I remember the days when wireless was about free phones, basic phones, just talking, and about getting wireless service based on what worked where you lived. These were the days where texting was unheard of – consumers just wanted to pick the phone up and actually make a phone call. These were also the days where people didn’t want to access the internet via cell phone; and social networking wasn’t even a thought in people’s minds yet. Marketing consisted of networking physically, making phone calls, and sending emails (via an actual computer, not by cell phone).
This certainly isn’t the case any longer. Social networking is the fastest way to connect with anyone anywhere in the world; more consumers have Smartphones than basic phones; people expect to be able to access the internet, their social networks, and email on the go with their phones and tablets; and consumers expect to pay for their Smartphones – no more free phones.
This is why I am so in awe of cell phone stores who still have Free Phone signs out front. Is that outdated sign really bringing in any customers at all? Okay, maybe a couple…you know…the one’s who are going to deactivate in a month because they want a cell phone, but don’t want to pay the bill…
FYI – if a customer is truly looking for a free phone, sell them on prepaid. This way, when they deactivate in a month it won’t hurt your commissions, or increase your deact percentage.
In any case, there are some predictions for 2014 in the wireless industry that I think you’ll find we are certainly on track for.
Wireless isn’t going anywhere. As a matter of fact, wireless is getting stronger and stronger with the tablets, netbooks, Smartphones, etc. that are used to connect people, businesses, consumers with businesses, and businesses to businesses on a 24/7 basis. If your company hasn’t jumped on the technology bandwagon…you’d better do it quickly before you’re left out in the dust.
Wireless data plans will be important. As wireless is used so much more in the workplace, so will data. Ensuring the right data plans are selected for employees will be very important to ensure that employees will have consistent access to data and to ensure the bills don’t become outrageous from overages.
Social Media is not going to slow down. Consumers are moving from one social media outlet to another on a fairly consistent basis, especially kids. Kids don’t want Mom and Dad to be spying on their online activity, so as more parents enter the social media world their kids are changing to new social media outlets for their privacy. Tabs should be kept on current social media outlets to ensure your marketing efforts are focused on the right outlet where the users are in your target demographic.
Mobile apps for companies will become more prominent. As mobile devices are used more and more to connect everyone, more companies will create their own apps so their customers and employees have the ability to connect with the company quicker (and in a mobile-friendly manner). If a customer can’t connect with a company wirelessly, there’s a likelihood that the customer will just find a competitor they can connect with on their mobile device.
M2M is growing, and isn’t going to stop. As Machine-to-Machine (M2M) technology allows companies to take advantage of e-commerce and retail solutions via a mobile device that otherwise would not have been possible. As of November 2013, there are more than 190 million M2M connections already. By 2017 that number is estimated to triple. All I can say is…get on board now.
BYOD. More employers will allow employees to bring their own devices to use for work purposes. Most employees really hate the technology given to them by employers to use because it’s often outdated, runs slow, or just doesn’t work right. Employees would rather bring in their own cell phones, computers, tablets, etc. to use because not only are they comfortable with their own devices, but they are usually the top-of-the-line devices. By the way, BYOD programs generally increase productivity and reduce technology related costs for the employer.
Increase in the role of IT in the business. As wireless and wireless devices evolve and become the core of the business unit, IT will have an increased responsibility to work with each department to a) determine the technology needs of each department, and b) to develop or find and implement the tools for a seamless process.
There are many more 2014 predictions available, but these are just a few of the ones that will likely hit home for most small and large businesses.