by Ioannis Verdelis
Remember travel agents? The first time I took a flight, I had to drive to a brick-and-mortar travel agency, call the airline to confirm the flight, and take my ticket (with carbon copies) to the airport to begin an hour of security hassle.
Travel today is utterly unrecognizable from what it was like 10 years ago — the industry has been fully disrupted by mobile. This morning, I booked a flight in bed from my phone, booked my hotel on Desti, and received automatic updates in real time on my smartwatch and phone.
We don’t just book online to find the lowest price anymore; the entire travel experience is instant, intuitive, and fully integrated into our lives. It isn’t just convenience — mobile has fundamentally changed the way people think about travel. It’s spontaneous and easily changed, and we have more options than ever before. Mobile disruption is so big that the entire industry has been forced to adjust to the shift.
Mobile is the final frontier for any industry because mobile itself was the biggest disruption since the Internet. Only when a product or service goes mobile can it be truly seamless — a digital extension of our lives.
Why Mobile Is the Ultimate Disruption
The mobile phenomenon gave us more than instant connectivity in the palm of our hand. It changed our behavior, our thinking, our commerce, and our relationships. Mobile has changed:
The Way We Communicate.
Having our phone, email, and social media in our back pocket eliminated time and location barriers. We have come to expect 24/7 accessibility and lightning-fast responses from friends, co-workers, and companies, and now, our phones can even prompt us to network or make romantic connections.
The Way We Work.
The rising trend of companies encouraging bring-your-own-device policies, and the rise of telecommuting has improved employee morale, blurred the lines between work and home life, and brought corporations and governments into new territory with information security.
The Way We Pay.
Carrier companies like Sprint, AT&T, and Verizon no longer have exclusive billing rights for mobile services. App, game, and music purchases are now made through Google Wallet and iTunes (rather than your service provider), and companies such as Square, Venmo, and ZMAZZ are making it easy to pay in brick-and-mortar locations with your phone.
The Way We Gather Information.
Mobile phones use location data to make it easier for users to find exactly what they’re searching for and gather more timely information. From comparing prices when shopping in a store to checking the score of the big game to emergency services monitoring Twitter, mobile has improved the speed and accuracy with which we’re able to obtain information.
Industries That Have Yet to Be Disrupted by Mobile
These changes have triggered a technology renaissance, but not all industries have been fully disrupted by mobile yet. Here are a few industries that are still lagging behind (and ripe for disruption):
The education industry has historically been cutting-edge on research, but universities are traditional bureaucracies that have fallen behind on mobile technology. Most universities have custom-built portals that are too clunky for the mobile experience, and visiting a university’s website (especially logging in to complete online assignments, check grades, or register for classes) reminds us how archaic these systems are.
The future of mobile technology in education will see students using an interactive campus map to locate classes, experiencing better communication and calendar integration, receiving mobile alerts for assignments, and enjoying seamless mobile registration.
Privacy laws, consumers’ concerns about sharing their information, and the various stakeholders involved in healthcare have made the pace of the mobile revolution sluggish at best.
Disrupting this industry will be similar to the travel industry: Instead of making a dozen calls and waiting, patients will be able to find a health provider from an app, make an appointment online, and manage their insurance, medical history, and prescriptions seamlessly with a few swipes on their phone. The startup One Medical Group is working on this technology as we speak.
Unlike other industries, governments understand mobile technology. In fact, Edward Snowden’s leak showed that the NSA and other government agencies monitor our mobile usage quite extensively. What they lack, however, is a mobile connection to constituents.
When government fully embraces mobile, voting for elected leaders will be as easy as a Facebook “like,” court fines will be paid using PayPal, and filing taxes will be as simple as scanning a QR code.
No industry is insulated from the wave of mobile disruption. Users are demanding instantaneous, on-the-go access to information, products, and services, and industries that are quick to embrace mobile will reap the benefits. Consumer response rates are significantly higher on mobile, mobile marketing efforts are easy to track and measure, and nearly a third of conversions occur on mobile.
Mobile isn’t the future; it’s the standard we have come to expect. Plenty of industries are ripe for disruption but held back by red tape, privacy issues, and clunky technology. If you’re looking to innovate, look no further than the most sluggish industries waiting to be pushed into the mobile landscape.