Cutting Edge B2B Developers Explain Why Mobile Isn’t Their Focus
I recently went on a hike with developers from several tech start up firms based in Silicon Beach (Southern California). These start-up founders mentioned that mobile may get all the buzz, but desktops are still the tool of choice for their B2B customers. One augmented reality software company executive mentioned that virtually all their B2B user customers are working at desktops. For his business, desktops are the focus, and mobile is not a high priority for their power-user B2B customers.
Sonya Sephaban, co founder of JoinIN.la agreed with this observation, saying,
“The use case is critical, and many times desktops are the tool of choice. It’s all about understanding the market, the customer’s needs. At JoinIN.la we find that many of the end users are working on desktops”
In fact, comScore’s 2016 Global Digital Future in Focus study found that desktop use outpaces tablets and smart phones in the 10 A.M. to 5 P.M. daypart. Another study found that desktop computers are preferred in many business environments. In a conversation with Nathan Cullen, Software Architect for Roadtrippers, he describes when he might use a desktop or laptop vs. mobile device:
“Desktop operating systems provide superior multitasking capabilities, more ports (like USB) for domain-specific hardware devices, and larger screens. Furthermore, physical, full-size keyboards and mice enable faster input over touch-based virtual keyboards. Would you want to fly on a plane with a 4.7 inch dashboard screen where the pilot must double-tap a button and swipe to view each gauge individually?”
His wife, Amanda Cullen has a marketing strategy and consultancy firm, Zoo in a Jungle Marketing. She chimes in:
“For work, I rarely use a mobile device beyond checking email and taking notes in meetings. From advanced analytics reporting to spreadsheets to graphic design, I need more computing power and flexibility than even a tablet can offer. Hypothetically, I suppose I could edit video on my iPad. But I’d run out of hard drive space almost immediately and would lose the fine-grained control offered by a mouse and full-size keyboard.”
Desktops Aren’t Just for Power Users. Even Sales Teams Can’t Go Fully Mobile.
It may not be surprising that power users like software developers or marketers need desktops, but we found B2B end users of sales incentive apps are still mainly using desktop devices as a critical part of their work. Mobile was secondary to their work usage. Quotes from automotive and pharmaceutical B2B end users are illustrative.
“I access it at my desktop. While we are encouraging salespeople to use iPads more as a selling tool, and they can also access this program on the iPad, the desktop is still the most frequent, as it fits into the work routine.”
“I’m at the desktop because I’m here at work. When I’m not at work, I’m driving and so I use the desktop or laptop if I’m working at home.”
With Higher Satisfaction Rates, Users Simply Prefer the Desktop Experience
An ACSI 2016 Satisfaction study finds that consumers still have the highest satisfaction with desktops, ahead of laptops and tablets.
Desktop computers have several usability advantages, such as larger screens, full-size keyboards, ergonomic mouse options, more computing power and more opportunity for customization.
Simply put, a user can do more, faster with a desktop computer than with a mobile device. That productivity is especially important for B2B users, who are accomplishing work-related tasks, usually on a deadline. Since most employees have a work area (desk, cubicle or office), the benefits of a desktop computer usually outweigh the convenience of mobile computing.
This mobile vs. desktop case highlights the importance of considering B2B markets as distinct from consumer markets. Mobile is (almost) all that matters when developing for consumers. In the US, 71% of all minutes spent online are on a mobile device. While many B2C developers are phasing out desktop applications and websites, we can see why the desktop is still the tool of choice for B2B developers and end users. The same B2B individuals are using mobile devices, and they may use them for B2B search, but mobile is not their primary work tool. This points out the importance of knowing the customer, understanding the individual’s work need state and the tasks they are trying to accomplish.