Mobile is a mindset and an opportunity for publishers

Mobile is a behaviour, not a device, he said. “The most important thing that has changed is consumer behaviour,” Sleight said. “It’s changed because it’s intertwined with our lives. It’s changed so much, that physically, we’re changing. Swiping, that’s a physical gesture, that we’ve never had before.”

Indeed, swiping left while sitting in front of the television at night (the most popular time to use mobile), Sleight says, is common. Mobile happens while we’re in stores, while we’re in our cars. Mobile is behavioural change for consumers. However, it’s demanding of context.

Context is crucial, Sleight said. “What I mean about context is that, often it’s what we’re doing on this device and who we are, and what we like on this device,” he said.

Mobile, at it’s base, is about blending the digital world and the physical world. “We see mobile as becoming the remote control of people’s lives,” Sleight said. “We’re moving from these interactions, to the phone interpreting the world around us.”

In response to the rise of mobile, the industry has reacted in a variety of ways. Sleight said publishers have simply ported things directly to mobile. Responsive, for example, is a “porter strategy,” where content looks the same on a web screen or a tablet screen. The same functionality is spread across devices.

Other responses to mobile include aggregation and summarisation, Sleight said. Aggregators include Snapchat’s Discover and Flipboard. It’s coming to the forefront of mobile, he added. Summarisation takes content and gets it across to people very quickly. Examples of summarisation strategy include The Economist’s Espresso, which creates a different experience for people outside the main platforms (or print magazine).

Sleight recommended that publishers build platforms for mobile, not sites nor apps. “It’s no longer good enough to put a product out there. You have to think about how the product will change as customers use it,” he said.

And then there are innovators. As a response to mobile, innovators are better able to adapt. With the rise of mobile, publishers need to be innovative. Innovation needs to run through the entire organisation, not be siloed.

“If all of your staff are not thinking innovatively, you’re not going to get the effect on the bottom line of your business,” Sleight said, adding that structurally, organisations need to change. “It’s about the workflows and processes. If the culture does not change, to embrace processes, you’ve hit a buffer. You have to think radically about change.”

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