NFAIS: Creating new value for business professionals

Alisa Bowen from Thomson Reuters was up next to talk to us about ‘Creating new value for business professionals.’ Alisa focused her talk on mobile resources.

The first question is why are we talking about this now? Mobile phones and smart phones have been around for a while. In short, she thinks we’ve passed a tipping point with 55 million people using the Internet on their mobile phone and this will increase to 80 million by next year. In addition to these numbers, Netbook market share has raised 22 percent in the past year – and you can probably think of a Netbook as a cross between a laptop and a smart phone. In short, people expect to find applications for every task on their mobile device.

The next question is what’s “value” on mobile devices? They came away with some customer insights in answer to this.

  • Mobile is no longer an Adjacency – Mobile is Core
    • Customers are using mobile devices daily in their work life. Nearly everyone was using their mobile device as a communication device (citing checking email and staying connected). In addition, new laptop purchases were down 30% in the company they talked to – in favor of using a mobile device.
    • Business people said that mobile helps them manage relationships better. People expect answers to email in a timely fashion and these devices allow that type of response time.
  • Mobile is not a technology it’s a behavior.
    • Mobile devices allow us to be ‘always on.’ Allowing us to communicate with our customers in a more timely fashion changing the way we work with our customers.
  • Business Information on Mobile is a Source of Competitive Advantage
    • There is an increasing demand for real-time business information on their mobile devices. That said, this isn’t about more information – it’s about providing the right information at the right time on a small screen.
  • Context, Sophisticated Data Visualization and Integration on Mobile are Critical to Successful Mobile Services
    • Large amounts of information are better digested on the big screen. This means that users want personalized information on their mobile to make it easier to do their job quickly.

These insights led them to defining 4 personas – The Alpha Exec (lots of responsibility, the mobile device is a status symbol), The Mobile Native (early adopter, usually younger), The Mobile Hobbyist (enjoy playing with the device), and The Mobile is a ‘necessary evil’ (mobile device is a drag and they don’t like it).

Also there are 8 task concepts that can help guide us in what tools we should develop for professional use:

  • Discovery (research on a wide range)
  • Maintenance (keeping an eye on things)
  • Absorption (taking on any new intelligence)
  • Alert (tell me something I didn’t already know before someone else tells me)
  • Creation (creating a plan with a client – create content on the mobile device)
  • Admin (jogging billable hours, expenses, contacts, etc)
  • Proactive Planning (organizing forthcoming meetings)
  • Unwinding (disengaging from work)

Taking the personas and the concepts they came up with 7 design principles:

  • Keep it simple
  • Integrate into the mobile OS
  • Integrate platforms
  • Integrate information services
  • Make it easy to use and quick to respond (this one I agree with – this is why I dropped by Blackberry Storm and happily switched to the Droid)
  • Design for different mobile models
  • Promote your brand

Using these guides they have come up with a few mobile pilot projects. First, Alise showed us MoJo (mobile journalism) that helped people upload pictures and next from their phones into a news room setting (a project with Nokia). Next is the NewsPro applications for the iPhone and Blackberry (not Droid) that provides business news, stock info, and entertainment news to the mobile device. Finally the BARBRI iPhone Application provides students access to the information they need to prepare for the Bar Exam. For those e students without access to these devices, Thompson Reuters leased iPod touches to them.

From this they have learned a lot about mobile devices and how to promote your services on this medium. Some of the things learned included understanding the environment (when they started they thought all their users were Blackberry users – but in fact there were just as many iPhones), mobile is not just a PC with a smaller screen, respect geographical differences and build flexibility into your business plans. Finally as others said yesterday, prepare to fail – and allow yourself to fail early and often – this is the only way you’re going to learn.

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