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App-hopping gives way to integrated mobile experiences in 2016: Forrester

November 24, 2015

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The shift to mobile picks up speed in 2016 as consumers look for contextual, integrated experiences, setting the stage for deeper assimilation by businesses and major acquisitions, according to new predictions from Forrester Research.

In the report, Predictions 2016: The Mobile Revolution Accelerates, Forrester predicts that mobile users next year will gravitate towards using a contextual stream on a single platform or an ecosystem of integrated applications. As a result, Apple and Google could increasingly see their mobile dominance challenged by platforms such as Amazon, Facebook and WeChat.

“Consumers will continue to spend most of their time in only a few apps but will increasingly turn to aggregation apps and a handful of platforms to get the content and services they needs,” said Thomas Husson, Paris-based vice president and principal analyst for marketing and strategy at Forrester Research, as well as lead author on the report.

“Why? Because it will be more convenient to navigate a contextual stream on a single platform rather than hoping among apps,” he said.

Soaring expectations

A key takeaway from the report is that a quarter of companies are expected to fully integrate mobile into their overall strategy in 2016, treating mobile as core to the customer experience and not just a channel.

This will be driven by how mobile users’ expectations continue to soar. By the end of 2016, Forrester forecasts that 4.8 billion people around the world will use a mobile phone, with smartphone subscribers representing 46 percent of the global population.

As mobile use grows, several key trends will emerge.

First, consumers will stop thinking of the mobile Web as a scaled-down desktop experience and will make mobile devices their go-to technology. As a result, U.S. and European consumers will expect to be served in their mobile moments.

Consumers will continue to spend most of their time in only a few apps but will increasingly look to streamline the experience. This will benefit aggregation apps and a handful of platforms such as Facebook, Google Maps and WeChat.

Peek and Pop

Developers are also likely to take advantage of capabilities such as Apple’s iOS 9 Peek and Pop as well as Google Now and Microsoft Cortana to address users’ mobile moments without writing standalone apps.

Mobile’s influence on online commerce will also grow, with Forrester expecting mobile and tablet commerce will represent 38 percent of online transactions in the U.S. and 32 percent in Europe.

To address these consumer trends, Forrester expects companies will look for ways to create more dynamic and contextual experiences. This is likely to include collecting data from multiple sources, creating insights through crowdsourcing and big data and using those insights to deliver utility.

In fact, Forrester expects mobility and the technology required to harness insights and provide context will top cloud as a priority for technology management.

Forrester also expects Google to reset its Android One program as it looks to combat its fragmentation problem while businesses will have to invest more as the level of mobile security risk grows.

Shifting vendor landscape

Another trend will be the use of mobile internally to drive the evolution of business culture by mobilizing employees’ work habits.

The accelerated shift to mobile will impact the vendor landscape, with growth and consolidation both on the horizon.

Expect some big acquisitions as Internet giants battle for mobile moments. Possible acquisition targets include Spotify, Pandora and Flipboard.

With more than 30 enterprise mobile vendors available, consolidation is likely to accelerate in 2016 as companies such as Adobe, Amazon, Cisco, HP, Intel and Salesforce look to acquire smaller players such as AnyPresence, Appcelerator, Kinvey, Kony, Xamarin or Xively.

Forrester also expects marketing tech vendors to find themselves in an arms race to provide automation and machine learning to derive insights from big data and campaign optimization.

"As the mobile mind shift speeds up even more in 2016, consumers’ expectations will soar, pressuring you to do better at tapping contextual data to serve them better,” Mr. Husson said.

"More companies will treat mobile as core to the whole customer experience — not just as a channel — and an ocean of vendors eager to capitalize on this frenzy will teem with new players emerging as existing ones join forces or die off,” he said.

Final Take

Chantal Tode is senior editor on Mobile Marketer, New York