The $60 Billion App Industry By Ross Hamer

JESHOOTS / Pixabay

I’m sure by now you’ve all heard the trumpets sounding, seen the firework displays, and felt the thundering of a million hands clapping – yes, 2017 was a big year for apps. Global app revenue, in the app stores alone, rose 35% over the year to get very close to the $60 billion mark. To be a little more precise, the combined revenue of Google Play and the App Store was $58.7 billion. That’s a lot of money. That’s 5.87 trillion penny candies. That’s $7.72 for every single person on the planet. And while an estimated 82 per cent of all app revenue is eaten up by the remarkable games industry, 2017 was nonetheless a massive year for other industries on mobile. And this is just business through the app stores – huge amounts of revenue goes direct to retailers and businesses via apps, but not through the app stores themselves.

There are no signs of this growth slowing down just yet either. In fact, it is quite the opposite. Pretty much everything we do is moving to mobile, from banking and entertainment to shopping for clothes and booking a vacation. The move to mobile, and therefore apps, is not just overtaking other channels, it is confining some of them to minor roles which previously would have been unthinkable. For example, one of customers, a large European bank, has more visitors in one minute to their app than they get in their entire branch network in a week.

Digital media streaming services have also been growing particularly quickly. For example, Hulu saw a 40 per cent increase in subscribers in 2017, to reach 17 million. HBO and Showtime are household names that continue to grow on mobile. And if you take a look at the top grossing apps that aren’t games, it’s a list dominated by media streaming services like Spotify, Pandora and Netflix. This is partly enabled by the key to profitability: auto-renewable subscriptions. Once users have developed a reliance on your app, and enough confidence in your service to convert from a free-trial to a premium account, the dollars start rolling in. Just as importantly, they provide a fantastic cross-channel experience.

Here Comes The “So What” Bit

The growing momentum behind the mobile world undoubtedly presents huge opportunities for businesses. Perhaps what is most important to remember is this: when individuals switch channel they are also likely to switch brand. Consider the move from ‘bricks and mortar’ retail to online commerce. That claimed a few notable scalps as new competitors native to the emerging online environment picked off the customers of existing brand leaders slow to respond to a new reality.

Remember – the competition for your brand’s mobile experience isn’t your website or store – it’s a competitor’s mobile app that delivers the products or services you do in a ‘mobile first’ way.

The same is happening on mobile today. Yes, it can be difficult to transfer your services to mobile successfully. But it is imperative to make the app as easy as possible to use for the ‘mobile’ generation, and integrate it with other experiences and channels of your brand. Remember – the competition for your brand’s mobile experience isn’t your website or store – it’s a competitor’s mobile app that delivers the products or services you do in a ‘mobile first’ way.

If your app appears as an afterthought, an isolated and unloved creation to simply tick a box, then your business will suffer. However, if you think in terms of providing a first-class mobile experience, when it comes to your products and services, then you stand a chance of succeeding – and taking your fair share of all those mobile millions.

That involves a commitment to investing in mobile, making it the centerpiece of a cross-channel strategy that can engage customers at an individual level, with personalized, relevant and timely interactions that creates a compelling reason for customers to stay with you during and after the migration into the new environment. Good luck!

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The Great IT Security Jobs Crisis By Rob Phelps

it security jobs

The threat of cybercrime and cyber terrorism that faces the world today is amongst the most serious and pressing of issues. Breaches and attacks upon IT security infrastructure threaten nearly every aspect of our way of life from the functioning of democracies and businesses to the ability for individuals to protect their private data. In our digital age, IT security experts, technology and systems are our frontline against a dangerous and unpredictable world. Make no mistake, this is an arms race.

It is perhaps surprising then, that as this IT security threat continues to evolve and grow, that governments and businesses are struggling to keep up in one of the most fundamental of areas; IT security job recruitment. Without the expertise and simple manpower to design and manage IT security systems and strategies, businesses, governments and other institutions are left vulnerable to outside attack.

In this article, I want to explore the growing IT security jobs crisis, how it came about and what it means for businesses.

An IT Security Disaster in the Making?

The scale of the problem varies depending on what report you read but there is no debate among businesses and the IT security industry at large that the scale of the problem is hugely challenging (to say the least). The infographic below from the ISACA (a not for profit information security advocacy group) has some pretty alarming statistics. Whilst the figure of a 2 million shortage in IT security professionals is surely the big takeaway from these stats (for balance a 2017 report by (ISC)2 puts this as 1.8 million by 2022, but the figure is still alarming) there are other stats that stand out.

