Mobile University Part 2
And all these big shots stick around THE WHOLE DAY to take in the conference. That’s something that never happens anywhere. Usually, a speaker does his talk then heads for the airport. Not here. This crowd needs to find out what the others are doing. Nobody really knows what works or why.
I get tagged as a volunteer and can’t cover the event, so I ask my old friend Donatis Ludditis for help. I’m hoping for a man-on-the-street slant on the conference. Can he do it? It’s a long shot. This guy avoids technology like rotten fish.
Ludditis catches me off-guard when he draws two Smartphones from his pockets like pistols. He’s jumping into Mobile with both feet! As he explains in his peculiar blend of Balkan and Chicago dialects: “Is wonderful—no office—no desk. I hate desk. Can talk to grandchildren. No need computer—keep everything on cloud.”
I’m amazed. Here’s this relic from the Lithuanian neighborhood in Chicago, where the Old Language was the Main Language. And he owns two of the slickest new smartphones while I still cling to my antique Palm Pilot. Even at his age he’s full of energy and I don’t think he’ll lose his wild head of Einstein hair if he lives past a hundred. This guy still cracks walnuts with his biceps.
I feed him potato pancakes and sit through a late showing at the theater he wants to see and now it’s the wee hours. We’re walking a dark street in a part of town where I don’t belong. I’m wanting to call it a day.
“You no like it here, Yon?” Ludditis says, clucking his tongue.
I show him my wristwatch. “It’s three in the morning! Even the muggers are tucked under the sheets.”
Ludditis glances at my phony Rolex. “People still wear such things?”
“I know just what you need.” He nods knowingly. “I fix you up good. He stops walking and peers at one of his smartphones. “There is place open just two blocks away.” He pockets the phone and takes off at a march and as I tag along he says, “No sleep much at my age. No miss much either!”
The place turns out to be a coffee shop. We’re the only customers and grab a booth. Ludditis orders two cups—black coffee—then shoves them both across at me. “You drink, Yonulis—and listen good. I tell about conference just like you ask me to do. First, this Bieber person.”
That wakes me up quicker than the coffee. Ludditis stays current with pop culture at his age? I switch on my MP3 recorder and swallow the black java.
“One speaker is Corey Bieber from Blue Cross Blue Shield. Maybe cousin to Justin Bieber. Maybe big joke. I not know. She do project on expectant mothers. Good place to use Mobile App. High-risk group. Lotsa monitoring. Repeat condition. Finite time. Emotional audience. Is perfect. Naturally, their study works out good. App saves the company so much money in claims, they wanna give it away free. That way, even more mothers will use it and company saves even more money. But there is internal obstacle. No real data. With no hard proof, is hard sell to upper management. They still trying.”
Somehow that seems ironic to me. Ludditis goes on:
“Here is what I think happens. Big shot tycoons—they yusta looking at pretty color graphs. Big numbers game. Millions they spend to tell me what I must buy. No more! All big guessing game now. But they know they must play game to win. So corporations sweat bullets to find out how to get people to pay attention to them. Then they want we should tell our friends on Faceboooke, Tweetter, Leenkedin—whatever. How you predict such things in people? Where you place your million dollar bets? Ha! Nobody know!” He heaves a sigh and smiles. “It make me feel human again—not number—not no more. Dis I like a lot.
“Then lawyer, David Almeida his name–he show us big legal mess. Old laws like square pegs. Courts shoehorn them into Mobile world. Like Cinderella’s slipper! Lawyers gonna make lotsa money like always.”
I write that one down.
“Two guys from Best Buy–they do case study on young males. Customer want to know if gizmo in store is a good deal. So customer use Mobile Internet to compare price. This turn whole shopping world upside down.”
“You mean people always shop for the best price.”
Ludditis peers at me from under his heavy eyebrows like I’m some kinda idiot. “Convenience, Yonulis. Is number one today. Yusta go straight to store—see if you like product, then go to other store to check price—take all day. No more! Now people check Internet. Reviews. Ratings. Then go to store—feel product—see it. Check price with Smartphone right there. Nobody will come to store unless you make that all possible. Is new kinda service. Then special sale pops up on Mobile. Maybe even show map of store. Maybe clerk in store show App to help customer.”
Ludditis waves the waitress down and orders a piece of pie. “You like pecan, Yon?”
I nod and sip more coffee.
“Two–with ice cream,” he tells the waitress, then turns back to me. “Here is message: Mobile Apps—two kinds work best: Time savers I tell you about already. But time wasters work good also.”
Time Savers and Time Wasters
He’s lost me completely. “Give me an example of a time waster.”
“Is games. Kids, they crazy for games. Games drive people to store.”
I see what he means. Two completely divergent strategies. But there must be a common denominator. “So Don, what’s the secret sauce?”
He bursts out in a big smile. “Is easy. How do people use Mobile? You take the time to find out! Then you make good customer experience. Not rocket science.”
I recall hearing the same message in the hall. “Listen Don. Today I ran into to Andrea Leiter. She says Mobile Apps are influencing kids. She can tell because they’re mentioning brands all the time.”
Ludditis stops in the act of forking in a mouthful of pie. “Smart, that gal—she know what she talk about. I see two young guys from Deloitte show big study. Surprising results. Half of customers use Mobile. A hundred and sixty billion dollars of sales—give or take a couple billion—all connected to Mobile. But these not online sales—these in-store!” He digs out a glob of ice cream and closes his eyes while it melts in his mouth.
“What else do you have?”
Ludditis doesn’t answer right away and I have to admit, pecan pie goes good with vanilla ice cream. I’m just grateful Ludditis didn’t order sour cream like he does with most foods.
He starts up again: “Guy from Apartments Dot Com. Everybody think people use Mobile after work only. Wrong! His study show peak time stretch is from 10am to 10pm. Everybody think GPS biggest thing in Mobile. Wrong! Most important thing is functional App.
New Nielsen Ratings
“Then I see Michael Bayle from ESPN. This is television station I watch. Football. They can send out instant replay on Mobile—seven seconds is all it takes! This I like, too.”
Ludditis sits back and stretches. “Then Bayle shows Nielsen ratings—numbers never seen by public before. Sports fanatics use Mobile Web more than Mobile Apps. Check scores. Watch replay. But spend time on Apps more than Web. You follow?”
I cock my head and look at him a moment before responding. “You mean they use Mobi more often but when they use an App they stick with it longer. What does he make of that?”
“I let Mr. Bayle scratch his head over that. Then they find out this: Sports nut spend forty percent more time on Internet than regular person does. But on Social Media, not sports. Could be they text with friends while watch game. Give same feel as being in crowd. This I not like.”
Too Much Jargon
Ludditis forks in the last of his pie. “Watch out for one thing, Yon. These people like big words. Not much data yet, but lotsa fancy words. Everybody wanna be scientist.”
I sip at my coffee. “It strikes me that way too. Listen, today I meet this guy named Tim Crawford and he says the jargon level is really high with nothing to back it up. At this point, the research is just in its infancy.”
Ludditis snorts. “He is right. Just alotta big talk.”
“But Crawford has a deeper insight. It’s great to be here while it’s all developing. It’s fascinating to see the evolution take place.”
I sip the dregs of the caffeine. “You have to be in the Mobile space, he says—that’s a given. But lacking adequate data, you need a deep personal understanding. Otherwise you spend a lot of money and fail big. He advocates spending just a little money and failing fast. Be nimble and get on the right track. It’s extremely important to fail fast.” Ω
Photographs and comments used by permission of Hugh Jedwill and Heartland Mobile Council.
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