There are over 1 billion smartphones in the world today, which enable users to access the web wherever they happen to be - retail stores, hospitals, resort hotels, airports, stadiums and convention centres. With this in mind, the impact of anywhere, anytime access to the internet can have a considerable and even lucrative impact on indoor enterprise venues, according to Chris Kozup, senior marketing director EMEA for Aruba Networks. This article is copyright 2015 The Best Customer Guide.

Inspired by these technology-enabled consumers, public venues are offering mobile apps to engage with customers. However, these efforts do not often produce a return on investment because they're simply mobile-friendly versions of an enterprise web site.

The first wave of enterprise mobile apps generally failed to take advantage of technologies that personalised the experience of consumers based on who and where they are. And when they did take advantage of location, they ceded control of their data to third-party vendors. Your next-generation mobility efforts require apps that personalise the consumer experience based on identity and location.

It's essential to offer an omni-channel experience that engages them in a contextually relevant manner - from home to the public enterprise venue. Here's how:

  1. Personalised messages
    Gone are the days of physically beckoning consumers into your store. Now we have the technology to engage customers, for example, automatically detecting when they enter a hospital and checking them in before they've sat down. 46% of consumers say they use push-notifications because they like receiving personalised alerts to their phone.
  2. Location management
    Target services can now be done on a precise location-basis. Ordering food while in a stadium? It can now be delivered directly to your chair. 76% of users agree that location sharing provides more meaningful content, and when it becomes this accurate it clearly presents a huge saver of time and money.
  3. Indoor path-finding
    We've become accustomed to using 'blue dot' navigation via GPS when on the street or on the road. The same should be available for indoor spaces. The rise of beacon technology, coupled with bespoke app development, will soon create a world where you can view a store-by-store map of your local shopping mall, and find your way to the toilets when time is tight.
  4. App development
    Accustomed to finding information and answers anytime at home with high-speed connectivity and on-the-go smartphones, it's only natural that the mobile generation expect to have all the information at their fingertips - which is why museums and other large venues are working with technology specialists to produce custom apps. This will allow users to 'log in' as they enter the venue, receive hidden information about the statue they're standing in front of, and receive personal offers at the same time. This experience for public venues will become an everyday norm for consumers as they seek to engage more with their surroundings.
  5. Literally opening doors
    Arriving at the hotel, location technology can now detect when you are outside your room door, unlocking for you as you 'knock' on your phone. As consumers look to their smartphones to explore and connect with their surroundings, these device will be replace the role of everyday items like keys, light switches and credit cards in the very near future.

The early adopters
The future of successful mobile engagement will be app, rather than web based. These enable businesses to actively control engagements guests in real time based on their location, and, using low-energy Bluetooth technology, do so relatively cheaply.

As a sporting example, Dan Williams, vice president of technology for the San Francisco 49-ers said: "Fans can now watch instant replays, receive precise turn-by-turn navigation, and order food directly from their mobile devices. Visitors get to experience the facility and game like never before by greatly enhancing their onsite experience."

Given the advances in mobile technology, consumers have now laid the foundation for businesses to be interacting with them in real time. Many businesses fall victim to poor customer satisfaction which can be down to a number of reasons, low staffing volume being one of them. But with the potential for questions to be answered in real-time through a dedicated app or chat service, is there any excuse for poor support levels to continue?

A look into the future
Within 10 years most transactions, whether it be payment, room access, travel or conversation, will all be done solely from mobile devices. Mobile engagement can be at the heart of fuelling these decisions.

By implication it may sound like we will become slaves to our devices. I disagree with this view. Mobile engagement will allow humans to take more control over the interactions they have with brands and spaces. That's taking power away from technology, if anything.

Mobile devices will become the tool that allow consumers to build deeper connections with the world around them. Through controlled apps, the level of privacy will be completely up to the user, and how much the user wants to engage.

With mobile engagement reaching evolution, consumers will have the right information at their fingertips in order to translate that information into real, human decisions.