Let’s take the fact that over half of businesses are experiencing significant delays of over 6 months in order to fill IT security job vacancies and 84% of organisations are finding that half or more of the cybersecurity job applicants are unqualified. In the US alone, every year employers are failing to fill 40,000 information security analyst jobs alone. That figure jump to 200,000 when you factor in all IT security related jobs.

It’s not that these jobs are poorly paid. In the UK an IT security analyst’s salary is anywhere between £32k and £78k. In the US it’s between $50k and $103k. What’s more, IT security job salaries are rising quicker than salaries in more general IT roles. With the rate of IT security job growth, rising three times faster than IT job growth, the simple fact is that there aren’t the numbers rising up to fill them.

So how did this job shortage come about and what can businesses and individuals do about it?

The Roots of the Cyber Security Recruitment Gap

There is no single reason why this huge deficit has opened up between IT security job vacancies and qualified candidates to fill them. Much of it could be to do with the simple fact that governments and the public bodies and institutions they rely on and fund, can be slow to react to new threats. This partly comes down to politics and funding but also plain bureaucratic inefficiency to adapt to growing challenges. Let’s face it, the public sector isn’t known for its efficient handling of large IT infrastructure projects (in the UK certainly).

Of course, business is another matter. Whilst there is evidence that businesses have been faster to recognise and rise to the challenge, the scale of the cyber security job crisis still leaves some big questions for the global business community to answer. Like governments and the public sector, it’s likely that businesses have simply underestimated the scale of the problem; both in the threat cybercrime poses and the speed at which the crisis in job recruitment has been growing.

With regard to the latter of these points, businesses have failed to communicate the massive need for IT security professionals to policy makers, educational institutions and the public at large. They have also failed to recruit from a wide enough talent pool, relying instead on traditional IT career paths into which trainees and new recruits can be siphoned. Much of this is a failing to see IT security as a completely separate area of business, distinct from IT and tasked with communicating and strategising right up to executive level.

A Cyber Security Jobs Strategy for Businesses

Despite the grim statistics, all is not lost and there are many steps businesses can take today to deal with what the fundamental IT security recruitment challenges of the future. What’s important to remember is that the demand for IT security jobs isn’t down to lack of interest but rather poor external and internal recruitment strategies, underinvestment and a blinkered adherence to traditional career pathways. Let’s look at some of the things businesses can do to address the problem:

  • Reform the hiring and selection process: What’s needed from the recruitment policy side of things is less a change of approach and more a completely new mindset when it comes to hiring IT security staff. Employees need to start thinking about how they can attract candidates from outside normal career and even educational routes into the profession. There is undoubtedly a hugely talented pool of self-taught individuals out there. Many of these people may not have the qualifications needed to get noticed in the industry, but finding ways to get them in at the ground level could open up a largely untapped source of real talent.
  • Creating local networks: Traditionally businesses are pretty guarded about the information they share, but if they are to address the growing IT security recruitment crisis they need to come together in an effort to create a united front in tackling the problem. The importance of networks cannot be overstated. Whether it’s businesses sharing data on new cybersecurity threats or simply publishing guidance on recruitment best practice, information sharing is key. These networking initiatives should reach out beyond the business world to educators and young people looking at a career in IT. Encouraging individuals into the industry from an early age is important.
  • Rethinking CPD: Continuing professional development and internal training needs to be completely rethought if businesses are to properly nurture the next generation of cyber security professionals. The first step to this is to think of IT security as a separate department from IT, albeit one with strong links. Your IT department may be the most natural place to begin sourcing your next IT security staff but these individuals need to have separate skills specific to IT security, such as the ability to think strategically, an analytical mind, natural leadership skills, a willingness and drive to educate others and a holistic understanding of how the business works. Developing internal training and fast track recruitment schemes needs to recognise and nurture these skills.
  • Create a cyber security guru role: Many small or medium sized companies will simply not be large enough to justify a separate IT security team. In these instances, it may be beneficial to the wider business to appoint a cyber security guru or head of IT security. This role would exist within the IT department but form the basis for a business wide approach to IT security; one that involves developing ongoing strategies, creating workshops for IT staff and establishing IT security best practice for all staff.

