Billy Yuan, Consultant, IBM Global Business Services
By Billy Yuan
As smart phones become an indispensable part of our daily lives, companies in every industry are trying to develop ways to make this “second screen” enhance their marketing efforts, extend their reach, and most importantly, better serve their customers.
The purpose of the second screen is to augment the primary experience, whether that’s watching the game, grocery shopping, or buying a cup of coffee, and help connect the user to the brand.
A growing number of leading brands understand this and have embraced the second screen into their marketing strategies. ESPN has done a stellar job of serving its customers through multiple channels with their “Sportscenter” and “Watch ESPN” apps. No matter where the ESPN viewer is, he or she can follow the game by either streaming it or following the scores. If the user is watching the game on TV, the smart phone becomes a social tool and an encyclopedia all in one – tweet about a game-winning basket and look up that player’s stats in a matter of swipes and taps.
Outside of sports, companies are using the second screen to add to their in-store experience. Retailers like Walmart and Carrefour are improving the in-store checkout experience by implementing mobile scan-and-checkout capabilities. Starbucks customers can purchase coffee using their phones and build points through the company’s loyalty program. Having strong multi-channel capabilities across all platforms and devices to serve customers anytime and anywhere is what retailers must strive to achieve.
Although the mobile market is more mature now, there are still questions about what the best practices are with regards to how mobile experiences should be designed. As consumers spend more time on their second screens viewing content and shopping online, how a mobile experience is designed is becoming even more critical and the demand for “UX (user-experience) professionals” is growing.
For example, should a mobile website feature a responsive design – that is, a design that automatically recognizes the type of device being used to view the content and changes to the most effective layout? Does a company with a limited mobile presence first invest in revamping its website or create a cutting-edge app? How should all the links be organized? These questions can have a significant impact on a company’s business.
Mobile technology – devices, data speed, location tracking, phone performance, etc. – continues to improve, and smart phones will only continue to be better equipped to deliver the perfect content to users, whenever and wherever they are. But for that content to be perfect it will have to be able to constantly adapt to what the user is doing and context will be key.
To be sure, existing apps have done a tremendous job, but there’s still progress to be made. The needs and concerns of a television viewer are different than those viewing the game on a smart phone, or at the stadium itself. In this new mobile world, when I look up and save all of my shopping list items on my phone via a retailer’s app, I should be able to pick those items up. If not, I should be able to quickly locate the items at the store, scan them, and then pay for them using my phone.
While the mobile industry is no longer in its infancy, its potential has yet to be fully realized. Still, the continued and creative development in this industry is nothing but positive for all involved, producers and consumers.