What does mobile context mean for you?

New research from Forrester introduces how companies will use mobile devices to deliver better customer experiences in their own context. What does that mean for IT? Ted Schadler explains.
Written by Ted Schadler, Contributor

My colleague Julie Ask has just published an important report, "The Future Of Mobile Is User Context," introducing how companies will use the new intelligence and capabilities of smartphones to deliver better customer experiences in their own context. I quote here from her report:

"In the future, improving the convenience of mobile services will be achieved via improving the use of context in delivering mobile experiences. Consumer product strategists must anticipate what their customers want when they fire up their phones and launch an application or mobile website. Intuit’s SnapTax, for example, must leverage a customer’s home state to file the appropriate tax forms.

"To help consumer product strategists get ahead of this evolving expectation, Forrester has defined a vocabulary to help consumer product strategists discuss, plan, and execute on the opportunity to deliver services, messages, and transactions with full knowledge of the customer’s current situation. Forrester calls this the customer’s 'mobile context' and defines it as:

"The sum total of what your customer has told you and is experiencing at the moment of engagement.

"A customer’s mobile context consists of his:

  • "Situation: the current location, altitude, environmental conditions, and speed the customer is experiencing.

  • "Preferences: the history and personal decisions the customer has shared with you or with his or her social networks.

  • "Attitudes: the feelings or emotions implied by the customer’s actions and logistics."

So what does mobile context mean for content & collaboration professionals? At least four things jump immediately to mind, and I'm sure you have others:

  1. Your employee mobile apps will also need to incorporate context into the experience. When TripIt can open my itinerary and show me directions to the changed gate for my flight (something that would be possible with location context), it won't be long before I expect my email client to shovel a customer's urgent email to the top of the inbox knowing that I'm standing outside their office. And if I'm in a moving car, I may still want notifications, but in a summary form for quick scrolling.
  2. Your collaboration vendors' need to support native apps on mobile devices gets even more important. Without native apps or great JavaScript libraries on a mobile browser, the mobile context will be ignored. We're just finishing a Wave on mobile collaboration that goes into vendors' mobile collaboration support, so more on this coming soon.
  3. Your content systems will get yet another layer of complexity in the delivery layer. Add the user's situation to the other parameters (operating system, form factor, input device, etc.) you must track and address. As if Web + Mobile weren't enough, now we'll have to deal with customerss or employees' context as well.
  4. The interaction design of core applications must incorporate context as well as other device-dependent features. This one's for application developers and designers, but it's important. A new programming layer is emerging focused on the interaction APIs. Yammer, Salesforce, and WebEx have teams dedicated to this today.

What's on your mind as opportunities or challenges for taking advantage of smartphones and tablets full of sensors, data, and context?

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