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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Open Mobile Summit taps innovative minds

Leaders from the mobile ecosystem met in San Francisco for the Open Mobile Summit on Nov. 9 and 10, 2015. More than 90 product and marketing experts shared insights on the challenges and opportunities of moving to a mobile-first world and how the full potential of mobile apps could be unleashed through advanced machine learning.

In opening comments, Altimeter Group Principal Analyst Brian Solis described the mobile-only customer experience as a series of micro moments, where each must be useful in order for customers to take the next step. Unlike other channels, in the mobile "egosystem" we are the center of our universe, and the "have it now" expectations of mobile consumers must be addressed in mobile-forward company strategies, he said.

Google Ventures General Partner Rich Miner discussed financially focused investment in early-stage American and European startups. "When you're looking at the formation of tech ecosystems to invest in, you want to see availability of capital," he said. "You want to see seasoned entrepreneurs from great universities and repeat entrepreneurs to be coaches and mentors."

Miner noted that London, Stockholm and Berlin are innovation hotbeds and that today's tech innovators are more grounded than those involved in the tech bubble early in this century. He added that the speed of software and hardware innovation coming from startups could outpace that from slower adapting mobile behemoths. He believes that from a venture capital perspective, the combination of these capabilities with the cloud will transform smart devices with machine intelligence operating in the background.

Omnichannel explorers

Adam Marchick, co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of mobile automation software provider Kahuna, emphasized that apps can act a catalyst for omnichannel opportunity. As merchants integrate new channels, consistency at every touch point, whether digital or in-person, will be reflected in merchant vendor choices.

Panelist Joe Megibow, Chief Digital Officer at American Eagle Outfitters described his experience in launching mobile chat at a time when few service providers offered it. "On day one, we were getting about 40 percent of our chats through mobile, and the chats were every bit as long as online," he said. "They were talking to people like they talked to human beings in stores."

Mixpanel co-founder Tim Trefren, whose firm specializes in advanced analytics, stressed the importance of data in validating company vision. He said rapid iterations by those who adopt a data-driven approach can accelerate sales by as much as 30 to 50 percent, and gave as an example highly targeted push notifications to consumer groups.

Cheetah Mobile Senior Vice President of Worldwide Sales Djamel Agaoua said the right message delivered at the right moment can increase mobile customer engagement by a factor of three to five times. MoEngage Inc., a company whose platform focuses on helping mobile apps figure out how to personalize push notifications, revealed how personalized smart triggers can lead consumers to add to shopping carts online and increase engagement.

Other panelists with mobile app experience noted the importance of testing specific use case scenarios before full-scale launch of new apps. Several panelists described how contextual differences on small screen mobile devices lead to their containing less content than PC screens. This is even more applicable to wearable devices where scrollable infographics or bite-sized content can effectively engage customers.

Afternoon sessions on day one focused on mobile products that pack a punch and mobile marketing to close the physical-to-digital gap. Panelists covered mobile-first versus mobile only, omnichannel readiness, building apps at scale, evolving apps, context aware customer engagement and more.

Machine learning 101

On day two of the summit Kevin Weil, Senior Vice President at Twitter Inc. described how changing the social network's star, indicating a "favorite," to a heart, indicating a "like," increased overall engagement on the social platform by 6 percent. He also described other features in the pipeline that will add value and build brand awareness. Facebook Inc. Head of Commerce Product Marketing Kelly Graziadel described how the company is adding tools that optimize commerce-driven experiences.

Mark Rolston, founder and Chief Creative of Argodesign, explored how "invisible and super-smart computing" will reshape our personal and professional lives. He later joined executives from Google Inc., Kayak and Kony Inc. in a panel discussion on machine-learning algorithms and how they will ultimately support human decision making in deeper ways.

Skyhook Wireless Inc. Vice President of Product David Bairstow offered a game plan for retaining mobile app users in a world where over 50 million apps are downloaded daily, yet one in four are abandoned within 24 hours. He said dynamic apps can layer data sources with location to deliver relevant user experiences.

In discussing trends with exhibitors, which included Appboy, Amplitude Mobile Analytics, Apptimize, CA Technologies, Cheetah Mobile, Crittercism, Flybits, Kahuna, Kony, Leanplum, Localytics, Mixpanel, MoEngage and Skyhook Wireless, many saw great potential in creating context-as-a-service capabilities and developing automated platforms that enable rich targeting and personalization to enhance retention, all supported by analytics. end of article

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