Control. That’s what the mobile revolution boils down to.

In the past, marketers, retailers, and consumer packaged goods companies shaped brands and directed conversations. But with the flood of mobile gadgets and apps, consumers have wrestled back control of their own attention.

Which is why 90 percent of mobile gadget owners keep their devices within arm’s reach 100 percent of the time. And why one out of every 10 connected Americans owns a laptop, a smartphone and a tablet. Used alone or together, these devices help people make sense of the world -- on their own terms.

For businesses, it has become a race to catch up with consumer behavior that’s morphing at light speed. People today use multiple devices at a dizzyingly interchangeable rate. Some 31 percent of smartphone owners also use a tablet, while 23 percent of the people who have a laptop have a tablet, and 52 percent of laptop owners have a smartphone.

The only way to meet this splintering attention span is to become more consistent, in these three ways:

Consistent in dishing up engaging, personal experiences that are available however consumers choose, whether on their laptops, tablets or smartphones.
Because people don’t “go online” anymore. They shop, research, talk to friends using whatever device is on hand or best suited to where they happen to be at that point. It’s only when something interrupts that flow, whether it's a lousy app or a slow link, that people notice. And then they act, sharing their disappointment and frustration far and wide. But when everything goes well, that also shows.


By allowing customers to decide what channel and device is the best for them in any given moment, and of course being able to accommodate them along this journey, companies can deepen their customer relationships. For example, stores that figure out how to tailor their customers' shopping experiences for tablets are reaping the benefits of the mobility, screen size and ease of use with touch screens. In fact, according to digital IT company comScore, the percentage of U.S. tablet owners who make purchases from tablets is impressively high at 37 percent as compared with the proportion of smartphone owners who buy on their phones, which is 20 percent.

Consistent in building a relationship that isn’t based just on a commercial transaction.
Instead, organizations have to focus on entertaining customers, providing personalized content and targeted offers, and helping them get more out of their world, all in an effort to build stronger relationships and convert customers into brand advocates. If shopping used to be a form of entertainment, now people are treating it as if it were a party by snapping a photo of a dress while in a store and sharing it on Facebook to see if their friends like it, tweeting about an experience from an event while it’s happening, and sharing opinions and experiences after purchase via product sites and their communities. Companies need to craft relationships that delight people, but they can’t rely on intuition to do that. Analytics and big data are the key tools for understanding millions of individuals and how, where, and when to best reach out to each and every one.

Consistent in anticipating what consumers want and delivering on those expectations.
The torrents of insights found within big data, social networks, mobility, and location-based tracking -- no doubt residing in a flexible cloud -- mean we can finally understand customers for the individuals they are.  But the inverse is also true. Customers share so much about themselves now, and they reveal themselves so fully online, that they also expect companies to know what they want, and they become quickly frustrated when companies don’t.

When organizations understand that what makes mobility so transformative isn’t speed, but the control that it gives people, they can finally start to keep pace with these new, liberated customers.