Today even to meditate, we switch on the meditation music from a mobile app and leave the mobile right next to us choosing to get disturbed by the message alerts and numerous other apps. All of these are offering what we want and catering to what we need when we look at it from a superficial level. When we get deeper, one wonders if we were simply made to believe that these are necessities of the modern era.
In such a scenario, an App developer needs to answer some fundamental questions:
How do we channelize the investments to offer something that is really needed?
How do we address real needs and not the needs which are created as an outcome of pressures?
Can a device jump into a human being's heart and find out the actual need?
When deconstructed to their core, these fundamental questions come with rather simple answers - to offer something that is really needed, one has to empathize with every "individual" and not a population group. To address real needs, one needs to delve and indulge beyond an individual's superficial needs. And most importantly, to have a deep coherence of an "actual need" one has to understand, leverage, and implement a Behavior Model analysis.
With that in perspective, it becomes crucial to understand the mobile application in the past (Then) and in the present (Now) to determine what the future (Next) would be like.
All applications that queued up in a Play Store or Apple Store were built based on certain ideas. These ideas originated with the purpose of addressing a problem statement and bringing in convenience.
It solved various problems such as running after buses for reservations, landing up in restaurants without any clue of the menu, and so on. What did they all address? A problem statement. Most of these apps have now become a daily utility. For example, a couple of apps were launched to solve the problem of checking rates of various airlines and booking flight tickets. The apps were not equipped to think more then. Well don't we need to take it beyond?
Mobile applications are extending their offerings to the next level of analyzing the behavior of a population group and render experience based on the same. When such an approach is adopted we look at the behavior as merely a behavior, but not as an output of certain thoughts.
Taking the same example of booking a ticket, it is assumed that people are only looking for rates, date and time - reactively, they are made as an offering. It is also built with some study on the behavior and expectations of a population group which is expected to use these applications. The behaviors that were studied are a by-product of some thoughts. These thoughts are an offshoot of certain feelings and they originate at a particular time based on one core need. At this point of time, mobile application development is focusing on the superficial layer of behavior.
It is a challenge to get beyond behavior as data is currently used to predict behavior and does not take a cognitive approach. The needs are not evidently aware to the conscious mind of oneself but when that need is addressed, it leads to delight. This will elevate the service from aiming at providing customer satisfaction to customer delight.
Behavioral study must continue to be a part of mobile developments but should scope in the fact that it is a subset of certain thoughts which in turn originate as a result of some feelings which is a subset of needs.
Looking into the same example we took earlier, we find a person looking for flights for a date closer to a long weekend. It could either be a holiday or visiting his home which can be figured out using his past travel history, age, and other demographics.
Actual intent can be further validated using a small questionnaire. If we determine it is towards a holiday, his thoughts will be around leisure, travel, sightseeing, and so on. He will be looking forward for it and will have a feeling of excitement and impatience to wait for it. The underlying need is a break from routine, rest, family time and so on.
If the mobile application developers can keep these as focus in rendering service and experience, probably that is what will take mobility to Next and may be, even beyond.