- Maribel Lopez, Lopez Research
Several recent technology advancements have contributed to the next-generation mobile user experience that many organizations now aim to deliver to their employees.
Most organizations' mobile efforts have evolved beyond the basics of a mobile-friendly website and an intranet accessed via a secure browser. Companies want to create contextual and predictive mobile experiences that delight customers and employees. Yet, many aspects of developing a compelling mobile user experience have changed with the introduction of new devices, computing processors and software.
Mobile experiences today must move seamlessly across devices with multiple operating systems. Apple and Samsung talk about delivering an experience that moves effortlessly across devices that range from PCs to smartphones. PC manufacturers such as Dell have designed software that enables features such as text messages to appear on a PC. Preserving context has always been a goal; now it's an imperative.
But a next-generation experience is more than delivering the same information to each screen. It doesn't make sense to cram all of the functions of an application on a smartwatch. A strong mobile user experience provides the right information, to the right screen, for the task at hand. Application developers must define which data and workflows are appropriate for each device. For example, you can enable a speech interface on a PC, but it's more useful on a mobile device where hands-free operation may be required.
Data input methods evolve
Other aspects that have changed the mobile user experience are the ways a person can input data.
Touch was the first significant wave; now there are pens, gesture, new docking stations and voice. Styluses come with certain smartphones, and note-taking software has made these tools more useful.
Organizations are even looking at how augmented and virtual reality glasses can change interacting with data. Augmented reality has moved into the world of field service, manufacturing and retail. For example, Chevron uses Microsoft's HoloLens to train employees on equipment and perform remote inspections. Samsung's DeX docking station allows a smartphone to be extended into a desktop experience, enabling knowledge workers to connect a keyboard and mouse to a smartphone.
Voice and chatbots change engagement
Digital voice assistants from Amazon, Google and others have changed expectations for how people interact with products. Human resources departments use chatbots to answers candidates' questions and drive deeper engagement in the recruiting process. Salesforce, SAP and other major enterprise software vendors are integrating voice into their services to streamline access to information.
Adding any conversational interface requires natural language processing services, but to deliver the right services, a company needs a good set of training data from previous interactions. IT should also consider sentiment analysis services to identify the language of the text; extract key phrases, such as places, people, brands or events; and help a company understand if the text is positive or negative. Ideally, these services categorize feedback in real-time to identify issues, understand market positioning and prioritize feedback.
Leaders in mobile user experience will develop strategies that move beyond speech to text and focus on anticipating their user's needs and delivering them the right information.
New chips enable better on-device services
Improvements in processing power on smartphones combined with features such as Apple's Core ML 2 and Google's ML Kit mean companies can integrate machine learning models into their apps. It also enables users to operate advanced functions in areas where data connectivity may be spotty.
For example, Coca Cola is testing the ability to run machine learning models that can recognize equipment in the field and suggest repairs.
Running a model on the device instead of the cloud minimizes challenges with connectivity and latency. However, companies must be specific in designing applications that can run complex models without draining the device's battery.
5G changes everything
Fast computing and analytics models change what types of services can operate on the device, but 5G changes what companies can expect from the network.
5G works on different radio spectrum frequencies, allowing wireless carriers to connect more devices to the internet while delivering faster speeds and less delay in getting information from point A to B. Companies can now build apps that use real-time streaming video for applications, such as public safety surveillance, visual inspections for insurance and personalized video feeds at sporting events.
Instead of the user always pulling information from the system, applications should predict what information to deliver based on how users have interacted with the software in the past and the user's current context. These advances open up a new world of the mobile user experience that moves from simple text-to-voice navigation to digital overlays and immersive experiences -- delivering the right information, at the right time.