From the smallest business struggling to figure out how to build a mobile-friendly website to the largest consumer internet brands struggling to build compelling mobile experiences, mobile offers just as many challenges as it does opportunities.
That begs the question: in many cases, isn’t a wait-and-see approach the most sensible path forward? When it comes to mobile payments, some experts are suggesting that companies can’t wait.
According to CMO.com’s David Gardner, estimates peg the value of mobile payments at some $600bn within the next four years and given the near-ubiquity of mobile phones in the developed world, the rise of mobile payments would appear to be a when, not if, question.
As Dr. Siddharth Shah, Adobe’s director of business analytics, sees it, “It’s safe to say that mobile transactions are the wave of the future.” For that reason, he suggests that “Right now the focus of CMOs should be [which] device is most appropriate for making mobile transactions better.”
Mobile: it’s complicated
Unfortunately, that’s not an easy task. As Gardner points out, the mobile payments space looks like a “minefield.” Case in point: while NFC is gaining a lot of traction, Apple has chosen, at least for the time being, to stay proprietary with its new Passbook application.
The lack of standards is just as confusing for consumers as it is for businesses, and while mobile payments are becoming more visible to consumers thanks to deals like the one forged between Square and Starbucks, until the dust has settled, there’s no reason to believe that consumers are going to rush to jump on the mobile payments bandwagon. There’s simply too much uncertainty.
Even so, Shah and his colleagues at Adobe argue that companies need to start making decisions now so that they’re prepared when the train starts to leave the station.
But is this realistic? CMO.com’s Gardner points to IAB research showing that half of the Fortune 500 doesn’t even have a mobile site, which begs the question: how can companies begin to develop a mobile payments strategy when they don’t even have a mobile website strategy in place?
Obviously, mobile payments and mobile websites are logically two separate discussion for many companies, but there’s still the issue of whether they are ready to tackle complicated mobile decisions before they have a firm grasp on the direction of the market and what it means for them.
The only constant is change
Unfortunately, predicting the direction of mobile markets is all but impossible. The innovation cycle is simply too rapid and there’s no reason to believe that this is going to change any time soon. Hardware is getting better more and more quickly, and overall capabilities are growing at an incredible rate.
With this in mind, a wait-and-see approach, however logical it may seem, may not be viable. Instead, we should consider that decisions will need to be made before there are standards and obvious winners, and that in some cases, there may never be standards and winners, at least for long. In other words, for the foreseeable future, when it comes to mobile, making some decisions before there are answers is the only way to move forward as uncomfortable as it is.