Mobile users: data vs minutes

Data allowances are now more important that voice minutes.

Over 1600 respondents to a uSwitch survey in the UK reported what their priorities were when they last negotiated a mobile contract – and what will be their priorities next time.

  • 43% of respondents say that data allowances will be the most important feature of their next mobile contract (up from 35%)
  • 41% say voice minute allowances will be the most important feature (down from 47%)

Other interesting findings show how mobile usage patterns are changing:

  • 26% of respondents talk for less than 30 minutes per month.
  • 23% are using the web more than five hours a month
  • Only 9% are using voice for more than five hours a month

Respondents also nominated the most important functions on their phones and were asked what they couldn’t do without:

  • 54% said radio/music
  • Apps were nominated by 33.5%
  • 29.1% said email, closely followed by web browsing (26.8%)
  • 20.7% said camera
  • 24.5% said they needed every function on their phones

Meanwhile, Pew Internet has been researching the increased ownership of smartphones in the US.  56% of Americans now possess a smartphone, with the proportion increasing to 81% of 25-34 year-olds.

The global percentage of smartphone penetration amongst mobile users is expected to reach just under 33% and will reach 50% by 2017.   The first six countries to exceed this 50% rate were Australia, Norway, South Korea, Sweden, the UK and the US.  France, Germany, Italy and Spain are expected to cross the 50% line in 2014, meaning that the whole of Western Europe will have exceeded 50% penetration.  This upward trend of smartphone ownership will impact on the demand for increased data allowances.

[Follow Val Skelton on Google+]

Flexible working arrangements and the talent pool

New technologies and working practices should mean that many people can work at a time, and from a location, of their choosing.  But what is the real picture?

Catalyst has been conducting a longitudinal study of ‘high potential’ graduates of leading business schools in Asia, Canada, Europe and the US.  The study sets out to assess career values, goals and expectations and to explore strategies for managing work and family life.

Its latest report explores flexible work arrangements (FWA) and sets out to discover how these arrangements impact the careers of men and women.

Flexible work arrangements include:

  • Compressed work weeks
  • Flexible start and finish times
  • Flexitime
  • Job sharing
  • Reduced time/part time working
  • Telecommuting

The report finds that 81% of respondents are currently working for an organisation that offers some form of FWA, with little difference between organisational type or size.

Key findings

The report finds a correlation between high career aspirations and access to FWAs: 90% of the ‘high potentials’ who had access to FWAs said they aspired to senior executive level roles.  This number drops to 77% in workplaces with no flexible working arrangements.  The gap is even wider for female respondents.  Women in these workplaces were much more likely to ‘downsize’ their career aspirations.

  • At least half of respondents stated that FWAs are very or extremely important.  Women were more likely to say this.
  • Women were more likely to report using telecommuting frequently or very frequently (39%) than men (29%)

The report concludes that ‘face time’, where employees are seen to be working, is still important in many organisations.

Maximising the talent pool

Offering flexible working to employees allows organisations to maximise the talent pool amongst its employees.  Both men and women are more likely to aspire to top roles within organisations that do offer flexible working.  If organisations want to be employers of choice for top talent then they should strive to develop a culture that trusts employees to deliver, irrespective of the amount of ‘face-time’ they put in.

More information.

[Follow Val Skelton on Google+]

Managing information risk – European business must do better

European companies are improving when it comes to managing information risk, but they must do even better.

PWC and Iron Mountain have published their 2013 Risk Maturity Index, exploring attitudes to information risk and examples of best practice in mid-sized businesses in six countries in Europe (France, Germany, Hungary, Netherlands, Spain and UK*).  Their findings suggest there has been some improvement in attitudes to information risk, but that there is still a long way to go.  Middle sized (250-2,500 employees) European companies are ‘ill equipped’ to navigate the complex information landscape.

