It is a well known in the digital world that consumers of today have completely changed. My belief is that this behavior is thanks to their PC’s, tablets and mobile phones. In my opinion, businesses are behind this revolution.

Consumers start behaving differently thanks to digital tools & techniques

Computers are like a bicycle for the mind, as written by Ben Gilchriest in a previous blog. And these bicycles come in more forms, and in more locations   work, school, on the streets.  It has become a familiar sight to see people walking around whilst using their smart phone or tablet computer.

As well as having the tools, the revolution of the social networks also has taken place. In a previous blog, my colleague Jason Cross explained how drastically Facebook has changed the way in which we connect and associate with individuals all over the world today – and how Google+ is challenging Facebook.

And let’s not forget how mobile is evolving itself. I wrote about a quiet revolution going on in the automotive industry, and questioned how the car could be the next mobile device to stay connected.

So what we see is that these devices enable consumers to live their lives in a way that  5 years ago was unheard of. what will be the next change?

The 2012 revolution: mobile

Last month, the Economist published a special report on Personal Technology on how mobile digital gadgets are outgrowing the PC, and what impact that could have. For 2013 it is forecasted, total mobile shipments will be double the old-fashioned digital tools. What does that mean? Well, in 2008, in total 1 billion PC’s were in use worldwide. Economist forecasts in 2020, 10 billion mobile devices will be connected to the internet. Elusive, and as I said: not to be missed.

Businesses are behind in the mobile revolution

It is said that back in the days when the first PC’s were often sneaked info firms by the nerds, and not by the decision makers –  history is repeating  itself: Unilever’s CIO states that 5,000 of his 90,000 employees bring in their own tablet or smartphone to work.  What Unilever (and many other companies) might not realise is that their workforce are used to the way new mobile technology works, and wish to adopt that in their daily jobs.

Post-PC: power to the people

Caroline Cook previously wrote about how mobile applications becoming a key component in the digital age. And about a year ago, tech blog Mashable published that about 53,000 developers are developing apps for Apple or Android, the two most popular mobile operating systems. When extrapolated with the same growth figure as the number of offered apps in the App store, this number must be doubled in the last 12 months to around 100,000 developers to date.

The Economist calls this the consumeration of IT, meaning that “many exciting developments in information technology (IT) are appearing in the hands of consumers first and only then making their way into other arenas”.  Today’s bicycle of the mind are developed by.. ourselves! What does that mean?

Companies can innovate with new mobile customer experiences

The concept of consumeration (consumer trends will find their way to corporations – but later) brings a thought: What is happening in the consumer world of mobile today (that is: app stores, smartphones and tablet devices) may be a prelude to what companies need to do for their customers in 2012.

Based on a list of this year’s app trends I see three possibilities how businesses could deploy a mobile strategy for the coming year:

  1. Location based services: from tagging to engagement
    For mobile users, informing where you are (Foursquare) or what you’re up to (Facebook) is commonplace. Location based engagement – the art of offering customers a deal because they are at a special place – is not. Businesses whose customers physically visit them (restaurants, airports, super markets) should rethink how they want to engage their customer base, and what could be of value to the customer
  2. Cloud storage and file access: cloud as a new enabler
    Sharing photos and videos is what people love to do with their smartphones. Using and sharing it over different devices will be the norm soon. The cloud could and should be the enabler to make these files as agile as the devices on which they are made, enhanced and shared. Smart companies could find a business model or two in that space
  3. Smartphone cameras: a boom in use of (live) video
    I recall my first time calling with live video vividly: an unusual but natural experience. As more and more smartphones have front-facing cameras, the possibility (or urge?) for personal contact between companies and their customers is closer than ever before. Smart businesses should start adopting these techniques to differentiate themselves in customer service and experience.

What, to your opinion, is the consumer trend we see today that companies should adopt tomorrow?