This is part three of a ten-part series leading up to the inaugural Australian release of the Digital IQ report.

Although mobile phones have now been available to customers for decades, it’s fair to say most of the innovation in the mobile space has occurred within the better part of the last decade.

The transformation is nearly total. Smartphone penetration in Australia has reached nearly 100%, and most access the internet on those same devices.

In fact, it’s fair to say the consumer space has been totally taken over by mobile. Most Facebook users access the network through mobiles, and ecommerce on mobiles ahs continued to rise. Google is shifting most of its metrics towards mobile access – because that’s where most of the access is found.

Many retailers are now saying most of their traffic comes from mobile devices, including tablets, rather than desktops or laptops. The growth of the messaging app – Snapchat was courted for a $US3 billion offer by Facebook – is further proof of the strength of the mobile system.

Such growth represents significant change for digital enterprises. In a world controlled by the smartphone, the first communication point for consumers is not the keyboard and mouse, but the small, portable screen.

This will not only change the way businesses will put their ideas to market – but it will increasingly alter the expectations around how customers operate and interact with technology.

The mobile revolution

The statistics for mobile usage in Australia are clearly significant. During June 2013, 7.5 million people used the internet on their phone, up by 33% from the previous year.

Mobile services in operation reached 31.09 million, with 11.19 million people using a smartphone – up by 29% from the previous year.

Perhaps most significantly, 53% of people in the survey identified mobile phones as their most used communication service. And the number of mobile phone users without a home fixed-line connection increased by 18% to 3.68 million.

Clearly, the mobile is the centre of modern communication. With the volume of data downloaded on phones reaching 13.7 terabytes in December 2012, services are now focusing on mobile as a primary channel – not an afterthought.

Retailers are no longer seeing mobile traffic rates of 10%, but are seeing this rise to even as high as 50% in some circumstances. This has a huge impact on everything from security to web design – given the switch to wards mobile is changing consumers’ expectations for how they interact online.

Mobile isn’t about mobile – it’s about location 

At first glance, the idea of mobile becoming the primary interface for commerce and consumer transactions sound simple – it’s anything but.

Even consider something as simple as the user-interface. The primary method for getting around online 10 years ago was the click, using the mouse. Now, users swipe to get what they want – and the expectation is that such an action should result in an immediate response.

This places a burden on website managers to be snappy and responsive. If not, it’s their sales at risk.

Another key factor to consider is that adopting a mobile strategy is never just as simple as building a mobile app. Enterprises need to carefully consider the complexities of their backend and server architecture, to find the right data and services to provide a compelling experience. Good architecture provides an intermediary layer for the mobile app to communicate with, which shields the complexity of getting the required data and services from old or complex systems.

Or consider the popularisation of location services on social networks such as Facebook, which now receives 50% of its advertising from mobile views. The ecommerce system now revolves around the idea of providing you deals and information based on where you are at any one point in time. It’s the same reason Google is now pushing more businesses to focus on localisation, in order to snap up the huge amounts of users who are searching for information on smartphones, away from home.

As a result of all of this, the goal for the future of ecommerce is not to focus on the mobile device as the end result. Rather, online commerce is growing into a space where location matters more than anything else. The smartphone is just the conduit through which the customer is reached – the important factor is being able to reach the end consumer no matter where they are, and no matter what device they’re using.

Stay tuned for the fourth entry in our Digital IQ series, which will explore the growing importance of cyber security – for both businesses and customers. 

Part 1: The new age of analytics 

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Greg Barber

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