My First Tech Love: The Mobile Phone
Inspired by Spike Jonze’s new movie, Her, I wanted to confess about my first “tech love,” the mobile phone. Maybe love is a little strong, but it was definitely a “tech crush.”
It was 1999. I had been eying the different mobile phones my friends and co-workers were getting. And I had seen the steady decline in price and monthly charge. So, having just moved in with my fiancée, I decided it was time for me to be connected “anytime, anywhere.” It was time for me to get a mobile phone. After some good old-fashioned research, I got the Nokia 5110 (pictured, credit: Wikipedia).
And for the next few months, I spent most of my free time with the phone. If you remember, that device was just a phone with a built-in phone list, a calendar, and the Solitaire game. So really, I was spending my time adding my contact list to my phone, making phone calls to people (those I don’t usually make) to give them my new mobile number, and playing Solitaire on that tiny 1-inch screen. And when I wasn’t not playing with it, I was cleaning it, charging it, looking at it, and admiring it. In fact, it got to the point when my fiancée was asking if I loved the phone more than her!
Fast forward to 2014. Now my mobile phone is the iPhone and it is a very important personal tool for me. I use it for many things and would rarely be without it. I work, I play, I connect, I socialize, I watch, I read, I listen, I record, I communicate, I live with it. But I am not in love with my iPhone. However, I would guess many people are. In a funny survey conducted in 2011 by Telenav, about a third of the respondents claimed they would forgo *** instead of their iPhone! Wow, this is definitely love.
The implications for companies and brands are clear
The smartphone is a critical channel to engage with customers and fans. Many experts have already weighed in on this assertion, so I won’t try to do that here. What I want to discuss is how companies and brands can engage successfully via this channel.
Start with this premise: The smartphone is one of many channels, but a primary one, for engagement with your customers. So, your overall engagement strategy needs to be a multi-channel approach. The smartphone channel needs to be integrated with other channels so that the engagement can be contextual and seamless. In other words, a “conversation” or interaction may move from the Web (via computer), to mobile, to in-person, and then back to mobile. You don’t need to make sure Scarlett Johansson’s voice picks up on every line. But to engage via the mobile device requires that you have a mobile engagement strategy. You also need to take advantage of the amount of data, a.k.a. Big Data, that are available out there. Grab them, dissect them, analyze them, find patterns, and develop your strategy and plans using your knowledge. And do this in almost real-time.
Many of your customers and prospects are in love with their smartphones and are spending a lot of time on them (even if they don’t call it love). Engage with them with context and relevance–and your company or brand could be on their Valentine list too.
Hansen Lieu is a director of product marketing at SAP. Follow Hansen on Twitter.
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