Real mobile businesses and real mobile products — Product Tank September 2016

The ever excellent Product Tank London returns after its annual summer break. The theme this month is ‘Real mobile businesses and real mobile products’, curated by George Berkowski. How does mobile genuinely drive value and revenue across a range of businesses is the key question.

The reach and impact of mobile — Seema Desai

TL:DR — mobile IS the internet and any businesses that wants to continue to grow needs to understand how it can help them meet their customers’ expectations.
  • There are 8 billion mobile connections, despite there only being 7 billion people.
  • Talking about ‘mobile internet’ is like talking about colour TVs — they are just TVs. Mobile is just the internet.
  • People spend 3 hours a day on their phones.
  • There are only 3 things we carry around with us — our keys, our wallet and our phones.
  • Cost of handsets is decreasing — Freedom251 handset currently costs $4 in India
  • Previously mobile operators were able to own the mobile money industry due to its reliance on txt messaging. Now they are under increasing pressure from other services which can use data streams to provide an enhanced customer experience
  • Pokemon Go is the thin end of the augmented reality spectrum — soon it will be integrated within commercial experiences
  • In China you can already book tables, order cabs and transact using the WeChat messaging services
  • Within emerging markets, people trust mobile money on their phone more than they did institutional banks — much of the perception about a lack of security / usability is cultural

Scaling mobile teams — Arne Kittler (Director Mobile Product Management at XING)

TL:DR — scaling mobile is a middle distance race. It takes endurance, is intense and doesn’t offer quick wins, but it is worth it. You need to establish a balance between innovation and standardisation, actively manage the cultural change and make sure people realise it’ll be different.
  • Xing is the German version of LinkedIn focussing on people, news and jobs — currently 11m members and 25 product teams
  • Mobile is an opportunity if you do it right — don’t be scared of it, but don’t do nothing
  • Users need a relevant experience to make the most of the opportunity
  • You have to allow individual product teams to own their mobile experiences to get to full stack product thinking
  • Don’t try and simply transfer desktop features into mobile
  • Mobile team has become a platform team that looks after the stage which all the other teams can use for their products
  • Modular design systems allow you to produce consistent experiences whilst reducing friction between teams. Sketch files / templates are directly linked to the frameworks / languages that are used by developers.
  • If you’re going to get serious about Android development you need to set up a Test Farm working across different handsets and OS. Xing have virtualised so that people can access them remotely.
  • Internal systems such as API infrastructure should be thought of as products with internal customers that need to be spoken to and whose experiences you need to design
  • Despite automated testing, Xing still have a pre-release phase which is tested with employees and they use to catch bugs before they hit the stores
  • Scaling mobile / mobile first, doesn’t just mean more of the same — you need a substantial change in roles and responsibilities. Everyone needs to know this, from the top to the bottom.
  • You have to make sure that alignment between teams is actively managed, this change won’t happen organically. Sometimes you need to provide guidance and sometimes you need to introduce a process. Different teams have different measures of quality / standards.
  • Everything is a balancing act between standardisation and innovation. A large part of this about understanding which ideas are matters of taste and which are genuine iterations.
  • Don’t worry too much about keeping feature parity between iOS and Android — if there are opportunities unique to the platform then go for it

How M&S won on mobile, from market stall to app store — Jade Pearn

TL:DR — If your organisation still hasn’t ‘got mobile’ yet, don’t forget that you need your internal users later on so keep them on board with you and tell the story in a way that they can understand.
  • In 2013, mobile was classified as a ‘new channel’ and wasn’t treated as a core part of their business
  • 2014 saw M&S launch a new eCommerce platform and at the same time they broke up their digital presence into products, including one for mobile
  • At this stage a Digital transformation project took place and the digital team started working on products directly
  • Found that their apps were unstable and almost impossible to work with because they were built in a pre-existing culture and way of working, with huge feature bloat
  • Confusion within the business led to confusion within the apps
  • At the stage where no one cared about the mobile apps, the team went into Stealth Mode and pulled out huge amounts of features
  • Internal users such as marketing and merchandising, had been forgotten about and were silo’d out of the app and its development team. This led to issues with the front end and a lack of buy in to prioritising the app and its content.
  • “But the customer is not digitally savvy” was a common myth within M&S. “It doesn’t make money” was backed up by low conversion rates on mobile
  • Next step was to engage with users to work out how they genuinely used mobile. Took senior stakeholders to ux labs to show them in person.
  • Worked with Big Data team to work out that 1/3 of all desktop purchases were starting on mobile. At this point many people got interested in understanding how it could contribute to the sales cycle

Building a challenger bank the Monzo way — Ole Mahrt (Head of Product at Monzo / Mondo)

TL:DR — banking hasn’t changed for a long time and there is a huge opportunity to disrupt if you don’t have the legacy systems to deal with.

Mondo have previously spoken at Product Tank — see our write up here

  • Banking hasn’t changed very much since most of the organisations were founded hundreds of years ago
Typical uk retail banking cost structure
  • By not having almost 50% of these, Monzo and other challenger banks are in a strong position
  • Traditional banking model is to get people in for the current account which doesn’t make them any money and then upsell other services
  • Monzo is looking to focus on the current account customer experience only
  • Future roadmap is to integrate with the best of other services rather than try to offer them
  • Mobile is actually a safer channel for payment / banking transactions because of functions like GPS so they know where you are
  • Monzo have decided to build the entire technical stack themselves rather than be beholden to existing functionality, based on traditional models
  • Before they were able to get a full banking license and functionality, Monzo launched a beta version, using a prepaid card
  • Currently have 40,000 cards live with a waitlist of 200,000 — launching the full bank in Feb 2017