3 Core trends shaping IO Psychology. Vol. 3: Mobile Technology

In our last post on core trends in IO Psychology, we looked at how Artificial Intelligence will continue to shape talent decision-making and the way organisations deal with IO challenges.

In our final post of this series, we look at how mobile technologies will influence the future of IO Psychologists and the work they do.

By mobile, we mean highly portable, lightweight devices that allow the user access to the internet and applications. Therefore, tablets and mobile phones qualify as mobile technology, whereas laptops do not.

Going mobile

Mobile technology is rapidly becoming a massive lever of economic growth in South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa. A recent study by global mobile giant, GMSA, suggests that:

  • Unique mobile subscribers in Sub-Saharan Africa will rise from the current 420 million to 535 million by 2020
  • Mobile broadband connections will increase from the current 33% of all connections to 60% of connections in 2020
  • By 2020, there will be nearly 500 million smartphones in circulation within Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Mobile data traffic to grow by 66% over the next 3 years
  • Previously unconnected populations in the region will become part of the global internet economy (from 26% currently to 38% by 2020)
  • The mobile industry’s contribution to regional GDP will rise from $110 billion currently to $142 billion by 2020

Within Africa, South Africa still leads the way in mobile device penetration, with approximately 68% of South Africans connected to the mobile world.

Projections for the SADC region is that by 2020, more than half of everyone living in the region will have access to a smartphone with reliable internet access.

With this virtual explosion of mobile access for Southern Africans, what are the implications for IO Psychology in the region?

What Mobile can do for IO Psychology?: The rise of mobile assessments

It stands to reason that if more people have access to high speed, internet capable mobile devices, that they would expect to fulfil functions normally reserved for laptop and desktop computers on their smartphones instead.

Convenience and relative low costs of mobile technology will likely be the primary drivers of this behaviour shift. For instance, currently there are over 140 different money services operating on mobile technology in 39 countries across Africa.

Given that people are entrusting sensitive tasks such as personal banking to mobile technology, it’s likely that psychometric assessments will follow suit. IO Psychologists will have to become aware of the pros and cons of mobile assessments, as well as how to leverage this powerful technological trend for organisational growth.

Initial research on the topic shows reasonable equivalence of especially personality-based tools on mobile platforms, while mobile interfaces themselves offer enhanced user experience of tests, especially when they are developed as game-based assessments. So far, research seems to be pointing to test motivation and enjoyment as prime advantages of mobile assessments over their more traditional lap- or desktop counterparts.

But mobile assessments are not without potential risk. Gold-standard meta-analytical studies on test equivalence are still scant, and there is some evidence to suggest that distractibility and quality of connection may be deleterious to test performance.

Next steps?

Much like Big Data and Artificial Intelligence, Mobile technologies hold incredible promise for IO Psychologists who are willing to experiment. Besides the obvious application of assessment, mobile technology also opens our field to the promise of a whole new way of measuring behaviour with so-called “wearables”: small devices like the Fitbit that can be worn unobtrusively and monitor various actions.

Given the ethical use of such devices, we may be on the threshold of a whole new world of human behavioural metrics, and with it, more potential for the IO Psychologist to add true value to the organisations they serve.

If you’re interested in some of our other enablement solutions, why not drop us a line at info@tts-talent.com or visit us at tts-talent.com