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How To Adapt A Business To The New Mobile Reality

How To Adapt A Business To The New Mobile Reality
StrategyStrategy4 min read

The mobile revolution is upon us and businesses are either using mobile to their advantage or struggling to keep up. A recent report reveals that there will be 5.2 billion mobile users by 2017 and that mobile traffic data is expected to increase 13-fold in the next five years.

This chart, shows the number of global users who will be surfing the web on mobile devices, and explains that mobile data traffic will reach 11.2 exabytes per month by 2017. E27 explains that an Exabyte, which is equal to one quintillion bytes, "is an immensely high amount of data traffic and is also equivalent to running 3 trillion video clips (e.g. YouTube)."

cisco systems amount of users per month

Cisco Systems

With all this rapid expansion in mobile web browsing it's become increasingly clear that those businesses that have managed to harness the growing potential of mobile services will get ahead.

If you're starting up, go mobile first

One way to take advantage of what mobile services have to offer is to come up with a creative product that can actually help connect businesses to the mobile world. Square has done so by creating a compact payment device that allows consumers to swipe their credit cards on the go.

The device makes it easier for small business owners to sell their products from a food truck or at a fair and still be able to charge their customers on their credit cards. Small businesses aren't the only ones profiting from this breakthrough concept, it is also attracting the attention of multimillion-dollar companies. Square is accepted in more than 7,000 Starbucks.

Tech Crunch argues that mobile first startups scale so rapidly and become so successful because their products are fundamentally distinct from those companies that come to it late.

What separated Foursquare from the pack, for instance, was the concept of "checking in" to a particular venue. For Instagram it was the filters they add to their photos, and Flipboard uses a magazine-format that let's you "flip" through all your social networking feeds.

Dan Rundle, CEO of Worthwhile, a web, software and mobile design company, says that finding that one key concept that sets your mobile first company apart is a definite must, because the market is rapidly becoming saturated.

"A lot of businesses think that they can build a mobile app today because of the 'mobile app gold rush' and it will get noticed and take off and people will buy it. That might have been the case early on, when the iPhone was first introduced, but it's not any more. It's a lot harder to get noticed if you're mobile only," Rundle tells Business Insider.

If you aren't, then adapt

According to Rundle, companies that aren't mobile first don't have to worry so much about differentiating themselves. What they should be focusing their energy on is adapting their business model to the mobile platform.

"Their budget needs to be reflecting the mobile decade and they need to be shifting their resources and their time to mobile," Rundle says.

One way that companies can go about this is to invest in a "responsive web, or responsive design" for their company's website. This allows businesses to build a single website for their company that can be scaled to whatever size screen their consumers are looking at. In practice, this means that a company can showcase the same content and images that they would on a desktop browser, but it's "delivered in a screen size that beautifully fits your iPhone or your device," Rundle explains.

The key to "committing to the fit," as Rundle puts it, is to be smart about how you choose to present information about your company on a smaller screen. The information you disclose on your company's mobile app and how you choose to disclose it will determine how your consumers will interact with your brand.

Worthwhile's CEO says that when designing websites for their clients they always put their users first. He told Business Insider that "we like to start with a brand study when we're doing mobile development to try to understand who are your users and what might they use a mobile device for versus what they might use a desktop website for and then we customize their experience."

Businesses should be thinking about everything from presenting the companies' phone number in a bigger and bolder format on a mobile device, to the way they are presenting their logo on the screen.

Either way, don't panic

Dan Rundle says he is aware that juggling all of these ideas all the while trying to keep your business up to date with the changing technologies, can be a bit overwhelming. The CEO reminds businesses that despite all that, they should try not to panic.

Rundle says "the good news is it's not too late to adjust," and make the shift to mobile.

A tech expert featured on Forbes believes that the opportunities for growth that many companies saw with the rise of the web in the 1990s, will only be getting bigger and stronger during the current mobile revolution. Dan Rundle adds that this has a lot to do with us being prepared for what's to come.

"One thing that I like people to think about is how unprepared they were for what I call, the internet decade ...You've got an opportunity to do what you didn't do at the start of the internet decade which is to be strategic and be intentional about how your business is going to leverage mobile."

One thing is certain, companies that are willing to think strategically and adapt to the changing times are more likely to reap the benefits of mobile's growing ecosystem.