According to eMarketer, 2019 was the first year that Americans spent more time on their mobile devices than watching television. This shift to mobile builds on a digital evolution already well underway, one that now sees almost 50% of the world’s population using the internet, 570 new websites launched every minute, and over 3.5 billion Google searches every day.
Pandemic Hastens Move to Mobile
The move to mobile has grown even more urgent with the sudden and expansive nature of remote learning, health, transactions, and more during the global coronavirus pandemic. Mobile now impacts nearly every aspect of our lives, including how we develop and maintain personal relationships, conduct business, form communities, create and disseminate news, and manage our financial lives.
This bottomless appetite for mobile experiences is forcing many businesses to accelerate their mobile strategies and for those with mobile presences to potentially rethink theirs. But Comcast VP of Engineering for Mobile Engineering Services Edwige Robinson cautioned that businesses need to first think about the business before the technology.
Mobile Tech Must Support Business Goals
Robinson is clear a mobile strategy is no longer an option – it’s a must-have. But there are some ground rules and recommendations about how to approach a mobile initiative, first that teams should have a clear idea of their goals as a business and how mobile will enable or inform it.
Are you trying to grow a customer base, be more visible to customers at all times, make a customer’s experience with your brand stickier, or looking to upsell them? Different goals require different approaches and design decisions. That end experience must also be additive to your web or desktop experience.
Robinson says that customers also expect mobile to be more than just a replication of your site. The mobile experience – both a mobile site and app – must add value. It should also clearly reflect and explain your brand, plus provide customers with an obvious way to reach you.
Whether embarking on a first mobile strategy or refining an existing one, once you have it outlined, Robinson recommends chunking your rollout plans. Build a 6-month plan and work your way up to a 1,000-day plan. Create short- and long-term goals and hold team members accountable along the way.
Looking ahead, Robinson is excited to see what 5G technology holds for our future mobile interactions. She expects the technology itself will enable applications like self-driving cars, robotic automation, and more. But just as with today’s mobile strategies, these executions must still build on a brand’s core value and support key business goals.
From Banking to Tech
For someone so clearly engaged in the world of wireless technologies and business, it’s startling to learn she began her career in banking. Robinson arrived in the U.S. more than two decades ago, and was completing her English to Speakers of Other Languages class when a chance job opening announcement by her professor led to her first foray into the tech world.
Taking a job with Hughes Network Systems for extra money, she worked 3pm-3am daily on the assembly line building satellite motherboards. It was difficult to work the graveyard shift, but she learned a great deal about AC/DC, resistor and transistors, and the different temperatures at which to test hardware. The job was a big boost financially while she learned a new language and assimilated into a new country, and eventually served as the launchpad for her current career.
A Need for More Women in Tech
One of her biggest concerns is that not enough women are entering the technology field. She says many women choose not to enter the field because there is a common misconception that you must have studied for the field or started in it initially. Robinson points to her own experience as an example for other women. Her advice is that if you’re determined to learn and open to new ideas, then you can become a technologist no matter how old or where you are in your current career.
For those interested to learn, she says there are many online coding and tech classes available regardless of one’s background. And if you’re willing to start at the bottom, then you can easily learn by doing. She says the fast moving nature of the industry and introduction of new innovations means there’s always a chance to learn and become proficient at emerging technologies like AI, machine learning, cloud computing and more.
Ultimately, Robinson says that technology is everywhere in our lives – from the moment we wake up to the moment we go to sleep. A highly digital life is the new normal, and the future is even more exciting. The opportunity exists for us to rethink the very work we do and the way we do it. More women need to have a seat at the table and a hand in that transformation as it happens.