One of the key things that differentiates mobile phones from any other device is their ability to deliver a constant stream of real time data coupled with the processing capability to help consumers make a wealth of decisions based on this information. Tablets — we're going to leave home without them, and the majority of connections are over Wi-Fi. Wearable technology collects real-time information and may have applications/display, but we aren't yet seeing devices with the same flexibilty as the phone. The highly anticipated Pebble may yet be the device, but for today, it is the phone. (My colleague Sarah Rotman Epps writes a lot on these devices — see the rest of her research for more information).

With that fact established, my open question is, "Who is making my life better with this ability to process information near instantaneously to help me live a better, healthier life . . .  or at least how I choose to define it?" I think the key to measuring mobile success must lie here — from the perspective of the consumer first before mobile will deliver huge returns in the form of revenue or lower operating costs.

I'll admit to a couple of my own addictions to real-time data. I've been using an application called MyFitnessPal for nearly 5 months. You manually enter in calories and exercise (negative calories) to work toward weight gain or loss. I talked about a dozen of my friends into signing up. Collectively the group has lost about 100 lbs in the past 4.5 months or so. Working under the assumption that this group wanted to lose weight, the application is a phenomenal success. The availabilty of real-time information such as "Where am I versus my goal today?" and "How many calories are in this piece of cheese?" and "How many calories will I burn if I walk to the store rather than drive?" enables individuals to make decisions in real time that lead to a healthier lifestyle.

I stepped it up a level with the purchase of the Nike Fuelband. (Love this.) I'm now tracking steps and calories in real time. Maybe I am a bit obsessed. The bracelet includes a small display to give you information as well as a color bar to let you know how you are doing relative to a goal. You can use the band on its own or sync via Bluetooth to the phone (to an application) or an application/web on the computer. I walk a lot more now.

Many of these services fall more into the product category today and are not associated with commercial opportunities. I think this will change. As a middle-aged woman, dancing cartoons and badges do not motivate me to reach goals. I would be motivated by earned discounts and access to premium content/events or other digital experiences layered on top of products that would give me more use of the device. (See James McQuivey's research.) eBusiness professionals must start thinking, "How do I turn this into a commerce opportunity?" Maybe it's telling Julie when she likely needs a new pair of shoes and placing an order for me.

A lot of folks would agree that health/fitness is a great use of mobile, but what about other industries?

I have spoken to more than one bank which has claimed that those who use their mobile services have the highest level (= most frequent) level of engagement. That's nice, but the open question is, "Do those customers who are using mobile services have better financial health habits?" So, are they doing a better job of working within their budget? Do they have fewer overdraft problems? Are they paying bills with a higher on-time percentage?

If you are a pharmacy/provider helping a patient manage a condition, are your patients . . . refilling prescriptions in a timely manner? Taking medication when they are supposed to do so? (i.e., is compliance better?) Are they getting healthier faster? Are they more likely to quit smoking?

In travel . . . are there fewer missed connections? Are there fewer passengers showing up late? or not showing for hotel and car rental reservations?

In retail, are they finding everything on their list? Is the time in-store perhaps shortened because they navigate and find items more quickly?

My colleague James McQuivey wrote quite a bit about addressing human needs which I adapted for mobile. I think this is the starting point in mobile like with a lot of other mediums. Address needs. Do so conveniently. Consumers will adopt and be happy. They will be more loyal and they will spend more and become your fans.

The bottom line: How is the access to real-time information and the ability to process this information doing more than creating an obsession . . .  how is it making your customers' lives better? I believe that is key for long-term success with mobile.

Would love to see some examples of this working.

If you are interested in hearing more about the value of mobile across all verticals, I’ll be speaking at Forrester’s eBusiness & Channel Strategy Summit EMEA 2012 – “Serving Customers Across Multiple Touchpoints” – Agenda: – Twitter: #EBIZ12