Mobile technology has not only changed the way we communicate with each other, smartphones are redefining the way business is practiced in several key industries. According to the Pew Center for Research, some 85 percent of adult Americans own a cell phone, and these devices are playing an increasingly large part in our everyday lives.
Considering 31 percent of current mobile users say they go online primarily from their phones, the importance of mobile technology will continue growing in the years ahead. These plugged-in, smartphone obsessives will be the tech innovators and consumers of the future. Apps, mobile optimization, and portable commerce will only keep evolving, and in turn change the way many of us do business or go about our daily lives.
"What you've got is a whole younger generation that has been weaned on electronics, and they understand PCs. They understand iPads. They understand mobile technology," Joseph Saunders, CEO at Visa, said to USA Today. "They're very comfortable with it. That's what's really, really going to push it."
More than half of all phones are expected to be smartphones by the end of the year. This is also providing the thrust behind the massive machine-to-machine or M2M market. In M2M, machines or devices communicate and exchange information with each other in the cloud, generating massive amounts of data and creating new opportunities and challenges in the real-time big data management space as highlighted by Sanjay Poonen recently in Forbes.
So what are a few of the industries undergoing the mobile revolution? Let's take a look:
The Retail Industry: Shopping On The Go
When consumers need help making a purchasing decision, they no longer use their mobile device to phone a friend. Instead, they use this device to hop on the Internet, open an app, and price check an item to see if they can find a better deal. According to Pew Center research, six in 10 consumers used their mobile device in a physical store during the recent holiday shopping season.
Being able to buy on the go is dramatically changing the retail industry. In fact, 60 percent of the top 500 retailers have a mobile interface. This makes it easier for consumers to make purchases in their palms. But retailers are also embracing the usage of mobile devices within the four walls of their physical stores.
"Mobile can really bring the Web to the store," Wendi Bergh, Walmart director of mobile and digital strategy, said recently at the "Retail Going Mobile" South by Southwest panel.
For example, Starbucks has allowed consumers to pay for their caffeine fix by merely scanning a QR code on their mobile devices. Apps like the Amazon price scanner allow you to scan any item in any store and compare the price to its equal on retailer Amazon.com. With so many shoppers using their mobile devices, both in stores and to do their shopping on the go, it is no surprise the retail industry is scrambling to catch up with mobile technology.
The Recruitment Industry: Never Stop Hiring
Consumers use their mobile phones to play games, buy products, and even wake them up in the morning. So why not use mobile technology to search for jobs? Considering how pressed for time the average job seeker is, whether an active or passive candidate, it makes perfect sense to make applying for great positions more portable.
A recent study by Potentialpark found 26 percent of job seekers are currently using their mobile devices for career-related activities like job hunting, while an additional 59 percent would consider doing so in the future. However, career site adoption to mobile optimization is surprisingly low: only 13 percent of company career sites have a mobile version.
"User experience has emerged as the core of any successful mobility strategy," Andrew Borg, senior wireless and mobility analyst for the Aberdeen Group, told Baseline.
Recruiters and companies looking to hire top talent simply cannot ignore mobility and how critical it is to effectively engage with their target community. The best job seekers want a candidate experience optimized for mobile technology in order to make applying for great jobs easier and less time consuming. In today's tough job market, finding the best candidates will increasingly mean adapting to a mobile and responsive format.
The Gaming Industry: There's An App For That
Perhaps no industry has been changed more dramatically by the rise of mobile technology than the gaming industry. According to a DFC Intelligence forecast, the gaming industry expects to jump from $67 billion in 2012 to more than $82 billion in 2017. Considering 43 percent of people use their mobile device to play games, the mobile revolution is likely propelling a portion of this increased revenue.
"There are more and more smartphones - 1.2 to 1.3 million new devices enter the world everyday, and more than 70 percent of the new device owners actually play on their devices," said Klaas Kersting, co-founder of Gameforge, one of Europe's biggest browser-based gaming companies.
Mobile games have dramatically changed the traditional gaming industry, bringing terms like "freemium" into play. Just look at the runaway success of mobile juggernaut Angry Birds, which has expanded past iPhone screens into toy lines and even snacks. (Yes, really.)
The ability for mobile app developers to jump into the game space and make a big splash has greatly impacted the business model of the gaming industry. And with more people playing on their phones every day -- while waiting for a bus or in the checkout line -- mobile gaming will continue to change the traditional industry in new and unexpected ways.
We all love our mobile phones, which might explain why 91 percent of us keep it close 24/7. So, it should come as no surprise that mobile technology is revolutionizing several key industries. It will likely change the way we play, the way we shop, and even the way we shape our career paths. For the companies ignoring the mobile revolution in these industries, the road ahead is sure to be a very tough one.
What are some industries you've seen dramatically changed by mobile technology? How can industries adapt? Share in the comments!