To say mobility is huge–gargantuan, even–would be an understatement. Around this time last year it was predicted the number of mobile devices on the planet would exceed the world’s population by the end of 2012, inspiring many an enterprise to review and freshen up their mobile strategies. But here at the start of 2013 our fickle spotlight has already forgotten about inanimate objects and is instead highlighting something much more meaningful. At today’s intersection of intelligence, computing and massive amounts of ubiquitous and networked data, mobility is no longer about the hardware–it’s driving an entire shift in human behavior.

We’re Staying Hungry, Steve

These days our insatiable appetite for connection and sharing is often talked about as though it’s only been recently developed–a byproduct of social media, cloud computing and other technological advances. The reality, however, is that we’ve always craved incredible closeness and the ability to be heard, to be relevant; it’s just that today we’re actually capable of feeding all of those needs on a near constant basis. And so we do. The real challenge, therefore, is fulfillment that is a natural extension of our existing selves rather than a distracting or disruptive platform.

Bassett & Partners recently released a fascinating documentary that touches on this discussion via interaction design, emphasizing the way developers and designers are currently focusing on the removal of the extraneous (think Kinect getting rid of the wand or iPhone and its single button). The documentary features several notable leaders in the space, including Robert Fabricant, VP of Creative over at Frog Design: “Interaction design five or six years ago meant solving and thinking through–kinda choreography–of information and feedback and interfaces around a product,” he says. “The big step was going from thinking about it as being contained in each of those things to now thinking about it as something that exists across them.”

Lisa Weinstein, President, Global Digital, Data and Analytics at Starcom MediaVest Group, had a similar comment at CES this year: “I think it’s a critical distinction, and it may sound like just a different word or semantics but, I actually think that we have to take off the channel lens [from] mobile as a device, and think more about the consumer and behavior, and I think when you do that there’s some really, really interesting implications about the way that consumers are interacting with different types of experiences in places–whether that be at retail or with friends in a social type of environment through their personal device. And so I very much believe that the device is important because of the personalization, but the behavior that it drives is actually a much deeper opportunity for how brands can intersect with consumers in new and different ways…”

People Devices the Internet

Because the focus is now on our actions rather than the tools we use to carry them out, we’re going to see even more objects–not just phones, tablets or computers–connected to the Internet, further augmenting this behavior and providing even more touch points for data and information exchange. The umbrella term, Internet of Things (IoT), will not only cause a widespread demand for better ways to obtain data, but also highlight the importance of getting it to the right people in the right forms.

While most companies are still in the very early stages of aligning with this trend, it is predicted that 2013 will see a kind of eruption. In fact, a study by Forrester Research and Zebra Technologies (Building Value from Visibility), revealed that 53% of companies were planning to implement IoT-related technologies over the next 24 months. General benefits include the tracking and managing of physical assets (the condition or location of products, for example), managing customer relationships and improving the customer experience.

How do you see today’s shift in behavior and the tracking of it benefiting your business? Tell us in the comments below.