ALSO IN THIS ISSUE
Shifting Power Back to the Retail Salesperson
Jason Mowery, Director of Strategy, Cynergy
Mobile integration can completely revolutionize the retail experience, but with the customer none the wiser.
Healthcare, We Have a Problem
Chris Mahoney, Director of Strategy, Cynergy
The phone in your pocket today is more powerful than the computers onboard the historic Apollo space capsule. Why aren’t we leveraging that technology in healthcare?
MOBILE MISCONCEPTIONS DEBUNKED
Mobile puts your brand in a customer’s back pocket, but don’t be fooled – there’s much more to actually going mobile.
By Mike Wolf, Director of Technology, Cynergy
Every company knows they need to go mobile because mobile applications have the potential to put your company in a customer or employee’s pocket. They provide people with what they want where and when they need it most. However, the decisions associated with going mobile and the resulting implications are often underestimated.
The incredible potential of mobile combined with a fear of missing out or being left behind, has created a mad dash of companies who believe “going mobile” is THE answer. But without a clear understanding of what that means and how mobile can transcend an organization, these companies are setting themselves up for failure.
In order to realize the true potential of mobile engagement first consider the following mobile misconceptions:
“Mobile is a strategy.”
Many people look at mobile and see it as a stand–alone strategy. That is simply not the case. Mobile is only one piece of a much bigger puzzle. It should be thought of as a specific medium that should be incorporated into a larger strategy.
Your mobile strategy should focus on more than just a selection of devices and possible features. It should be rolled underneath your broader digital strategy to consider much more — your audience(s) and their needs, wants, and expectations — your company’s objectives and goals — your existing systems and infrastructure.
“Enterprise developers know mobile.”
Whenever people discuss how to go mobile it’s often followed by discussions of who can actually do the work – the developers. The reality is a great mobile experience comes from a unique combination of both design and development and must happen more in unison with mobile than with any other platform.
Your customers and employees’ expectations are so high for mobile experiences that you can’t just use the same development approach and team you have used for your past initiatives. There is a combination of need for great UX with an ever expanding and changing technical landscape that makes it almost impossible for traditional enterprise development staff to meet the needs of the business on mobile and existing systems without sacrificing quality.
Our approach to mobile at Cynergy includes having specialized teams of engineers who can identify the right mobile tools, platforms, and devices to solve specific mobile needs for our clients. Combining these engineers with design teams who truly understand mobile and a process for putting emphasis on user experience is our recipe for mobile success.
“Mobile has to be NOW and it has to be everything.”
In an effort to be first, or to avoid being left behind, many companies have hastily rolled out mobile offerings. Unfortunately, faster is not always better. Quite often, those quick–fix solutions wind up highlighting an organization’s problems rather than making their end users’ lives easier.
Your organization should be thinking about the entire process. It starts with a strategy and then moves toward a release. It requires learning from your customers and modifying the app based on feedback and analytics. Then you re–release...and re–release...and re–release until you own your space and meet your employee or customers’ needs. The web taught us to iterate but mobile is teaching us to evolve.
Another common problem with mobile is that many customers believe they need to move ALL of their existing applications and experiences to a mobile application ALL at once. This is not the case at all because mobile should be more about making the right tasks easy. The best mobile apps are not simple because of mobile — they are simple because the format forces you to really think about what your business should be on a smaller scale. Mobile is as much about iteration and refinement as it is about introductions. It is a long–term evolutionary process that requires constant change and attention, not a one–time effort where you drop an app into an app store and forget it.
“Mobile can stand alone.”
Part of the appeal of going mobile is transferring your users’ experience to a device that is always available, whenever and wherever they need it. But sometimes that tiny, “always on”, screen isn’t enough. Sometimes what they really need isn’t in their pocket. Unless you give your users what they really want — the ability for their mobile experience to gracefully transition between screens (desktop, tablet, TV/set–top box, phone) and to work on each as if they are all part of the same app — your mobile apps will quickly start to feel small and cheap, and will ultimately bring increasingly less value to the consumer.
