August 29, 2017

What’s Next for the Mobile Landscape

We hear “mobile first” a lot, but what does that actually mean? What are opportunities for brands going mobile? How can they quickly master eCommerce or become known for their customer experiences? Bottle Rocket’s Executive Creative Director and Senior Director of Experience Design, Renee McKeon provided those answers recently.

In her Ogilvy webinar, “What’s Next for the Mobile Landscape,” Renee examined consumer behavior shifts and the current app landscape to help brands feel less overwhelmed as they venture into mobile. Her Insights also covered analytics on global mobile usage and clarified the difference between apps and increasingly popular chatbots. Here are just a few of the most memorable moments from Renee’s webinar.

A Mobile-First World

To live in a mobile-first world, you’ve got to put the customer first—they’re the ones experiencing and driving mobile mindset shift. Companies are shifting their focus as, according to eMarketer, the average mobile user owns six devices, uses three per day, and opens their phone approximately 200 times per day. Forrester cites that per month, smartphone users spend more than 52 hours in mobile apps and nearly 40 hours surfing mobile web. If you didn’t think so before, these numbers should convince you that focusing on the customer (therefore mobile) makes business sense.

Customer Experience

Okay, so you’re ready to go all in on serving mobile-savvy customers. Now you’ve got to make a dynamite experience or risk losing more business than if you had no mobile experience at all. No really, it’s that important. Poor user experience causes a slow drift of satisfaction that eliminates trust and interaction. Brands are 60% more profitable when they are customer centric. If you’re not, you’ve got a long way to go to earn user trust. For one negative brand interaction, there must be 12 positive interactions for a brand to return to a customer’s good graces. That’s not just us saying that; 76% of users report a good mobile experience as positively influencing their loyalty to a brand.

Liquid Expectations

Customers’ expectations are always changing. So how do you meet these liquid expectations?

The simple answer is to know your brand and know your customer, then let that knowledge guide your decision making. Here’s where it gets complicated, though: excellent and innovative experiences in other industries will impact user perceptions of your brand’s level of service and mobile experience. Someone who was blown away by their recent first-time Lyft experience may hold a quick-service restaurant to similar standards. In response, businesses should continuously plan to support an agile ecosystem. Your yearly business planning cycles could stay the same, but you might want to consider incorporating mini-cycles. Managing liquid expectations means you’re always on and always seeking opportunities to improve experiences. When things get complicated, just ask yourself one question to simplify things—does (your idea) improve the customer experience? Yes? Keep going. No? Don’t do it.

Sounds like it was a good webinar, right? Learn more from Renee (including how to navigate those mini planning cycles) by downloading the presentation slides.

Then, let us know when you’re ready evolve your mobile efforts at [email protected]

March 9, 2017

MWC Barcelona 2017: Jamon, Chaos, and Mobility

For those of you who couldn’t make it to MWC this year, we can catch you up with the first-person experience of Director of Strategy and Design (EMEA), Greg Flory. Here’s Greg’s run down from MWC Barcelona:

It’s Sunday and I’m still recovering from last week in Barcelona at Mobile World Congress. If you haven’t been, I totally get why that sounds a little ridiculous—after all, you’re in one of the nicest cities on the planet, constantly eating jamon Iberico, quaffing tasty Rioja and nibbling on that amazing bread with tomatoes and olive oil. And it’s all lovely. Seriously, you should go. But the reality is that MWC has you running around all day, and most nights, trying to make sense of the chaos created by the collision of technology, vision, globalization, the rapidly advancing future, and the rippling impact of mobile innovation on adjacent industries and technologies. It’s overwhelming. And exhausting.

