Intelligent Mobile Commerce Apps, Robots and Speed

In 2002, I was developing mobile applications for blue collar workers. These apps were not intelligent. They were basically forms on handheld computers or PDAs. Yes, they could be made to understand, based on data inputs, which form(s) should be presented next, but that was about as smart as they got. In those days, mobile apps were mostly used to query a simple database and for field data collection and sync.

Today, mobile apps on smartphones and tablets are the UXs (user interfaces) for very complex and intelligent systems, many of which today depend on software robots for automation and speed. On a side note, yesterday, while I was attending a M6 Mobility Xchange conference, Intel said us humans are becoming part of the computer!

Mobile users are impatient. They will wait less than 4 seconds on average for a mobile app to load, before closing it and moving on. You would hate to have developed the world's best designed mobile application, but then have mobile consumers abandon it because some transaction engine, integrated product catalog or mobile security system made the process too slow.

Let me provide a scenario - a person uses a retailer's mobile application that is associated with a loyalty program. The millisecond they load the application, software robots on the backend identify the device, look at all the accumulated data about the user's profile, transaction history, demographics, preferences, styles, etc., analyzes it, and then create a personalized experience which is uploaded to the mobile application. No human is involved, but the experience is fast, beautiful and personal. The products and discounts are optimized to appeal to my preferences. It is an automated process that uses software robots to analyze and act in milliseconds. This process is far more sophisticated and complex than the processes I used in 2002.

In 2002, to speed up a process we looked at just a few areas: the selected mobile device, wireless networks, device memory and the size of the database queries. Today, entire business processes are being impacted and companies are being forced to rethink operations. Legacy IT systems are being asked to perform at speeds beyond their capabilities. Mobile solutions today, are as much about the backend servers, processes, robots and strategies, than the mobile app.

The pressure to digitally transform and automate IT environments is growing. Mobile applications, at first just clever add-ons to line of business applications, are now driving the train of digital transformation and pointing the way to the future for the entire enterprise. The cost of a mobile application, may ultimately involve rethinking your entire IT environment.

As consumers increasingly shop online and mobile, competition will force businesses to redesign not only their IT environments, but their entire approach to marketing, sales, customer service and R&D as well.