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Kevin Custis, Global Leader Mobility Services, IBM Global Business Services

Kevin Custis, Global Leader Mobility Services, IBM Global Business Services

By Kevin Custis

The rise of mobile computing and social business is transforming information technology (IT), yet neither is being led by the IT industry itself. The tools and capability to exploit this shift will come from providers like IBM. But the precipitating event is actually the decisions and actions of regular people — tens and hundreds of millions of individuals and their expectations for how they will engage with all the institutions of the world.

With 10 billion mobile devices, and multiples of that of connected sensors, forecasted by 2020, the proliferation of mobile technology is fundamentally changing the way people think, work, act and interact. For example 4 out of 5 consumers use smartphones to shop, and within five years, half of today’s smartphone users will be using mobile wallets as their preferred payments method.

Smart mobile devices have become so seamlessly integrated in our lives, consumers don’t think twice about completing any kind of transaction with a phone or tablet.  Whether making a purchase, updating a social media status, banking, consulting with doctors or getting directions, they simply expect that their devices will work in real time. 

And the tidal wave of Millennials who will comprise 36 and 46 percent of the workforce by 2014 and 2020 have expectations for brand engagement that are in line with how they communicate: instant messaging, rapid fire texting, immediate access to people and information via social media, and solutions at the touch of a button on their mobile devices.

This generation also wants their digital communications — whether its customer service, marketing offers or dealings with banks, retailers and other businesses –to be personalized experiences. No wasting their time repeating account numbers to call centers, no ill-targeted ads, no digital junk mail.

As a consequence, many business leaders are finding that what made their companies successful in the past may not succeed for them today.

This is a shift. A huge shift.

And it is putting enormous demands on organizations to provide mobile services to their customers that are readily available, secure and in full compliance with their IT strategy.

As a result of all these rapid changes business leaders worldwide are under pressure to find new answers. Increasingly our clients aren’t just asking us to help them keep their heads above water – they’re asking us to help them fundamentally change the way they conduct their business.

The paradoxical part of all this is that some of the very same technologies that have created empowered consumers are also opening opportunities for enterprises. By tapping all the Big Data consumers generate via their devices and social networks, enterprises are developing new insights that enable them to engage in new and personalized ways with their customers.

To help clients with these challenges, IBM recently opened a Customer Experience Lab in New York dedicated to helping C-Suite leaders transform the way customers experience their products, services and brands through the use of mobile, social, cloud and advanced analytic technologies.

The new Lab provides CEOs, CMOs and other C-Suite members with direct access to IBM researchers and IBM business consultants to help them rethink their business models and reinvent how they engage for competitive advantage and growth in a digital world.

IBM also doubled its investment in Mobile for 2013 when it unveiled the IBM MobileFirst portfolio, a comprehensive mobile portfolio that combines IBM’s software and services expertise and includes advisory, interactive and design, development, cloud-based services, integration and lifecycle management services as well as security, analytics and app development software.

And based on these moves with the Customer Experience Lab and the IBM MobileFirst initiative, IBM has been named a leader in Enterprise Mobility Services in recent analyst reports from Forrester and IDC.

While many companies are pursuing pilots and taking initial steps in this area, the true leaders will be differentiated by how quickly they embark on their digital transformation and how strongly they embrace customer-centricity as an enterprise-wide endeavor.

We’re very excited about helping our clients reap the benefits in this area. And there will certainly be lots of opportunities ahead, especially when you consider that soon there will be more mobile devices in the world than people.

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