By Stuart R. Levine

Published in The Credit Union Times

Can your Smartphone apps give you insights about organizational culture? How will the ubiquitous nature of the Internet continue to change your relationship to your customers? How might these tools affect your organization?

In her new insightful book, Mobilized: An Insider’s Guide to the Business and Future of Connected Technology, SC Moatti, a “mobile veteran” from Silicon Valley tells what makes apps most effective can also be instructive for organizational culture.   Moatti tells how the ancient Greek construct “Mind, Body, Spirit” encapsulates what it means to be human. She relates these to mobile technology: “Body: We are guided and motivated by beauty in all pursuits … Great mobile products replicate this beauty and use it to attract us.”   For Moatti, beauty translates into elegance and simplicity, as per Pythagoras’ Golden Mean. She continues: “Spirit: We all seek meaning for ourselves and our communities. Our spirit defines us and marks us as individuals. At the same time…we are a part of larger groups. The best mobile products recognize this duality. Mind: Key to our development as humans and our ongoing survival, both individually and collectively, is our ability to learn and adapt. … The best mobile products not only help us learn but also learn with us. These three human­first principles are at the core of great mobile products… We want them to look beautiful, to focus on the things that matter, and to constantly adapt to our environment.“

Business leaders understand all too well that technology is transforming their companies. The relationship to customers is evolving and they see technology, especially mobile, as fundamental tools in getting closer to the customer. Smart CEO’s are engaged with these emerging trends.   Technology is viewed as the best way to assess and deliver on changing customer expectations. PricewaterhouseCoopers’ recent, “Redefining Business Success in a Changing World, CEO Survey”, which recorded data from 1,409 CEOs in 83 countries, noted that nearly 70% of them believe that the power of data and analytics is the best way to assess and deliver on changing customer expectations. PwC found that more than half of the CEOs were making significant changes in their technology to better interpret the complex and emerging needs of customers.

Mobile technology is becoming increasingly important to help a company know and serve the customer. Moatti reports that globally in the last two years, there have been more mobile devices than desktop computers, and people spend more time browsing the Internet on their Smartphones than on their desktops. Smartphones are always with us, and personalization is essential to what makes mobile products successful; they put the user in control of the experience.   Respect is shown when apps ask permission to use our personal data. The software records what is important to the user and connects them to what matters.

Moatti describes how apps like Uber meet these conditions of success. Moreover, inspiring examples in the developing world are changing the face of healthcare delivery among the world’s poorest. She describes a reduction in pregnancy risks and infant mortality through the Grameen Foundation’s “Mobile Midwife” program in Africa. Women receive daily texts and weekly voicemails with advice during pregnancy and the first year of the child’s life. In Mozambique, mobile advances the fight against HIV and AIDs though texts that remind patients about appointment dates and to take their medication. Compared to the non-mobile average of 72%, 96% of participants were following protocols after six months and 85% after 12 months.

With transformational technology, people skills are even more important. Whether it’s providing day-to-day services or managing the data analytics, people working together create and tend the technology. Indeed, 75% of PwC’s surveyed CEOs said that creating a skilled, educated and adaptable workforce should be a main priority for companies, government and society. Given their native mobile comfort, Millennials’ bring something particularly useful to companies. In addition to technological knowledge, they generally choose apps over sites, the wave of the future. Leaders need skill and mental agility to understand the dynamics of managing such a workforce. The surveyed CEOs know this; leaders must be comfortable with data, analytics and new technology.

So, what insights can apps give us about organizational culture? Many of the same human instincts and needs that make a culture productive also make an app attractive. Respect, simplicity and transparency build trust. Adaptability and continuous learning for personal growth and for understanding the customers are key for both. Moatti knows that successful apps become extensions of ourselves; we expect from them what we wish for ourselves.