Data, workflows, and experiences need to be wherever your customers need them. Ignoring this need misses the opportunity to revolutionize business that mobile provides. Seamless, interconnected experiences are becoming a norm that customers don’t just ask for, they expect.
An example of this expectation was clear when we worked with Microsoft / 343 Industries. We recently partnered with the two companies to bring Halo, the company’s multi–billion dollar science fiction video game franchise, to iOS and Android. It became almost instantly clear that if our strategy didn’t transcend beyond the mobile device, customers would be underwhelmed. Ultimately, we created an experience that connected Halo players with their own real–time stats and worked on any device — mobile, tablet, desktop, SmartGlass, and even television. We helped 343 Industries launch this experience on the same day they released Halo 4 which coincidently, became one of the biggest video entertainment release events in history.
“Mobile is easy.”
Plain and simple going mobile is not easy. Just because the word “app” is shorter than application doesn't mean that it can be any less connected to your enterprise. A real mobile strategy must consider how mobile fits into your existing legacy systems. In addition to helping to establish a service infrastructure, mobile solutions should also be designed to evolve and keep pace with the mobile revolution. New mobile platforms and updates are coming out at a staggering rate and businesses must be nimble enough to react.
A real mobile strategy or app takes into account the industry shift from systems to peoples’ needs and environments. Just because mobile applications are called apps, does not mean they are any less valuable to your business or should take less time and care to do right.
Our suggestion to you is before you go mobile, think about mobile as one component of your digital strategy. Consider keeping your offering simple and refine it frequently. Have an eye on the future needs of your customers and how they’ll want and use information. Make decisions with your legacy systems and infrastructure in mind. And consider if your in house talent really has the chops in mobile to do it well. If you have questions or would like to talk about how your company can take advantage of going mobile – we would love to hear from you.
Shifting Power Back to the Retail Salesperson
Jason Mowery, Director of Strategy, Cynergy
Mention “mobile in retail” and images of the Apple store leap to mind, complete with the conspicuously missing registers, sleek product displays and blue–clad Apple “geniuses” with iPod touches hanging from their necks, completing your transaction without any need to wait in line. A seamless experience, to be sure, but just a tiny scratch to the surface of what is possible when retail invites the mobile device onto its sales floor.
Mobile devices have the potential to bring significant change to retail—but not necessarily in a way that is visible to the customer. When done properly, mobile integration will completely revolutionize the retail experience, but with the consumer none the wiser. Antiquated methods for employee training, employee coaching, in–store alert notifications and back–end system integration can be made fresh (and greatly improved) through the introduction of a mobile engagement initiative.
But the introduction of mobile isn’t just about providing information on the employee’s device in real time. It is also about revitalizing tired (and oftentimes ineffective) techniques for motivating employees. And we all know there is no better champion for a company than an engaged and motivated employee.
Let’s start by discussing the strategy. For this level of mobile integration, you’re using a technology already heavily ingrained in your employee’s routine as a way to better prepare them for customer interaction. Historically, employers have struggled to create an effective sales enablement platform—picture a hastily updated whiteboard in the backroom with information on daily sales goals, product focuses and store promotions–then make it available to employees and guarantee the information will be read and applied. Mobile integration eliminates this uncertainty by providing instant alerts to employees, and cementing the idea of “Before, Between, and Beyond,” which strives to prepare employees before a customer interaction so they have the necessary tools to assist customers during and after the transaction. The strategy then is to use mobile not simply as a means to a cleaner sales transaction, but as a channel to reach employees in a new, preferred and customizable way.
Take for example, your local Gap store. Gap’s frontline with its customers is its sales force. But how do they ensure a consistent experience? How do they ensure their sales staff has all the new information on sales, available merchandise, promotions, sales goals, manager updates, etc. to provide that consistent experience? Consider our “Before, Between and Beyond” concept. Our Gap sales rep, who carries her mobile device while on the retail floor, was just alerted of a store promotion on outerwear. This is information she can use during her upcoming customer interaction. Now she knows to suggest pairing a classic crew cardigan with the flowered summer dress her customer wants to purchase, and at checkout, the rep is reminded to offer the customer a reward coupon for adding the cardigan to her purchase.
