Mobile Strategy and the Content Continuum: Part I - Devices

This is a 3-part article on developing an appropriate mobile app strategy. Part I provides an overview of the different devices and their place on the spectrum, Part II describes the different user types, and Part III focuses on putting together a workable strategy.

Mobile technology has transformed the consumer market, but the financial services industry is just now scratching the surface of this potential. Financial institutions have seen their employees and customers adopt mobile en masse, but there is no one-size-fits-all mobile strategy for firms to take advantage of. This article will explore how institutional mobile strategy should be influenced by the content consumption profile of different user types. The focus will be on financial services, but the guiding strategy applies to a broader set of industries.

Will mobile technology make the personal computer obsolete?  Mobile has taken the world by storm, leading many to forecast the end of traditional computing in favor of smaller, more user-friendly mobile devices. While there are certainly users that will rely heavily on their smartphone for daily tasks, and convert more productive work from a PC completely over to tablet, for many the optimal solution will be a blend of devices for different use cases.  I've sketched a concept I'm calling the "Content Continuum" to help illustrate how different devices are used for consuming or creating content. Later, I will explain how different audiences apply to this construct, but let's start off with an overview of different devices and their place on the spectrum.

  • Television is a pure consumption device, excellent for watching video and increasingly for accessing (limited) apps.

  • Smartphone is primarily a content consumption device. While not as good as a TV or tablet for video, the smartphone is a portable-app warehouse that's always connected to the Internet, making it a fantastic information-access point.

  • Tablet is a multi-use canvas for a broad range of consumption and creation activities. The mid-size screen makes for a fantastic video viewer, Internet browser, and long-form reader. Tablets are increasingly adding productivity capability and stepping on PC's turf.

  • Personal Computer has traditionally been a content-creation workhorse, with unrivaled tools and power for productivity. As PCs get lighter and Internet access faster, PCs are becoming better consumption devices.

Let me return now to the original question about the pending obsolescence of computers. In cases where your target market are primarily content consumers, then yes, mobile devices can make computers irrelevant. On the other end of the spectrum, people that create a lot of content for work or pleasure will likely still prefer to do so on a larger screen with more power and sophisticated tools. The rest of us will exist in between, finding time for creation and consumption, switching between our laptop, tablet, smartphone, and TV for different activities.

Developing an appropriate app strategy:  Applying what we have learned about the Content Continuum and user preferences for different devices, we can go a step further and layer in different client types onto the continuum to understand how technology fits, helping inform an application development strategy that focuses on appropriate mobile use cases.  In some cases it is recommended that we design for a complete mobile experience, while other times our apps should act as an extension of more powerful desktop software. There is no one-size-fits-all technology solution for all user types; know your audience. We'll explore this further in Part II.

Mike Barad is the Head of Product Components & Services for Morningstar. He leads an interdisciplinary product development organization that provides shared services, components, and mobile application development across Morningstar’s software products.


Next up: Mobile Strategy and the Content Continuum: Part II - Users


comments powered by Disqus