Is it time to think seriously about mobile first?

The recent history of information technology has followed a theme of consumerisation, where consumer use leads the way for business users. Eventually consumer trends trickle into the workplace and as the latest Roy Morgan Business Survey reveals, we see that the proportion of Australian businesses intending to buy or replace desktop PCs over the next 12 months declined dramatically in the year March 2013 from 20.3% to 17.6% of businesses.

Ray Morgan May 2013 - PC upgrades on hold as businesses prescribe Tablets

This trends towards mobile is also reflected in StatCounter’s Global Stats for Australia for the last 12 months, which show an ongoing shift towards to mobile Web browsing (although note that this is only representative of Web browsing on sites using Stat Counter and does not include mobile app traffic).

StatCounter April 2013 - Mobile vs desktop in Australia

What does this mean for your digital strategy, either for customer engagement or workforce collaboration?

  • Make sure you understand your audience – Do you actually understand the mobile web and application use behaviours of your audience? In our experience, you need to get out and explore first-hand what your customers or employees are doing with their mobile devices.
  • Think seriously about designing for mobile first – If you are planning to re-develop a Website, intranet or some other Web-based application, you should seriously consider designing your new solution using a “mobile first” approach – work out what will be most effective: it could be a specialised mobile app, a responsive design or something in-between.
  • Are you fully leveraging the mobile capabilities you already have? – Software vendors have been well aware of the need to support mobile for some time. For example, tibbr (an enterprise microblogging solution) has already built mobile apps for BlackBerry, Android, iOS and they report that 56% their users already use their mobile device and tablets as the primary means of access.

And don’t forget, support for mobile users isn’t just about down sizing to a smaller screen; the mobile user experience also has the potential to open up a new world of disruptive possibilities for customer experience or service design.

Need some ideas? Some of our favourite examples of innovative mobile apps include:

  • Delta Airlines – they provide “mobile tools for every phase of your trip“.
  • Express Plus Students – surprised to see us include a government example? We like this app because we think the Australian Federal Department of Human Services has really thought about the needs their clients.
  • King & Wood Mallesons’ Connect app – a custom iOS app that provides users with secure access to information about the firm’s people, matters, projects and clients.

What’s your vision for a great mobile experience for your customers or employees?