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Microsoft's Catherine Eibner on what mobility means for business

Alex Pirouz
07 September 2011 3 minute readShare

Mobile devices are cpaturing more and more of consumers' attention, making them an important way to reach customers. In this interview conducted by Alex Pirouz of RIDC Advisory, Microsoft's Catherine Eibner explains how to take your first steps into mobile business.

One out of every seven minutes of media consumption today takes place on mobile devices; the worldwide smartphone market is expected to grow 49.2% in 2011 as more consumers and enterprise users turn in their feature phones for smartphones with more advanced features.

According to the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, smartphone vendors will ship more than 450 million smartphones in 2011 compared to the 303.4 million units shipped in 2010. Moreover, the smartphone market will grow more than four times faster than the overall mobile phone market.

Catherine Eibner of Microsoft

Alex Pirouz recently interviewed Developer Evangelist Catherine Eibner from Microsoft, to gain her views on mobile technology. Catherine looks after Microsoft’s BizSpark program which is designed specifically to support early stage companies particularly with emerging technologies.

Q: Catherine there has been a lot of talk in the media on whether or not mobility is a growing trend or just another fad, what are your thoughts?


A: In Australia we have 99% coverage over the entire continent, which for most growing economies is unusual, and over 80% of children under the age of 16 have a mobile phone. These are the digital natives, the people who are driving the demand for what is next.

The availability and cost viability of data plans provided by telecommunications companies has consistently been dropping; meanwhile the amount of data included in these plans is consistently increasing. So as we continue to see that happening, there will continue to be an increase in the use of mobility,” Catherine explains.

Companies like Microsoft, Apple, Blackberry, and Android are spending billions in the mobile industry because they understand that people are becoming more mobile and technology is allowing them to be in more places.

Q: When did the mobile trend start and where do you see it going moving forward?



A: The first massive adoption of the smart phone was with the introduction of the iPhone. Apple’s iPhone helped drive the cost of the data plans down and also raised the awareness of the application market place and the ability to do more while mobile.

Android have also done exceptionally well with their developer eco system and the application market place. Blackberry have introduced their own application market place along side Microsoft with Windows phone 7.”

Last year Google announced that their emphasis going forward is on mobile first. According to Google, everybody has a mobile phone and websites have to be adapted to be viewed properly on all mobile phones. More companies now have both a mobile and a web version of their site.

Q: As a result of this growing market, what do business owners need to do in order to ensure they stay up to date with their customers?

A: “There is a couple of things I would suggest, the first thing is for them to get a smartphone themselves so that they understand what their customers are looking for; understand the usability and visibility that goes on from their customer’s perspective. One this is understood, then they can design something to meet this need.

Don’t just design something on a point and click platform, understand the power that comes with the new smartphones and utilise it. Design something that empowers people to be able to view and grasp the information quickly, include video, embrace the connected web, enable them to share with friends.

Don’t assume what will work for your audience, ensure that you do market research. Ask the market what they want, understand what they need (which is often different) and then just deliver the best solution you can with the tools available to you.”

People these days are working with technology differently, so as business owners we need to accommodate the new trends and behaviours of our customers.

Q: And what would you say are the possible dangers for business owners who decide to ignore this communication model?

A: Out of 87% of business online only 42% have a web presence, these companies are missing out on a lot of potential business as their customers are all going on line. 90% of Australian households are connected to the Internet. Combining this information with the ubiquitous broadband that the NBN is promising to deliver and the proliferation of mobile devices, business owners ignoring this trend could risk going out of business.

Excluding access to your business to the next generation of digital natives who are using the ever more powerful mobile devices to communicate, discover, purchase, share and more could be quite costly.

In this generation of on demand instant gratification and online services, I want to find and buy something wherever it is situated and I am one out of 380 million people who own a smart phone. As a business owner, it’s about adapting to a changing society” In Australia there is currently 2.3 phones per person, this is a great indication as to where we are heading and the direction of how people are going to communicate in the future.

Alex Pirouz is the founder of RIDC Advisory Pty Ltd. A Business and Sales Advisory firm partnering with Australia’s largest and fastest growing companies to further increase their revenue. Visit www.ridcadvisory.com.au for more details.

Microsoft's Catherine Eibner on what mobility means for business
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Alex Pirouz

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