Strategy and InnovationApp Development

What's Ahead in Mobile for 2015

In the past year and a half, there have been at least thirteen significant changes in the mobile space that alter the way we design and develop mobile solutions. In 2015, we expect to see even more. While there is no way to know exactly what will happen with mobile in 2015, we’ve got a few ideas and predictions to share, as well as some ‘To Dos’ to help you prepare for mobile this year.

1. Mobile as a Platform

A decade ago Steve Jobs famously positioned the Mac as a “digital hub,” a kind of entertainment platform with peripherals like the iPod. Today, the smartphone is that hub and a number of innovative new technologies are acting as its peripherals. We’re seeing Android move onto your wrist, onto your television, and into your car. With Android Wear, Chrome Cast, Android TV, and Android Auto, you’ve got one unified operating system (Android) behaving similarly across devices of all shapes and sizes. The best part is that these separate platforms are designed to be extensions of your phone, so existing Android users will be naturally at home in these other environments. Similarly, Apple’s Watch and Apple TV function primarily as extensions of your iPhone.

To Do: Reset your consumer and enterprise-facing digital strategies to use the smartphone as the primary center of communication, and other devices (e.g. Apple Watch, Android Wear, etc.) as additional media delivery platforms associated with the phone.

2. Productivity in Unexpected Places

This year we’ll begin to see mobile make its way into more and more processes that may not traditionally be thought of as areas ripe for innovation. For example, mobile devices and applications can be used on manufacturing lines to measure productivity, and to reduce time spent getting data into the hands of plant managers to help them make effective decisions. Almost every process in every company can be streamlined using mobile.

To Do: Think about key processes in your company, what their target outputs are, and which processes could be better. We’ve seen major successes at companies where mobile is deployed to improve just a few process at the heart of their operations (e.g. streamlining manufacturing processes or quality initiatives).

3. The Big Bang

2015 will bring more massive security breaks that make Sony and Target look like child’s play. The huge majority of hacks, including those two, were inside jobs by overseas vendors or ex-employees.

To Do: Reevaluate all your mobile projects to determine if they should be reengineered with a security-first mindset. More importantly, review who can access your code stack and what parts they can touch to better understand and manage it.

4. JavaScript Everywhere

“HTML5” is the buzzword for mobile web, but it’s really JavaScript that makes high-end web applications work, and its making its way to the back end too. JS-based applications have already begun to challenge native iOS and Android apps, particularly at large companies where Node.js  is popular. Enterprises using Node.js applications need to keep an eye out though, the company responsible for maintaining Node is, by many accounts, doing a sub-par job. Recently, the biggest contributors to the project forked it to address some of the biggest, most long-running complaints developers have with the platform. The goals and roadmap for the fork are very popular in the Node community, but the fragmentation the fork might cause is likely to be huge news, and companies like WalMart, ebay, Etsy, and others are heavily invested in the tech.

To Do: Review all current native and desktop applications to determine how JavaScript-based solutions might improve deployment.

5. Think Decoupled Infrastructure

Moving away from monolithic systems to more modern, extensible, and decoupled solutions is vital for large companies hoping to keep up with the pace of mobility and connected devices in 2015. The first step to taking full advantage of the new ecosystem is rebuilding back-end systems, ensuring they can interface with a large variety of devices concurrently and address all the issues that come up (e.g. data currency, security, access controls, etc.).

To Do: Take some time from the day to day, and develop a new 24-36 month infrastructure plan that will allow existing systems to play in a new, decoupled world.

6. Great Personalization Expectations

Personalization has been the buzzword in mobile for 5 years, but very few of our mobile experiences are truly personalized. In 2015 this will begin to change, as your parents’ experience on Facebook might start to look quite different from your kids’. Using social logins allows apps to capture incredibly detailed user information, and finally fulfill the promise of real personalization.

To Do: Evaluate using social login in your native applications, and create a clear and strategic plan outlining what data should be captured and how it will be used.

7. Big Data Analysis is King

Mobile is another vehicle creating endless data for large corporations to sift through. Companies that win in 2015 will utilize tools that allow front-line employees to make real use of data, whether it’s for sales and pricing decisions, or to give field technicians real-time access to data that helps solve problems. For example, AOL recently launched a desktop and mobile application that allows their sales team to create presentations instantly, from anywhere. AOL’s back-end systems are automatically tracking how effective each individual slide, and presentation is to help ensure future successes.

To Do: Develop a highly-tactical Big Data strategy that finds very specific uses for data, and clarifies how that data will be gathered and used. Every mobile project needs to have an analytics strategy as part of its core design.

8. UX Delivers Measurable ROI

As Gartner says (,UX design and enterprise will meet as large companies are able to measure real ROI from providing their employees and clients cleaner, friendlier and more efficient user interfaces. Companies like Rexel will now be able to measure time savings for thousands of their clients that are saving hours each week by significantly improving sample and transaction speeds, and reducing rework.

To Do: Review existing apps paying close attention their user interfaces. Are the UIs outdated, clunky, or confusing? If they are, your apps might be impeding employee workflows instead of streamlining them. Begin to think about how designs could be improved to enhance functionality and save time.

9. Living in a Material Design World

With Google’s new design standards for both applications and the web, companies will increasingly see a divergence in the UI/UX of their apps across different platforms. The companies that come out ahead this year will be the ones who realize that application design is no longer a port of one platform to the other.

To Do: If you’re creating iOS and Android apps this year, make sure they are being designed separately and carefully for each platform, or suffer from poor ratings and few downloads.

10. Marrying Mobile to ROI

Mobility is moving away from being a pure cost center to something that actually contributes to the bottom line.

To Do: Begin to think about how to build PnLs to illustrate the benefits of leveraging mobile in your business this year. They’re there, and can lead to major wins for your organization, and new and better ways to measure success.

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