In the article on Today newspaper titled "The challenge and promise of mobile", the author Loren Shuster who is also director of Singapore and Emerging Markets at Google, gave his insights on why businesses in Singapore needs to start optimizing their websites to be accessible on mobile devices like smartphones and tablets.

In a recent study with IPSOS, Google found that Singapore has the highest smartphone penetration in the world at 62 per cent - ahead of the United States, United Kingdom and Japan. And the pace of change is revolutionary. The majority of smartphone owners surveyed had bought their device in the preceding 12 months; and three in five bought it in the last six months. This amounts to a dizzying pace of growth: Already more than 74 per cent of Singapore searches are from mobile devices.


If this sounds like a golden opportunity for advertisers large and small to engage with consumers, it is. But the hard truth is that mobile advertising is not only an opportunity, it is a necessity. Consumers have embraced the mobile revolution - which means advertisers should, too. Consider our other findings: Four in 10 used their smartphones to research and then call businesses, while 47 per cent visited a business they had found using their smartphone, 35 per cent made a purchase using their mobile phone, and 46 per cent searched for travel on mobile.

Each one of those actions represents an opportunity for businesses to grow. Yet nearly 80 per cent do not have mobile-friendly websites. If you asked a business owner whether he or she would ignore every fourth customer, the answer would be no. But with 25 per cent of retail queries coming from mobile, not having a mobile website is the same thing - and the rewards for first movers are significant. The good news is that it is not too late to be early.

Businesses can start with the basics. That does not mean designing a fancy app or even advertising on mobile right away. The first step is creating a mobile-optimised version of your website. Almost 80 per cent of Singaporean businesses do not have one, which means customers will not be able to fully engage with the business or brand even if they do advertise on phones.

The second thing many businesses get wrong is to think of an iPhone app as a mobile strategy - it is not. Businesses need to build and integrate their mobile strategy with existing campaigns. When developing their mobile strategy, marketers need to incorporate all available mobile platforms and devices, along with the mobile Web. They also need to define what they are trying to achieve: A restaurant may want to find new customers, while a large company may want a new way to engage customers.

Finally, if there is one thing we have learnt from the last 15 years, it is that those who react early to big changes in technology and media do much better than those who are late. Being early carries risks but it gives access to new and unique information about what works and what does not. Advertisers need to use that data to make informed decisions about their future mobile strategy, and even their broader business strategy.

The article first appeared on TODAYonline.