Mobile Convention 2016: from Canadian moments to Chinese credits

Amsterdam was hot last week! The vibrant multicultural city gave shelter to TheNextWeb but also welcomed big names such as Tim Cook (Apple), Eric Schmidt (Alphabet) and the CEO’s of Uber, Airbnb and during the Startup Fest Europe event. In the same week, Emerce was strongly present with two events: E-commerce Live! 2016 (also read the report from our colleague John De Wever) and the annual Mobile Convention. It was the third time we attended Mobile Convention. Hence: our expectations were high and we really looked forward to some of the top speakers that were announced.



When we entered the venue, the unique Beurs of Berlage, we were spontaneously reminded to the first edition: The Beurs was yet again dominated by Google glassholes and we secretly thought we would be overwhelmed by virtual presentations and augmented reality. But this was not the case. We could only spot two stands with such intent: A booth with the HTC VIVE lab demo “Longbow”, where you need to protect your castle against intruders with a virtual bow and arrow, as well as a booth with some Samsung Gears. The Samsung booth plunged us into a well-made 360° virtual tour of a literal “Elevator pitch”. A flying lift took us through the Amsterdam’s startup scene and showed us some creative concepts.

KiiP – rewarding users to ignore boredom

  • The opening keynote was worked out by mobile advertising network Kiip. The young and energetic Canadian Brian Wong, one of the founders, came to tell the story of this company: Kiip originated in an aircraft. When Brian sauntered in the corridors of the aircraft during a flight, the unemployed founder noticed that a lot of passengers killed time by playing games. The enthusiasm and joy of players to achieve a level or goal on their mobile device attracted his attention. Unfortunately, these rewards are all virtual. This observation led him to the brilliant idea to offer a service to convert these rewards to physical benefits that are also contextual relevant. So with Kiip, you can earn coupons for McDonalds or earn a free Uber ride. In the meanwhile Kiip is expanding its scope to mobile fitness apps. The company now entered partnerships with many major brands.

    The main topic in this speech was the art to detect and use the “mobile moments” with hyper-engagements. You need more than two hands to count the times people spontaneously grab their smartphone, to fast forward empty moments during the day. Ideal momentums for companies to promote their services and products to end users. Such ‘mobile gaming moments’ are eagerly used by Kiip to magically present a promotion on the device. The player can redeem this promotion, Kiip receives a fee from the advertiser. It’s a real nice business model! On the spot we invented a new definition: CPR or Cost Per Redemption.

    A (mobile) moment is determined by a specific event (an action in an application or on a site whereby the reaction of a brand can be relevant) and a context (a surrounding area element that is in immediate contact with the user like time, weather, location, etc…). Brian Wong from Kiip presented a long list moments like: “healthy moments”, “pet moments”, “family moments”, “creative moments” etc… I really didn’t realize we had so many types of “moments” in our everyday life. :-)

    The key question of course remains “For which moment you can or want to add value as a brand?”

The Kiip presentation was clearly a trendsetter, because the topics Mobile Connected Moments, Customer Centricity and User Experience stayed the central topics in many sessions of the day. We take you to a few sessions.

Breaking out with Mobile Enterprises

After the keynote we had to choose one out of three kinds of break-out sessions: Mobile Marketing, Mobile Enterprise and Future of Payments. We will take you along in some of these sessions.
  • I followed a session about Service Design by Albert Gast, part of the Mobile Enterprise Track, titled: “How service design can contribute to the business of ‘good experience”.

    During this presentation, Albert Gast discussed the usability of service design thinking, based on a number of examples. He also explained how service design thinking can contribute to better integrated omni-channel solutions that fit the end user needs. This leads to a better mobile experience and contributes significantly to business success. He used Airbnb as proof that service design thinking can transform a failing startup to a successful business. Bold statements such as “every day is a prototype”, “from inside-out to outside-in” and “develop not for the customer but WITH the customer” continued to reverberate.

