The Mobile Gold Rush

In January of 1848 word went out from Sutter’s Mill in Coloma, California that gold had been discovered.  Miners rushed in from points across the globe to find their fortunes.  The wealth that was generated increased global trade and spawned a multitude of companies, some still in existence nearly two centuries later.  We are entering a new gold rush, the Mobile gold rush.  Unlike the rush of the 19th century this rush will not be limited by finite natural resources.  It will instead be limited only by the imaginations and talent of the developers building the infrastructure and applications that drive it.

I’ve been working in software development for the last fifteen years.  During that time web development has predominated.  Companies have worked hard to deliver more and more to their customers while at the same time lowering their cost of distributing software to a global audience.  Mobile reduces that cost even farther and causes an explosion in the opportunities a business has to interact with their customers.

Mobile is growing at an accelerated pace.  It is forecast that by 2016 two-thirds of the mobile workforce will own a smartphone and that 40 percent of the workforce will be mobile.  While this represents significant opportunity for businesses to interact more frequently with their customers it also presents a challenge to deliver applications and content suited to a mobile customer.  Businesses have to understand the mobile user is in a different frame of mind than the user tethered at a desktop.  The expectations by the user are different.  Business must understand those context specific differences and deliver the appropriate experience.

The rewards for businesses that get this right are potentially game changing.  By 2015 Gartner predicts that companies will realize fifty percent of their web sales from their social presence and mobile applications.  Businesses that can’t deliver a compelling mobile experience for their users will lose revenue to their competitors.

Users of mobile devices are becoming more and more comfortable transacting business on mobile devices.  Many already expect businesses to have a fully featured mobile offering.  When these users do not find such an offering they actively seek a mobile alternative.  This is motivating businesses to be the first in their field to offer a mobile experience for users.  Mobile is becoming a must have much as websites did over a decade ago.  Businesses that lack mobile in the next few years will see their competition leave them far behind.

All of this positions developers with the skills to deliver mobile applications in a favorable spot.  Those that can serve the needs of businesses in this boom will see increased salaries and higher demand for their services.  Developers not yet familiar with mobile development should correct for that deficit now.  Momentum is building in mobile.  Developers need to be riding it, not trying to catch up with it.

Question:  What mobile initiatives is your business focusing on?  If you are a developer are you part of the gold rush or are you watching it pass by?

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