Today’s sold-out Mobile Summit at Microsoft NERD, Mobile: The Next Generation, brought a crowd of over 220 infrastructure and app developers, designers, investors, and business leaders.
The first session of the morning, Content is King!, was moderated by Phuc Truong of Mobext US and included Phil Costa of Brightcove, Jeff Moriarty of The Boston Globe, and Sanjay Vakil of TripAdvisor. Phuc structured the discussion around mobile content best practices: 1) searchability; 2) readability; 3) relevancy; 4) making it sociable; and 5) making it actionable.
All panelists were in agreement that SEO is equally as important to mobile content as it is to web content, but is more challenging. Jeff spoke how search engines respond very well to responsive design because regardless of the device it is a single set of code with a single URL. Panelists also felt that web applications could be preferable to apps in the app stores because search engines do not respond to them.
When discussing user experience, Sanjay clarified that often times tablets and mobile phones are lumped together but they are actually very different mediums. A mobile phone is not more than a post-it note, while readers using a tablet often want a better-than-desktop experience. Phil broke it down as: mobile phones are used for “information snacking”, task oriented things like reading and answering quick emails, or out of boredom. A tablet on the other hand should be a relaxed experience with the capabilities of a desktop viewing.
Most panel members agreed that content’s relevancy is largely driven by geospecificity. A majority of people search for local news or destinations and it’s crucial that searches pull up regional information. Phil also stated that content should link together, noting that story-telling will keep a reader engaged for a longer time than if a reader needs to continue searching for related articles or videos.
And finally, with both socializing data and making data actionable, the panel members agreed making mobile content as frictionless as possible would reap the best results.
Following Content is King! we moved to our Knowledge Exchange Sessions.
Todd Christy and I ran the lively “War of the Platforms” session. We tossed out discussion topics that ranged from MEAPs (Mobile Enterprise Application Platforms) versus custom development, to native versus HTML5, to who’s winning the platform wars. As you can imagine, there was heavy debate. The hotspots for heated discussion seemed to fall into three buckets:
- “Is your company using native or HTML5 for developing B2E applications?” Many organizations are realizing that the strategy of using HTML5 and a developer who probably doesn’t have UX experience results in applications that are not user friendly for employees and just don’t get used. The group thought employee apps should be treated with the same level of “respect” as outwardly facing apps.
- “Which app development path is the right path for the enterprise?” When we asked the question of who is planning on using a MEAP for app development, not a single hand went up. The issue seemed to be: can you really deliver a compelling user experience with a MEAP verses custom development?
- “Is there a clear winner in the tablet and smartphone space?” Despite all the debating, we did have consensus that iOS has won that tablet wars. But there’s not a clear winner yet with smartphones. iOS has a big share, but Androids are moving up because they are a less expensive option. Microsoft has also thrown its hat into the ring and we are waiting to see how that evolves.
Fast Pitch 101 – How to Sell Yourself in 2 Minutes
Fast Pitch 101 provided some amazing insights into what VCs are looking for in a company, a person, and a pitch. James Geshwiler, Managing Director of CommonAngels, and Sean Dalton, Managing Partner of Highland Capital kicked off with their respective “musts”. James listed the following key elements that a pitch must include (depending upon investor and company the order of importance can vary): Product/Service, Value proposition, Team, Market, Competition/Alternatives, and Financial profile.
Sean added that providing analogies of what your company and/or product can is very useful to an investor, allowing them to quickly and easily get a feel for it. He also added that all entrepreneurs have an “elephant” in the room and that is should be disclosed right away. It allows the investor to be sure the entrepreneur is self-aware and willing to overcome the issue.
A great comment from an audience member was that entrepreneurs get mixed messages from different investors. James and Sean both agreed individual investors may have different factors that are important to them, and also the sector and the stage of the company will also be considerations as to what is most important. For instance, an early stage investor may be most interested in the team, while the 2nd round investor might be most interested in the market, and some investors may just want to get involved because others have invested that and that gives the company automatic credibility.
Opportunities in Mobile – Show Me the Money
The Opportunities in Mobile Knowledge Session brought a lot of questions on present-day trends. Many of these trends are just beginning and there is and there are still a number of solutions that need to be created, which according to Andrew Borg, Research Director at Aberdeen Group, brings huge financial opportunities. Andrew went on to say that the ecosystems are not well done yet so there is a good amount of work needed. He also talked about the vast amount of work that needs to happen with the vertical tech stack, such as SoMoClo (Social, Mobile, and Cloud).
A good amount of time was also spent on Native vs. HTML5, which was also a major theme throughout the day. Greg Raiz, Founder and CEO of Raiz Labs, pointed out that before making a decision on the programming, the long-term goal needed to be defined. For instance if a company is small and can’t maintain several different native applications then they need to utilize HTML5 or a hybrid that they can maintain. Also noted, is that HTML5 for the enterprise is usually a very good choice because it supports BYOD and handles many security issues.