Enterprise: Time to Get Onboard, “Mobile is Eating the World”

Photo: Charles Forerunner/Unsplash

Photo: Charles Forerunner/Unsplash

Inspired by data from “Mobile is Eating the World” by Benedict Evans of Andreessen Horowitz venture capital firm, aka A16Z. 

Smartphones and the software which runs on them are changing everything we do. How we take photos has radically changed. We pay for lunch with our phones and order groceries from an app. It’s easy and efficient.

I am interested in enterprise mobility. Some of the data in “Mobile is Eating the World” should be a wake-up call to businesses. Below, marked with bullets, I have cited a few data points from “Mobile is Eating the World.” My thoughts on enterprise mobility are in blue font.

  • By 2020, 80% of people on earth, 4 Billion people, will have a smartphone. 2 Billion people have one today.
  • An iPhone 6 processor has 625X more transistors than a 1995 Pentium processor.
  • Hence, everyone gets a supercomputer in their pocket.

Mobility at work lags personal mobility by a mile. Businesses are largely stuck at the stage of allowing email on smartphones. Certainly, there are reasons why business is lagging in mobile productivity. Ensuring data security is one. The sheer amount of data and workflows to be mobilized is another. There is a cost associated. But employees have a supercomputer at their fingertips. There is a cost for not capitalizing on that, especially for those employees who work with your clients. Your clients are looking for more from your firm – more responsiveness and efficiency. 

  • Mobile devices are used everywhere, not just when people are “mobile.” Smartphones are not only used when people are standing in line at Starbucks, or other “mobile” circumstances. Today, people use their mobile devices when their PC is a foot away from them.

This is particularly important for businesses to consider. Smartphones are becoming the dominant mode of communicating and computing. Anything which I can effectively do from my smartphone without having to deal with my notebook PC, I’ll gladly do from my phone.

  • Half of all time spent online in the US today is spent in smartphone apps.

Using the web in a browser is dropping away. Apps are optimized for mobile. People prefer to use apps. Employees are people, too.

  • “Phones are more sophisticated than PCs” due to the proliferation of sensors.

My phone knows where I am. It adjusts to my time zone automatically. It reminds me of my next meeting without interrupting my current meeting. It delivers to me the docs which I need for the next meeting and the bios of the people in the meeting. It tells me where that meeting is located and what the fastest means and route to that meeting is. Don’t we want to harness that power broadly across businesses in the United States?

  • By 2020 there will be 2-3X more smartphones than PCs.

The bullet train has left the station.

Evans outlines three phases of technology deployment:

  1. Companies that make technology.
  2. Companies that buy technology – that is, use technology for “IT,” to support the business.
  3. Companies that are built around new technologies. Examples are Airbnb and Uber/Lyft. These are companies which would not exist without the internet and smartphones. Amazon is by far the biggest example of a company built around new technology.

My observation is that the delta between companies which buy technology to support the business and those which are built around technology is where displacement occurs. Airbnb is providing a travel experience which has pulled spending away from hotels and created a greater lodging market. The product is predicated on the internet and on mobile. 

If we look at markets like legal, financial, and consulting, the question then becomes – is technology being bought to support the business or is the business being built around new technologies? 

Here is an example in legal. QuickLegal is a app which connects me immediately via video chat on my phone with a lawyer who specializes in the field of my problem. QuickLegal has a website, but its real value is in its app. Imagine the 21 year old who gets pulled over for a DWI. What’s the first thing she should do?  Reach for her QuickLegal app. Are traditional law firms looking at their business this way? The QuickLegal example may seem like a corner case to larger law firms. Perhaps very little of their (existing) revenue is from clients who need a lawyer immediately at 1 AM. 

  • The scale of mobile and software mean the opportunity is vastly bigger.

But how big is the on-demand lawyer opportunity? What if I can use an app which connects me securely to my attorney so that I can close a business deal in an hour? 

For larger law firms, consider the impact of Big Data and Artificial Intelligence. If I’m outside counsel, what if I can meet with a client and advise them using data accessible from my smartphone as to what their odds are of winning a law suit and whether they are better off settling. In the not-too-distant future, an entity will make that data available to their client counselors via mobile. Will that entity be a law firm? Accounting firm? Consulting firm? Citi Group? Microsoft? (The music industry was changed irrevocably by a computer company, Apple.) Or might it be a startup along the lines of a Palantir, which uses heavy duty AI and human intelligence for critical government operations? 

By 2025, who doesn’t imagine that we will be using mobile data for complex enterprise decision making, including in legal?

By 2025, we won’t think of it as “mobile data.”

“When tech is fully adopted, it disappears.” – Benedict Evans.

By 2025, we’ll just think of it as data.

–Maureen, @mobilehelix

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Tip: “Benedict’s Newsletter” is a concise, curated selection of what Benedict Evans found interesting in technology and mobile during the preceding week. It is sent via email on Sunday night. You may subscribe here: Benedict’s Newsletter.

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