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Is Mobile Dependence the new Normal?

My mobile phone crapped out recently. An update to the Android software made it impossible to connect to WiFi, and the battery was draining at break-neck speed. And of course, I was leaving for a trade show in 48 hours. That same morning, I called Verizon, who patched me over to Samsung, who directed me to Best Buy where the very nice “Experience Experts” tried their hardest but were also baffled. I ultimately had to go back to Verizon, where they agreed to overnight me a new phone. Crisis averted.

Each person I spoke to did their best to assist, but the moral of this story isn’t about service. It’s about the sense of panic I had at the prospect of being disconnected. I’m all for unplugging from time to time. Maybe I’ll turn off my phone and go out to dinner with my husband, or go a full Sunday without checking email. But I would have changed my flight and left a day later, before I would have traveled without my mobile phone.

HT just released its 2014 Customer Engagement Technology Study which takes a detailed look at how mobile and social technologies are taking hold in the hospitality industry. As any of you who’ve lost or damaged your phone can attest to, it doesn’t take a research study to convince us that mobility has changed the way we engage. What the research does provide, however, is context; and this year in particular it exposes the challenges that hotels and restaurants still face in rolling out mobile and social initiatives that make sense. Too many of our industry’s apps and websites don’t offer the ability to make a purchase, for example, and too many organizations aren’t measuring ROI.

Mobility and its social cousin need a vanguard. More and more companies are creating a new role — the chief digital officer — to bridge the gap between business, technology and marketing. Mobility is disruptive. Mobility would lead the editor-in-chief of a magazine to change her flight – to literally be immobile — before traveling without her device. Doing “mobile” well is just as much about content and context as it is about connectivity. As an industry, we’ve got to get it right. Mobile dependency is the new normal, and I think CDOs might be, too.

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