What would Charles Darwin think of mobile?

IBM_TA_Mobile_visualBy Susanne Hupfer and Megan McNamee

According to Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection, each generation of organisms has variations, and those with traits better suited to the environment will survive — leading over time to evolutionary change. Darwin had discovered a species of bird on the Galapagos Islands very similar to the mainland finch, with one exception… their beaks. Over time, their beaks had adapted to the type of food they ate on their island home. These birds had evolved over time to survive and thrive in their environment, as opposed to becoming extinct.

Digital disruption is having the same effect on business in 2015.

Emerging technologies — from smart objects and wearables to underlying technologies like cloud, big data and analytics, social, and mobile — dramatically change how we think, act and collaborate with others. Like the finch on the Galapagos Islands, businesses that adapt to these epic technological shifts will improve their odds of survival; those that don’t will likely disappear.

Business Tech Trends Study – http://www.ibm.com/ibmcai/biztechtrends
Business Tech Trends Study – http://www.ibm.com/ibmcai/biztechtrends

Consider mobile, which is rapidly transforming the way we do business and the way we access and respond to information. This week, tens of thousands of attendees will be convening in Barcelona for Mobile World Congress, to consider all aspects of this mobile revolution.

As consumers, we gain access to information faster, make informed decisions in minutes, respond to changes faster and behave in fundamentally different ways. Mobile gives new meaning to the phrase “instant gratification.” Everyone wants everything anytime and anywhere they want it… period. Falling short of that is a recipe for disaster.

As businesses, we use mobile technologies to increase employee productivity and enhance customer satisfaction. If we can improve our employee and customer interactions and level of service, we can improve relationships and foster loyalty. Plus, mobile allows us to gain a better understanding of these constituencies through new types of data — location, video, images, audio and sensor data.

The recent IBM Business Tech Trends study — which surveyed IT and business decision makers in 13 countries — confirmed that mobile is an imperative for today’s enterprises, with 7 in 10 decision makers rating it strategically important to their business success. And they’re acting on this view: Worldwide, nearly 8 in 10 enterprises have adopted mobile solutions, and three-quarters project increased investments in mobile over the next two years.

Adoption rates vary somewhat from country to country. In this infographic, you can see the percentages of enterprises deploying mobile in each country we studied, as well as some revealing quotations from our survey respondents, describing the “aha moment” when they first recognized the value of mobile.

Click to enlarge (Business Tech Trends Study – http://www.ibm.com/ibmcai/biztechtrends)
Click to enlarge (Business Tech Trends Study – http://www.ibm.com/ibmcai/biztechtrends)

China and Brazil are adopting (or would Darwin say adapting?) fastest – Japan, not so much.

–Enterprise mobile adoption in China surpasses worldwide mobile adoption levels (90 percent of companies have adopted mobile technologies, versus 78 percent worldwide). China has leapfrogged desktop/laptop computers, with many consumers accessing the Internet for the first time through their smartphones. A reported 80 percent of online Chinese (557 million) use smartphones and tablets to connect.It’s not too surprising, then, that Chinese enterprises are meeting consumers on this mobile playing field, often via popular social apps that make mobile shopping and payment easy. There’s no slowdown in sight either: Our study found that 86 percent of Chinese enterprises plan to increase investments in mobile over the next two years.

–Enterprise mobile adoption in Brazil, on par with China at 90 percent, is also ahead of the worldwide curve. As of last May, smartphones represented three out of four phones used in Brazil – a surge from 53 percent a year earlier. Enterprises are understandably eager to capitalize on this rapidly expanding market of connected consumers and employees. Indeed, nearly 8 in 10 Brazilian enterprises plan to increase their investments in mobile over the next two years.

–Meanwhile, enterprises in Japan are considerably behind the global mobile adoption level (50 percent versus 78 percent). From a consumer standpoint, smartphone adoption in Japan has lagged other industrialized countries, with one hypothesis suggesting that consumers were content with the web capabilities of their feature phones. Considered against this landscape, it’s not surprising that adoption of mobile technologies would also lag in the enterprise. The investment picture is not as rosy as it could be either: Only half of Japanese enterprises intend to expand their mobile investments over the next two years.

Is your country keeping up with worldwide mobile adoption levels? Looking at your own enterprise, are you one of “Darwin’s fittest” – unlocking the range of business value expressed by these leaders – or do you have more “evolving” to do? We’d be interested in hearing your perspective.

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