Giving Back Time: Angus Robinson On Mobile Interconnectedness

We chatted recently to Angus Robinson, Director for Mobile, Content and Community Divisions at NATIVE, about the impact of being connected, “interconnectedness” and the synchronising of all our devices that ultimately will “manage our lives”. 

We undoubtedly live in a connected economy. The lines between offline and online are already blurred. With rapid urbanisation and increased mobile internet penetration, connected devices will lead to more efficient business models and a better lifestyle for those looking to save time. Now is the time for businesses to look at how they can embrace digital and especially mobile technology to better serve their clients. It’s all about saving time – a precious commodity in today’s world.

A mobile generation

We are no longer limited to sitting behind a desktop computer. Today, not only are we always on, always connected, but now we have access to everything we need right in the palm of our hands. Our mobile devices are also starting to replace our wallets and remotes – becoming hybrid devices.

The next wave of connectivity will be driven by embedded technology. By 2020, our lives will be controlled and monitored for us by our smart devices. Smartphones and tablets will allow for an integrated system of utilities. This trend is already evidenced in what people are calling ‘collective intelligence’ where data regarding our movements, what purchases we make and what we like – will all be stored in an integrated monitoring system that knows everything about our lives.

Smart applications

We will begin to see this technology bearing fruit with smart applications that integrate with existing calendars to assist with smart navigation. For example, your smartphone knows that your next meeting is 15km away and in the CBD. It checks the traffic conditions, determines the best route and pings you when you need to leave to arrive in sufficient time. The obvious next step would be to include a LinkedIn lookup and provide you with a profile summary of the meeting attendees.

Apps and smart devices that connect consumer electronics are enabling consumers to track and manage everything from the temperature in their homes, the amount of food in the fridge, traffic updates and restaurant preferences, and even their health. The drivers of this technology development will be people, business and society, because anything that saves time and improves connectivity will be welcomed with open palms.

Mobile and retail integration

The retail landscape especially is evolving everyday and the potential for mobile integration is immense. Google Executive Chairman and former CEO Eric Schmidt was stated as saying that technology is at a crossroads and the next game changing shift will comprise mobile, local and social technologies and will create an environment that unfolds in true time. ‘SoLoMo’, as industry people are calling it, is changing the way we run our lives. A new wave of “mobile first” organisations are redefining the market. A new generation of social, mobile and local apps are giving people back what’s most precious to them – time.

What’s interesting is that according to Deloittes Tech Trends for 2012, the technology revolution has now reached business. Deloittes’ blog reads, ‘Rapid technology developments in wireless connectivity and mobile devices marked the beginning of the mobility revolution. Next came the apps renaissance, when intuitive, engaging pieces of software, tailored for smartphones and tablets, began to change our day-to-day lives. Many organisations today now find mobile initiatives popping up in every business unit, in every region and in every department.’ Globally brands (or businesses) are making a difference in people’s lives through innovative tools or campaigns that save their consumers or customers time.

International case study Tesco

International hypermarket brand, Tesco, developed virtual stores for South Korean shoppers who spend large portions of their days commuting. Essentially Tesco brought the store to them while they wait for the train. Commuters are able to use their smartphones to shop by scanning the QR code on a product on a virtual wall in the subway. The scanned items automatically land in their online cart and the groceries purchased online are delivered to their door by the time they get home. Waiting time at the subway has become shopping time and has been highly successful, allowing people more time to relax after work and on weekends.

Another success story is the contactless payment plan recently launched by the UK Post Office. The ultimate goal is to have every one of the 11 500 branches across the UK fitted with payment terminals that allow users to settle bills using contactless bank cards and NFC– equipped mobile phones – just by waving them at the in-store reader. Banks like Barclays, HSBC, Royal Bank of Scotland, Natwest and Lloyds TSB are among the banks now pushing this technology with a view to replacing bank cards.

Applications such as Waze, Lemon, Wenzani, Taxi Rank and Nest are all aimed at saving users time. Waze offers live traffic data and optimal routings to help drivers avoid traffic, for example, and Nest is an app that controls a self-programming smart thermostat in your home by learning your preferences, turning the thermostats off when you’re not around and monitoring your energy usage. It can be controlled with your iPhone, iPod or Mac (and Android device).

There is however, another way that mobile is giving back time – specifically, quality time. Reports from this year’s Cannes Lions Festival claim that there is a growing acknowledgement for the need to disconnect. Disconnect from email, apps, messages and the internet. This has spawned the ‘check-in’ trend at teenage parties and even business meetings where phones need to be ‘checked-in at the door’ so that the temptation for distraction is removed and participants really are present.

Some apps have also enabled this kind of thinking. on{X} from Microsoft allows you to automate your device to the point that when you arrive home, it automatically puts your phone into flight mode – effectively taking you offline.

A changing environment

The world is a changing place and businesses that put their clients’ need to save time first will see great returns. The pursuit to increase connectivity and the sharing of information needs to be the base for service-driven technology development within businesses. As Facebook’s CEO and Founder Mark Zuckerberg wrote to potential shareholders before the Facebook IPO, “We hope to rewire the way that people spread and consume information. We think a more open and connected world will help create a stronger economy with more authentic businesses that build better products and services”. It’s the way of the future and SA businesses need to embrace the exciting possibilities that this connectedness offers.