Getting a Job in IT Security

Whilst there are several positive steps businesses can take to address the growing cybersecurity jobs gap, there are of course a number of things anyone interested in getting into the IT security industry. Whilst soft skills are a benefit, experience and qualifications are required to get a job in this industry it should be remembered that the pressing need for IT security experts does not preclude qualifications and experience, on top of the soft skills needed to succeed in the job (the cybersecurity industry has become very focused on certification in the last few years).

You may work in IT already or be an enthusiastic self taught coder, but a background in IT isn’t essential. Those in highly analytical jobs will often have developed the skillset to get them off the ground.

Whatever your background, education or age, there are a number of steps you can take to smooth the path towards a professional role. We’ve created this handy infographic of 10 tips to get you thinking.

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Software Support and Maintenance is Important in 2018 – Here’s Why By Mitesh Patel

As the process of access to information gets faster and leaner, it gets imperative for enterprises to work on the tiniest of details and achieve faultless performance in real time. By doing this, they stay on course for enjoying continuous software upgrades, uninterrupted access to latest notifications, required product patches and technical support on chat, phone and email. In case of absence of the same, one time technical support happens to be immensely costly and the system is at the risk of virus attacks and reduced productivity.

Here is a detailed account of why software support and maintenance is important in 2018:

Tremendous Enhancement in Productivity to Meet End User Delight

If you have availed the support and maintenance for your enterprise software, you can reap the benefits of latest technological advancements and increase the productivity of your staff by several notches. It is quite likely that your software vendor would be constantly working on the improvement and addition in the features, directly benefiting the end user i.e. your company. This would surely help your business to stay ahead of your competitors and usher in the New Year on a positive note.

Malware Attacks Are Getting More Advanced

An important point to note here is that hackers remain on prowl to exploit software weaknesses for their malicious purposes. If your enterprise software isn’t updated to the latest version, it may be vulnerable to hacking. In case the hackers become successful in breaking into your system, they would do away with precious company information or even hold your system to ransom, where you may have to shell out a premium to get it up and running once again.

Hence, you need software support and maintenance to keep your software safe from hackers, viruses, Trojans and other malicious software programs. Your software vendor would keep updating requisite anti-virus definitions which keep your system safe and sound.

Uninterrupted Access to Timely Upgrades

What if the software vendor happened to find a bug in the code or a spectacular feature that could be immensely beneficial for your business? In case you haven’t availed software support, your company would be denied the obvious benefits of the same. In the long run, you would be at a disadvantage as compared to your competitors who would have availed the service and keep updating their system as and when required.

In order to enjoy uninterrupted access to latest notifications regarding the software, you need to have availed the support. This is the only way to keep you abreast with the latest developments, free patches and bug fixes that are made occasionally.

Instant Access to Knowledge Base – Respond To FAQs

If you happen to opt for software support and maintenance, your business can seek timely solution for pressing needs, downloading new product releases and seek answers to commonly asked questions from the knowledge base that usually stores thousands of such previously asked questions. You need not hire an outside expert every single time you face any problem regarding an unexpected result or a bug that you may notice. Major software vendors tend to release regular patches as and when they come across any such bug and quickly distribute to all of their clients.

Get In Compliance With Mobility

There is a lot happening in the technology world and software vendors are working day and night to chalk out cutting edge software solutions to their customers. You would not want your business to miss out on the advantages of new technological trends like mobile enterprise applications, would you! To be on top of the trends, you would want to keep renewing your software maintenance contracts.

Routine Tasking is Becoming More Automated

Businesses are getting leaner and smarter with each passing day and there is an enhanced focus on automating routine operations. Your software vendor would be more than eager to help you in the process by offering technological solutions that help you do just that. In this way you would be able to do more with the existing workforce without burdening your staff. Why miss out on the benefits of automation when you can avail the benefits of the same by opting for software support and maintenance!

Wider Integration with Web Technologies

Like enterprise mobile applications, cloud based apps are in great demand as well. There is a growing acceptance for services like Amazon Web Services, SAP applications on the cloud and many more, where the end user pays only for the data that is being consumed. So many exciting web based apps are being built these days that add great value to a business. If you wish to keep up with the competition, get in touch with your software vendor and get your software support renewed at the earliest.

Need For Better Risk Assessment and Smarter Decision Making

Spectacular software applications can provide executives access to such information that helps them make smarter decisions and take the business to greater heights. For instance, using intelligent data reporting and predictive analytics, company executives and managers can successfully predict whether opting for a particular option would benefit the business or not. They can avoid potential minefields that are potent enough to disrupt everyday business. By consulting with your software vendor you can take advantage of such applications.

