FAILURE to engage an increasingly-mobile customer will put the future viability of your business at serious risk. That's the blunt reality of the modern Australian marketplace, as revealed in the Optus Future of Business Report.
It surveyed hundreds of corporate organisations and found the numbers are on a rapid upward trajectory when it comes to implementing a range of mobile web systems.
But the good news, according to Optus vice-president of convergence and mobility Phil Offer, is that hopping on board this technology train will not break the bank, and the first steps required are easier than you think.
"Many apps are relatively small and you get access to a digital store where you can potentially be in front of millions of customers," he said.
"The cost to get into this market has never been lower compared to previous years.
"Mobile platforms like iOS and Android are at scale, and there are only a few of them. The code has already been written, so it is not as hard as you think to dip your toe into this water.
"It is now much easier to pull together a quick application."
Mr Offer said the basic tools businesses needed to ensure they were future-ready were: a website made especially for viewing on a mobile device, useful apps for customers and staff, online payment systems and devices like tablets and smartphones for staff use.
The pay-off, he said, was a more engaged and productive worker, a more environmentally-friendly paperless office and a more loyal customer.
"The business case as to why businesses embrace these things is around the customer experience," he said. "Sixty per cent measure the impact of these digital technologies by customer satisfaction, and then by revenue and profit.
"So, ask yourself if you think the app is important around that customer satisfaction base, or is there a different way to use that technology.
"What about SMSing a customer to say your delivery is on the way? That could improve the customer experience and save them having to call you.
"Apps are popular but just because you've' got an app doesn't mean you will be found. There are several hundred thousand of them in the app store.
"But you can examine where the pain points are in your business, and find out what is in the digital toolkit to eliminate those."
Mr Offer said businesses of all sizes needed to be responsive to the desires of the modern consumer.
"Customers are very savvy for this. Improve the overall customer experience and you will get them back.
"You can't lose sight of the fact that Australia has the second highest smart phone penetration in the world. There is an enormous appetite to use this technology in new and different ways and the number of people conducting searches on their phones is only going one way.
"Your end customer is going to be expecting you to know how to use this technology."
KEY STATISTICS FROM THE FUTURE OF BUSINESS REPORT
► Mobile apps key to engaging customers: 35% of organisations believe customers will want to interact with them via mobile applications within three to five years. Forty eight per cent of organisations plan to make mobile applications available to customers in three to five years, up from 18% now. The investment in mobile apps will increase three fold to $600m by 2016.
► Internal mobile apps can also drive greater productivity and efficiency amongst staff. In the next three to five years and 48% of organisations plan to develop mobile apps for employees.
► Social media: 39% of organisations are involved in some form of social media, a year ago, that number was 19%.
Mobile websites on the rise: It also uncovered that 29% of organisations now offer mobile websites to customers, up from 12% a year ago. This is expected to rise to 47% in three to five years.
► Payment options to diversify to the mobile: Mobile payments services are expected to increase, with 23% of organisations planning to offer these type of services within the next three to five years.
► Bring your own device to work trend accelerating: Currently, 43% of organisations allow employees to use personal tablets to access company information and systems, up from 23% a year ago. Fifty-six per cent of organisations allow employees to use their personal smartphones to access these systems, up from 46% a year ago.
Optus and IT partner Philology helped Deaf Services Queensland create an app to help people learn sign language. Watch the video HERE.
Optus also have a digital agency called MyBizOnline that helps businesses build a website and optimise it through a search campaign. Go HERE for more information.
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