Business without brakes: Gaining an edge on competitors with mobile

By Wyatt Urmey

When you talk with professionals in many different industries, the feeling on the current business climate is roughly the same. It suddenly feels like the brakes are off, and there is only one speed forward: Fast. In fact, many enterprises can almost see a team of their competitors creeping up behind them.

This is interesting because there is a sport, Team Pursuit Racing, that has the exact same characteristics: no brakes, riding on a single speed and consistently seeing competitors who are clearly gaining on you. Participants who race at this elite level ride on super-light “fixie” bikes that have one gear and solid disc wheels. These bikes are not capable of coasting or freewheeling. Team Pursuit Racing participants told their story today at InterConnect in Las Vegas.

Instant results with mobile insights

This fast-paced sport is embracing all of the advantages that come with mobile technology. With some help from IBM’s jStart team, USA Women’s Cycling is using cloud, mobile and analytics to derive insights for coaches to better understand rider power and make potential race-changing adjustments. In a sport that is won and lost in hundredths of a second, the ability to adjust in real time can produce instant results.

Before the marriage of these technologies, USA Cycling trainers didn’t have access to a lot of this critical information, as there was no way to capture biometric data from the riders or data that comes from sensors on the bikes and the track. In the past, if any of this data was collected, it would have to be gathered manually and evaluated to glean meaningful insights. Now, mobile, analytics and IoT capabilities are capturing and analyzing real-time data from elite athletes to provide coaches with insights in the palms of their hands. The coaching staff can even provide guidance to the riders while they’re on the track through the use of IoT devices, allowing them to immediately improve race performance.

Technology in harmony

This is just one example of how mobile technology can play a powerful role in the sports sphere, but there are many others. For instance, Seiko Epson is using a similar combination of technologies to help you improve your golf swing.

The same harmony of technology that is creating a competitive advantage for elite athletes is also creating leading advantages for business — from the velodrome to the golf links to the department store to the hospital and beyond. Mobile brings this insight directly to the critical point of decision and enables adjustments in that given moment.

However, the race in mobile isn’t nearly as tough, and it doesn’t require endless commitment or system replacements if you do it right. Here are four ways that businesses can use new technology to create a cutting-edge advantage:

  • Add data and context to your existing mobile applications: Mobile devices are the predominant way that customers and employees prefer to interact, so mobile experiences should never be your weak link. Make your apps more intelligent, intuitive and engaging by creatively taking advantage of the wealth of contextual information available from mobile devices. Contextual services make this type of innovation much easier.
  • Get ahead of your competitors by adding new capabilities first: If you want an edge over your competitors, you need to add impressive capabilities, such as cognitive insights. On Bluemix, IBM provides you with the ability to add Personality Insights, Cognitive Insights, Concept expansion and more, all of which allow you to make your apps smarter, advancing your lead on your competitors.
  • Take a simple, fast approach: Developers are exasperated with app and feature requests, bug fixes and supporting new vendor OS versions, which lead to backlogs that slow progress. New rapid mobile app development tools allow developers to quickly and easily create new apps with substantially less coding effort. The result is a low-code approach that allows your extended team to ideate, prototype and build your apps together.
  • Above all, realize that you can start now: The hybrid cloud is a very easy place to start. If you use only what you need and scale seamlessly, it will give you the ability to accelerate all phases of mobile end-to-end app design, development and delivery.

Just as mobile is bringing a competitive edge to the velodrome for USA Cycling and to the golf links for Seiko Epson, it has the potential to be a game changer for businesses. It’s time to embrace the new mobile reality, where speed and interactivity rule the race.