Key findings of the study

  • Awareness of the importance of information risk management is growing
  • The average number of data breaches is growing 50% per year
  • 36% of companies are keeping all of their data ‘just in case’
  • Only 45% of companies have an information risk strategy
  • 42% of those surveyed are worried about the security of their company’s stored data
  • Only 25% consider their employees to be a serious threat to information security
  • 45% do not monitor employee social media use

National differences

Companies in the Netherlands performed better than in any other country.  They were more likely to have strategies and plans in place to deal with BYOD and minor data ‘mishaps’. They were also much more likely to have a corporate risk register.  Alongside companies in France, Dutch businesses were most likely to treat information risk at board level.

Hungary takes second place in the Risk Maturity Index.  Over the last 12 months, businesses have focused on raising employees’ awareness of information risk issues and providing relevant training.

Spanish companies lag behind those in other countries and are least likely to provide guidelines to employees or to have key security measures in place.

Best practice

  •  Information management and risk must be a board level issue
  • Information audits – identify what you have, where it is stored and how it is classified
  • Operate a policy of ‘controlled trust’

*600 senior managers were interviewed in mid-sized businesses in the six countries.

The White Paper is free to download from Iron Mountain.

[Follow Val Skelton on Google+]

Digital natives love libraries!

America’s ‘digital natives’ are fans of digital content and traditional media.

The latest research from the Pew Internet & American Life Project shows that 16-29 year olds are heavy users of technology but they are also more likely than older adults to have read a print book in the last year.  They are also great supporters of libraries, appreciating both ‘traditional’ library services and expressing intense interest in new services.  They also appreciate and use the library as a ‘space’.

Digital natives and libraries

  • 75% say it is ‘very important’ for libraries to offer books for people to borrow
  • 44% of library visitors under age 30 have used a library’s computers, internet or wi-fi connections (compared to 27% of those aged 30 and older)
  • When it came to expressing what it is very important for libraries to offer, ‘librarians’ came top of the list (80%)
  • 76% said it was very important that libraries offer research resources such as free databases
  • 75% say free access to computers and the internet is very important
  • 71% say it is very important for libraries to offer job or career resources
  • Younger adults are more likely than older patrons to use libraries’ computer and internet connections, access library websites, and use a library’s research databases.

Interest in the new

Respondents to the survey also expressed interest in new ways of engaging with libraries and their holdings.

  • 67% said they would be interested in a digital media lab to create and upload new digital content
  • They express an interest in apps and other digital engagement points for their libraries and the information resources they provide.

The research is available from PewInternet.org.

[Follow Val Skelton on Google+]

Collaborating to ensure cybersecurity

Earlier this year the European Commission published its Cybersecurity Strategy.

The document called for the development of a platform to bring public and private sector stakeholders together so they could share good practice and develop secure ICT solutions.

At about the same time in the US, President Obama published an executive order which also focused on the importance of protecting infrastructure from cyberattacks.

Both initiatives reflect the invaluable contribution that the digital economy makes to society and the economy and the importance of protecting sites and services from malicious cyberattacks.  Organisations and nations need to manage and mitigate cyber risk and there is much to be gained from stakeholders sharing experience and information about potential threats, vulnerabilities and solutions.

Writing for Harvard Business Review, Harry D. Raduege, Jr.writes writes about the importance of bringing together leaders from all sectors to learn and share.  In particular, he believes they should focus on:

  • Understanding the problem - what are the key issues and threats facing your organisation?
  • Making one person accountable – a leader in your organisation should be identified as designated to look after all cyber/digital issues
  • Coordinating efforts – not just within your own organisation, but also up and down your supply and value chain
  • Communicating – not just within supply chains but beyond with government agencies; professional bodies and regulators

Meanwhile, the UK’s National Audit Office has expressed concern about a skills shortfall in information security.  Responding to the report, Marisa Viveros writing for Harvard Business Review agrees that holistic and collaborative measures are called for, mirroring the interdisciplinary approaches of academia.

Above all, education about cybersecurity and IT issues is “one of the best investments a company can make”.

More information on the EU’s cybersecurity plan can be found here.

[Follow Val Skelton on Google+]

Good mobile experiences for customers

In a global survey of senior level executives, 74% said that mobile was either “critical” or “important” to the delivery of their organisation’s business objectives.  Only 6% said that mobile was not important.

