According to their IPO Registration Statement, Facebook had 488 Million Active Users who logged in with mobile products in March 2012.
Beyond the obvious WOW generated by the huge figures, the trend is obvious: earthlings have really fallen in love with their smartphones. Of course, the signs have been there all along, as The New Yorker pointed out with their disturbingly real November 2009 cover (see below), but the predictions now show that smartphones are going for global domination.
According studies from SSI (here), or the International Telecommunications Union (here), roughly 90% or the World’s population now owns a mobile phone subscription, and smartphone sales have shown huge worldwide growth in 2011, with estimations from China and India that people over there will go ape as soon as cheaper smartphones will enter the market.
More than this, global 3G subscription stats show an increase of 35% year on year, which should send the current 17% penetration of 3G through the roof in the months to come.
All in all, there’s a new distribution channel out there, mobile usage this year is still bigger than web consumption, and companies are still trying to figure out what to do about it. In a show of complete transparency, Facebook admited that one of the biggest risk factors it faces comes from mobile usage (some are even speculating that they didn’t fix their faulty iPhone app because they wanted people to log in from their computers):
Growth in use of Facebook through our mobile products, where our ability to monetize is unproven, as a substitute for use on personal computers may negatively affect our revenue and financial results.
The same goes, more or less, for companies operating in CRM. After the huge leap from desktop customer relationship implementation to cloud systems a few years back, the mobile age is starting to shift the focus of CRM companies as we speak. And even though some feel like mobile CRM apps are slow to take off, the increase of mobile usage in the area is sort of like the sound of inevitability. The interesting fact (and the biggest opportunity) is that if the trend holds, people will not shift from web to mobile, but they will use on the go CRM solutions on top of their web time. The only issue companies will have to address asap is wether to focus first of all on innovating for the new mobile CRM delivery platform or to simply go mobile as is.
Just like in publishing, the medium is important (print / online / smartphones or tablet apps), but content is king. In the CRM market (with Social CRM estimated by Gartner at $1 billion in 2012) content kind of equals innovation, and we’ve seen some new features from players in the market. Almost all of them revolve around Social CRM, Social CRM Engagement or simple collection of data from social networks in order to create better client social profiles.
But in order to really take a giant leap into the Mobile Age, CRM will need to make small decisive steps in leveraging huge Big Data advantages (available NOW!) for predictive sales. What if the CRM system could suggest business based on existing clients, could monitor for connections with so far unreachable potential clients or what if it could alert instantly for unsatisfied clients?
What if all this was available both on the web AND on mobile platforms?
Whether you work in media, programming, Wall Street or, for that matter, anywhere else, you might have noticed that our collective ability to create information exceeds our ability to manage it. There are trillions of web pages out there and the number is increasing exponentially, with every new tweet, Facebook status update, blog or concept that gets invented. And even though you might have been blessed with a very structured mind, when becoming aware of this huge amount of information, your brain will immediately perceive it’s huge potential, but it will also be left with no tools to manage it.
Now. If Web 1.0 was all about desktop computing, pre-networks and limited to e-mail, documents, spreadsheets, images and video, then Web 2.0 took things to the next level, delivering networking through websites and applications (social networks with comments, blogs, youtube and instant interactions). And it’s all fine, up until the point where you start realizing that all these two way interactions and all the user generated content essentially translate into huge amounts of data that first of all needs to be stored and then it needs to be accessed.
Obviously, there is a parallel to be seen here regarding CRM Systems which have developed according to the Web itself. If at first we had desktop CRM systems to deal with, we can now enjoy the benefits of Cloud systems that are far more engaging and user friendly.
Sadly, the problems and implications regarding the amount of data and the access to information are practically the same in both cases. And looking ahead at Web 3.0 (happening now), Web 4.0 (in about 4-5 years) and beyond is, of course, the only hope for CRM Systems as well…