Making mobile engagement and business intelligence a competitive advantage

Smartphones and tablets let users work in new ways. Mobile business intelligence helps companies take advantage of their employees' engagement.

Smartphone and tablet users generate tremendous amounts of data. The next wave of successful businesses will include those organizations that harness their employees' mobile engagement and put all of this data to good use. That's where mobile business intelligence comes in. In this excerpt from the new book, Mobile Strategy: How Your Company Can Win by Embracing Mobile Technologies (Pearson/IBM Press), author Dirk Nicol explains the role of mobile engagement and mobile business intelligence in this new era of computing.

Mobile Strategy by Dirk Nicol

Mobile devices contain the computing power of traditional PCs of a few years ago, yet they are small enough to be carried around wherever you go. This gives you 24/7 access to computing power and software applications in your moment of need. The mobile app specifically delivers an inexpensive and effective way to transform your device into the tool needed to complete a task.

In many respects, the app and the smartphone together begin to replace existing applications or even physical products. If you stop and think about it, you will be surprised at how many real-world items have converged into a mobile device as a single all-purpose, universal product -- for example, the cell phone, MP3 player, camera, GPS navigation system and the electronic picture frame.

Physical items, such as music, newspapers, magazines, books, television and movies, are now digitized and delivered through the mobile device. The app can also transform a mobile device into new replicated physical assets. There are apps that can make the phone turn into a flashlight, musical instrument, television remote control, wallet, cash register and more. The mobile phone can transform into the tool you need to get the job done.

Mobile intelligence also empowers you to analyze situations to determine the best outcome. Computing power at the device, working in conjunction with connected systems (such as the cloud or corporate data centers), can assist in making the right decision at the right time. As you use the mobile app, there is new information about context and past behavior. This information can be analyzed to help you decide the next best action for a particular task. Analytical computing power at your fingertips can deliver real-time insight and advice to help you complete a task.

Weaving mobile engagement into daily life

Although mobile technology had been available for some time, it was not until the smartphone entered the market (mostly defined by the Apple iPhone) that the contextual information and computing power converged and was delivered with an engaging experience.

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The multitouch interface, intuitive design, and simplicity made the smartphone accessible to almost anyone and enabled the device to enter into your daily life. From the 3-year-old watching a video on Netflix, to the middle school student doing trigonometry homework, to the executive looking at the latest sales figures in a mobile dashboard, to the grandparents watching their grandchild take their first steps through their Skype-enabled tablet -- mobile devices are changing the lives of individuals.

As the mobile device enters into your daily life, it can create an opportunity and a challenge for businesses. Companies now have the chance to embed their software or app directly into the daily activities of their customers, consequently providing a much deeper and intimate interaction with customers than was ever conceived with a PC. This insertion of software in the form of a task-oriented app can open a new front in the battle for the attention of your customers. The mobile app can enable you to better serve your customers, gain a much deeper knowledge of their likes, dislikes, and preferences, and as a result serve them better and deliver new services based on their needs.

This direct relationship can shorten the cycle time between the creator of the service and the actual delivery to the end user -- cutting out the middleman as a result. As you learn about your customer, you can understand which processes are important and which ones are not. As a result, you can make your business processes more efficient, saving cost while learning more about your customers. Companies can gain the upper hand if they deliver the most useful app to the customers. Gaining an app icon on the home screen of your customer's mobile device can be essential for capturing their attention and loyalty.

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