In its third annual Reducing Customer Struggle report econsultancy (in association with IBM Tealeaf) explores the issues companies have in optimising the mobile experience for their customers.  The report explores the drivers and challenges of ensuring their customers have the best possible mobile experience.

Rapid growth

Organisations are using digital and mobile strategies to sell products and services; to enhance customer engagement and to drive customer satisfaction and self service.  Mobile traffic is growing rapidly:

  • 72% of respondents state that mobile accounts for at least 10% of their company’s traffic (up from 52% in 2012)
  • The number of companies which state that mobile accounts for at least 20% of traffic has more than doubled to 41% (17% in 2012)
  • Overall, respondents say that 19% of their total traffic is coming via mobile devices

Challenges and organisational capability

The results show that organisations are increasingly confident that they understand what exactly makes a great mobile customer experience, and 23% of respondents feel they are offering a “good” mobile customer experience.  However, a number of barriers to delivery are cited:

  • Bad navigation (36%)
  • Screen sizing issues (36%)
  • Form filling (26%)
  • Slow page loading (23%)
  • Lack of information (14%)
  • Bandwidth problems (9%)

The full report (charged for) is available from econsultancy.

[Follow Val Skelton on Google+]

 

 

e-content and e-reading

Is our long history with writing for and reading print on paper affecting the way we create and publish content on digital and connected devices?  Are many of us still struggling to ’forget the paper paradigm’?

The increased ownership of mobile and smart devices means we are already adapting our content publishing processes and there will be even more change in the future - wearable devices; smart TVs; speech-based interfaces let alone new devices and channels we haven’t even begun to imagine!

Content breaks free!

In a fascinating post for Harvard Business Review, Karen McGrane explores the new models we should be using to help us move on from the print-focused content.  Her advice includes:

  • Stop thinking about ‘pages’  - focus on content ‘chunks’
  • Content ‘chunks’ can be  assembled in different ways for different channels
  • Don’t focus only on text - the new content is a mixture of graphics, video and interactivity
  • Because content presentation will change with each platform, content must be separated from ‘form’
  • Content creators need to understand how digital publishing is different from print

e-books vs. paper – a blending of the best

The growth in e-book adoption and innovation has been well recorded here and elsewhere.  Several initiatives are looking to take the best of these different reading experiences to enhance the user’s experience.  Springwise has noted the launch of the Booke app which sets out to combine the best of paper and digital reading.

The app allows readers of a physical book to upload a picture of the front cover (or the ISBN) and search for keywords (using typed or spoken commands); save comments, notes and sections of text and share their activity with others.

The app reflects several key trends in reading including social/shared reading.

[Follow Val Skelton on Google+]

Wearable technology and apps

Google Glass may have been garnering many column inches recently but wearable technology and apps are still relatively niche products.  18% of the 4,000 adults in the US and UK who participated in research (conducted by Rackspace and the Centre for Creative and Social Technology at Goldsmiths, University of London), reported using a wearable app – mainly for fitness or sleep monitoring.  In other research, (this time by Forrester) only 6% of online adults in the US report using a wearable device to monitor their sports performance.

However, those that were using such wearable apps were happy with their performance.  According to the Rackspace research, 82% of US respondents and 71% of UK respondents felt that the apps had made a positive impact on their lives.

The same research also suggests privacy issues were a concern for roughly one half of the respondents, although a significant minority expressed no concerns about some data and information sharing.  This included wearing devices that linked directly with healthcare providers.  Privacy concerns arise mainly from the fact that wearable apps are directly linked to cloud services.

Another piece of research suggests that the potential global market for smart glasses could reach 10 million units by 2016.  Growth will depend on what developers are making available.  This will included augmented reality apps that can easily integrate into other tools.

The future of wearables

In the late 1990s I heard a technologies futurist speak about the future of consumer goods. He predicted ‘intelligent shampoo bottles’ which collected usage data to provide feedback to the manufacturer.  The bottles would also know how often we were shampooing our hair and would send you a message when you needed to buy more. The speaker was predicting the internet of things and the power of data, sharable via portable devices.

