Creating a sustainable future with mobility
Mobility has transformed our world in a short span of time. From banking to retail and beyond, mobile technology has powered a new wave of customer experience centered industry innovation. Deeply intertwined with social media, mobility has also become a key factor in movements for positive social change. As mobility’s impact continues to be deeply felt in countries and societies throughout the world, here’s how it may help create a sustainable future for us all.
The mobility boom continues
According to Pew Research Center, 77 percent of Americans own smartphones — more than double the 35 percent figure Pew first recorded during its initial survey of smartphone ownership in 2011. Meanwhile, Statista notes that the number of global smartphone users is expected to exceed 5 billion by 2019. As more smartphone users have been coming online, the demand for apps has exploded. According to TechCrunch, global app downloads topped 175 billion and consumer spending on apps passed $86 billion in 2017. Today, as App Annie reports, the average smartphone user accesses close to 40 apps per month. With the mobile boom showing no signs of slowing, there’s no question that mobile technology is having a massive impact on society, with profound implications for of a range of industries.
Transformations in banking and retail
There has been a significant shift in the personal finance space, with mobile payment apps and other fintech apps disrupting the traditional full-service retail banking model. This is putting pressure on banks to adopt a customer-centric strategy and offer a streamlined, frictionless experience. Consistency across platforms has also become a standard expectation.
According to UserTesting’s Banking Mobile Customer Experience Index, survey participants compared their bank’s desktop experience to the app, assuming they would be similar, and then were frustrated when it diverged from what they were expecting. Banks that place a high premium on providing an efficient, pleasant mobile experience enjoy increased customer loyalty and positive overall perception of their brand.
The mobile revolution has also transformed the world of retail, allowing businesses to better engage with their customers and monetize the personalized mobile experiences that they deliver. Mobile shopping enjoyed its biggest month ever in November 2017 during the Chinese retail event known as Singles Day, with Chinese retailer Tmall logging $25.3 billion in sales — 90 percent of it coming from mobile. Back in the US, mobile consumers spent $2 billion on Cyber Monday. Retailers have learned that consumers spend more money the longer they are in an app and are optimizing their app experiences accordingly. Retail mobile innovation is soaring as a result, redefining the customer experience through emerging technologies like augmented reality.
Mobile technology for social good
With mobile technology becoming increasingly affordable and ubiquitous, governments and NGOs around the world are using it to improve outcomes in areas like health care and education. As GOOD notes, mobile technology will soon reach underserved communities all over the world at its current rate of progress. In Morocco, an innovative initiative called the Mobile Ultrasound Patrol has allowed medical professionals to perform 575 ultrasounds on expecting mothers in rural areas, transmitting the images over the 3G network to expert doctors. This has reduced the ultrasound review time from four days to two seconds, and the waiting time to receive a medical opinion has now been dramatically cut down from two weeks to less than 24 hours.
Meanwhile, in the US, students and teachers are using mobile-enabled ICT tools to deliver interactive, personalized experiences that foster healthy learning habits. More than 400 students from four middle schools in North Carolina recently participated in a program in which each student was provided a personal learning tablet with curated educational content, engaging in self-directed learning at home for at least three hours per week. One such school observed an 80 percent increase in students who used technology regularly for learning, giving them a significant educational advantage over students who did not improve their learning behaviors in this way.
Toward a sustainable future: Social media and the digital public square
Powered by mobility’s arrival into the public sphere, social media has become a powerful force in our world in just a few short years. As illustrated by the Arab Spring in 2010, social media has played a key role in movements for social change around the world ever since. Using hashtags to foster conversations on issues like sexual harassment, police violence and environmental sustainability, activists and socially conscious digital citizens have found a new way to rally support for the causes that are important to their communities.
This social media-enabled phenomenon has met with a largely positive response. Brands have taken notice and are paying closer attention to the conversations emerging on social media channels. To engage their target audience and convey authenticity, companies are increasingly engaging in brand activism on social media. While just a short time ago it would have been unthinkable for a company to take a public stand on a social issue, this practice has become far more commonplace in the social media era.
It’s clear that mobile technology has profoundly transformed our world in a short span of time. It has brought disruptive innovation to industries such as banking and retail, enabled better health and educational outcomes for communities in many countries and given rise to social media activism throughout the world. As mobility becomes ever more central to the way we work and live, it will be worth keeping a close eye on how it will next power our sustainable future.