Bridging the Mobile Commerce Gap in Canada with Psychology

by Dan Verhaeghe

FFWD Advertising Week Canada lived up to its hype two weeks ago.

It's a conference determined to inspire Canadian marketers to think fast. Our world is changing so rapidly on the tech front that we may as well hit the fast forward button. The annual Ad Ball featured a DJ by the name of “Starting from Scratch." That is exactly what the 102-year old tech giant IBM has in mind for your company’s continued transformation to mobile.

Mike Riegel, the VP of mobile and websphere for IBM, said mobile is becoming the primary way people interact with things. He believes dramatic changes for companies both small and large are coming in the way we think about mobile. It can no longer be considered a secondary medium or a second screen.

IBM’s direct marketing agency of record for software, servers, and global services is OglivyOne. They have a brilliant travelling and speaking vice chairman representing the United Kingdom in Rory Sutherland, who was at the FFWD event. IBM fanatics may remember the marketing campaign behind Watson, the machine who beat out competitors on Jeopardy by a landslide. Those legendary and well-documented efforts translated into IBM dreaming of a “smarter planet.” IBM today believes in smarter cities, smarter commerce, smarter farming and pretty much smarter everything.

This year, they are really pushing across the ability to redefine commerce in the age of the customer. IBM must use their 430,000 employees to push a “mobile first” strategy across the world. After all, there were 4.3 billion people with mobile devices globally in 2012, according to Cisco. That number is expected to increase to 5.2 billion by 2017.

Yet, faster mobile internet speeds are slow to come. 2G still supported 76% of global mobile device and M2M connections in 2012. 3G supported 23% and 4G only supported 1%, or 43 million mobile users. 4G is only expected to support 10% by 2017, equalling about 520 million people.

Therefore, the mobile user with access to speed is the one retailers will want to target, which they will find more so in developed countries like Canada. One can easily see the correlation of speed and mobile—the average 4G connection generated 19 times more mobile data traffic the average non-4G connection in 2012.



While mobile speed is important, OglivyOne’s Sutherland believes the next revolution could be psychological, not technological.

Take for example a company’s attitudes towards the deployment of mobile apps. Krista Napier, a Toronto-based senior analyst at IDC Canada, says more apps can equal more perceived success. Companies that mobilized more than three applications were 99% likely to say they had met or exceeded expectations, while 77% of those mobilizing three or less could only say the mobile apps met their expectations.

Retailers worked with their marketing and IT departments in a combined fashion to remove “customer pain points” across channels. This increased order value and items per order, because customers sifted through fewer webpages and spent less time processing orders.

Marketing and psychology alike will become more influential than the IT department by 2017, says Gartner, as marketing influences more spending decisions.

“We agree with IBM’s vision of bridging the gap between the CMO and the CIO to better market to and reach our customers,” said president Trevor Newell. “Physically, our CMO and CIO sit in the same office, allowing us the agility to quickly adapt to the needs of our customers. Our business is driven by our technological advancements and this relationship is critical to our ability to drive demand and market to our customers, across all channels including online, mobile and social.”

82% of the 1,700 surveyed in IBM’s CMO survey said they plan to increase their use of social media over the next three to five years. 48% of marketers who felt there were to be high or high levels of complexity in their job over the next five years believed they were prepared to deal with it.

Despite mobile’s growth some retail marketers have struggled with the medium. IBM’s Riegel suggests reimagining the customer or client experience, as mobile requires the entire business to be transformed. It’s not about just turning your webpage mobile friendly or building a mobile app. The chief marketing officer and the chief information officer need to work together. It is not a technology or marketing project, but rather one driven across the business, that will succeed.  

Last year, IBM Canada announced they had put together the largest team of mathematicians in the world, geared towards understanding the web’s data.

An organization-wide approach to mobile, combined with data science and marketing collaboration can be the start of success in the presently lagging field of Canadian mobile commerce.

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Dan Verhaeghe

Dan Verhaeghe

Dan Verhaeghe focuses on marketing, mobile, major technology players, entertainment, and new media. Dan has a dozen years of online experience that dates back to the turn of the millennium where he dominated a now non-existent online RPG game for a couple of years at the age of 15. He would eventually become a Toronto Blue Jays blogger who earned his way into Toronto's CP24 studios six years... more

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