Whole Foods Truck photo by Scott Beale, CC BY 4.0.

Whole Foods Truck photo by Scott Beale, CC BY 4.0.

Yes, you most likely need a mobile app. If that’s your focus, though, your objective is misaligned. Going mobile is not the same thing as having an app.

Mobile is the device. Mobility is the experience it creates. That’s been our guiding principle at Changelane, and it’s why – as of this writing – our mobile app still isn’t available. As a business, we cultivated a defining question you should consider asking yourself, as well:

Do you really understand mobility as a behavior and lifestyle?

It’ll make you ask some tough questions about the role mobile plays in your business, and you’ll be able to develop a strategy built on a deep understanding of mobility.

The Lead-Up to Mobility

If you keep in mind that we define mobility as an experience, it helps you to focus on the core behavior people want to adopt. That’s been a migration from “digital” to “social” and now to “mobility.” Consumers began to adopt new behaviors to acquire the convenience of experiencing digital transactions as it was moved to their fingertips. Then, social networks allowed people to easily share this recently acquired experiential convenience. The current and ongoing migration to mobility is even more of a physical behavior change than its predecessors: now, that digital transaction can be shared and self-promoted, but it’s served up on the go – on a device that fits in your pocket or maybe even worn on your wrist.

Mobility is different from the stationary desktop experience in that it increases the range of experience. You can be passive and just catch up on the latest episode of your favorite streaming video series while you take an Uber to the airport; or you can be active and spend that time shopping for a new winter jacket. When you get to the airport, you might pass the time waiting to get through the security checkpoint by sharing a photo on Facebook or scanning posts by peers on LinkedIn. In all of these cases, you are a body in motion. What you consume changes with your context.

That means mobile is not a channel. 

Your existing content might be easily optimized for mobile consumption – but remember – that’s looking at things from a device perspective rather than an experience perspective. Which begs the question: are you coming up with something “mobile” even if it doesn’t make sense for your long-term business goals?

Another way of looking at it would be to ask yourself if your company is moving toward the intersection of service and mobility – actually physically changing to embrace the experience of mobility customers crave – or simply saying you’ve solved the “mobile” challenge because you ported your user interface into an app?

Mobile amplifies the growing and inexorable migration of our world toward the experience of increased mobility. Mobile is merely the mute infrastructure, whereas mobility is the vibrant, emotional context that integrates you as an indispensable part of a physical experience. The latter can’t exist without the former, to be sure; however, the you must come to us thinking of the past cannot be rectified with “we’ll just build an app and everything will be fine” thinking.

There’s no better example than the current explosion of food trucks. Do they need an app? No. Because it’s not about mobile for them. It’s about mobility. Does Whole Foods need mobility? Yes. One of their answers is food trucks. Whole Foods understands that it’s not about mobile. They must get out and become an experience for their customers. There’s no app for that.

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