Much more than a phone…

While the Americans call it a cellphone, us Brits have always preferred mobile phone, or usually just mobile. And in this instance I think we got it right. With the unstoppable rise of the smartphone, calling this magical device in your pocket a ‘phone’ is doing it a massive disservice – it’s a powerful handheld, location-aware, connected mobile computer. The telephony function is probably the least impressive feature!

In fact even describing it as a ‘mobile computer’ or a ‘mobile communication device’ is too limiting. Mobile is a very flexible adjective.

It’s a mobile _________. (You get to fill in the blank)

As an early smartphone adopter (read: geek) I’m still constantly impressed at the innovations in this field. I’ve been travelling a lot with work recently, and it’s become apparent that in my pocket I now have a:

  • Mobile pay-and-display machine (Apcoa Parking app)
  • Mobile ticket office (thetrainline, Heathrow Express apps)
  • Mobile check-in desk and boarding pass (Austrian Airlines)
  • Mobile taxi rank (Hailo)
  • Mobile accounting system (Xero)
  • Mobile shopping mall (eBay, Amazon apps)
  • Mobile library (Kindle app)
  • Mobile jukebox (Spotify)

… and that’s in addition to the obvious communications stuff we already take for granted.

Some companies are getting this ‘mobile _____’ concept and taking a fundamental look at how they do business… looking beyond the kneejerk ‘we need an app / mobile website’ response and genuinely seeing the potential for this personal, location-aware, connected platform that just happened to start out life as a mobile telephone.

What does this mean for your business?

Well, whatever you do to serve your customers – or run your business, as there as many internal uses for the platform as external ones – think about how you could do it better/cheaper/quicker in a personalised environment, on the device that fits in a pocket or handbag:

  • If you’re a utility company, can you provide a mobile self-serve customer support function?
  • If you’re a market trader, can you turn the handset into a mobile credit card terminal?
  • If you’re an enterprise sales function, can you build a mobile sales reporting platform?
  • If you run a small chain of shops, could you benefit from a mobile stock control terminal?
  • If you’re a dry-cleaning business, how about a mobile receipt/reminder system?

So, stop thinking of it as a phone.

Say to yourself: “We’re going to build a mobile _________!”

And fill the blank with something that no-one else has thought of yet.

– Rob

Sophie Fraser