Four Ways Big Brands Can Innovate (And Compete) Like Mobile Startups

Mobile and IoT-centric startups are using their agility to surpass corporations with household brand names. Fortunately, any business can use mobile and IoT to grow its brand. You don’t have to be a startup to disrupt your industry—you just have to act like one.

Four Ways Big Brands Can Innovate (And Compete) Like Mobile Startups

Forward-thinking business leaders across industries are starting to embrace the Internet of Things (IoT) and innovate their digital experiences around new devices.

For digital marketers, this technology trend should be repositioned as the “Internet of Me,” according to Kevin Lindsay, Adobe’s director of product marketing. The wealth of digital data we can collect from mobile and Internet-connected devices enables marketers to deliver personalized experiences at any phase of the customer’s journey with our brands.

Yet most businesses, especially established corporations, are lagging behind, perhaps slowed by a lack of strategic and technological agility. Or, even worse, they are hindered by a disconnect from what their very own customers demand from brand experiences: convenient, seamlessly connected, intuitive, and automated interactions with the products and services they use every day.

Smart devices and mobile apps first enabled startups to grow at unprecedented rates by tapping into new ways of reaching and creating value for customers. Now IoT is enabling a new wave of startups. In many cases, an IoT device is controlled by a mobile app that has been downloaded to the consumer’s smartphone. As such, the smartphone has become the “universal remote control” for digital experiences. The most obvious examples of companies that successfully leveraged mobile-only experiences were startups not long ago. Uber officially launched in 2011, and its mobile-app-driven fleet of connected cars has spread like wildfire across the globe. In 2007, Fitbit looked ahead and saw in sensors and wireless technology an opportunity to revolutionize the fitness industry.

These mobile and IoT-centric startups are using their agility to surpass corporations with household brand names. Fortunately, any business can use mobile and IoT to grow its brand. You don’t have to be a startup to disrupt your industry—you just have to act like one.

Who Will Be The Uber Of Your Industry?

Acting like a startup means actively looking for opportunities to innovate at the place where your business and the latest technological evolution intersect. But you have to do more than look; you have to act.

Startups are focused on one thing and one thing only: growth. That singular focus emboldens them to take risks. If this is not natural for your organization, it may be that your enterprise is big enough to have a lot more at stake. It’s understandable to be risk-averse, but don’t be blinded to the biggest risk of all: becoming irrelevant to customers as smaller but bolder brands take your place.

Mobile is both the foundation of IoT and the reason that tech startups were able to innovate and grow. If you want to be the next Uber, you must focus on the rapidly evolving mobile and IoT trends and get ready to act when your innovation opportunity comes along.

Here’s how:

1. Leverage innovation in your existing products and services: I recently bought a Bose wireless speaker—my first home stereo system in a long time—because I was taken by its new and innovative design. It’s a compact but powerful speaker that connects to your mobile device. Upon installation, the first thing you do is download the mobile app. You control the Bluetooth-enabled speaker through the app, which also teaches you all of the speaker’s functionalities. Bose was thinking like a startup: The company understood the way mobile apps and connected devices are driving new user experiences and jumped at the chance to innovate.

2. Prepare your enterprise to take action: If you want to jump at your chance to innovate, you’ll need the in-house technology and development skills or partners in place. This often means combining mobile and cloud technology infrastructure and going fully digital in order to “create a new business model by connecting people, processes, things, and data in order to keep up with technological innovation.” It also means forging outside-the-box partnerships, making cutting-edge IT a priority, and designing an agile infrastructure that can be scaled and adapted to your next opportunity.

For example, Australian mobile provider Telstra stays technologically nimble and ready to pounce by collaborating with startups, investing in machine-to-machine (M2M) technology, and making sure its network is the best in the business.

3. Secure C-level sponsorship and funding: Although 75% of companies have or are planning a mobile strategy, surprisingly only 30% can say mobile is central to their overall enterprise strategy. And mobile is not a budget priority. You may know that mobile is crucial, but it still gets lost in your company’s overall marketing strategy. As Matt Asay, Adobe’s VP of mobile, put it, “Your CEO might be saying, ‘Mobile is really important,’ while at the same time cautioning the marketing team, ‘You better not miss your numbers this quarter.’ Folding in a mobile-first strategy is a longer-term initiative, so it often takes a back seat to immediate revenue goals.”

To innovate successfully, you need C-level sponsorship and funding. Chances are your execs already consider mobile and IoT a top strategic priority, but they may need to adopt a startup mindset, take a risk, and align the budget with their priorities.

4. Connect everything to the customer relationship: Mobile and IoT technologies are powerful because they allow you to tap into a recurring relationship with the customer that wasn’t possible before. That’s the whole point as marketers: building a deeper relationship with the customer that goes beyond a purchase transaction. As trust and loyalty grows through your customer-centric mobile apps and IoT products, so do your opportunities for branding and awareness.

For example, Ford is building a relationship where a relationship was not even possible before. With a mobile app for its electric cars, Ford is fostering brand loyalty. These “connected cars” communicate with the app, allowing users to control charging remotely, find nearby charging stations, and more. This new and highly valuable experience is engaging Ford customers much more frequently than they were able to before.

The Big Brand Advantage

Enterprises have one distinct advantage has over lean startups: a deep pool of customer data to drive its strategic innovation. The ability to analyze your data for insights into what your customers desire right now is an asset you should exploit to find new ways to grow.

The business value of data won’t depreciate any time soon. In fact, the IoT trend is ushering in a new age of “data and information flows that continually emanate from people and devices.” Make full use of the data you have now and all future opportunities to more deeply understand your mobile and IoT users, and you will have distinct competitive advantage in a world that is becoming digitally connected at every time and place.