Thinking about the Multi-Screen Experience

The interesting change in conversations lately is that the term mobile has become more of a description of a current in-place technology platform, replaced from a leading edge standpoint by multi-screen. Yes, multi-screen is the term many thought-leaders are using to describe an environment that includes computers, smartphones and tablets. To make it even more interesting the multi-screen term seems to contemplate the unknown but expected tablet successor(s).

So why is this interesting enough to mention in a blog? Primarily growth and impact. Our friends at Forrester are very excited about the potential growth of tablets. Their forecasts for the U.S. show a shift from 10.3 m tablet users in 2010 to 26m in 2011 to 82.1 m in 2015. Eight times as many tablet users in just 4 – 5 years.

With 82 million tablet users in the U.S. in the near future we really need to do some planning for increased usage complexity in this multi-screen environment (remember, PCs and mobile won’t go away). Companies need an outlook on how their customers and prospects will likely use their multiple screens to find and consume content, transact and tell their friends and co-workers about it.

Companies that successfully engage in the multi-screen environment will win not only by creating the right experience across customers and platforms. They will also make proper decisions about the technical and process architectures that are needed to deliver these experiences.

For many strategists and technology providers we are seeing another shift in conjunction with the move to multi-screen. To us there is a shift from a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) mindset to that of Customer Experience Management (CEM). Many of the CRM tactics always made sense and will continue to. But really, they just help us do a better job of managing the customer experience.

Retailers’ work has been highly visible as they support a variety of interaction points across all platforms from stores to online, mobile and tablet. But how hard has it been to optimize experiences and what kind of costs and chaos has been endured to create the appropriate content and have it flow seamlessly in the new multi-screen environment?

While the retailer example is fairly well understood, what about B2B? Many of our B2B clients are in the process of just now getting their website to accurately represent their brand and are just starting to understand how to manage web content and digital assets. The people that make up their customer base are living in this multi-screen world as consumers and have expectations. A potentially significant reward exists for the B2B companies who understand how to effectively and efficiently create meaningful experiences in the multi-screen environment.

As companies better understand how appropriate screen and experience pairings will drive customer and prospect behavior it becomes important to examine the technology that will drive revenue and margin and keep the work interesting for humans. How do they avoid creating standalone platforms, processes and support teams for each screen?

Think hard about how to differentiate your company in the multi-screen world. Then take a long look at your technology and decide how it can create experiences that support a variety of customers in multiple divisions spread across many regions around the world. You will probably need to make some changes. Don’t wait too long because without embracing the growing multi-screen environment your company will become less competitive, watching others grow.

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