Toronto, ON. – People have a weakness to make snap judgements and mobile developers should depend on that to better engage audiences via mobile apps, a Gartner analyst says.

Michael Maoz, a research vice president with consulting firm Gartner Inc. also encouraged businesses to invest in research so their marketers could identify opportunities to delight consumers before exploiting those moments for all they’re worth; and to optimize their apps by stealing from the competition.

Moroz says he knows his methods are successful because they’ve worked on him.

“After one minute, you folks decided what you think of me,” he told the audience during the 2016 Gartner CIO & IT Executive Summit on June 16. “If I had said ‘stop’ after one minute and said [‘evaluate me’], or made you suffer through to the bitter end… I would get the precise same evaluation from you.

“You decided upon looking at me, without even hearing my voice, how you’re going to rate me,” he said. “Isn’t that crazy?”

Why enterprises need to think mobile-first

The need for enterprises to provide their customers with an engaging, reliable mobile app is undeniable, Maoz said: according to Gartner’s own research, by year’s end consumers will expect businesses to solve at least 65 per cent of their customer support issues through mobile devices, and by 2017, the company expects 35 per cent of all customer support to take place on a mobile device – an increase of 300 per cent over today.

That’s a tall order – one that many of today’s business apps can’t meet. It’s also a reason the company expects 50 per cent of today’s mobile enterprise apps to be completely rewritten or replaced by next year, he said.

Use captology to engage consumers

Central to Maoz’s suggested approach to consumer engagement is captology, the study of computer-driven influence, and the “behaviour design” method pioneered by its leading expert, Stanford researcher B.J. Fogg.

Simply put, a captology-driven approach to app design takes advantage of the fact that although we’d love to believe otherwise, humans are not as rational as we think, and many of our decisions – such as our opinion of a speaker, for example – are determined by snap judgments, he said.

Many of the most well-known apps on the market today are influenced by Fogg, who runs a boot camp for developers that, among other things, teaches them how to take advantage of consumers’ investment bias – our predilection to become emotionally invested in things we like – by delighting us with experiences, offers, or activities that create an addictive “fear of missing out” quality.

Think Instagram notifications, YouTube suggesting new videos, or Netflix suggesting new movies or TV shows, or Uber’s surge pricing. All four have taken advantage of Fogg’s bootcamp, along with Whatsapp, Tinder, Snapchat, Fitbit, Periscope, Spotify, Google, and Amazon, providing enterprises with plenty of engaging models to follow, Maoz said.

“Any of you know about or use any of these apps?” he asked. “Anyone want to get rid of any of them?”

Another way to engage consumers, Maoz said, is to anticipate their moments of need. For example, Gartner has been working with a German car company and German insurance broker to provide customers with an app that, in the event of an accident, will automatically call the driver, and if they don’t respond, call an ambulance. If they do respond, it will ask if they need a tow truck, and if they say yes, phone one automatically and create an insurance form.

Michael Moaz headshot
Gartner analyst Michael Maoz knows how fickle mobile consumers can be; after all, he’s one himself.

“Do you know what that does to costs?” Maoz said. “It slices the costs down, and the consumer goes, ‘I’m never leaving this insurance company.’”

For a more personal example, he cited shoe manufacturer Saucony, which has collaborated with FitBit to let customers know when their shoe needs to be replaced after several hundred kilometres of running. In Maoz’s case, once he reached his limit an app suggested he buy the newest version of his current shoe. It even threw in a discount.

“I clicked, and I have the new ones coming from UPS to my doorstep,” he said. “This is how life works. It’s fast, and they exploited the moment.”

How to create a mobile app strategy

Most Canadian enterprises, of course, are not Saucony, or a car manufacturer, or Instagram, or Netflix, or YouTube. They need to take a clear-eyed look at their needs and capabilities and plan accordingly, Maoz said, presenting a chart depicting five stages of app maturity.

Mobile presentation figure

Most organizations, he said, are only at the first or second stage – and that’s okay.

Enterprises should start by conducting research, evaluating the best practices of companies in other industries, divide their audience into demographics, and figure out how to reach each one individually, he said.

“If you’re past [the repeatable stage], you’re already awesome,” he said. “Because by the definition stage, mobile is a core customer channel… You understand, you’ve given up thinking that the future is anything but the mobile device.”

Maoz noted that as companies redevelop their mobile apps, they should also be prepared to fail – and to quickly abandon failures.

“You can reinvent your mobile strategy any time, because the applications that you had one, two, or three years ago are gone anyway,” he said. “It’s like the mobile phone… just like you threw away your clunky Nokia, then went to the BlackBerry, then went to your iPhone or Samsung, you can throw out mobile applications, start over, iterate: it’s all good.”

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