Jun 23, 2009

The supermobility era

Posted by: Marian Salzman In: globalization| mobility

Globalization has been the headline for years as it’s changed the face of communication, finance, business and society. But it’s not a stand-alone phenomenon; it’s totally dependent upon mobility. Constant movement from place to place has made the last few decades frenetic. In fact, we live in an era of supermobility.

Crops are supermobile: Fresh flowers are flown to auction in the Netherlands from far-off growers in Colombia and Kenya, then freighted on to customers in other countries. Manufactured products are supermobile: China imports raw materials from all over the world and exports finished goods in a quick turnaround. People are supermobile: In addition to long commutes, we routinely travel great distances for business and leisure. Not only are we moving around like never before, we’re more connected while we’re doing it.

The biggest change of our era is the mobility of information. With the one-two punch of digitization and wireless Internet, information is not just supermobile; it’s hypermobile. And that’s the focus of “Mobile Lives & Times,” the latest issue in Porter Novelli’s Intelligent Dialogue series.

In it we polled experts, pegged trend patterns and researched global data. So download a copy, read up on the key findings, and post your comments.

• Personal use of mobile and wireless technology is unprecedented. Around 58 percent of the world’s population has an active mobile subscription. The number has quadrupled in just the past six years.

• Location-based services create huge potential to learn about customers and increase marketing intelligence. Marketers’ challenge: seize the opportunity without becoming intrusive or annoying. Mobile providers’ challenge: monetize the opportunity effectively.

• Mobile is a stepping stone for developing countries. It’s a cheap and accessible way to facilitate connections, improve access to health care and build local business.

• Health care is behind the mobility curve, but there is incredible potential to use the technology to improve deficient systems: streamlining data sharing; increasing the range and power of diagnostic tools; enabling off-site patient monitoring; lowering costs and much more.

• Teleworking is taking off: It’s convenient and cost-effective for both employee and employer; it makes sense for the growing number of independent consultants and freelancers; it allows for globe-spanning team interactions and forecasts show it can lead to a huge reduction in carbon emissions.

• True device innovators thus far have been relative outsiders to the telecom game (RIM’s BlackBerry, Apple’s iPhone, Amazon’s Kindle, Google’s Android).

• Intrusive mobility is so widespread that new codes of behavior need to be agreed upon. And it’s not just about bad manners—it’s also a matter of privacy, confidentiality and personal safety.

What do you think about the prospects of mobility to solve some of the world’s biggest problems?

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