So, as I gradually emerge from the dreamy Catalan fog, there are several takeaways that I’d like to quickly share:

  • Autonomy is a thing. We tend to think of this in terms of smart objects or connected cars—and there were cars everywhere throughout the exhibition halls—but it’s the impact on human experience that is truly interesting. We have arrived at a point where tools and information can remove uncertainty and the mundane, allowing us to invest our energy in what we care about the most. AI-powered bots will get better, giving us immediate access to precise solutions. Autonomous drones will inspect, map, and deliver to locations quicker, and more safely and efficiently than we can today. Even lighting, championed by Philips, will change dramatically, moving beyond simple illumination to help us heal physically and make sense of our environment in new ways.
  • Data is your business. Or your next business. Investing in mobile ensures that you will have access to information about your customers that you never knew was available. Brands such as Spotify are working with companies to help find better ways to engage their customers. Connected devices, aligned with connected cars, houses, and cities will create even more data, while revealing services and products that we couldn’t have imagined or seen previously. And there’s no excuse for not knowing your customer—the actual people—with names, preferences and an increasing array of options.
  • We all need partners. Now more than ever. Having worked exclusively in mobile for the past six years, I thought I was pretty aware of my limitations. But there are entire parts of the ecosystem that I didn’t know existed. It is expansive and there is opportunity across the spectrum. And wherever you are on the mobility journey, it is an enormous benefit to have the right people to help you manage all of the moving parts. And believe me, there is no shortage. For every one person I saw and/or bumped into on the conference floor, there were 20 trying to get through passport control on Friday morning. And obviously, I think Bottle Rocket is an excellent choice. If you think the partner suggestion contradicts my first point about autonomy, I’d just say that having the right partner allows you to focus on the areas of your unique expertise, ceding certain specialties to people best prepared to manage.

When I wasn’t speaking my unique brand of broken, largely unintelligible Tex-Mex Spanish to patient and accommodating Catlan cab drivers, I was most likely wandering around Halls 8.0, 8.1 and 3 of the Fira Gran Via prepping for and/or leading a technology tour with WPP’s Data Alliance. The tour may have been the best thing that could have happened since it forced me to explore and engage with a lot of people I would normally have avoided. It challenged some of my assumptions and confirmed others.

You can expect a healthy dose of what’s next at the world’s largest mobile gathering, but there seemed to be quite a few brands and manufacturers pushing back against the future, trying their best to pluck our taught little, nostalgic heartstrings. Here are two headliners and one wild card:

  • Nokia, with its 3310, demonstrates that you don’t really need a good reason to dredge up the past (unless this is intended for the developing world) and plenty of people crowded the table to get their paws on the retro hand candy. Looks fun. Feels great in the hand. But the proprietary OS is very much a drill down—endlessly—to take simple actions, then drill back out. This was an instant reminder that UX in the pre-smartphone era was painfully slow and often unrewarding. The 3310 has 22 hours of talk time (not that anyone really does that on their phone anymore), plus about a month of standby between charges. Seems just about right considering how infrequently anyone in the developing world would be likely to use this phone. But easily one of the most crowded stands at the show. I guess it’s kind of like stalking your old crush on Facebook. Nice to see how they’ve done over the years, but probably still pretty happy you’ve moved on.
  • BlackBerry's KEYone brings its CrackBerry heritage to the Android OS, delivering a physical keyboard to the brand's long-suffering addicts. If this quickens your pulse, enjoy, but I found the physical keyboard with its tiny buttons harder and less forgiving than a typical touchscreen. I was never a huge fan and easily moved on almost a decade ago. So, are we facing a resurgent BlackBerry that will draw legions of former obsessives out of the smartphone forest (much like the gobs of zombies in the near certain impending apocalypse)? I wouldn’t bet on it.
  • Moscow-based, Elari, producer of the self-proclaimed “anti-smartphone” Cardphone 3G, has an interesting array of products for people looking to simplify. Their phones are generally small, with the Cardphone looking like a minimalist calculator that can fit in your wallet. I think this is the phone that Walter “Heisenberg” White wishes he'd had as his second “business" phone.

March 7, 2017

Understand Mobile and Web Testing with Bottle Rocket QA

Businesses need stable apps for their mobile experiences to impact users. That’s why Bottle Rocket clients receive one or more quality assurance (QA) analysts who participate in design and development. Our mobile experiences go through several stages of testing across all required devices. Here’s some insight on one aspect of that process.

With widespread adoption of mobile applications, the industry is implementing new kinds of testing. QA testers used to be primarily concerned with web apps. But even the most seasoned QA testers familiar with web apps will need to look at mobile apps with a fresh set of eyes. These applications can look and behave similarly, but there are more things to consider when testing mobile apps. There are core principles that apply to both, however. And it’s worth mentioning that there are many other kinds of app testing out there, but we’ll focus on these two for now.

