Last year we saw the emergence of the first real tablet device to be adopted by consumers at a good rate, the iPad. This year, we’re seeing an explosion of tablet devices of all shapes and sizes. Smartphones are also continuing their unstoppable spread including iPhones, Android powered devices and also Nokia’s Ovi platform, not to mention BlackBerry phones. You can access the internet and content via your TV and from kiosks in shops. All of these systems are pointing to a long awaited and highly anticipated event: convergence. A move away from disparate systems doing different things in different ways, to lots of devices accessing the same content, code and application experience. We’re seeing it in IT systems as well – a move away from disparate systems to a more service orientated architecture where all systems interconnect and things can be combined, reused and repurposed as needed.
With a convergence of devices and systems, we are approaching an age of even faster change and agility to enable companies to push different functionality and content to people depending on their context (e.g. mobile, laptop in the front room, machine at work). This utopian view of technology and convergence is, of course, not on the immediate horizon, we’re a few years off. What is important for the here and now is to start considering how your products or services can be used and enjoyed in a multitude of different contexts and devices.
For example, if your business is a restaurant – what do your customers want if they’re on their mobile phone, or at home or at work? How can we make it easier to book, to cancel, to see the menu, to get voucher codes, see the floor plan, pick their table, and so on. Lots to think about. If you’re a training company can you distribute the workbooks via tablet devices or provide reminders on their progress via their mobile? Even more to think about.
So, what’s the bottom line? Start planning for lots of devices and contexts right now.