    Albert Gast spent some attention on methodologies as Lean and Agile, that help projects to move from chaos to a clear focus. His presentation ended with some takeaways. Afterwards, the enthusiast moderator found answers to hard questions like: “How do you actually involve the end user in the whole service design thinking process?”. Yet too often we found out that there aren’t clear answers and that good results are impacted by many factors.

On Track with Mobile Marketing

  • Meanwhile the Dutch pride TomTom was next, as part of the Mobile Marketing Track. After this presentation, it became obvious why this company became much more than just a navigation business. In the past, if you said you worked for TomTom, people thought you were nuts. Competing against Google Maps, Waze and Apple maps sounds like committing suicide, isn’t it?! Unlike the many competitors, TomTom is a product company (Bandit action camera, TomTom Golfer2, Runner 2, Cardio+Music, TomTom Start,…), not really depending on selling big data. However, 135 million data sources ensure TomTom is actually a purebred big data company that processes the hallucinatory number of 7 billion data points per day!

  • After TomTom, we attended a presentation from IBM: “Unleash the Power of Mobile in the Cognitive Era”, also part of the Mobile Marketing Track. During this lecture they asked us to delete the word “mobile” (as device) in our job titles, strategies and roadmaps. What is happening today is much broader than one single device. The word “mobile” in itself means nothing. The concept “mobile” is just used for all connected devices, in all possible forms and interfaces. The Internet of Things (IoT) is clearly an example of this. Mobile should only be a virtual tap on the shoulder with the underlying message: “How can we help you?”.

    They demonstrated the voice interface Alexa from Amazon Echo and to my surprise it worked better than average. (You need some guts to give a live demo with voice recognition!) Of course, IBM has the expertise with their cognitive algorithms to support such platforms via pattern recognition, artificial intelligence and predictive messaging.

    Statements that made us to think during this presentation: “Nothing today is limited by technology”, “Someone out there is ready to disrupt your business” and “Don’t let privacy concerns restrict your ideas, the end user will determine this for himself”. If you can offer enough value to the customer, he will happily give up his privacy, in exchange for more ease of use.

Mobile experience: Where marketing, service & brand converge

  • We then got a threefold presentation: “Mobile experience: Where marketing, service & brand converge”, whereby deBijenkort, citizenM hotels and the Van Gogh Museum came to share their mobile experiences.

    At deBijenkorf, both developers, designers and product owners visit their stores to talk about their websites and applications with the customers. I think such qualitative research is a great idea. It is the only way to gain knowledge on the needs and expectations of customers, and this for the different company departments. An intense brand-customer relation is a must-have nowadays.

    For customers who did not find a specific item in the store, deBijenkorf also provides kiosks with iPads, so customer can still order the item. Fancy technology as 360° video fashion shows increase user experiences and the innovative brand image as well.

    CitizenM, a unique hotelbrand that offers affordable luxury rooms, explained us they have consciously chosen for an experience app. Most bookings are done by anyway, and CitizenM didn’t see a reason to integrate a booking functionality in their mobile application. This clear view on reality is an important aspect of their success story.

    As the remote control of your television is the dirtiest item in your hotel room, CitizenM provides an “inroom” iPad application to offer you multiple useful hotel services. Apart from booking diner and ordering room services, you can also manage alarm, lights, temperature, curtains and television channels with the iPad app in your hotel room! So you can easily avoid that dirty remote control at your next stay at CitizenM.

    The speaker from the Van Gogh Museum told us about the great success of their multimedia tour, a fine piece of user experience during a classical museum visit. The application is customized for the visitor and gives answers based on his interests and needs. On top of that, the app shows all facets of Van Gogh’s art in an interactive way, narrating about the painter as a human being.
  • I believe that one of the best presentations of Mobile Convention was “Why nothing will change in the future” from Mr/Tommyzee, in the Mobile Marketing track. Tommy brought a refreshing and clever presentation, pointing to the fact that technology is using us instead of we using technology to optimize our quality of life. The pyramid of Maslow was used as a common thread and Mr Tommyzee demonstrated with specific examples that all individuals have different needs and how technology today fits into all of these.