Have Clarity for Possible Outbreaks

With your software vendor taking care of technology related issues, you can focus on your core business, be it manufacturing, services or retail. Instead of getting tangled in otherwise avoidable issues, you can devote your time managing your vendors, customers and other business processes.

As indicated by above lines, it makes perfect sense for every business owner to opt for software support and maintenance, even if there is a serious amount of money involved. The benefits are too many to ignore and the disadvantages of not opting for it can have serious repercussions for your business.

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How TrueCoin Makes Cryptocurrency Usable for Everyday Transactions By George Beall

Cryptocurrencies were the top performing financial asset last year. During the first week of 2018, altcoins and ICOs saw massive price spikes, but those were followed by a 9-day crash that eliminated most of the gains. Nevertheless, many in the community are holding on to the assumption that these fluctuations are normal and the “true value” will rise over time.

As an asset, just like any other investment, cryptocurrencies have an expected value, and there is some degree of certainty that the value is correct. The problem, though, is that there is a large variance in pricing because the expected value is hard to define. With more volatility in markets, investors need a larger appetite for risks and must be able to trust their instincts.

Many investors stay away from cryptocurrencies because they are too volatile, there is no real value or because they feel it’s a bubble. There are certainly cryptocurrencies that lack real value and the industry does seem comparable to historical bubbles; however, as with all investing, it’s important to recognize the following:

1. Past prices do not indicate future performance
2. Valuable products will grow rapidly and eventually reach a stable market price

What this means for investors is that price volatility comes from short-term irrational debates over price, and spikes and crashes do not change long-term performance, which is based on product value. These short-term spikes are inherent in small markets (compared to the number of investors and amount of capital in equity markets), because prices are driven by speculation rather than data-backed valuations.

However, this variance in pricing introduces extreme risk levels and limits the capacity of cryptocurrencies. Money needs be able to store value with the general assumption it will not drastically change over the short term. This makes volatility a major concern for the future growth of the cryptocurrency industry. Unless prices become more stable, consumer applications will likely be limited and institutional investors will be slower to adopt.

TrueCoin is a new cryptocurrency that is price-stable and fully collateralized by the U.S. dollar. The dollar is a relatively stable coin because it utilizes regulation from the Federal Reserve to optimize price and money supply. TrueCoin relies upon a decentralized governance system and is fully backed by USD. In this way, both have a system of governance to prevent major price swings.

TrueCoin checks off all the boxes that the crypto community looks for in a USD stablecoin. In the past, many stablecoins, such as Tether, did not conduct frequent, transparent audits of their assets and struggled to put beneficial regulations of price and supply in place. TrueCoin conducts transparent monthly audits, so investors can be confident that there is sufficient collateral for all investments. They have also developed a better system for maintaining stable prices and are paying better attention to their product ecosystem than Tether.

Obviously, the upside of cryptocurrencies lies in its large potential value, and that is what drives massive price fluctuations. However, if TrueCoin builds a cryptocurrency that is able to reduce the price variance while maintaining slower price growth, it is likely there would be much more consumer adoption due to expanded use cases.

TrueCoin only needs to lower variance from the absurd fluctuations of current markets. Even if it maintains some of the inherent volatility, their quality fiduciary system and transparent reporting process are indications that cryptocurrencies are growing up and innovative systems that allow for regulation will be the long-term winners.

Goldman Sachs compared Bitcoin to gold and stated that since the market cap for gold is in the trillions of dollars and is largely controlled by banks, the price does not fluctuate as much. Take away that variance, however, and they both rely on the same concept. Neither has a concrete value; rather, both are an asset of agreed value, but the value of Bitcoin simply varies more from day to day.

TrueCoin has already started gaining a number of financial partnerships and has received investments from top funds, such as Stanford’s Start-X, FJ Labs and Blocktower Capital. This makes sense, as cryptocurrencies’ biggest problem is currently their volatility. People need assets and money that they can trust will hold their value.

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Trial & Error: What Thomas Edison Can Teach Businesses Today  By Daniel Burrus

The next time you turn on a light, give some thought to Thomas Edison’s view of all the trial and error that preceded his invention of the lightbulb and many other mainstays of the modern world. “I haven’t failed,” he said. “I’ve just found ten thousand ways that don’t work.”

