Even if you're a B2B business, and your clients are other companies, your customers are still ultimately people. And if the last few years has taught us anything, it's that people use smartphones as their primary computing device - for work or for play. Sure, you might have to use a PC to fill in an order form or to sign a project off, but all the work that leads up to that point is increasingly being done on mobile. If your business can tap into that opportunity, gains will follow.
However, this isn't to say that everyone should be developing apps for smartphones and encouraging customers to work through apps. After all, some functions are better served through the web, rather than through an app. This is one of the many nuances behind the blanket term ‘going digital', and it's important that organisations get to grips with them. Are your customers willing to have your app icon installed on their home screens? If the answer to that is no, then your best bet is to find a way of serving customers on mobile through the web.
Likewise, it's important not to feel constrained by concepts like the web or browsing. After all, you could argue that the smartphone provides a much more immersive and all-encompassing window to the internet. The PC simply offers a browser and a keyboard, while the smartphone offers those things, plus cameras, plus microphones, plus motion sensors, plus fingerprint sensors, plus whatever else vendors decide to add to their devices. Organisations that succeed in going digital will experiment with all of these things, and work out how best to use the mobile to get closer to their customers.
There's little doubt that 2016 will see a distinct shift as organisations make the move to digital business. But for those who are already in the midst of making the switch, perhaps it's best to step back and work out if their digital efforts are, well, mobile enough.