2016 will be the most consequential year for companies on the path to customer obsession, and that includes adapting to empowered customers who expect to get anything they want immediately, in context on their mobile devices.  Today that represents nearly 50% of consumers in the US alone. The consumers pick up their mobile devices 150 to 200 times a day. In aggregate, that adds up to nearly 30 billion mobile moments each day. These mobile moments are the next battleground where companies will win, serve and retain their customers. Tragically, few companies will make the leap. Those that do will reap the rewards.

What role does mobile play in customer obsession, and how can businesses leapfrog their competition to deliver superior customer experiences? Here are three ways Forrester predicts mobile will change the ways business leaders operate in 2016.

Mobile will act as a catalyst to transform businesses in the age of the customer

Mobile is the tail that wags the dog that is digital business transformation. Mobile is changing the way businesses have to operate and serve customers. It is the central force in the age of the customer.In 2016, the gap between customer-obsessed leaders who will embrace mobile as a means to create new value and laggards who consider mobile to be a stand-alone channel will widen. Today just 14% of companies surveyed use mobile to try to transform their customers’ experiences. Most companies will fail to create the business case for the tens if not hundreds of millions in spend they need to transform how they engage with consumers. Simple use cases from Apple Pay to Starbucks order-head to mobile boarding passes for airline flights may seem like simple apps, but the execution no doubt cost tens of millions and took years if not longer.  Those companies that do embrace mobile as a means to transform customer experiences will accelerate the business benefits they reap in the form of new revenue, cost savings and consumer loyalty derived from higher satisfaction and delight.

Ownership of mobile moments will continue to consolidate

Facebook, Google, Apple and Amazon in the US and Baidu, Tencent, Xiaomi and Alibaba in China are aggressively building, buying and amassing the audience and data or information about consumers they need to dominate consumer mindshare on mobile devices. This trend will continue in 2016. Retailers, banks and travel apps collectively garner less than 10-15% of mobile moments as measured in minutes. Consumers will download and use branded apps where they shop and bank, but consumers do not have unlimited bandwidth to hop in and out of lots of individual apps to get stuff done. Already today in the US, consumers spend 84% of their time each month in five or fewer apps. Third parties like Google and Facebook will extract content and services from third party apps and use context to reassemble them into streamlined task flows and curated content that offers unprecedented convenience to consumers. Consumer brands must look to partner with mobile leaders to serve their customers in addition to supporting their own apps.

Need for mobile automation will fuel massive technology investments

Thirty billion mobile moments each day in the US demands a technology that can help businesses automate how they engage with consumers. In exchange for sharing vast amounts of information with companies via accounts, purchases and mobile apps, consumers expect companies to use that context to deliver relevant services and content. Unlike the web however that offers all things to all people, mobile serves individuals with just want they want in their moment of need. Where the web is static, mobile is dynamic and depends on context. Companies lack the talent and tools today to ingest information, develop insights, make decisions about how to serve customers and take action in real time. They will depend on technology and experts who understand mobile well to do so. Vendors who help companies automate and master serving their customers in their mobile moments will elevate their valuations and attractiveness to larger enterprise solutions targeting CMOs. In 2016, marketing tech vendors will find themselves at an arms race to provide not just automation, but machine learning to derive insights from big data and campaign optimization. They will focus on improving data management capabilities and predictive algorithms.

In the end, a majority of firms will struggle to cope with growing mobile expectations from customers and will simply think of mobile as channel to optimize their conversion rates. However, CMOs and CIOs at companies that do incorporate mobile into their overall strategy will cooperate to execute cross channel integration of mobile across the customer life cycle and to prioritize the integration of mobile with backend systems. This will allow them to evolve their culture, organizations and process to leapfrog competition.