Before we start with the similarities, here is a quick note for those unfamiliar with the concept of web apps: they are a client-server software application in which the client (or a user interface) runs in a web browser. People use them all the time: webmail, online retail sales, wikis, instant messaging services, among lots of others. Basically, any activity within a website that is more than just navigation and reading involves web applications. Just a few things to consider when testing:

  • Internal hardware
  • External hardware
  • Operating system
  • Browser compatibility
  • Network connectivity

Hardware and operating system combinations are something to consider for both web apps and mobile apps. There are many brands and models of desktop computers and mobile devices. Operating systems are constantly updating with new iterations – this is not unique to either web or mobile. Each update needs to be tested thoroughly with an app. Network connectivity is also a concern for both as wireless connections increase in homes, so web app users won’t necessarily be tied to a wired network connection. Outages and connection loss can happen, and behavior of both types of apps needs to be verified.

Mobile app testing involves the above concerns and then some:

  • Internal hardware
  • External hardware
  • Operating system
  • Browser compatibility
  • Network connectivity
  • Syncing multiple devices
  • Mobile network operators
  • Voice commands
  • Gestures
  • Device interruptions

The list could go on, but one of the key differences from the above list is syncing multiple devices. Traditionally, web apps need an internet connection to work at all. But some mobile apps allow the user to work offline and sync that data once the device is connected again. And now that smartphones and tablets are so common (and most people have at least one of each), connectivity and seamless syncing is important. If you carry a tablet with you that has a to-do list app installed and you leave it at home, what do you do? Access the app on your phone. All the changes you make on your phone will carry over to the original list on your tablet. There are many test cases around this topic. Are all devices supported? Do problems arise on some operating systems and not others? Can I sync between iOS and Android devices? Will changes made off Wi-FI be saved when a connection is restored? How long to wait to see a change sync to another device?

These are just a few examples to consider. Mobile-savvy testers that can write mobile specific test cases add tremendous value to clients seeking the most stable mobile experience that users prefer.

March 23, 2016

Takeaways from Mobile Summit 2016

Take Giant Leaps was the theme of our 2016 Bottle Rocket Mobile Summit in Dallas. With speakers from all disciplines and industries offering their take on the current state of the mobile space, what soon became clear is that these giant leaps can’t take place without some smaller steps first. Some of these steps are simple enough, such as taking the time to actually listen to your customers, while others require brands to rethink how they engage with users entirely.

California nebula with text "Mobile Summit 2016" overlaid

Below are a few key takeaways from our annual event:

 

30 billion moments = 30 billion opportunities

The average consumer picks up their smartphone between 150 and 200 times every day. Every time you reach for your device is a “mobile moment,” says Julie AskVice President, Principal Analyst, Forrester. That’s 30 billion daily mobile moments. But only 7% of the companies surveyed by Forrester currently have the budget, talent, and technology to serve these moments.

“There is an arms race going on for mobile moments,” said Ask. She pointed out the inherent problem that most companies face; namely, that only your best customer is going to take the time to download, install, and register with your app. Even then, they’re not likely to spend significant browsing time with you. Ask categorizes herself as one of 75 million “shifted Americans” who expect to get whatever they want, immediately, and in context. These shifted consumers are highly task-oriented; they want to get into an app, get the job done, and get out.

Very few brands stand a chance of meeting these impatient expectations, due to the lack of context. Case in point; Ask has thousands of unread emails on her iPhone, but her Facebook and Slack icons are clean since they contain a hand-picked group of friends, family and colleagues. There’s context to these communications.

However, it’s not necessarily all about owning the customer’s time. While only 15% of app categories (social, money, weather, etc.) own a whopping 72% of these moments, there are a whole host of other apps which might not own the moments but do own valuable data, such as maps, search, calendar, and virtual assistants.

Contextual, omni-channel, fragmented experiences across apps will be a benchmark for success in this arms race, says Ask. Imagine how much less of a hassle it would be when planning a night out, if you could check restaurant reviews and movie screen times, communicate that with your friends, and arrange transport, but seamlessly and without interruption?

