“A Nexus of converging forces – social, mobile, cloud and information is building upon and transforming user behavior while creating new business opportunities.” – Gartner Inc.
As the research firm says, studies over the past several years have identified the independent evolution of four powerful forces: social, mobile, cloud and information. Because of ‘consumerization’ and the ubiquity of connected smart devices, people’s behavior has caused a user centric convergence of these forces. The reason behind such phenomenal ‘consumerization’ of IT services is the availability of excellent devices, interfaces and applications with minimal learning curves. In the nexus of these four forces, social and mobile have a more direct impact on the consumer and business world. As technology becomes more and more ‘fluid’ and disruptive in nature while radically changing consumer behavior, it makes business sense for the corporates to align their business strategy to this nexus of forces in order to stay relevant and competitive in their market space. Apart from the consumer side experience of these nexus of forces, what this article mainly focuses is the effect, implications and potentials of these forces on the business side and the repercussions if ignored.
In Social Media Examiner’s 2013 End of Year Report, marketers now place very high value on social media marketing. Around 86% of marketers stated that social media is important for their business and 89% of marketers stated that increased exposure to the target group was the number one benefit of social media marketing. Advertising through print media, television, and through public relations can be effective traditional tools of marketing even today but one cannot ignore the fact that 1 in 4 people around the world use the social media. Social media has a global penetration of 24%, which is on the increase as per a research conducted by emarket.com. With such large consumer base using the social media, a business house can only ignore the channel of social media at its own peril. This particular channel, or ‘force’ as Gartner calls it, is even more useful for startup businesses, which cannot spend exorbitant amount on the traditional channels of marketing. Interestingly, some of the most successful businesses are small startups that have learned to use technology to gain edge. These companies have learnt to get attention of the potential customers by creating viral content and encouraging shares and likes. Once a product or service becomes a trend and talking point, more and more customers gravitate towards it, eager to learn more. Therefore, undoubtedly the foremost advantage of using social media for marketing is that it can be deployed in a cost effective manner.
Apart from the aspect of cost effectives , the other significant aspect of social media as a business tool is its ability to connect business to customer, business to business and peer to peer, all in real time. One of the few big challenges organizations face are who they need to reach and how can they reach them. The greatest benefit of social media is its ability to promote business to a vast audience of diverse stakeholders in real time, thorough a highly interactive platform and in a cost effective manner.
From an employee perspective, encouraging employee following allows for constant communication of key message leading to informed employees with greater employee engagement and visibility within the organization. Companies also use social media as a recruiting tool. Sites such as LinkedIn is used by internal and external recruiters on a regular basis to target particular skill-sets and put together a candidate pool that will more closely match a specific position, as opposed to advertising in print media or depending on resume database.
Businesses that use social media as part of a planned corporate approach are 1.5 to 2 times more likely to anticipate revenue growth than business that use social media in an ad hoc manner. In a nutshell, this particular force in the nexus has the prime advantage of connecting business to its target group in real time, in a cost effective and interactive manner.
“People are mobile” says Rick Howard, research director of Gartner Inc.
He elaborates that for the Nexus to be really useful to companies, human behaviour must be taken into account. He argues that people spread their experience over a constantly shifting array of devices. People expect context-aware delivery of ‘experiences’. This means that information should move seamlessly and easily across different devices to keep up with the people it’s meant for.
As per data, of the 7.1 billion people on the planet, 6.6 billion people are mobile subscribers, which makes it for 91% of the global penetration. Americans spend 162 minutes every day on their mobiles. This technology eliminates location, time and platform as determinants of the ability to access, interact with or participate in collaborations and solutions. With such impressive and promising facts and figures, it is becoming more and more evident that a Pro-mobile organization that takes its business to mobiles has a clear-cut advantage in the market space. Mobile-friendly websites and applications will give the organization a competitive edge. People often use their mobile phone to search for businesses while they are out and using the GPS built into their smartphones to find businesses close to their current location. If the company isn’t accessible, it could be losing business that is already right around the corner. In addition to that, if the company website is too hard to navigate on a mobile phone, it could lose mobile centric customers. Company websites and apps available on mobiles have a significant role in maintaining the customer base apart from creating potential new customers. These websites and apps are an extension of the company’s services and products and must be handled with total professionalism to maximize its benefit to business.
The success of mobile apps has not grown alone as a single application stovepipe, but rather has been fed and accelerated by the intertwined nature of social networking applications, the feed into big-data environments with contextual mobile data, and an enriched mobile experience through the supporting services of the cloud. People require devices and applications in their hands as opposed to (only) machines tethered to a desk. Taken in combination with the other three forces of Cloud, Social and Information, it can, and in fact, is already revolutionizing the business process.
Social is the most accessible of the four Nexus forces. Mobile is the most ambulant of the four nexus of forces. India ranks third among the top countries for smartphone users with an estimated 117 million subscribers, behind only China and the US. “Look for disruptive opportunities at the intersection of the Nexus of Forces,” says Howard. “Do not focus on technologies first”. He advises against focusing on technology strategies in isolation. He also says not to expect old approaches to IT delivery to support Nexus scenarios. According to him, in 2015 the Nexus of Forces will affect industries differently. Communications, banking, healthcare and manufacturing will make up “value targets” with initiatives around social media presence and mobile apps and a more ‘bring your own device’ mindset. It is writing on the wall for all corporates that their business shall increasingly revolve around these nexus of forces especially the social and mobile forces, a fact, which if understood and adopted pro-actively by corporates, can lead to phenomenal accomplishments in their businesses.