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Mobile gap becomes insurmountable for some businesses: Forrester

Companies will spend $189 billion in 2017 to enable mobile services, fueling a technology and spending arms race that will leave many companies vulnerable, according to Forrester Research. 

Forrester revealed its predictions for how mobile will impact businesses and marketers next year, with the upshot that the gap between businesses who truly get mobile and laggards will become more visible next year and insurmountable for some. Other key predictions include that app downloads will level off and either Facebook, Apple or Google will likely introduce a marketplace for branded content. 

?I think most brands agreed in 2014 that mobile is strategic but when it comes to integrating mobility into their marketing strategy, few are really measuring all the business implications,? said Thomas Husson, Paris-based vice president and principal analyst of the marketing and strategy client group at Forrester as well as one of authors of the reports. 

?In 2015, we expect the gap to increase between brands who will see mobile as just another channel and the leaders who will invest in re-engineering their business to deliver mobile moments,? he said. 

?The most surprising element is probably that mobile marketing goes so much beyond marketing: it is actually a catalyst for transformation and requires a bridge with business technology.?

Predictions for 2015 
In two separate reports discussing Forrester analysts? predictions for mobile in 2015, it is clear that few companies will truly embrace the mobile mind shift. However, those that do are moving quickly to increase spending and infuse mobile throughout their organization. 

The evidence is already staking up that mobile leaders are planning big expenditures, with The Home Depot announcing that it will spend $1.5 billion and Hilton Worldwide saying it is investing $550 million.  

The reports are Predictions 2015: Most Brands Will Underinvest In Mobile and Predictions 2015: Most Firms Will Underinvest In Mobile eBusiness. 

One key prediction for next year is that branded content platforms will start to emerge in mobile, with Forrester expecting Apple, Facebook or Google to introduce a marketplace where brands, publishers and developers can collaborate and develop branded content for mobile experiences. 

The challenge companies must address but few are doing is that consumers increasingly expect to be able to engage with brands to get any information or service they desire immediately and in context. Today, 18 percent of U.S. online consumers have this expectation while another 30 percent are in the midst of making this transition. 

?[The most surprising revelation is] flat out how fast they are moving and how much spending is increasing,? said Julie Ask, San Francisco-based vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research.

?Those who get it are really stepping up spending and broad involvement throughout their organizations to get the infrastructure, platforms, processes, organization, etc. in place,? she said.

App downloads level off
As mobile leaders re-engineer their businesses to deliver mobile moments to consumers, there will be less of a focus on applications in 2015 and more on the opportunities that depend on massively responsive infrastructure services or systems of engagement. 

Forrester expects download levels for apps to level off next year as mobile app fatigue sets in and as consumers seeks more seamless, integrated experiences. For example, there will be more opportunities to book a ride via Uber from within other apps, depending on which is more convenient. 

With the slow down in apps in mind, companies should look to engage customers on third-party sites or platforms and try to serve customers where they are. Additionally, try to tap into data that consumers are willing to share on platforms such as Google Fit and Apple?s HealthKit. 

Forrester also expects that consumers will increasingly engage with mobile in micro moments consisting of a glance to identify and deliver quick information. This means companies need to anticipate consumers needs through context and push out notifications via text messaging, audio or haptic signals. The idea is to create a micro moments strategy, not an Apple Watch strategy. 

Getting organized
Forrester?s recommended action plan for companies hoping to not be left behind includes focusing on demonstrating to senior executives throughout the organization that mobile is more than an app. 

Additionally, put in place an organization that will enable a company to use mobile to transform customer experiences throughout the entire business. Today, only 7 percent of enterprises have such an organization in place and Forrester expects to see 25 percent do so in 2015. 

The recommended organization includes a cross-functional mobile steering committee at the top, a center of excellence in the middle and idea teams. 

Another recommendation for companies is to analyze how mobile can alter their cost structure. For example, banks are seeing less demand for ATMs thanks to remote deposit capture and airlines are reconfiguring check-in and boarding spaces in airports now that 20 percent of domestic boarding passes are now on mobile devices. 

It will also behoove companies to find ways that mobile offers new opportunities to generate revenue by using context such as location, analytics and big data. For example, more companies are likely to understand real-time demand and adjust price accordingly, such as Uber does. Other opportunities include flash sales and new services related to connected devices. 

Borrowing mobile moments
In 2015, Forrester expects to see more firms use privacy as a competitive differentiator. On mobile, this will mean the need to embrace contextual privacy. The goal is to commit to a long-term plan to build customer trust and use data to create insights to better service customers. 

Forrester also recommends that marketers prepare to make the most of the upcoming mobile wallet era and should start to activate campaigns to get insights on mobile wallet performance. 

?Businesses can't act like a destination,? Ms. Ask said. ?They need to go engage with their customers where they are. 

?We call this ?borrowing mobile moments,?? she said. ?A lot of marketers today in the US ?borrow? mobile moments on Facebook by posting content or using their ads to drive app downloads. 

?They need to expand their thinking to deeper engagement and transactions. As a continuation of this trend, marketers need to think beyond apps as an engagement technology. Start thinking more about messaging (including interactive push notifications), audio, haptic, etc. - these will also be important with the emerging wearables category.? 

Final Take
Chantal Tode is senior editor on Mobile Marketer, New York