Now, let’s take that immediate feedback a step further, from education to motivation. You’ve developed a method for transferring information to your employees, but how can you motivate employees to ingest that information? Tying store content into a pre–existing employee action (like checking a phone during spare moments) helps establish actionable employee behavior. Stop expecting employees to read memo updates in a break room. Instead create “glanceable moments” by utilizing an employee’s existing behavior of checking mobile devices during slow moments on the floor.
Let’s go back to our friends at the Gap. A customer just walked in inquiring about a “flash sale” alert they received via email only hours before. Thanks to the store’s mobile integration, salesperson Jane received a similar alert. Even though Jane has been on the floor all day and has not had an opportunity to read up on upcoming promotions before she hit the floor, she was able to receive the updated information and have a positive interaction with a customer that resulted in a sale. With traditional methods of employee education, this would not have been possible.
Utilizing mobile in this way stands to benefit a myriad of industries–from tech and enterprise to hospitality and retail–though the following criteria help cement the idea that retail should be the first industry to truly embrace this kind of integration:
- Focus on the customer – Every decision made in retail is meant to better serve the customer, mobile integration included. The face-to-face element involved in retail customer service makes the process infinitely more difficult than other industries. Because of this, sales reps must have instant access to information changes, ensuring they are always providing customers (disgruntled or otherwise) with the most current product information, promotions and store policies.
- On the job training – Bringing mobile into the workplace provides a unique opportunity to “learn where you earn.” Studies have shown that memory recall was 15 percent higher for employees who are trained and educated in the same atmosphere they work. In our case, this means employees who are regularly learning while on the sales floor are going to be more likely to remember what they learned than those who were trained and educated in a back room or offsite training facility.
- Time and cost savings – Integrating mobile can provide huge cost savings for retailers. Closing the store or pulling employees off the floor during business hours to train can be costly, both in time spent and money lost. Eliminate those unnecessary expenses by creating a dynamic system for employee training.
- Engaged workforce – Retail is an industry that typically has high numbers of millennials in the workforce. Because this group already has a close relationship with technology and is accustomed to interacting with it on a daily basis, they will be more accepting of a mobile-driven system.
- Better feedback structure – Anyone who has ever worked in retail knows the traditional retail hierarchy isn’t conducive to feedback. Many employees only receive feedback when a complaint has been lodged with corporate. Mobile provides an instant arena for positive feedback, allowing employers to send automatic alerts to an employee’s device when noticing a positive customer interaction on the sales floor or an achievement within the company.
Even with all the promise that a well–integrated mobile system provides, we’re still just on the cusp of this trend. Why? Because successful implementation requires more than just desire–it demands in–depth understanding of the process and of your user (i.e. your employee). For example, not all employees are motivated by competition. Some employees are more relationally motivated, yet reward systems in a retail setting have historically been based around competition (think employee leaderboards). Your mobile application must find a way to incorporate all variations of motivation to allow all parties to engage, and do so in a way that ignites their personal motivation triggers.
Once you have a firm understanding of where you are headed, you need to design a mobile application that will successfully alter employee behavior, and will drive employees to look at your app rather than social media, email and text during those precious glance-able moments. The best way to create this change is to build an app so relevant to their existing behavior patterns that it compels employees to look.
Mobile integration in the retail setting is on the horizon. Don’t hang back until you’re forced to integrate mobile. Instead do so proactively, and you’ll find that active use of mobile systems in retail will help foster an engaged and motivated workforce–one that will make a positive impression on customers, increase sales and positively impact your retail location’s bottom line.
