Controlling Influence

Colm Healy, Vice President of EMEA Services for Qualcomm Internet Services, and General Manager of Xiam Technologies, argues that operators and brands need to put consumers in control of mobile content

Qualcomm Colm Healy The recent explosion of device-centric application stores and the influx of Smartphones and new connected devices into the market is changing consumer expectations around mobile services and applications. When it comes to mobile content, consumers have an expectation that they are in control an expectation that developed during the era of wireline and desktop interfaces.  
Consumers are using more mobile content than ever before, however current modes of discovery and usage such as search engines or operator portals – are limiting the mobile content experience from reaching its full potential. Users have a hard time discovering content that is meaningful to them, and when they do, that interaction is constrained to a single device or network.
To deliver on consumer expectations and enable them to truly take control of their content, operators and brands will need to collaborate to find new areas to add value to the consumer experience. We see three areas as imperative for the industry to thrive: discovery, portability and engagement.

Traditional methods of search and discovery dont translate well to mobile. Most methods do not optimise content discovery, as they typically tend to showcase the latest or most popular content to a general audience. Further to this point, recent research commissioned by Qualcomm revealed that 80% of users noted they had difficulty obtaining content on their mobile handsets, meaning they spent more time searching and less time accessing their content.  
Discovery needs to evolve from search engines to a more dynamic, real-time experience. Consumers shouldnt struggle to find the one app or piece of content among thousands that they care about. It should find them.
Qualcomms research also revealed that 63% of mobile users would spend more time accessing online information or would purchase more content if it were personalised and easier to find.
Operators need to add value by giving consumers the keys to their content. The operator can play an invaluable role in the fostering of relationships between consumers and the content and brands they care about. By leveraging location and user activity, operators will better understand their subscribers, and this in turn will enable them to offer contextual content to consumers. The combination of subscriber knowledge from content providers and operators will help develop content strategies that take into consideration what content the subscriber wants, as well as when and where they want it. This is the key to engendering ongoing brand loyalty across the entire mobile ecosystem.

To realise the vision of the consumer being in control of their content experience, the content must be portable, providing the user with a truly liberating mobile experience. Providing the consumer with a fantastic experience on one device may be enough today, but what happens when they want to change devices, or when the device they have been using is not suitable for their current location or state?
A key finding of the recent research commissioned by Qualcomm was that 58% of users believe it is important that their content moves with them, regardless of their mobile device. It is crucial that users are able to access any content, no matter where it was purchased or downloaded, through any device they choose, and that the digital experience is consistent across all platforms. Content must be able to follow the consumer when they upgrade devices and must be stateful ready to be picked up where they left off.
An example of this in action would be when a consumer can start listening to their favourite bands latest album on the web, pick up where they left off on their phone when they head out the door,  and receive personalised updates about upcoming tour dates in their home city via their fan club app all based on their profile, preferences and state.
The industry is currently in debate regarding cloud computing, but it is this technology that will play aan integral role in driving this level of mobile experience forward. Both native and Internet-based applications access information from the cloud, and thus the cloud will be important in giving consumers absolute control over their content and allowing operators the opportunity to offer ubiquitous access to content on multiple devices.


Once operators and brands have collectively tackled the issues of discoverability and portability, they become well positioned to take on the final obstacle driving user engagement. For consumers, what matters is having access to their preferred content, across all of their connected devices. This puts brands in the best position to create content experiences that span multiple screens, allowing them to foster a dialogue beyond just the initial sale. One example of how this could be done is cross- platform audience engagement where a user watching a reality show on TV is able to vote online and then keep up with the participants via a fan app on their mobile device.
The opportunity for the operator is in finding a way to facilitate that continued dialogue, while remaining relevant to consumers. Operators can help to deliver impactful digital experiences by blending information such as consumer demographics and behaviors, location-awareness, billing, relationship and brand loyalty. The mobile operator has the ability to create an ecosystem where the network harmoniously bridges the relationship between the consumer and the content they desire. Providing consumers with an engaging experience that allows them to interact meaningfully with the brands they care about will ultimately ensure their loyalty. 
It is time to integrate solutions that bring operators, content providers and device manufacturers together to enable the discovery of content that is highly relevant, but might otherwise go unnoticed.
The mobile experience must evolve away from simple search and discovery and give consumers the control over the content that they have come to expect as part of their mobile experience. This will enable the entire mobile ecosystem to realise the incredible opportunity to increase mobile data usage and sales by providing personalised apps, content and services.
A full copy of Qualcomms Whitepaper, Going Beyond an Application Store is available here.