"Ask our customers what they need and then build it as fast as they can."
That advice from John Costello, President, Global Marketing & Innovation Dunkin Brands, Inc. was likely the simplest, yet best advice to come out of a fantastic event in Salt Lake City, Utah -- the Mobile Marketing Association's CEO & CMO Summit.
A select crowd of 50 CEO and CMOs from brands and service providers huddled in SLC to talk all things mobile and marketing for 3 days. The scene consisted of hot buffet-style dinners around outdoor fire-pits, mid-western themed cocktail hours that started at 6 pm and spanned the night and probably most importantly round-table style discussions and presentations about where the mobile industry is going and what it meant to each company sitting in the room.
Costello, while seemingly reserved in his charcoal gray suit and yellow-striped tie, took the stage and warmly and confidently blew each attendee away. His main takeaway was the importance of making a (prepare yourself for corporate jargon ahead) "360" plan for approaching mobile in an organization. While I don't love the terminology -- I did love the energy and originality behind Dunkin Brand's approach.
Costello made it a point to emphasize that mobile does not mean creating an app or throwing together a mobile website. Rather he stressed the importance of having fun and realizing that mobile is. everything. Every facet of the business that Dunkin Donuts and Baskin Robins does has to be considered through the less of a customer that is using multiple devices to experience their brand, has different needs on each of those devices, and at the end of the day is heavily driven by brands that can make his or her life experience better. Costello also realized the importance of demographics and how they should help inform mobile decisions. Specifically he called out the point that Hispanic youth are leading the consumer and mobile market. (Right now, Dunkin Brands has an app that you can toggle from English to Spanish, but more plans for a deeper understanding of this demographic consumes mobile content - are in the works.
I thought this was a fantastic approach, considering the fact that many organizations are still struggling with mobile as almost a hurdle to their communication as opposed to an opportunity to improve their customers or users lives.
Other random but great things that came out of Summit: Chris Harrison, Professor, Human-Computer Interaction, Carnegie Mellon University walked attendees through the history of mobile phones (check the image at the top) and the future possibilities of wearable technologies (a la Google glass and phone watches) and skin phones. Yes, I said skin phones.
Lastly I think the best thing that came to my attention is that in a very short time, brands are no longer going to need to build and think, mobile-first. They are going to need to adapt and plan for mobile-only. Think about some of the best experiences you've had on your phone. For me it's Instagram, Vine and other sites that I actually cannot access via a desktop computer. This point was brought home by everyone from Costello at Harrison to Rei Inamoto, Chief Creative Officer at AKQA.
This idea coupled with the fact that 80% of apps are downloaded less than 1k times - screams that the only way to survive in the mobile industry is to innovate, be the first, the best or the biggest -- and finally to be mobile-only.