Immobile on mobile commerce?

News that mobile commerce is seeing explosive growth is quiet nearly a quotidian headline and has been documented widely including on this blog. Yet a recent survey by Kony, a company that specializes in customer engagement applications on mobile operating systems, showed that while "87 percent of retailers believe mobile commerce will impact shopping in the next two years just 16 percent have a mobile strategy in place".  But knowing and even acknowledging (89% in the survey) the rise of m-commerce has not translated into action by way of developing a strategy much less the implementation of a plan to exploit the rising trend.

Reasons for the disconnect between awareness of the mobile market's growth trajectory and the need to embrace it span the gamut of typical technology barriers such as multiple platforms thanks to the wide variety of phones, tablets, and browsers. Add to that a crippling talent shortage documented in a recent Wall Street Journal article aptly headlined "Mobile App Talent Pool Is Shallow. The Journal notes that LBS start-up Where "is on track to double its mobile staff this year after quadrupling it in 2010. The problem: The talent pool isn't growing nearly that fast."  The boom in mobile apps is pervasive and reaches industries beyond the expected such as retail where merchants ignore it at their peril. A recent Motorola commissioned study pointed out that over a third of customer walk-outs were due to smartphones providing app driven information on the product on sale to customers. Service industries like airlines and hotels abound in apps such as tripadvisor and Hotelpal that aid in evaluating and booking personal travel while majors such as Orbitz are in the forefront catering to business travel. In others fields such as publishing, the WSJ article details how companies like Hearst  have hired mobile app developers by paying lofty salaries to neophytes at levels on par with engineers having over a decade of experience.

Ad dollars too have been slow in going the way of m-commerce as another reccent article in the Wall Street Journal noted that mobile ad revenue for 2010 came in between $550m and $650m woefully short of a bullish  prediction by eMarketer of $1.7b for 2008! While noting that web advertising "eclipsed newspapers in 2010" the April 14th, 2011 Journal article wrote of an encouraging double digit growth in overall web ads citing the   "Interactive Advertising Bureau" or IAB. It likely won't be long before eMarketer's premature prediction for mobile ad dollars comes to pass and soon after overtake and dominate web overall web advertising.


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Vijay Dandapani

Co-founder and president of a New York based hotel company for 24 years. Grew the firm to five hotels in Manhattan and also developed a greenfield project at MacArthur airport, New York. Speaker at numerous prestigious forums including Economy Hotels World Asia, Lodging Conference, NYU, Columbia University Real Estate Roundtable, Baruch College's Zicklin School and ALIS. President and ceo of New York City Hotel Association since January 2017.