Business leaders need to understand how smartphones are changing the way individuals engage with their products and services – or they risk being left behind by the competition.
The warning came from Richard Hull, formerly of HP Labs and now managing director of Bristol-based software services company Calvium, in an address to senior directors at a recent Executive Foundation.
“Smartphones are everywhere now, and they are starting to change the way that information about companies is accessed and mediated,” he said.
“Social media is being used by millions of us in the UK, and much of this activity originates on smartphones. Companies need to understand how purchasing decisions are increasingly being made by consumers using social media through their smartphones, so they can engage with and begin to respond to what is happening.”
The change is particularly clear-cut for businesses that sell their products and services to consumers, but even in the business-to-business space the same shift in habits was driving change.
“Companies need to ask: how should we engage with these conversations? Can we afford not to?” he asked.
The need to think about the effect of smartphones in 2012 also reflected the likelihood of their growing influence on our behaviours in the future, said Mr Hull.
“There is a growing connection between the physical world and how a smartphone can media it. That connection will just get stronger. Very soon, if you see a lamp, say, in a friend’s house that you like, you may be able to touch it with your phone and to buy it very easily. Or touching it might unleash lots of criticisms online about the company that produced it. These are powerful changes that will be with us in the next few years.
“Smartphones change the context in which people engage with companies or organisations. It really can’t be ignored, and companies have to be ready to respond.”
Mr Hull’s presentation was part of an Executive Foundation event at Calcot Manor in Gloucestershire, attended by West technology business leader including Peter Gradwell, managing director of Bath-based VoiP specialists Gradwell, Phil Dawson, chief executive of Skyscape, and Melksham-based charity specialists Valldata’s Hamish Horton.