On a typical day, we hold in our hands a portal to our civilization’s entire trove of information and entertainment — and a window into our finances, our health, and the lives of our friends. Not to mention, the ability to make a purchase anywhere and anytime the whim strikes us.

To say that our personal devices have become an integral part of our lives is a vast understatement. But get ready for an even bigger wave of change. Mobile is poised to become ever more ubiquitous. But the focus will be less on the device itself, and more on its role as a critical enabler in the connected world of the Internet of Everything (IoE).

IoE is the intelligent connection of people, process, data, and things. And those “things” are gaining an increasing ability to talk to one another — and orchestrate events on our behalf. In the expanding universe of connections that is IoE, your smartphones and tablets will find an accelerating number of things with which to interact. In turn, those mobile devices will evolve from simply holding our apps to becoming highly intelligent devices that enable us to communicate with all manner of things in exciting new ways.

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Mobile will also be more defined by wireless, network-connected sensors. These cheap, ubiquitous sensors will be embedded in our everyday world — in objects, in our homes, in “wearables” attached to our clothing, and throughout our cities. The emergence of standardized ultra-low power wireless technology such as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Zigbee, and Cellular NFC, provide the ability to achieve data transfer between nodes and devices — the core connectivity that will enable IoE. Adidas, for example, offers a smart ball with a sensor that integrates with an iPhone to show information on the trajectory and speed of the ball.

Once our devices are connected to wearable technology, they can sense our mood, know our behaviors, then course correct in real time. At this year’s, Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Billie Whitehouse unveiled a GPS-enabled smart jacket that integrates with the mapping app on your phone. Type in a destination and the little vibrators built into the shoulder pads tap out directions for which way to turn.

But that is just one example. As the digital understanding of our behaviors, our moods, and our emotional involvement deepens, it will enable a new level of self-knowledge that will improve our productivity, health, and wellness. For example, Stress Tracker, created by a team of psychologists and researchers, tracks your moods and tensions and learns what makes you anxious. Google Now and the Sherpa personal assistant remember past behaviors to predict a user’s next move. With AutoPebble, you can automate your life from your wrist, and perform a multitude of daily tasks by simply changing the screen to align to your current location and time.

Meantime, some of the functionality once contained only in your mobile devices is shifting to a multitude of other devices and connection points. The Nest Learning Thermometer, for example, contains a sensor that monitors your home temperature but can be controlled through your mobile device. And Aloft smart check in lets you zoom into a hotel, right past the check-in counter. The hotel sends a message to your mobile device with your room number; then you simply touch your RFID-embedded loyalty card to the door, and it will unlock.

In effect, your phone is becoming the master controller, holding your preferences and profile while enabling access to data in real-time

In a retail setting, smart devices will detect wireless signals and receive content as you walk through the door, or even before. The store’s network will share offers and information on what services and products are available at that location at that time. And your phone will enable you to control the interaction, blocking unwanted solicitation and allowing you to choose whether you want to reveal your identity for a more personalized experience. Not all shoppers are comfortable with opting into a system that enables retailers to track their moves, even in exchange for value-added offers and services.

Over time, more data will be leveraged for predictive analytics, combining and analyzing data from various sources in order to anticipate your behaviors. This means, for example, that your local coffee shop could sync with your phone to know you are on your way — and start brewing a made-to-order beverage before you even arrive.

Combining data from all these sources will certainly pose challenges. For marketers, the challenge might be even greater: figuring out what provides the most value for customers. Early studies, such as one conducted by Harvard Business Review, have determined that the success of such real-time discounts depends on parameters like distance and time. If done well, however, such offers have the potential to truly delight customers.

Mobile’s ability to enable interaction with the connected world is driving disruption across a wide swatch of industries. And new business models are emerging at an ever-faster pace.

So, remember the mantra: disrupt or be disrupted. And start thinking about how mobile will transform your core value proposition.


Rachael McBrearty

Chief Creative and Group Leader

Cisco Consulting Services