Exploring the Mobile-First Strategy of the Near Future: Networks, Bots, and Beyond

It’s hard to find a word that captures the impact mobile devices have had on technology and end users’ daily lives in recent years. When “innovative” and “revolutionary” just don’t convey enough oomph, it’s best to describe mobile’s influence through the fact that businesses are progressively moving from a desktop-based approach to a mobile-first strategy, spending more money and time building customer-friendly and highly adaptive mobile sites.

Besides providing proof of mobile’s influence over technology, this transition says much about the role of communication in future strategies. Read on to learn what an increasingly mobile-first strategy across the internet may look like.

5G, Video, and the Mobile-First Strategy: The Future is Now

As the gatekeeper to advanced mobile-first plans, networks are a natural point of focus when discussing mobile’s future. As a testament to the development of network capabilities, Lifewire reports, 5G networks are set to hit the United States over the next two years, pending any governmental nationalization.

When one considers the impact previous transitions (including to both 3G to 4G) had, it’s easy to see the world-shaking potential this change could hold. While the technology isn’t likely to completely supplant Wi-Fi—it’s unlikely, for instance, that homes, government offices, and business locations will gobble up femtocells—it should, at minimum, blur the line between the two, negating the sacrifice in quality and speed users must currently make when moving from known Wi-Fi networks to a cellular connection.

Because of the upcoming transition to 5G, we can expect video to play an even bigger role in the average mobile-first strategy. According to Business Insider, video is set to represent 82 percent of worldwide internet traffic by 2021. While streaming services and static content will comprise a large chunk of that percentage, live, commercial-focused content—video conferencing or video-based support built directly into a customer’s purchase history, for example—will also be a significant consideration for businesses.

Of course, it is hard to pinpoint exactly how businesses will utilize these upstream, downstream, and latency improvements until they become available, but there have been some suggestions. Contact centers, for example, could add video components to their list of channels, giving customers an easier outlet for service that requires a visual component. In healthcare, telemedicine services could see an even bigger spike in growth, with care systems offering video-based follow-ups as a standard option.

However it is used, expect live video content to play an even bigger part of the overall mobile-first strategy as greater cellular networking capability grows increasingly accessible. There will undoubtedly be some forced, low-engagement implementations as organizations assess their capabilities, but the final result should be a future where technology enables person-to-person connection better than ever before—and in numerous contexts. Companies that haven’t considered a fully-featured, fully-realized unified communications platform should probably hop on the ball soon for that very reason.

Bots: The Future of Self-Service

Other mobile-first changes have less to do with future network capability and more to do with finding the right order for technologies. While the internet and mobile have empowered self-service interactions with companies—a fact that is apparent any time a customer places an automatic refund request via their phone or chats with a bot to find the answer they’re looking for—there’s still room for advancement. Companies should realize rapid evolution on this front as the mobile-first strategy evolves.

Consider the explosive growth and increased portability of so-called voice assistants in recent years. Soon, a customer purchasing from a small web-based retailer should be able to communicate to the company’s voice assistant that they need to initiate a return for a defective product. On the company side, any organization with a little coding capability and the ability to integrate APIs should be able to “borrow” a capable voice assistant program to handle such inquiries through the company’s app or website.

This is not to say that SMS-only chatbots won’t play an important role. In fact, the opposite will likely be the case, since mobile provides an especially capable format for all sorts of automated, SMS-based conversation. In the near future, customers of all sorts—retail buyers, utility customers, people with cable or internet accounts, and so on—will be able to carry on a cross-platform chat with a bot directly from their phone, paving the way to self-service that looks and feels like a standard customer service interaction. As an example, a customer may initially text their cable company to set up a service request, then post a follow-up request via the Facebook or Twitter account noted on their file, with the bot seamlessly picking up contextual cues that help it understand just what the client is asking for each time.

The technology that needs to be in place to reach this future largely comes down to two areas. First, bot technology needs a bit more refinement to handle more use cases and more effectively decipher complex language; on the other end, a company capable of building such a high-quality bot product will need to make it available—and tailorable—to a broad variety of businesses via API. While the former technology may still be a few years away, the latter is already available today, with numerous companies making early iterations of bot tech available to any company willing to pay for it.

Forging the Future

The advancement of networks and bots quite literally enables the mobile-first strategy: When customers can carry out self-service activity that sounds or reads just like a phone conversation with a human rep, mobile devices will be a conduit for endless one-person “interactions.” From the enterprise down to the smallest online storefront, this kind of advancement carries big potential for sales, satisfaction scores, and more.

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