Thursday, October 14, 2010

Aware and Intelligent Mobile Applications

I am very interested in mobile enterprise applications becoming smarter and more aware.  Mobile applications should begin to understand our needs and start doing more things for us automatically.  Every new feature in a mobile application should NOT mean there are more steps for us to do.

Microsoft has just kicked off a $400 million market campaign for Windows Phone 7.  I read this week that the theme of the marketing effort will be to emphasize that smartphones should be simpler.  They should provide us easy access to the things we use the phone for the most.  I agree.  One of the examples I read about was having the digital camera function available via a button without requiring unlocking the phone, finding the camera application and launching it.  Just let me take a quick picture.

Here are several ways mobile applications can become smarter.  Make them:

  • Geospatially aware
  • Business aware
  • Environmentally aware
  • Contextually aware

Geospatially aware:  If I am arriving at a customer's location, the smartphone should recognize my GPS location and automatically query my CRM and provide me with the latest information about my customers' orders, customer service issues, payment schedules, order deliveries, etc.  Don't make me ask for all of this information individually.  Just send it to me so I am prepared.

Business aware:  The mobile application should know my role and responsibilities in the company.  Based on my job function it should automatically provide me with relevant information that I need in order to do my job.  It should check to see if there are any open customer service issues, when a customer meeting is on my calendar. 

Environmentally aware:  Here are some examples weather, health, family schedule, travel plans, sitting, standing, exercising, heart rate, sugar level, body temperature, time of day.  For the most part, these are simply data points.  This data can be used to suggest and recommend things.

Context aware:  Is it the middle of a work day, or are you at your daughter's soccer game on the weekend, or traveling in Europe? Is it in the middle of the night?  Are you in an important meeting with a customer, or celebrating an anniversary with a candlelight dinner.  These all represent different contexts in which information may be desired or not.  If it is about time for lunch, look for good lunch options within walking distance of your location.  Search for lunch deals.  Consider my preferences when searching.  Mobile applications need to start recognizing the different contexts in our lives and make adjustments based upon these understandings.

All of this information, with an increasing number of sensors on or in your smartphone, person and environment, integrated with business analytic applications and improved calendars should be developed to help us.  You don't want annoying routine business calls when you are asleep in the middle of the night on a European vacation.  Your smartphone should understand the context and make adjustments by automatically sending calls to voice mail.

I noted the other day that ClickSoftware is integrating an increasing number of these "aware" features into the SAP Workforce Scheduling and Optimization solution for the service sector.  For example, notifying customers that the service technician is arriving within a certain period of time based upon their GPS location and traffic conditions.
 
Come see me at TechEd Las Vegas and let's brainstorm!

Here is a video comment that I recorded last week and posted to the SAP Mentor channel on this subject.

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Kevin Benedict, SAP Mentor, SAP Top Contributor, Mobile and M2M Industry Analyst
Phone +1 208-991-4410
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Full Disclosure: I am an independent mobility consultant, mobility analyst, writer and Web 2.0 marketing professional. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.