As I continue to spend time immersing myself in the world of enterprise mobility, I was eager to find out about how other mobile experts viewed how new technologies would impact the market. The talks I attended, at this year’s Apps World, all had a common theme – put users at the heart of what you do, especially if you’re using new technology.

From the sessions about beacons, it was made clear that users need to value what is being provided to them. Information triggered or made available must be relevant to users and they must feel like they are getting value out of the system.

From a retail perspective, one talk focused on how it was important that users feel like they’ve earned something. As an example, sending a customer 10% off just because they walk into the store doesn’t work, as it’s not earned and therefore not valued. By contrast, earning points because you’ve walked into the store, or bought products means users feel like they’ve earned the points so they value them more – and hence redemption is more likely. Adding incentives about sharing information on social media can also help to boost the level of inclusion for customers.

For users to turn on their Bluetooth, and keep it on, they need to have a reason to do so. For beacons, this will be a ‘Killer App’ that makes their lives easier or provides them with a large amount of value. If the app is mediocre or not providing value, users won’t turn on their Bluetooth, and from the retail perspective, the beacon technology fails. Again, for retail, a clear use-case needs to be at the heart of the app and beacon technology.

Mubaloo’s presentation by Mike Crooks, MiBeacons Development Director, focused on this – rather than deploying beacons and then looking for the use case, focus on the use case first. If beacons help to assist the use case, then it makes sense to add them – because they provide value. There is a need to maintain a focus on what the user needs, right here, right now.
In the talks on wearables, users were once again at the heart of the focus.

Here we heard how testing must adapt to the user experience. The talks argued that testing and QA is no longer in the testing labs or a section of the office, but out on the street, in context of where people will be wearing devices or interacting with beacons. Apps, beacons and wearables need to work in the real-world where there may be connectivity issues, interference or other day-to-day problems.

No longer is it acceptable for a QA team to state ‘well we can’t replicate the reported issue’ because if users perceive an issue, that issue is real, and maybe subject to their context , and they will soon switch off. So, putting a focus on testing in real world use cases will be a key route to success with apps, wearables and beacons.

Delivering a really great and relevant experience was explored in several presentations. At least two presentations referenced ‘The Lean Startup’ book by Eric Ries, and emphasised delivering a Minimum Viable Product. The key here is to start small and targeted, and then iterate and develop as users demand, and in accordance with feedback on the early versions.
It was reassuring to hear that much of what we talk about here at Mubaloo was being discussed by other companies too. It shows that we appear to be on the right page and moving in the right direction to help the companies we work with. Apps have already helped so many people to do so many incredible things.

By Alana Saunders, Senior Mobile Strategy Consultant

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