In the same way that apps helped grow the adoption of smartphones, apps are key to the successful future of wearable technology.  Third party developers will enhance the performance of the technology.  Big name developers such as Twitter, Facebook and the New York Times are working to develop apps for Google Glass. Apple too will be seeking to replicate the success of iPhone aps and will work with its community of developers to do so.

We can look forward to contact lenses with Google Glass features; smart watches; smart textiles and much more.  Cosnumers are already predicting uses for wearables which go beyond the existing fitness applications.  44% of those who participated in Forrester research said they’d be interested in devices whch would unlock their homes and cars.  30% said they’d like a device to make media recommendations based on mood.  29% said they’d be interested in devices that tracked their children!

[Follow Val Skelton on Google+]

 

Multiscreen and mobile

A global study of 15,000 mobile web users in 14 countries* explored how consumers are interacting with visual content across a variety of devices.  The report outlines opportunities for businesses and marketers to connect with consumers in new ways.

Key findings:

  • 62% of mobile web users engage in multiscreen activities while viewing TV
  • 48% use social media
  • 46% use instant messaging
  • 30% play games or listen to music
  • 18% search for additional information about the products seen on TV
  • News, comedy, sports and reality programmes generated the most multiscreen time

Lessons from marketers

  • Incentivise engagement – reward viewers for viewing content
  • Gamify – engage with users across multiscreen platforms
  • Generate social conversation with hashtags
  • Create transmedia opportunities
  • Know your audience – understand on which channels/tools they are most active and encourage engagement
  • Simplicity – make calls to action uncomplicated
  • Relevance – increase engagement with appropriate messages at the appropriate time
  • Re-engage – social conversations should not be one-offs

* 15,000 mobile users from Australia, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, Kenya, Korea, New Zealand, Nigeria, South Africa, Singapore, UK, US were surveyed by InMobi.

[Follow Val Skelton on Google+]

Enlightened enterprise – the Etsy economy

The CEO of Etsy believes business should be conducted as if people and place matter.

Etsy is an online global marketplace and community of 900,000 creative people around the world.  The focus is on handmade, artisan and vintage crafts and goods.  Etsy is now a $1billion company – 96.5% of the sales revenues are retained by the producers.  Etsy’s success is dependent on the success of its community.

It’s easy to see the harm that commercial activity can have on the world – environmental damage, the human tragedies of factory fires, child labour and poverty.  But Chad Dickerson, CEO of Etsy is an optimist.  He believes that people centred business can be profitable and create social good.  On an individual level, the success of microbusinesses on the Etsy platform means that hundreds of thousands of individuals are making a living doing something they love, working flexibly, and integrating family life with work.  They are making a life, not just a living.

The power of community

There are self-organised Etsy communities all around the globe.  Groups of people come together in cities, towns and across borders to trade tips, collaborate, support each other and join forces to buy supplies.  In Italy, a community decided they wanted Etsy’s site to be available in Italian.  Working with Etsy, the community co-created an Italian site in a couple of weeks and this process is being replicated in other countries.

In Rockford Illinois the Mayor tweeted about the potential value of an ‘Etsy economy’ for the economically challenged town.  Within 24 hours, Dickerson had replied to the Mayor and the local Etsy community had also made contact.  Working with other local community leaders, a curriculum has been created to help local people develop and run successful Etsy businesses.  Existing human capital and knowledge have been leveraged in a new way and an online community became a ‘real-world’ team.

Making human-centred business work

It’s easy to say you are a human-centred, values driven organisation but how do you measure it?  Etsy joined the growing B-Corporation movement which provides an independent assessment of how business measure up as forces for social good.  Businesses are measured on everything from their provisions for workers (Etsy has conducted a happiness audit of its employees) to their environmental impact.  Etsy barely made the grade – yet Dickerson celebrates this.  The process has identified deficiencies and has helped them set a challenging target – to move from the barely scraped pass-mark of 80% to 100% in two years.

Chad Dickerson was speaking at the RSA in London.

[Follow Val Skelton on Google+]