The Promise of Mobile – And Some Legal Things to Think Of as You Go There

This is your canvas.  Fill it in and amaze your users!

This is your canvas. Fill it in and amaze your users!

Mobile devices are becoming more and more ubiquitous. In the first quarter of this year smart phone shipments outnumbered feature phones. High speed wireless networking makes connectivity more available. What this all leads to is access when the consumer wants/needs access. What this means to you is that the website that you have relied on for so long is set to become irrelevant.

In the words of one writer, your website will become your AM radio station. How many times have you listened to an AM radio station in the last month? For that matter, how many times have you listened to any radio station.

What does your customer really want?

Here lies the rub. In the mobile space, you can be two things. You can be that nagging friend who continually bugs. Or you can be that friend who is always there to talk to. Most companies seem to be leaning towards the first. Not because they believe that they should be, but it is because it is what they know. Traditional marketing is nagging. It is there not when you want it, but when they want it.

The article uses a term Youtility, calling on a term used in his book of the same name. Others have called it context marketing. Whatever you call it, this is what it all means to me:

Be there wherever and whenever the customer need and wants us.

There is so much complexity there that you could build huge business processes around that.

Mobile provides the promise

Mobile devices are something we all carry with us. We increasingly use it while we are shopping. We increasingly use it to augment our experiences with the world. And we increasingly use it augment our knowledge. We have allowed this bit of technology to intrude (pejorative term, I understand) in every aspect of our life.

So that is the landscape on which you are operating. How do you operate in that? You don’t control the majority of that interaction. You didn’t build the phone, you didn’t provide the network, so where are you? It falls down to your app. It falls down to the data that you are collecting, analyzing and using. With appropriate protections, of course.

Your mobile app is now going to be the window through which your customer sees you. No longer will they turn to your website. That’s why I believe in Jay’s comments about the website becoming an AM radio station.

Now for the legal downer

Remember that appropriate interactions with your customer that add value to the relationship rather than merely extracting value from it are very data-intensive. More than data, it is the analysis of that data that really provides insight. If you are not appropriate, you will be ignored and perhaps banned.

I actually don’t think that Jay’s example of “popping out from a tree” paints an appropriate picture. You should look at the relationship as that invisible friend who is always walking alongside you and responds when you ask or desire. Some banks have thought that they should step in when you are about to make a bad purchase (bad from a perspective of long term financial security). Don’t forget the psychology of telling someone no.

You only get to appropriate with data. You need to collect data, you need to analyze data and you need to use data. Opt-in is your friend, here. Avoiding surprises is your friend, as well. What have I continued to tell you as well? Ask the hard question.

This is the future

This is the future. Computing is getting closer and closer to us. It is becoming more available to us. It is becoming integral parts of our lives. It will change our society in even more profound ways then it already has. You, as counsel, need to be aware of what is happening and be there to be a trusted advisor. You, as implementor, need to get out of yourself and look at it from other perspectives. Just because it is cool to you, doesn’t mean that anyone else will. They may even think it is inappropriate.

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