And it’s not just big businesses that have jumped on the app bandwagon. I recently attended an app swap (we public relations professionals are obsessed with new trends) and discovered a Lansing-based mom-and-pop store has joined the app market.
Next year promises to deliver exciting new mobile technology, so when planning digital strategies, associations should consider mobile apps and websites, said Kim Harwood, president of Results at Hand Software.
“Mobile is a great opportunity to serve your members better with tools and services to meet each member’s need,” she said. “Your association can leverage mobile technology for advocacy, education, member communications and engagement activities. Our whitepaper, ‘Strategic Mobile Trends for Associations in 2014 and Beyond,’ highlights some available tools and trends worth considering so that your association can get the most out of mobile and use it most effectively to engage your constituents.”
Results at Hand develops mobile-centric solutions for associations, events and direct sales organizations. For its newest research project, r@h has designed the 2014 Mobile Readiness Survey to gauge the mobile readiness of associations. Those who take the short survey will receive a copy of “Strategic Mobile Trends for Associations in 2014 and Beyond” as well as results from the survey.
Based on its research and a recent report from Gartner, the world’s leading information technology research company, Results at Hand has identified 10 mobile trends that will influence the association industry:
- Native vs. Web-Based Mobile Apps
- Responsive Design
- Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)
- Cloud Storage and the Personal Cloud
- Geolocation and Near Field Communication (NFC)
- Mobile Payment Systems
- Mobile Video
- Mobile Advertising
- Mobile Security
- Event Apps
“An additional growing mobile trend we will hear more about in 2014 is the use of peripheral devices and wearable technology that integrate with mobile phones, such as glasses and watches,” Harwood said. “Given the diversity of mobile devices and mobile accessories, developing strategies that allow and encourage members to use the best tools for them to accomplish their goals will be of increasing importance. Association resources can be a great tool, but only if they work on the devices that association members use daily.”
For this blog post, I read the whitepaper – three times. But since I’m not a techie, I think it’s best to leave the details to the pros. So I encourage you to request it and read it. I think you’ll be amazed at the growth potential these trends offer.
That said, I think it’s especially important to point out trend No. 10, event apps, perhaps because they’re among the most common apps used by associations.
For mobile app newbies, event apps are a good place to start – for things like creating event guides. They reduce printing costs while increasing engagement and fostering networking. And users can easily integrate apps into their social media platforms. (Trend No. 4, cloud storage, is also an incredible cost saving tool. And, it’s not hard. My 11 year old uses it for school every day!)
The current trends in mobile event guides include polling, customizable agendas, gaming, video, contact exchange, geolocation and social media integration, according to the whitepaper. For associations, polling, gaming, CEU tracking and GPS are hot topics that will continue to dominate in 2014.
So as 2013 comes to a close and you plan for 2014, will you incorporate mobile technology into your communication plan?
Whether your IT staff is ready to go or whether you’re just scratching the surface, consider participating in the Results at Hand survey. Research is the first step to designing best practices, and, who knows, you may be more ready than you think.