Edison’s comment is very much in synch with one of the central principles of the Anticipatory Organization system. First, if you’re not failing, you’re not pursuing innovation. And when you do fail, rebound quickly and start all over again.

That’s the idea behind my powerful strategy: Fail Fast to Learn Faster.

Many Failures, One Success

Here’s a statistic that really brings home the interrelationship between failure and innovation—and further, the value of learning to fail quickly. Studies have shown it can take upwards of 3,000 ideas to produce one product or service that goes on to be a commercial success.

Not only does that bring to light the essential value of repeated failure to obtain a successful outcome, but also the benefits of failing quickly. For one thing, failing fast allows you to move on from that missed shot or lost match that much sooner. You can then get to the next effort, which, hopefully, will yield better results.

Moreover, it saves you from needlessly expending energy and resources on ideas and concepts that certainly don’t warrant that sort of loyalty.

“New” Coke: A Case Study in Fast Failure

Here’s another example that many of us are familiar with. Some 30 years ago, Coca-Cola made what a rash of headlines now refer to as its single biggest blunder in more than 100 years—the introduction of the so-called “new” Coke. Essentially a change in the basic Coke formula, the new Coke had a smoother, sweeter taste—similar to Diet Coke, but sweetened with corn syrup. Market researchers and pollsters were confident that the new version was a winner.

Not quite. Fans weren’t merely disappointed, they were outraged. So passionate were “traditional” Coke drinkers that they organized grassroots campaigns across the country to force Coca-Cola to bring back the original Coke.

Which the company did after only a few months. Admittedly, new Coke kicked around in various permutations for a few years thereafter, but, in reintroducing the Coke formula that diehard fans had grown up with, Coke essentially acknowledged that the new formula had been a major misstep—and moved on as quickly as possible.

One stereotype that many might associate with the fail fast/learn fast dynamic is the type of organization best suited to leverage that strategy. It certainly can hold true with start-ups—small, flexible organizations whose makeup seems ideally suited to shifting gears when some idea or project simply isn’t panning out.

But that’s not the entrepreneur’s sole purview. For instance, General Electric’s FastWorks program is an agile, quick-turnaround approach for developing products similar to the methodology used by start-up companies.

GE’s FastWorks: A Successful Case Study

Introduced by Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Immelt, the program is designed to encourage pervasive, ongoing innovation with an emphasis on quick pivots and adjustments once a project is deemed impractical or unworkable.

The results speak for themselves. FastWorks, according to GE, enabled the development of a new gas turbine in a year and a half, rather than the usual five years. In a 2015 keynote speech, Neeraj Vijay, CIO of GE’s Flow and Process Technologies, noted that the FastWorks program had taught him and his associates how to “fail fast, learn quickly and move forward.”

So, the next time you’re confronted with a new idea, product, service or anything that just doesn’t seem to be working out, ask yourself: Would I be better off failing, learning from the experience as quickly as possible and then moving forward?

If you’re ready to see the future and plan with greater confidence, you can get my new book, The Anticipatory Organization for the price of shipping at www.TheAOBook.com. It’s filled with principles such as fail fast/succeed faster and other great insights I’d love to share with you.

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How to Start Monitoring Competition and What Can We Learn? By Lara Russo

Competitors. Thank God for them! Nothing gets us to success quicker than an aggressive competitor. Checking up on your competition from time to time helps avoid costly mistakes or may teach us some new tactics.

Certainly, it can be quite challenging to follow competitors on so many social media accounts and online resources. Just imagine logging into different platforms to track the activity of all your competitors (you know them all, right?)… Sounds like a lot of work.

Luckily, there is an easier way. Fortunately, a lot of interesting information can be taken from different sources free and without much effort. Best of all, it only takes 5 minutes to set it up once and then use it from time-to-time when we have a spare minute.

Below is a quick guide that explains how to pull different information together into you “Competitor monitor” dashboard. We use Octoboard templates here to demo some of the data.

What can we monitor?

  • Your competitor’s website ranking.

Monitoring your competitor’s website traffic rankings is very useful. It helps you to see where your website is relative to your competitor’s. This gives you a good idea of how well your website ranks in search and authority compared to your competitors. If you are behind, you should definitely put your effort into making your rank higher. Alexa and Moz widgets will help you with that. You don’t have to go to Alexa daily to check your rank or that of your competitor. Modern technology allows you to put all the information you need in a dashboard and it will keep updating the ranking daily for you.

