I was listening in on a Gartner webinar about the personal cloud today, and in the hour-long chat a single word jumped out at me and stuck in my brain: frictionless. “There it is again,” I thought.
Just a few weeks ago, in this very spot, I was talking about the whole idea of a frictionless enterprise. Not my idea but that of many future-looking industry analysts, introduced to me by Forrester Research analyst Phil Murphy. He was talking about manufacturing, ERP and other business processes, but the general idea is the same: Where we’re headed is a world of hands-off, intuitive movement from one thing to the next.
The webinar focused on how personal cloud solutions are poised to be the next big disrupter in technology. How big? Analysts Carolina Milanesi and Michael Gartenberg predict that by 2015, consumers will spend upwards of $2 trillion annually on digital information, entertainment, products and services. Consumers no longer care so much about devices as about what those devices can do. At the core of the analysts’ thesis is that proposed personal cloud solutions will displace personal computers as the center of consumers’ digital lives. Their message seemed to be aimed at marketing, yes; but as we all know now, the CIO and chief marketing officer need to get cozy for businesses to succeed. From their millions of tablets to their billions of smartphones and laptops, consumers want a “frictionless” experience from one device to the next. You can’t save your best stuff for tablet users or laptop users, and expect smartphone users to be happy — mostly because they’re all the same customer.
Whether your company serves up games, insurance or personal banking, it doesn’t matter — customers expect you to meet them where they are in order to do business. And if meeting them means on their iPad or Android phone, the look and feel have to be the same every time, or they’ll get frustrated and start looking at other options — and there are plenty. The only way to really ensure they get your company’s message, the service they want and the most user-friendly experience possible is to have marketing and IT work together to make that happen.
In the Gartner webinar, Gartenberg offered a prediction that drives home the importance of being frictionless, of being with your consumer in the desired context:
“By 2015, context is going to be more influential to the mobile consumer services relationship than search engines are to the Web. The reason is very simple: In terms of context tied to these personal cloud services, I can not only deal with the consumer as a past thing in terms of history, [or] a present [thing] in terms of what they are doing. I can actually tap into things like intention, and influence their decisions going forward.”