by Robin Wirz (Guest Author), Computerworld, Jan 30 2015, (original article in German)

Mobile devices are changing corporate communications and interactions. Users expect their needs to be met the moment they arise. Those providing the right offers for these “mobile moments” will be one step ahead of the competition.


The triumph of smartphones and tablets has changed the way companies communicate with their customers, employees, partners, and other target groups. Mobile devices have already become one of the most important digital communication channels, and they will be even more influential in shaping the communication mix of tomorrow.

The technological advancement of mobile devices opens up a greater range of possibilities. These opportunities should be used to offer innovative services and apps while also creating a new way of interacting with users. The latest trends show where mobile development is going.

Context for Usability

The user experience is the key success factor for apps. It has always depended on interface design and performance. Today, accommodating the growing number of features and hence the increasing levels of complexity in a simple and straightforward manner is becoming more and more important. Context is the key in this regard: What is required are apps that know what the user wants and can adjust accordingly. The context includes for example the location, but also usage history, customer status, and settings.

The approach taken by Walmart, the U.S. retail giant, shows how to elegantly incorporate two different situations into one app using their respective context. As soon as a user enters a Walmart, the app automatically changes from “order online” to the “in-store mode” with self-scanning as well as product finders and aisle navigation features.


Tailor Made Interaction

Continuing this thought, you end up at the most recent trend in the mobile industry:
The “mobile moments”, which are central to the customer’s experience with the app or their general interaction with a company. It’s all about offering the right thing to the right person at the right time. One important difference between this approach and classic marketing is that these campaigns are not planned and triggered by the provider, but rather situationally prepared and then triggered by users and their contexts.

This provides companies with outstanding opportunities to shine customized information and offers right when they are most valuable to the user. In order to achieve this, processes must be analyzed in detail and every moment must be broken down into its components regarding context, user motivation, and the most likely user needs. The key is to define target groups and their situations, the“personas”, and to use context to find the right moments. Accordingly, identifying and reacting to mobile moments will be instrumental in shaping app development in the years to come.

Customize and Activate

Apps are practically predestined to cater to the customer journey’s important moments, as they are very close to the customer. Customers almost constantly carry their smartphones in their pockets, and so the app can (re)act at exactly the right time. Not only that, but thanks to GPS and various integrated sensors, context can be determined better than ever. There are two ways that apps can react to a mobile moment. First of all, they can adjust to the respective situation – the context – and then, like magic, deliver the right offer. Second, using push notifications, they can inform users and call attention to themselves in exactly the right moment.

Although push notifications have acquired a somewhat questionable reputation, due to their often excessive and ill-advised use, they remain an important building block of mobile communications. Notification options are now much better and more subtle, and their delivery is more personalized. That way, they can be used to great effect. They also have advantages over text messaging. For instance, users can act upon a notification directly without having to launch an app or website.

Find Undiscovered Moments

Companies that make clever use of mobile moments can use them to not only improve communication and the customer experience, but also to discover new moments and new potential thus far neglected. For known moments, an existing process receives mobile support and is simplified. This improves the brand experience and increases customer satisfaction.

A good example of this are advanced airline apps that elegantly assist passengers throughout their trip. In the important moments before, during, and after the flight, they always display the relevant information and features on the first screen: From check-in and seating upgrade inquiries before the flight, to luggage claim and taxi cab information after landing. Everything is just one click away. The rest is located in the main menu. Of course, notifications are also used.

Particularly exciting are so far undiscovered moments, which can now also be used. The U.S. donut chain Krispy Kreme, for example, discovered that their customers are especially fond of oven-fresh donuts. Now the app will send a message to all interested users in the vicinity of a Krispy Kreme when new donuts are in the oven. This has doubled sales in all participating franchise locations.

Accommodating Apps

GPS has been used for a while, and personalization options are now increasingly being offered, but the strategy of uncompromisingly focusing on the moment is still in its infancy. The Swiss “Mobility” car rental app, for instance, prominently displays rental extension options on the first screen if accessed during the rental period, while “rent a car” would otherwise appear in the foreground. This principle offers a lot more potential. For instance, when you are at the tram stop on your way to work in the morning, Google Now will tell you, as the main information, when your next tram will leave. After all, based on the context, it can safely be assumed that this is exactly what users/commuters at their usual tram stop (GPS location) on a Wednesday at 7:40 a.m. (as always during the week) will be most interested in. What may seem questionable from a privacy point of view, is without a doubt terrific for usability.

Getting There

In order to make use of mobile moments and facilitate future-oriented mobile development, one needs an infrastructure that collects information about users and their behavior, while combining data from different sources, such as CRM, usage data, device and GPS data, settings, etc. Different processes, situations, and personas must be defined and managed as profiles, content and features must be delivered or activated for individual users/devices in the right context. Furthermore, high-performance analysis tools and aids for A/B tests are indispensable for a better understanding of user needs and for using the information gathered to dynamically optimize apps. Companies that are adequately equipped for this mobile future will be able to increase their brand’s value, discover lucrative new business opportunities, and stay an important step ahead of the competition.

Source of original article: (in German)

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