Here is a comparison of rankings between TESLA and FORD.

alexa, moz octoboardalexa, moz 2 octoboard

You can also compare your 2 competitors on the same dashboard or separately, it’s up to you. This is a very useful feature to see Alexa performance of your competitors at the same time, with Rank, Reach and Views per Visitor metrics in the real time.

  • Social Media Activity.

Monitor your competitor’s various Social Media accounts to get insights of what they are doing and how they are promoting what they are doing. Also, you can see the number of followers of your competitor and compare that number to yours.

Latest Posts is a useful metric that gives you insights both on how often you competitors post on their Social Media accounts and what content they post.

octoboard 3

These widgets can give you insights into your competitor’s social media strategy including how active and successful they are at gaining and engaging their users.

  • Content tracking

Content is one of the most important parts of your business’s marketing strategy. Monitoring your competitor’s content will enable you to understand what topic ideas resonate well with your audience. In order to do that you need to see what your competitor is writing about. Using the RSS Feed widget, you see the updates on their blog and look at their latest posts.

octoboard 4

You can put several of your competitors on one dashboard and monitor their content. All feeds will be updated automatically.

This can help you analyze posts to figure out the topics that work best. But don’t stop at that! You now have tools (for example, Alexa, Moz, SEMRush) that will help you analyze data more deeply, including headlines, keywords and much much more!

Google News widget will also keep you updated on the news that appears on Google. This will help you to see where your competitors publish their posts and who publish your competitors’ posts. This information gives you opportunities on where to publish your content so that you have the highest possible reach and engagement with the audience.

octoboard 5

  • Customers and customer feedback

As you analyze competitor’s content, you can also use insights from their customers to analyze their solutions or products. For example, if your competitor has a separate Social Media account for customer support, you should monitor all posts on that account. It will enable you to see which features or products users like or complain about. Again, use it to learn from other’s mistakes. For this kind of monitoring, you will need to track the Social Media accounts of your competitor. As before, just put this info to a dashboard and check it from time to time. Don’t forget that Social Media users love to share stuff! Don’t forget to do the same for your own products. Stay connected to your audience, engage timely and build relationships with existing and future customers!

Using hashtags or mentions on Twitter Search will also tell you what people think about products.

Here is an example of Google News on AUDI and Lamborghini (below). Add these to your dashboard once and always stay on top of changes and customer feedback (make sure you spell Lamborghini correctly).

octoboard 7

octoboard 7

So here you have it. From news to posts, website rankings, and customer feedback – a lot of information is available. It is a matter of pointing the right tool in the data and it will collect it and keep updating.

Start learning from your competitors now and build your automated dashboards. After all your competitors are already doing it so why not you?

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How to Prep for Mobile Commerce in 2018 By Michael Ugino

Over the past 17 years, consumers have been spending increasing amounts of money online. Ecommerce sales jumped from $7.3 billion in Q3 2000 to $115.3 billion in Q3 2017. But in recent years, buyers are getting even more flexibility and accessibility with online shopping—thanks to the rise of mobile shopping.

Mobile commerce is growing in popularity as technology improves. Phones and tablets are now as capable as basic computers with the advantages of lightness and portability. Users can shop online from their phones at any time, from any location. Businesses that are able to adapt to this demand and provide the most user-friendly mobile commerce experiences will stand out to buyers in 2018 and have a clear competitive advantage over less savvy sellers.

To help sellers prep for “m-commerce” in the coming year, this guide will walk through how much mobile shopping has grown. We’ll also address the unique challenges of selling on mobile devices, and show what steps merchants can take to make their business mobile-friendly. This will help merchants prepare and know what they’re up against as they transition to m-commerce.

Considering how your business could adjust to mobile just as the year starts will keep you ahead in your industry and prepared to win buyers as m-commerce continues its steady rise into 2018.

Mobile Commerce is Taking Over Ecommerce

The prevalence of m-commerce has risen quickly in the past few years. In 2014, mobile commerce made up 11.6% of ecommerce sales. In 2017, mobile commerce is projected to make up 34.5% of ecommerce sales.

This growth in 2017 can already be seen in this year’s Black Friday figures — mobile shopping on the annual event increased from 29% in 2016 to 40% this year.

It’s predicted that m-commerce will continue to rise, reaching 53.9% of the total ecommerce market by 2021.