That’s just a simple use case, though. Ask believes that this notion of mobile moments will go far beyond our phones, and into cars, connected homes, and virtual reality.

 

Mobile humanity 

One of the key mobile trends which Bottle Rocket’s Renee McKeon Rives has identified over the last year or so is humanization through technology. The internet has always helped people to better themselves, says Rives, primarily as a tool for gaining and sharing knowledge. With mobile, the notion of becoming a better person is far less abstract; there are apps for all kinds of health, wellness, mindfulness and empathy needs. Rives cites Chick-fil-A as a brand which has gone against the idea that smartphones isolate families from each other, by creating a coop to contain devices while they eat together. “It’s not always about encouraging people to stay on their phones,” she says, “you can be part of that mobile moment and also be part of helping families connect in real life.”

This new mobile humanity extends to finding new ways to live more naturally, with countless blogs for natural recipes, and apps for learning what fish are edible that are not endangered or unethically farmed. The next logical step here, Rives predicts, will be widespread adoption of molecular sensors which can scan fruit and tell you if it contains pesticides. “Technology and nature are often at odds with each other,” says Rives, “but technology can help people make more natural choices.”

 

The cost of connectivity

We all love free apps, but what’s becoming increasingly clear is that a great deal of the time, they’re not free at all; the act of downloading it can result in a disproportionate data cost. About 20% of smartphone users have stated that they consider the cost of data to be a financial burden. But there’s an opportunity in this, says Martin Lange, Global Consulting Partner at OgilvyRED.  Certain carrier companies are already exploring zero-rating; for example, it’s now free to binge-watch Netflix on T-Mobile. Then there’s Jana, which rewards users with free data when they download new apps to their phone — data which the consumer can use however they like. Google has found that consumers are largely ambivalent to carriers, and Project Fi has proven that many don’t care which network they’re connecting to, as long as they have WiFi access.

The goal of all brands, or, at least, one of them, is to enable frictionless commerce. However, connectivity can provide a huge obstacle here; retailers are quick to admit that the WiFi situation in their stores makes accessing coupons a bad experience and they need to do much better. When it comes to online transactions, Lange simply asks: why should the consumer have to pay for the data it takes to make a purchase via your app?

Elsewhere, in the developing world, connectivity is something of a mission-critical issue to overcome. There are now regions where people have access to affordable mobile phones, even if they don’t have access to clean water. While they have the physical devices, they can’t afford the data contracts; hardware is no longer causing the bottleneck, it’s the price of connectivity.

Empowering connectivity has proven to be somewhat problematic, as evidenced by India’s recent ban against Facebook Free Basic on net neutrality grounds. There is, however, room here to build connectivity into the social enterprise; Lange cited Coke Ekocentre as a prime example. Coke went into regions with zero connectivity and built kiosks which provided WiFi. Sure, they sold Coke, but they also included refrigerators which could be used to store vaccines. By augmenting connectivity with basic requirements and branded goods, Coke essentially created a market where there was none before. Something for brands to think about, especially when you consider that increasing connectivity in a country by just 10% can result in measurable GDP growth.

So yes, taking giant leaps is certainly possible in mobile, but you might need a running start.

 

Stay tuned for additional takeaways from our 2016 Mobile Summit.  For an exclusive invitation to future events, please contact us at [email protected]

January 6, 2016

Rocketeer Luke Wallace Discusses Weartech and Star Wars on “Wearable Today”

Rocketeer Luke Wallace is an Associate Director of Android Engineering by day, but by night, he adorns multiple identities such as Luke Skywalker and a regular co-host of Wearable Today.

On the latest episode of Wearable Today, Luke and Host Jeffrey Powers chat about everything from the HTC Vive’s pushed back launch date to different Star Wars Wearables. Also, just in time for the hype of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Luke and Jeffrey review different DIY Star Wars tech like a handmade full-sized BB-8 and Luke’s very own C-3PO.

This podcast isn’t Luke’s only Star Wars mention as of late. During the opening night release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Luke could be seen in his Luke Skywalker costume on Daybreak WFAA dancing his heart out and in a Dallas Morning News cameo.

We love our quirky Rocketeers just as much as they (we) love Star Wars. To keep up with Rocketeers like Luke, check out the Bottle Rocket blog or follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn.

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