It goes without saying that life always goes much faster than you can believe. When we talked about 2020 in the 90’s many of us imagined ourselves wearing silver clothes, flying cars and having houses like spacecrafts. It may seem that we have not advanced that much, but the real difference is that communication between people has drastically changed. New devices and applications like Rakuten’s latest acquisition, the cross-platform App Viber, have increased options dramatically. In fact, mobile technologies have changed what nobody would have predicted a few years ago – the time it takes to craft and send a message. Mobility has been a common trend among all industries and it is still just getting started.
According to recent data, smartphone penetration in the US is a little above 61%, and we now have a third of all Americans using tablets. This infrastructure opens the door to a world of possibilities that has allowed us to connect, to interact with each other and to get the information we are currently looking for – be it the way to the train station or the most entertaining shopping experience – any time and everywhere.
Online and offline experience: complementary channels
The trend is clear: mobile technology will increasingly allow us to connect our real world with the online world. Not only are we able to display our real-time activity through social media channels, but also our daily activities, such as shopping or going to the movies, will be complemented with a mobile online experience so that we can use our devices to get the maximum enjoyment from whatever we are doing. The idea of consumers going into a shop and automatically receiving daily specials or discounts on their mobile devices is no longer ridiculous.
Home automation is another area where the evolution toward mobility is becoming inevitable. What began as a series of technological systems that allowed the control of lights, alarms, appliances, doors, or shutters, has evolved so that our homes can be controlled remotely through smart devices. Numerous manufacturers already offer home control solutions through mobile apps for smartphones or tablets, either to achieve energy savings, manage appliances or control home security.
Retailers will clearly benefit from all these trends: from generating new revenue streams by selling subscription-based services that support connected products to boosting efficiency in-store or behind the scenes with smarter tracking of products. The Internet of Things (IoT) – many devices connected over the Internet sharing information – has plenty to offer to retailers. Google’s recent acquisition of smart home technology company Nest indicates that we could see the IoT become commonplace even sooner than we might think.
Mobile technology is not about the smartphone anymore
Great ideas are yet to come, and at the moment we can only see the first steps of a new unexplored world, with endless possibilities. Nanotechnology is allowing any object to become smart, either wearable or everyday objects, such as a jacket, a hat, headphones or even glasses. The incorporation of nano-devices with advanced technology and Internet connection in all these objects enable us to get all types of data from people, such as breathing rate, heart rate, or even cholesterol levels. With this data you can know the state-of-mind of the person who is using it – whether they are nervous, relaxed, happy or sad. Computers have already surpassed people in intelligence, and now the next frontier is to be able to understand our emotions and adapt to them.
Whoever connects better with people’s feelings wins
The car manufacturer, Toyota, has already invested in this area and has developed a vehicle to understand the emotions of the person driving it, detecting driver’s mood and feelings. With this information, the vehicle suggests destinations and enables health care systems, in addition to changing the color of the body car according to the mood of the individual. A priori, it may seem not relevant but it is important to analyze the amount of uses that these technologies can provide to people, organizations and all types of businesses.
Ultimately mobile trends will continue to penetrate deeper into people’s daily lives. In the US, we are quick to adapt to new mobile technologies, so they are increasingly going to be integral to our lives, and therefore they will have to meet our needs, feelings, and moods. This will be a key success factor for all businesses.
Bernard Luthi is the COO of Rakuten.com Shopping.