Transformation: Desktop to Mobile

Mobile computing is about getting things done easier and faster. Earlier, which now feels almost ancient, Mobile Computing was limited to the usage of SMS, configuring ringtones, themes, wallpapers and very limited streaming of TV content on mobile devices. Any WAP-based application was a major accomplishment. Delivering a WAP-enabled website was going way beyond users’ expectations, as they never had one such.

When I helped launch a “speed” content application for one of the leading telecom companies, there was an unprecedented response from the users, with up to 1,00,000 messages in three days. As technology enhanced, we needed applications that could handle at least 10,000 messages per second, and this just about meets users’ expectations. Mobile service providers will consider that as a deficient service, given that there are millions of concurrent users. Imagine not being able to send a message in favor of your favorite singer or dancer. Youth would wince at such an application, and you would lose them as users forever. Changing faster than technology is users’ need and mobile is shaping their everyday lives. Disagree with me at your own peril; call it your inability to accept change around you.

When was the last time you bought something online without looking for a better deal around you, or without checking with your social set-up? Mobile experiences place a premium on speed and anything that gets in the users’ way will act as a deterrent for their repeated use of any app. Successful mobile apps deliver an experience that only offers what’s necessary – but determining what’s truly necessary is far from obvious.

Reminiscing my experience of building applications over the last ten years, it’s astonishing, the transformation in my own thought process and my approach to building applications that are predominantly mobile-first. A few snippets:

  • Help drive increased viewership for an interactive television operator: When I was working with an interactive television operator, our goal was to identify application formats that would drive higher viewership. Applications were built around the television content. In a mobile-first world, the channel content is built around the user participation. An American Idol is built in such a disruptive manner. Today, all the applications are built based on various factors – location and demographics, and deliver context that is sensitive content driven through intelligent analytics
  • Help sell products online: When we were dealing with e-commerce applications, all our application concepts were built on user inputs – registration, location, and other relevant information. We were relying on providing users the best deals, critic reviews, along with shopping cart functionality. Registration was more or less mandatory. Take today’s scenario. You would notice that mobile applications are to a large extent self-reliant. You get all the relevant information from user agents, thus providing a superior experience like location-based deals, besides the legacy features and also the ability to seek feedback on the product before you actually make a purchase. More importantly, I think people have started comparing the products on various media before they make a purchase
  • Submit your healthcare bills faster: My best accomplishment for better, faster delivery is in the healthcare space. A few years earlier, every claim submission used to be very tedious. You were expected to get the OCR compatible form, fill in the data (in capitals each letter in a block and in most instances in black ink). You need to fax this form along with your receipts. The claims division would actually OCR the form, and has a verification to ensure that the print is accurately converted into the soft copy and then submitted to the claims team for verification. Today, it’s an automated process. You capture the required information on your mobile phone, along with a screenshot of the receipt, securely share it with the claims division, who would verify and take further action. We are not only automating the process, we are also essentially increasing the productivity and reducing the costs and overhead We’ve just reached the tip of the iceberg. Today’s mandatory processes are sure to be replaced with other technologies. Smarter cities, smarter homes and a lot more. Bring it on! We are ready to build for the future
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