Mobile technology has finally been widely adopted – now where is the market headed? Here are the top trends we can expect for mobile devices and data from a strategic perspective: How do your own plans match up?
Real World Use Dictates Digital Goals
For the past few years the big mobile goal has been to go mobile. Companies were behind the times and struggling to catch up, so the priority was to simply get a mobile solution out there. Apps, responsive sites, and mobile ads ruled the conversation, because they were useful entry points into the mobile world. For 2017, most brands have arrived in that mobile world and are looking around, wondering, "Now what?" Here's what:
- Performance: The greatest mobile design in the world won't do much good unless it meets industry standards for site performance. This is especially true for mobile users, who tend to be more impatient when it comes to loading times and finding what they want. If a site takes more than a second or two to load, today's users will usually hit the Back button and pick another link rather than waste their time. So speedy performance is key – Google, in particular, is working to encourage this.
- Upfront tools: How do people actually use sites in your industry? When they pull out a phone or other mobile device, what do they do? What do they look for? Studies are now focusing on how humans operate and depend on their mobile devices, to help provide a better experience. This is leading to more minimalistic sites that provide upfront, easy-tap buttons for calling, ordering, or finding out more information. It's a human focus long overdue, but the changes are finally coming.
- Syncing: What happens when people switch to another device but use the same app or service? Where is the data held? How does it sync? Is data pushed, and if it is, should users have the option to decline pushed data? These are the questions companies are finally addressing regarding their software, especially smaller vendors that haven't had time to focus on cloud syncing and storage thus far.
Data Gets Pushed Forward – and Pulled Back
Mobile data is in an interesting spot right now. On one hand, there's tremendous demand for it, especially for analytics and decision-making. People want data sets on demand, and in forms that are easy to read, on the mobile device of their choice. Understandably, this is a new goal for many mobile-focused companies in the coming year, especially for in house analysis and data management.
However, problems with mobile data are also causing apprehension, especially when it comes to security. It's increasingly difficult to protect company data that is stored on mobile devices, especially when it comes to travel, unsecured wireless access, and employee habits. These are things that are very difficult for companies to control, and a new challenge that needs to be met ASAP as the number of data breaches and vulnerabilities continues to increase.
How companies will respond en masse is uncertain, but a likely strategy is pulling data back, specifically back from mobile devices. Sensitive data is likely to retreat to servers and in-house storage where it can be more easily secured, and portals or doorway apps will be created to access that data under specific conditions.
More is Demanded of Developers and Creators
Look back over the changes that we've discussed, and think about how these trends affect employees in particular. The roles of developers and mobile content creators are shifting, and that means more requirements when it comes to recruiting new developers and growing talent.
2017 will see more standardized and in-depth position descriptions for these mobile jobs – and a more serious search for necessary talent. Skill and experience in mobile development is no longer a handy plus for a team, it's a requirement, which requires a shift in recruitment focus.
It also means a shift for softer developer skills. With so much new focus on mobile data development, developers need to be more motivated, self-managing, and able to adapt to changing technologies.
Niche Markets Settle Down – or Die Out
Mobile niche markets flared in 2016 with many possibilities – VR, AR, smart watches, true wearables in shirts and shoes, and so on. This is part of the market cycle for new technologies, and if the trend holds true then 2017 will be the year of proving these niches. Is there really room for VR content and ROI, or is it just a sideline technology with commercial applications? We're not sure yet, but we'll have a good idea after this year. Smart watches are fun, but their profit numbers haven't been great thus far, so that niche is quickly settling down. Wearables appear to be waiting for more functionality and ease of use before really taking off. Overall, 2017 will be the time for these technologies to settle more firmly into a niche, or to realize that they're not going to be viable this generation.