Healthcare, We Have a Problem
Chris Mahoney, Director of Strategy, Cynergy
That smartphone in your pocket today is more powerful than the computers onboard the historic Apollo space capsule when it sent three men to the moon in 1965. True story, if the computers on board Apollo malfunctioned, the astronauts had to rely on a HP–65 calculator to make manual calculations to get home.
Given that healthcare is one of the largest and fastest–growing industries in our country, it seems rather implausible. Why is it that we can check the health of our bank account from virtually any device, but we can’t do the same for our health? Even when we can access that information, it is disjointed and hard to decipher, let alone useful for making a decision.
But these troubles do not exist only on the patient side. Hospitals, physician offices, laboratories—virtually all aspects of the system—are affected. According to one study, clinicians waste an average of 45 minutes a day due to the use of pagers and other antiquated technology. This alone costs the industry over $8.3 billion a year. Another study estimates that 15 percent of physician diagnoses are inaccurate or incomplete. Why? Information overload. Doctors simply have too much information to sort, and no easy way to navigate.
Vital signs: how the landscape is changing.
Despite these hurdles, there are some signs the healthcare industry is moving toward significant change and growth. Here are a few examples of how innovation is changing the game:
- Mobile Prescription Therapy: FDA–cleared and reimbursable. Enabling patients to improve self–care. WellDoc’s BlueStar is the first mobile health product to secure reimbursement as a diabetes therapy. The FDA–cleared, mobile product offers real–time coaching, information and support for people with Type 2 diabetes, and will be viewed as a pharmacy benefit, similar to other prescription products.
- 3-D Printed Prosthetics: A new take on personalized medicine. The collaboration of a South Africa–based woodwork and prop maker in Seattle, Robohand is a mechanical 3–D printed hand that can be made using a Makerbot 3–D printer. While the pair originally set out to design inexpensive prosthetics, they soon found out they could apply the same technology to produce custom–made prosthetics.
- Mobile Diagnostics: Proactive approaches to preventative care. Is it a mole, or something more? SkinVision transforms the smart phone into a diagnostic tool, making it possible to monitor and track your skin health. Users can upload photos of moles and receive instant analysis, as well pertinent information and links for local dermatologists.
So, what does it take to innovate in healthcare?
Innovation is not a trivial accomplishment. It’s not about applying technology, for the sake of applying technology. The incredible opportunity here is having the technology and the ability to re–think paradigms of care, how that care is delivered, paid for and ultimately experienced by the patient.
A smart approach to advancing healthcare is one that combines technology and collaboration with clinical and business insights.
Consider the following:
Solve the Right Problem
The real question here is: Did you solve the RIGHT problem? Solving the problem RIGHT is great, but before you go there, be sure you’re solving the RIGHT problem. How do you know you properly understood the core issues that need to be addressed? People really love a well–executed solution that works. But, is it something that is useful and meaningful for the task, job, or goal your target person has in mind?
Throw Away Your Biases
It’s not uncommon to come to these scenarios with biases. We often think we want something specific, or believe that we already know the specific solution. Technology is a tool that we use; it is not a solution in and of itself. Ask yourself, “Why am I committed to a specific technology or direction?” “Does that choice support the solution to the right problem?”
Plan for Change
Let’s be honest, the technology landscape changes rapidly. It is very hard to scale and keep pace. It’s important to not only plan for how you will manage the ever–changing environment, but also build for change—functionally from an infrastructure perspective, as well as a design perspective. Change needs to be an accepted part of your process.
Take Action and Iterate
Don’t wait around. At this point, it is assumed you understand the problem, and have identified the right issues to address. Ideally, research has given you some sense and direction on how you are going to approach this. So now is the time to invest and move forward.
Getting people to say “I love this!” right out of the gate is hard. But they can also tell when you have dialed it in. Set a direction and get going, at this point all you will need to do is course correct.
There’s no question that technology can drive extraordinary innovation in medical science. And, with a demonstrated commitment to push healthcare into the present and beyond, it undeniably will. Probably the bigger questions are... “How will it evolve?” and “Who is going to do it?”
Is there something YOU can do to help make innovation in healthcare happen?