Looking back at the press coverage and debate resulting from our first PMN Mobile User Experience (MEX) conference, I am struck by how far the issue of customer-focused thinking has risen up the industry agenda.
We knew we faced a challenge to promote understanding of such a broad topic across so diverse a range of companies and executives. We also knew how important it was to succeed in encouraging disparate industry groups to build new bridges, facilitating conversations across job functions and areas of expertise which, to-date, have rarely had the opportunity to share knowledge.
MEX managed to break new ground because so many of you embraced the event with an open mind and a willingness to explore a new approach to understanding the complexity of customer experience.
I was particularly heartened when 84 percent of delegates told us their views on user experience had been irrevocably changed by the conference. The central message of MEX – putting the customer at the heart of the value chain – was spread to an even wider audience when two of Europe’s leading mobile technology publications dedicated their monthly editorials to the event, crowning a period of extensive online and print coverage.
When we started planning the first MEX conference this time last year, ‘user experience’ was a term confined primarily to describing the interface layer of mobile handsets. Today, there is growing awareness that this issue touches all parts of the mobile industry. Better customer experience starts deep within organisational structures and requires the whole supply chain to share an understanding of customer behaviour.
However, developing this understanding is just the first step in a long journey towards putting a smile on your customers’ faces. It is not enough to simply research consumer trends and then waste these new insights by diluting them through an existing product development system structured around championing individual technologies rather than truly customer-focused design.
The challenge for our next MEX conference in May 2006 is to help the industry evolve from merely understanding the issue to actually delivering better results.
For our first event, we set ourselves the objective of ensuring everyone who attended went away with 5 new insights and having met 5 new people they wouldn’t otherwise have encountered. In May 2006, we will be adding another goal: we want everyone to leave MEX with 5 new ways to justify an increase in their company’s customer experience investment.
To achieve this, we will add sessions to demonstrate precisely the techniques, technologies and case studies required to illustrate the benefits of building a more customer-centric roadmap. These will be woven into the existing fabric of unique networking opportunities and debate which proved so popular at MEX in September 2005.
Over the next few weeks we will be searching for speakers at the cutting edge of this field, bringing together all of the knowledge we have gained from the industry’s extensive response to MEX and designing a conference programme to distill this intelligence into two days of interaction, participation and creative thinking.
If you want to share your views on customer experience with the mobile telecoms industry, now is the time to talk to us about ways you can become involved in the event. You can reach me personally at email@example.com or on +44 (0)7767 622957. Alternatively, my colleague Mark Hamilos is at firstname.lastname@example.org or +44 (0)7748 684232.
MEX is a conference built on diversity of opinion and we encourage speakers to explore their creativity in presentations. If you’re looking for a platform to roll-out your standard company Powerpoint pitch, we would respectfully suggest MEX is not the event for you!
As a conference producer, this is the stage of the process which excites me most. It is a period which enables me to gain the broadest possible insight into the current state of industry thinking. I try not to approach it with any pre-conceived notions, but inevitably there are some issues which I already anticipate will feature in the programme.
Music in the mobile environment is clearly a huge opportunity and one which represents an unprecedented challenge to demonstrate a connected view of customer experience. The web of relationships required to deliver a single track to a user’s handset is enormously complex, let alone a solution which provides a personalised and centralised store of music, accessible from a range of desktop, consumer electronics and mobile platforms. It is also an area characterised by incredibly high user experience expectations – courtesy of Apple and iTunes – and influenced by the highly emotional nature of music consumption.
I am also fascinated at the moment by off-portal mobile content, with all its potential for diversity, revenue growth and disruptive influence. Again, it reminds us of just how many components are required and how many companies need to be accomodated in a value chain to achieve certain goals. Even with the relatively unenthusiastic approach of most mobile operators, off-portal content is exploding. This is bringing a new wave of media companies into contact with the mobile industry, each with their own visions of customer experience – I see enormous potential for mobile companies which embrace these newcomers early on.
Looking further ahead, I am most excited by the emergence of the first truly new generation of wireless technology for many years: the expansion of the network to include objects as well as individuals. In Japan, commuters are already interacting daily with the ticket booths in railway stations, with information pods in record shops and with payment terminals in retail outlets. What greater user experience challenge can there be than learning how to build products which allow us to interact as effectively with intelligent objects as they do with our fellow humans?
All of these developments serve to reinforce a central notion: increased consumption of mobile services will be directly proportional to the industry’s ability to accomodate the structure of human communities. If we allow our customers to personalise their mobile experience with the context which informs their day-to-day activities, mobile technology will become an indispensable and indistinguishable part of their lifestyle.
That is a challenge which is as daunting as it is inspiring.
I very much hope you will be able to join the debate at MEX in May 2006. There are many ways to become involved: as a speaker, sponsor or delegate. To find out more or if you just want to share your views on any of the topics raised, please get in touch and we’ll be delighted to discuss ideas.
PMN – Mobile Industry Intelligence