The Six Cs of Mobility

Nearly a decade ago I introduced McGuire’s Law of Mobility. Over the years, I’ve refined it a bit to simply say “The value of any product or service increases with its mobility.” and, over the years, the truth of the law has been demonstrated time and again.

But back in those early days, despite having anecdotal examples to point to, I couldn’t really explain “how” mobility increases the value of a product or service.

A few weeks ago I was asked to speak at an event hosted by Mobiquity. That event gave me the opportunity to try to capture and communicate thinking I’ve been doing recently about the specific ways that mobility creates value in products and services – either for the end customer (and thus indirectly for the supplier) or directly for the supplier. In some respects, this is the result of looking back with 20/20 hindsight and merely capturing what we’ve already seen, but I do think it’s helpful for those looking forwards to consider how to practically design the value of mobility into their products and services.

So, here are the six C’s of mobility – six ways in which mobility adds value to a product or service:

  1. Connectivity
  2. Community
  3. Content
  4. Context
  5. Commerce
  6. Cost

Connectivity

At it’s core, integrating wireless connectivity into a product or service is about, well, connectivity. What I mean here is specifically full-time two-way connectivity into back end systems that enable the product or service to operate as part of the larger value proposition of the firm, and therefore provide greater value to the end customer.

Community

Some people refer to the “social revolution,” and we’ve certainly seen a dramatic rise in social networks and the huge impact these sites have had on how we interact with the world around us, but I’m not sure whether it’s a separate “revolution” or a subset of the “mobile” revolution or if they are both the same revolution – the “social/mobile” revolution. Whatever the case, the fact that products and services have wireless connectivity built in makes it possible for users to share with their friends and provide support for one another. This is easiest to see in mobile apps, but I’ve also seen it in retail kiosks for sunglasses and makeup, and built into digital cameras, and I believe we’ll increasingly see the opportunity to “like”, “share”, and give or receive encouragement being built into more and more connected products and services.

Content

Wireless connectivity also makes it simple to leverage the reach and richness of the Web with a real-time element and with relevance that goes well beyond what’s possible in a desktop Internet experience. A navigation device that provides recent reviews of nearby restaurants, along with the daily specials would be a great example. (I’d love to have this built into my next car…) Another example is the simple Bible app. When I started carrying a PDA a couple of decades ago, the Bible app was one of the first things that demonstrated to me the power of mobility. Wherever I was, I could read God’s Word. However, a single translation would consume almost all of the memory on my device, so forget about additional resources like commentaries and Bible dictionaries. Today, most Bible apps don’t store any translations locally, and yet, over the wireless connection, you can access almost every translation, commentary, or reference work ever published.

Context

In the mobile community, we’ve often spoken of the unique value of “context” that mobility enables above and beyond what has ever been possible in a desktop application. Because it’s been so broadly discussed, I won’t belabor the point here, but I do believe that the ability of wirelessly connected products and services to adapt given place, proximity, and priority does provide tremendous incremental value never before possible.

All of the C’s listed above are value enhancements that the end user directly realizes. Hopefully that value realization translates into value for the provider (differentiation, premium pricing, customer loyalty, etc.). However, the next two C’s are ways in which the provider benefits directly from the integration of wireless connectivity into the product or service.

Commerce

Wireless connectivity creates a tremendous opportunity for the provider to extend their business into adjacent spaces and realize new untapped revenues. A service provider may be able to offer new kinds of services, not previously possible. A product or service company may be able to present to customers extremely relevant advertising, or may be able to (while respecting and protecting user privacy) collect data that has analytical value for the company or a partner. Many other adjacent revenue opportunities will likely become available to those that are integrating wireless connectivity into their business.

Cost

The final C deals with the opportunity to replace components with cloud content. For example, the first “connected” watch I bought was satellite connected to the atomic clock in Colorado. I thought it was cool geeky technology. I showed it to a jeweler and he thought it was cool because it meant that you could build an incredibly accurate watch with very inexpensive components. Similarly, I’ve often told the story of TeleNav, a company that replaced expensive GPS navigation electronics with software on a mobile phone connected back to maps and data in the cloud. As wireless connectivity gets integrated into every product and service, there will be many opportunities to take costs out of the product or service by replacing expensive physical elements (e.g. highly trained specialists in the field) with content and capabilities hosted in the cloud.

I hope these 6 C’s are helpful to you as you consider how to revolutionize your industry!

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