[Source]

These figures make it clear that m-commerce isn’t stagnating anytime soon — especially since mobile shopping is expected to occupy over half of the ecommerce market in just a few years.

With this growth, it’s time to take steps to make your business mobile-friendly, if you haven’t already. Making your shopping experience compatible with mobile devices will keep customers returning to your business and make it easier to attract new potential buyers, no matter what they’re using to shop online.

The Challenges of Mobile Selling—and How to Overcome Them

Mobile shopping has grown in popularity, but it’s still not the easiest or most convenient option when companies don’t take the time to consider mobile shoppers. In fact, 40% of shoppers say the biggest obstacle to mobile shopping is screen size, while 26% say the number one issue is that mobile sites aren’t easy to use, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers’ report. Businesses create these obstacles when they don’t optimize for their mobile shopping experience.

Buyers’ reservations about shopping on mobile devices should inform your transition to m-commerce. Shopping on this technology is still a relatively new habit, so many mobile store sites and apps are difficult to find, navigate, and complete purchases on today. Creating a seamless mobile shopping experience at this early stage will attract buyers who are eager to shop with their smartphones and tablets, but also seek an easy-to-use shopping platform.

We’ve highlighted five main challenges of mobile selling and how to overcome them:

  • Designing to accommodate devices
  • Developing an engaging app
  • Simplifying mobile payments
  • Driving mobile traffic with social media
  • Embracing voice recognition technology

Focus your efforts on these five factors, and your online business will be ready for the growth of m-commerce in 2018.

Designing to Accommodate Devices

It doesn’t matter if your business has embraced mobile shopping or not — consumers today can still attempt mobile shopping from you by visiting your online store through their browser. In the case that they do, will a visitor find your store difficult to navigate?

The answer is yes for many merchants, considering that over 1/4 of online shoppers find mobile sites difficult to use. To keep buyers attracted, you need to ensure that your online store and every other aspect of your business — your social media posts, your emails — has mobile-friendly design, and consumers can easily purchase your products or service.

To get started, here are a few quick mobile-friendly design tips for your business:

  • Embrace responsive design. Responsive design detects the visitor’s device screen size and orientation to change the design layout accordingly. With responsive design, you can show all design elements of your site or email, regardless of which device your visitor is using. Many online store templates, such as Shopify’s free templates, are already responsive, so you don’t have to hire a designer or developer to adjust your online store.
  • Keep it simple. Mobile device screens tend to be small, so there’s not much space to clutter. Often, the more information you add, the more your mobile shopper is confused. Whether it’s an Instagram ad or homepage, stick to simplicity when it comes to your mobile design to present shoppers with clear options.
  • Test your design with Analytics. If your store is integrated with Google Analytics, you can check to see which mobile devices your store visitors use most frequently.

Be sure to test your business’ online store, app, and any other mobile features on the most commonly used devices to ensure that your key customers can easily shop.

Developing an Engaging App

People today spend over 5 hours per day on mobile devices. With this high usage, having an app for your business increases your brand’s visibility. Users are constantly swiping past apps on their screens all day. Even if they don’t open yours, the constant interaction with your app’s icon is enough to keep buyers remembering your store and returning to shop.

On top of increased visibility, another reason to build an app for your store is that it’s never been cheaper or easier to do so. At a small cost, you can improve your customer engagement with in-app features, like messaging or tracking loyalty program membership details. Buyers will appreciate the value of your app as a channel for enjoyable shopping with excellent customer service.

Here are a few technical tips to consider before building your business’ app:

  • Perfect your onboarding. The majority of users who abandon an app leave during the first week of using it. To avoid losing those early users, your onboarding has to be engaging and useful in teaching buyers how to navigate your app. Consider diving into this resource to learn everything you need to know about user onboarding.
  • Embrace personalization. An app for your business is the perfect way to provide buyers a curated, unique shopping experience. Simply ask users questions during onboarding about their preferences and interests to customize their app experience, such as only showing certain clothing sizes. As a plus, you can collect this information to update your business’ buyer personal research.
  • Be mindful with notifications. Notifications, when used sparingly, are a quick, easy way to remind users to return to your app. Bombarding users with notification pings, however, is going to annoy your buyers and drive them away from your business.

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Keep your notifications timely by using them for important news, such as order updates or your massive annual sale.

