Hot on the heels of scooping five Cannes Lions for the Adidas Glitch campaign last week, POSSIBLE UK CEO Neil Miller talks to iMediaConnection about mobile’s social capabilities, prospects for AI and why short-termism keeps him awake at night…
1. Mobile first v mobile only: what approach most accurately describes the client landscape right now?
We see a broad spectrum developing from mobile/app only based businesses which tend to be disruptive, like GLITCH and others which are trying to be mobile first but not prepared to make the sacrifices that entails. In essence, they think that if a site works on mobile it’s good enough.
Mobile is a new behaviour, so building on a desktop web strategy is doomed from the start. We see mobile becoming the driving force for social engagement and content consumption and yet brands are still holding onto the behaviours of a desktop legacy. It’s time for brands to take the plunge and hit reset on their digital strategies to put mobile at the center of their offer. We need to acknowledge that Mobile is only getting stronger. Brands need to adapt their approach to what is rapidly becoming a ‘mobile dominant’ world.
2. How are consumer tech trends shaping the way you work with clients? What impact does this have on bringing the right talent into the agency?
Voice and chat bots are the two consumer trends which stand out to us. They impact both tech and mobile strategies, but also the UX, creative tech and design talent needed to deliver for clients.
When voice began on mobile with the likes of Siri, it didn’t really take off. It’s got more traction in apps, we’re seeing voice change in-car interactions and Amazon Echo (as well as Google Home, to a lesser degree) has made voice in-home a growing behaviour. At the same time, the big players are embedding voice into PC/Mac operating systems. With that many big tech players betting on voice, we can expect the behaviour to grow at pace.
We are exploring the potential of chat bots with numerous clients currently, trying to understand and how brands can connect with consumers in new ways.
We live in a world that is constantly being shaped and reshaped by new changes in technology and audience behaviour. This has a big impact on the structure and fluidity of creative teams and resources. The world changes but clients want things to be delivered as fast as ever they did. Faster, in fact. So we find we are often going straight into development and build. To do that effectively, you need a competent and capable blend of UX expertise, creative, design and technical support for each different project. That’s changing the way we resource teams as well as hiring.
3. How is AI influencing existing mobile and digital client strategies?
If last year was all about VR, this year it’s all about AI. It’s incredibly exciting, but practical application is a challenge and so the reality is that at the moment, existing mobile and digital client strategies are not changing massively. Yet.
Machine learning, conversational commerce, chat bots and intelligent search – all have elements of AI and the potential is huge, but we remain some way off. Right now, we’re playing with the beginnings of AI on a number of projects, but they’re all a way off being true AI. As are most of the examples out there, where we see it talked about as AI, when really it’s just decent machine learning.
Our belief is that AI will infect strategies, pilots and intentions more than real projects and deeper investment – this year, at least!
4. How do you balance immediate mobile client challenges with transformation strategies?
The issue a lot of clients are facing is legacy systems that can’t keep up with the pace of innovation, particularly with mobile requirements. In some cases, we’ve run mobile projects off-platform with limited connections in order to keep pace on projects. In other cases, we’re finding capabilities limited or timing impacted as we wait for IT systems to flex to allow for mobile innovation.
5. Given the dominance of mobile, in what specific areas do you see under exploited opportunity?
Push notifications are an untapped and powerful opportunity to target and connect with customers. Done right, with proper understanding of a person’s behaviours and movements, brands can alert customers meaningfully and usefully anywhere and anytime. Done wrong, though, it’s a quick move to turn the notifications off. It sounds basic, but it’s an area with surprising limited deployment. Mobile phones are getting smarter, but the application technology that brands build isn’t keeping up. A big opportunity for brands is to forge connections between apps or functions in the phone and their own app technology.
6. Tell us three things about mobile that keep you awake at night and what needs to happen to address them…
1 - Apps that have been developed cheaply and quickly with poor functionality. Or Short term mobile apps. Both annoy audience sand reinforce the issue mobile apps have with apathy and deletion. In our view, a good app doesn’t end or go out of date, it continues to be useful and relevant with regular updates and improvements. The best apps are the ones you use every day, that exist beyond a one-off experience or event.
2 - Being a priority in business. Mobile is sometimes an afterthought for brands. If clients put in the same time, effort and investment into mobile as they do for a website, they’d have a much better product and an improved customer experience.
3 – The changing role of the mobile app - Since the announcements at Google I/O 2017 earlier this year, the most important thing for mobile moving forward is instant (streaming) apps and the “assistant” being able to access functionality in apps that haven’t even been installed on your phone. This is the beginning of a GUI agnostic future where the primary way to communicate your brand values is through the way you behave via an assistant. We’ve yet to see how this manifests itself but Android O is out Q3 17.