    He confronted the audience with a harsh truth: our absolute dependency of technology. He urged us to put our smartphones down and look around, instead of fixating on a screen. The audience was forced to consciously enjoy these unique moments. In short, to really start living.

    The Future of Payments

  • A track where innovation could be expected was The Future of Payments.

    For this track, they invited one of the big boys: Mastercard. According to Okke Mönking, the digital shift is the biggest opportunity since the introduction of the plastic payment card. The bigger players couldn’t ignore this tendency neither and came up with initiatives such as Apple and Samsung Pay, Google Wallet, Facebook Payments, …

    Mastercard presented Masterpass at the Mobile Convention, a simple and safe omnichannel payment solution for consumers, merchants and publishers. This was described by Mönking as digital convergence: “Any card, any device, anytime, anywhere”.

    A feverish Gijs Boudewijn, Deputy Director of Payments Association Netherlands surprised us with the fact that cash is still the most preferred payment method today, hence cash remains important.

    However, today the Netherlands is market leader in cashless payments. 2015 was the turning point, with 50.3% of retail payments done with a bank card and 49.7% cash payments. And they go further, as contactless payments with RFID is booming with 42 mio contactless transactions in April 2016 compared to barely 3.5 mio in January 2015. The most popular payment application is iDEAL, recently equipped with QR scanning. Maybe the Dutch got inspired by the popular Belgian Bancontact application?

    Rabobank is also experimenting with mobile payments. A startup originating from Rabobank is called GRPPY (read: Groupie). Founder Steffie de Laak wants to eliminate the known issue whereby one person pays in advance for a group of friends and he or she will be paid back one day. She describes GRPPY as a digital fund for an unlimited number of groups, where you can invite people with (via e-mail or 06).

    A treasurer manages the group and everyone can make a deposit or withdraw money when needed. You deposit your contribution to the joint account using iDEAL. If there’s money left then you can transfer it directly back to your bank account. The app is currently only available in a Beta version and only compatible with a Dutch bank accounts. This app will be slightly too late for the upcoming Belgian festivals but it is a very nice idea to look forward to.

    Conclusion: mobile payment initiatives are popping up everywhere. It seems to be wise to just ride it out and wait until the landscape crystalizes and adaption degrees are relevant enough to identify a winner.

    So What about China?

    At the end of the Mobile Convention 2016 we eagerly looked forward to the mobile trends in China. Jay Xie (Webpower China) came to illustrate the three things that keep Chinese youngsters awake.
    In China, they pay everything, but really EVERYTHING, with the smartphone via WeChat or Alipay. In 2015 there were about 4.5 billion mobile transactions in China. We are clearly lagging behind in Europe!
  • It may be sound crazy but in China there’s such a thing as a “Personal Credibility System” that describes your reputation in credits. From 500 credits you get privileges and you’re allowed to easily lend €30 000-40 000, just with a few clicks on your smartphone. To travel abroad Chinese need a visa, which can be an issue sometime, unless you’ve 600 credits on your name…
  • The latest trend in China is live broadcasting, from games to reviewing new products. Brands are using broadcasting platforms where Chinese celebrities promote their products during live shows, displayed on smartphones and tablets. These shows target young people aged 20-30 years, who can directly buy the products via their mobile device. 70 to 80 million viewers during a live broadcast isn’t an exception.

Below you can find an overview of the most used apps in China. How many do you know?

The Mobile convention 2016 has yet again fulfilled our high expectations, despite serious competition from TheNextWeb and the fact the event was organized on a Friday this year. For us it was the perfect mix between mobile marketing, enterprise and payments sessions. Should it be broadcast live next year? I’m already charging my smartphone!

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