Simplifying Mobile Payments

Typing out credit card info in tiny boxes on your mobile device quickly gets frustrating. Since phones and tablets are portable, mobile shopping often means pulling out your credit card in inconvenient, public places. You also are usually asked to enter long strings of numbers where it’s easy to make one mistake on a small screen and have to start over.

Creating a seamless mobile payment process for your business is critical in winning sales. Here are a few tips for keeping your payment process frictionless:

  • Add digital wallets to your business. Digital wallets, like Apple Pay and Google Wallet, expedite mobile payments, often with one-click technology, by saving users’ credit card info. Adding a digital wallet option to your store has been shown to improve mobile conversions by 10%.
  • Add a click-to-call option. Between small screens and security concerns, buyers can easily get overwhelmed by mobile shopping. Offering a “click-to-call” option at your checkout process gives stressed customers an option to complete their purchase with a sales rep by phone.
  • Show progress indicators. Multiple page checkouts with several text boxes per page can seem time-consuming and discourage buyers from completing their purchase. Providing progress indicators reassures customers.

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By seeing all of the steps, buyers gain a clear sense of how long the payment will take to complete and feel more comfortable moving forward.

Driving Mobile Traffic with Social Media

Besides shopping, users are also spending a lot more time on social media with their phones and tablets.A vast majority of social media usage today—79%—is on mobile devices.

Given this usage, it only makes sense to use social media to drive people to your online store or app. Using CTA buttons, posting links, and having your content shared are just a few ways social media users can be led to your business on their mobile devices.

Here are a few ways you can engage with customers on social media and guide them towards your mobile site or app:

  • Advertise on social media. Ads on social media are designed to drive traffic. The promotions often have a button to lead users to your store on their device or to download your app. Check Analytics to see which social media channels your online store visitors use most frequently, and purchase ads on those platforms to keep your campaigns cost-effective.
  • Encourage buyers to follow you. Once you’ve created social media accounts, encourage users to follow your business by including links to your accounts on your online store site, and hosting social media giveaways and contests for users who follow your account.

Users have to follow @pressedjuicery and @bonpuf in order to enter this contest. [Source]

Converting your customers into social media followers keeps your buyers’ feeds populated with your content so they can easily make their way to your mobile site or app.

  • Show off your brand with images. Social media is driven by images, so it’s a great channel for showing buyers how great your business is with beautiful, engaging photos. Always provide high-quality, properly-sized pictures so your images display in an appealing way on your mobile devices. You should also encourage buyers to share photos of them using your product or service so your followers are motivated to engage with your business by seeing others enjoy your brand.

Embracing Voice Recognition Technology

Searching for products on mobile devices is less than ideal at times given the smallness of screens and the large size of many product catalogs. Instead of typing out keywords and scrolling endlessly through product listings, mobile users are beginning to shop on their devices with voice technology. It’s expected that by 2020 50% of search will be done through voice or image search.

Major companies, such as Amazon and North Face, have already included voice technology in their apps to create a more useful and personalized shopping experience for their customers. Applying voice recognition to online shopping is still new and developing, so setting up your business now with voice technology will give you a competitive advantage in the years to come.

Here are a few ways to add voice automation to your business:

  • Add voice AI technology to your app. Companies like Voysis can add a voice AI platform to your business’ app to make your mobile shopping experience easy and enjoyable. With this technology, users can search for products and complete transactions solely with their voice.
  • Optimize for voice search with natural keywords. People often use conversational language when searching for a product or service through voice search assistants and apps. For example, a user might say “affordable shoe stores with boots” in a mobile voice search, rather than typing out “women’s boots” in Google. Try to incorporate more natural language, use long-tail keywords in your product descriptions and titles to optimize your store for voice search.
  • Use schema markups. Unlike typed-out searches, voice search assistants and apps can only share a limited number of search results, so the technology focuses on results that are relevant and available. Adding schema markups to your online store’s code highlights your business’ key information with search engines so they can easily find your content when users search through voice assistants and apps.

M-Commerce is a Booming Market

Mobile commerce isn’t coming — it’s here and growing. Its popularity will continue to surge as more consumers become savvy with their devices and mobile technology advances.

We’ve highlighted ways you can adjust to mobile today, but be sure to stay updated on any mobile technological developments. What works for mobile shopping today probably won’t be the best solution in a few years. Staying informed is your key to maintaining a mobile shopping experience that’s frictionless, enjoyable, and useful for your buyers.

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