Forrester: Brands, Up Your Spending on Mobile

David Murphy

I’m at Forrester’s annual Interactive Marketing and Ebusiness & Channel Strategy Summit 2012, listening to the opening presentation on mobile from Julie Ask, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research.

She is presenting to an audience made up of Forrester’s research clients, including retailers, banks and representatives from all sorts of other brands. The title of her presentation is ‘Winning the connected consumer: Using mobile to transform your business now’ and it is a fantastic, thought-provoking session.

One of her key themes is that when a phone looks in the mirror it sees… a phone, not a PC. But many brands making their move onto mobile find it hard to break from their PC-centric past. “Get rid of thinking about the PC and don’t carry over those paradigms of designing for the PC experience,” she advised.

One other thing she said struck me, and it should strike a chord with everyone reading this trying to convince clients to invest more in their mobile marketing budgets. It was this:

“Those who will succeed on mobile are working on infrastructure, staffing and competencies that are hard to see unless you look closely.” She then gave a few examples: eBay hiring 4-500 mobile developers; WalMart buying mobile talent last year; Etna, an insurance company, has bought a mobile development company.

This was all accompanied by a chart showing typical levels of spending on mobile. From memory, the figure at the top of the chart was $1m.

“If this is the level you are spending at,” she told delegates, “you should be worried, because the leaders are spending much more.”

The presentation also offered a glimpse into the future of mobile as the handsets become more sophisticated, with two cameras on the back of the phone to give a 3D sense of perspective, for example. So now the phone can measure distance. Other advances will see the phone able to test the freshness of your food; your phone as a breathalyzer; your phone as a health monitor. All culminating in the scenario where you need a new fridge, so you point your phone at your existing one, and it assesses the space you have for a fridge, knows how much money is in your bank account so what you can afford, chooses a colour based on the current colour palette of the room, finds a stockist with that fridge in stock who can deliver when you are available, and…you see where all this is headed.

What’s fascinating about this is that it’s not based on Forrester’s analysts surfing round random websites to try to paint an exciting, cool vision of the future; it’s based on interviews with the technology companies working to make these things a reality, as some of them already are. But it’s the bit about the budgets that I hope hits home with most of the brands present in the room.


David Murphy