Game Changers: Interview with Paul Swaddle OBE
19 Oct 2016
19 Oct 2016

In the first of an ongoing series of interviews with game changers at the front line of digital transformation, Dean Russell interviews Paul Swaddle OBE. Chairman of Pocket App – the UKs largest independent mobile App developer.

Paul Swaddle OBE is co-founder and chairman at Pocket App, the UKs largest independent app developer.

swaddle-webPaul has been working at the leading edge of mobile technology for over 15 years now and co-founded Pocket App in 2010 with the aim of bringing the creative and technical development elements of mobile technology together under one roof. Paul speaks regularly at events and offer thought leadership on app development, mobile trends and business. Paul recently acted as a mentor in the Mayor’s International Business Program and appeared as a guest judge in the final of the 2015 BBC Television programme, The Apprentice.

Why should CEOs care about mobile?

Mobile was once the concern of IT managers- but now that the responsibility for business mobility has spread to every part of the enterprise, with a mobile first strategy becoming increasingly prevalent, it’s essential that the CEO sits up and pays attention

Mobile is now an intrinsic part of everyday life and has spilled into the workplace via Bring Your Own Device (BYOD and Chose Your Own Device (CYOD) and as a consequence the CEO needs have mobile as a key consideration, because as the old adage goes “not having a plan is planning to fail”.Watch Full Movie Online Streaming Online and Download

The bottom line is that even if you decide that you don’t want to employ mobile or have a mobile first strategy, that’s absolutely fine, but the key thing is for that to be a conscious decision and not just a result of ignoring its existence.

For businesses planning to embrace digital transformation – at what stage should they consider mobile?

The short answer is “at the beginning”. Mobile shouldn’t be a consideration that is pinned on at the end of your digital transformation journey, it should be an intrinsic part of what you’re doing from the offset.

In many ways mobile actually drives digital transformation because if you are a consumer facing organisation, this transformation needs to focus on the touch points where the most customer engagement is happening and in terms of numbers, mobile is at the forefront of the customer’s digital experience.

Moreover, if your digital transformation journey is initially focussing on streamlining internal processes, cutting costs and improving operational efficiencies, then the leveraging of mobile applications is also going to be a central consideration in this process.

Mobile App development can seem quite expensive – is it possible to achieve ROI in the short term?

Having run seminars in the past on app development and the introduction of digital transformation into the enterprise, I know that there is often the misconception that this can only be done at a large expense to the organisation. This isn’t necessarily true and even looking at the public sector where we have worked on a number of innovative, high profile projects that organisations have been forced to implement while under huge pressure to reduce costs and provide better citizen experience, this can still be done in a pragmatic way.

The truth is that mobile app development isn’t cheap, nor is it costly and that’s due to the fact that there are different scales of implementation. So whilst it’s not uncommon for large organisations to spend £200,000 with us on a service, its equally as common that some organisations will only spend tens of thousands, its really dependant on what you want and what you are trying to achieve.

Who should own mobile within a business? e.g. CMO, IT etc?

In my opinion it’s akin to asking who should own pen and paper within an organisation. Essentially mobile is just a tool and so if that tool is a marketing app for use in the marketing department then clearly ownership should reside there. Likewise, if it’s an application for the logistics part of your organisation then it should be part of what they own.

How can businesses take advantage of the data collected by their Apps? And should the public be worried about their privacy?

Tackling the second half of the questions first, this is often a concern for the public. Only recently I was reading an article which focussed on the Pokémon Go app and all of the data that is collected whilst you play. Data is collected on where you go, when you went there, how you got there, how long you stayed, and who else was there etc.

And from that the app developer may collect your email address, IP address, the web page you were using before logging into Pokémon Go, your username, and your location. Now ultimately the onus is on the individual to check the privacy/security settings and also what data you are consenting to sharing when you download a particular app, but the truth is that users really shouldn’t be any more worried about the data collected from their interaction with apps than they are with any other generation of data collection. As with any other business or project, developers of applications for mobile devices need to comply with the Data Protection Act 1998 and ensure users’ privacy, so the public can rest assured that they must grant permission before any of their personal data can be shared.

From the businesses perspective they can gather and analyse more information about consumers – location, preferences, purchasing history – than ever before, offering not just customer insight, but an almost sixth sense.

It’s all about knowing your customer. Through this increase in customer data, organisations can then offer a more personalised experience and through this increased personalisation businesses are able to elicit customer loyalty. The key thing is for organisations to remember is that mobile consumers today are more sophisticated than ever before and when they decide to engage with their favourite brands, they expect to be marketed to on their terms and want messages that are timely, personalised and relevant to them, so don’t SPAM them!

What role does creativity play in successful mobile campaigns?

Creativity plays a huge role in the success of mobile campaigns and is why our creative team puts the user experience (UX) at the heart everything we do designing interfaces and experiences to delight and engage users across multiple mobile platforms.

At the end of the day the mobile bit is just the technology delivery mechanism, it’s the design which can ultimately make the difference between success and failure.

What are the biggest mistakes organisations make with mobile?

Not doing it!

After that the usual pain points are skimping on its implementation and trying to do things ‘on the cheap’ as it were. Like with most things in life, if you want it done to a professional standard, you hire a professional. You wouldn’t attempt to fix your own washing machine if it broke down, or attempt to start fiddling under the bonnet of your car if it didn’t work and likewise you should trust the implementation of your mobile strategy with an expert organisation.

To do this in-house would require a large scale operation to make it work seamlessly and effectively and so that’s why a lot of businesses look to outsource this. At Pocket App we are always more than happy to talk to businesses about how mobile can positively influence thire organisations performance, with no commitment to actually purchase anything.

What are your predictions for the evolution of mobile in the next 5 years?

I think the biggest evolution in mobile will see further adoption outside of the UK in emerging markets like India. If it hasn’t already happened I’d say that emerging markets will overtake wealthier countries in technology growth by value within the next five years and the reason for this emerging market dominance of smartphone growth is that pricing is now reaching the sweet spot of $30 to $50 (around £18 to £30). This brings a major population segment (earning $2,000 to $4,000) into the market.

Another major growth area for mobile will see homes around the world become a lot smarter and more connected. Overall, a fair number of mainstream consumers still don’t fully understand what connected-home devices are and how they work, and so demand hasn’t reached its full potential. However, adoption and awareness is still high for such a new category and I would expect the devices to become more prevalent in the next few years, when growth will peak and this means huge marketing opportunities in the near future.

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  1. Michael October 21st, 2016 8:11AM

    Mobile is the key to future growth in places like Africa and India because the infrastructure costs are lower and take up will be higher than for fixed-line connections to services like the Internet

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