2011: A Mobile Year in Review — Q&A with Ethan Alexander, VP of Mobile at LivePerson, IncDecember 27th, 2011 by Trilibis Blogging Team
Welcome to the fourth installment of our 2011: A Mobile Year in Review Q&A style blog series that features the thoughts and insights of mobile industry luminaries, media executives and brand marketers.
In this post, we interview Ethan Alexander, VP of Mobile for LivePerson, Inc (@LivePerson) and leading industry figure for over 15 years. Ethan shares why it’s difficult to choose only one great mobile innovation this year, why LivePerson’s clients are so interested in advancing their mobile initiatives and why mobile chat is essential to the customer experience. Lastly, Ethan compares mobile growth to the early days of the internet and decides what he thinks 2012 will bring.
Ethan Alexander is the VP of Mobile for LivePerson, Inc., which provides online engagement solutions that facilitate real-time assistance and advice. The company’s hosted platform supports and manages real-time online interactions for businesses and independent experts. With its B2B services, chat, voice/click-to-call, email, self-service/knowledgebase and now mobile interactions are managed from a single agent desktop. Ethan spearheads the company’s efforts to extend real-time, intelligent interactions beyond the browser to anywhere with mobile service. Previous to LivePerson, Ethan was a part of the mobile leadership team at Salesforce.com where he helped develop their mobile platform and business strategy from the ground up after the 2006 purchase of Sendia, where he ran business development and partner efforts. Through the years, Ethan has worked closely with leading device manufacturers, various network operators and mobile integration and app development partners.
Q – What was the single biggest mobile innovation you saw this year?
A – That’s a tough one. There is so much that fills the innovation in mobility right now. Choosing between the new mobile devices that are capable of so much or the advances in the OS’s, such as iOS and Android, which now dominate the discussions and, it seems, everyone’s daily life. Also, the monstrous growth in new mobile optimized sites and of course the growth of HTML5, enabling far greater features and flexibility. Add in the arrival of faster network speeds (thank you 4G!), plus all the cool thinkers and companies that are making mobile a simpler and exciting part of life… It’s not an easy choice! But if I had to pick just one, I would have to say the explosion of the Android OS. It just took over the world this year and really helped make it a mobile year to remember.
Q – What catalysts contributed to the growth of mobile within your organization?
A – It’s all about our customers and their success. We are seeing mobile interest from customers who are seeing a dramtic rise of their customers’ searches, requests and purchases coming from mobile devices and tablets. The conclusion is simple — people want to be able to make their decisions and purchases from anywhere, thus feeding the vast growth of m. sites and mobile applications that provide products and services at a moment’s notice. Offering the ability to communicate with live agents on our customers’ mobile sites, applications and social properties was a natural next step for LivePerson in a growing market.
Q – What were the top reasons your customers decided to invest in mobile in 2011?
A – Pure and simple – mobile is where their customers are heading in the near future, and in many cases, they are already demanding the same level of support and service as they expect on a desktop. Mobile devices and tablets have made the process of shopping, support and sharing so much simpler and available anytime. With the rapid growth of mobile-enabled users, brands around the world are finally waking up to the importance of offering an optimized experience on mobile. The extension of a live agent at the ready is making a big difference in the overall experience.
Q – From a competitive landscape, what does it mean for your company to invest in mobile?
A – Mobile is clearly a growth side of the customer model. LivePerson is all about enabling our 9,000+ customers around the world with advanced features to better serve their clients. We provide a long list of platform options to help any customer in any vertical or industry to tailor the support and purchasing options they offer their clients. The personal agent engagement is a unique difference that can not only fast track a purchase decision or deliver satisfying support, but is a huge cost savings in comparison to an unhappy client or a backlog of inbound phone calls to the call center. There really is a live person/expert ready to chat to help make your mobile online experience smarter and faster. It’s simply about providing a number of options to our clients’ customers: online or mobile chat, direct call to an agent or other means to deliver real-time assistance and expert advice for a customer.
Q – 2012 is shaping up to be the year of fill in the blank. Why?
A – 2012 is shaping up to be the year of GROWTH. Mobile seems so obvious to those of us in the space, but the world is still coming to the table and asking for new applications and uses. I love the simple approaches and questions that come from the average person who asks, “What else can this do?”. That’s when it gets interesting. I really think we are at the beginning stages, similar to the early growth years of the internet, and mobile is finding its balance and finding its way into many corners of our lives in both the business and consumer interactions. The future is amazing and it is going to be very much a mobile world as we bring faster, easier and more configurable customization options to the masses. Part of this growth comes from how we can more readily discover local apps and knowledge from our devices based on our preferences and interests. This approach can be local and global and the evolution is the growth of the human side of these devices, software, services and connections. It’s great to see more and more open WiFi connections available as a back up to the carrier networks because, at the end of the day, if there is no data connection (due to roaming cost or limited signal) then there is no customer connection, which is essentially what all industries are here to serve — customers.