Prepare for a new age of mobile technology

Device capabilities will be transformed by emerging tools and the Internet of Things.
Written by Bob Violino, Contributor

Artificial intelligence, natural-language processing, and bots integrated into messaging apps will create new opportunities to interact with users via their mobile devices. (Image: Just East)

Mobile technology like smartphones will be changing in ways many users can't even imagine today, and much of this change will come from trends such as the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT), augmented reality (AR), and virtual reality (VR).

The convergence of devices, bots, things, and people means organizations will need to excel at mainstream mobility and prepare for the "post-app" era, according to research firm Gartner Inc.

The future of mobility will offer ubiquitous services provided anywhere, by any person or thing, to any person or thing, said David Willis, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner. Alternative approaches to interaction and service delivery will spring up, and code will move from traditional mobile devices and apps to the cloud, he said.

It's clear that mobile has become an integral part of doing business today. Gartner has estimated total shipments of 2.37 billion devices (including laptops, tablets, ultramobiles, and mobile phones) and 293 million wearable products for 2016. It projects shipments of 2.38 billion devices and 342 million wearables in 2017.

The proliferation of devices means they are now omnipresent within the business environment, reinventing the way people interact and work, Willis said.

While users are always looking for new and compelling experiences with apps, the importance of apps in delivering services will diminish, and the emergence of virtual personal assistants (VPAs) and bots will replace some of the functions performed by apps today, he said.

"App mania has created a horrible experience for customers," Willis said. "There are too many of them. Many large brands have multiple apps in the same app store. Consumers are abandoning apps at an alarming rate. App fatigue has set in."

Users are settling on fewer, more trusted apps, Willis says. "The brands that are the most reliable, trustworthy, and are the easiest to deal with will win," he says. "We used to say that if your customers need a manual, you've lost. Now, if your customer has to train and configure their experience, you've lost."

Newer tools and technology developments such as wearables, IoT, VR and AR are changing the parameters of customer experience with mobile, Willis said. "It's going to be a dynamic, immersive, and highly varied world out there," he said.

The growing use of wearables and "bring your own thing" such as smart power sockets and smart light bulbs in the workplace will introduce new ways of interacting and new platforms, Willis said, diluting the need for specific mobile app experiences.

A lot of the innovation in the mobile technology market in the future will not come within the devices themselves, but in the things that communicate with the devices. Gartner predicts that by 2018, 25 percent of new mobile apps will talk to IoT devices.

Advancing technologies such as artificial intelligence, natural-language processing, and bots integrated into messaging apps will create new opportunities to interact with users seamlessly via their mobile devices, the firm said.

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