Friday, January 29, 2010

The Quiet Mobility Company - Sybase

Last March SAP and Sybase(the quiet company) announced a co-innovation partnership to deliver mobility to iPhones, Blackberrys and Windows Mobile devices. Read this excerpt from a March 9, 2009 press release:

"The two companies are co-innovating and collaborating to deliver the new SAP® Business Suite software for the first time to iPhone, Windows Mobile, BlackBerry and other devices by integrating it with Sybase industry-leading mobile enterprise application platform."

My question is where is Sybase? Why are they so quiet? I see them making record profits and issuing an occasional press release, but where are the mobility evangelists? Gartner ranks them number 1 on their Magic Quadrant, but I see more publicity from 10 person start-ups than from iAnywhere or Sybase. Are they engaged in a skunk works project that will explode onto the mobility market in a gigantic marketing extravaganza like Apple? It seems they like to make these potentially interesting announcements and then return to their quiet cave.

Here is the problem with Sybase's silence. It gives the mobility stage to others. This stage is where thought leaders participate in educating the market. It is where visionaries paint new images of what is possible. Sybase's history and customer base give them an opportunity to take the stage. I just don't see them doing it. IT decision makers will forget about them.

How many of you know the name of a visionary in Sybase's mobility group? I am sure they exist, I just never see them leave the cave. I don't see them taking the center stage and commanding our attention.

Perhaps I am just missing them and they are all around me. Do you see them everywhere and I don't? I read Ian Thain's blog often, but are there other voices from Sybase? I look forward to your comments so I can be pointed in the right direction.

I know Sybase and iAnywhere. I did not know John F Kennedy. They have some great mobile middleware technology, but the market is not going to wait for them to come out of their cave and tell us about it.

I see it in companies that are big and have a long history. Newcomers and young visionaries within the company do not feel empowered to write or speak. They don't feel worthy of taking the podium where the company founders once stood decades before and shared ideas and visions. Why? They always feel they will say something wrong and the founders will jump out of their graves. The result is a quiet company.

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Author Kevin Benedict
Independent Mobility Consultant, Wireless Industry Analyst and Marketing Consultant
www.linkedin.com/in/kevinbenedict
twitter: @krbenedict
http://kevinbenedict.ulitzer.com/
http://mobileenterprisestrategies.blogspot.com/
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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

In Remembrance of the PDA


How long has it been since you stopped using the term PDA? It occurred to me the other day that the PDA has played an important part in my career and I should not let it pass away without a ceremony of some sort.

The PDA has been replaced by iEverything and smartphones. However, it was an important gadget that paved the way for the mobile technology advances of today. It opened our minds to the possibilities of keeping on task, even with poor memories. It helped generations of soccer moms remember where each child was dropped off and when they needed to be recovered. It allowed us men to seem organized despite ourselves.

PDAs started the concepts of software applications, music and photos in our pockets. PDAs kicked-off companies like Palm and motivated people like me to begin blogging.
Let us be silent for 30 seconds in rememberance of the PDA. We can quietly bow our heads and reach down into our pockets and try to remember the last place we used our stylus before it disappeared.

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Author Kevin Benedict
Independent Mobility Consultant, Wireless Industry Analyst and Marketing Consultant
www.linkedin.com/in/kevinbenedict
twitter: @krbenedict
http://kevinbenedict.ulitzer.com/
http://mobileenterprisestrategies.blogspot.com/
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Advice for Mobile Start-Ups: Working with SAP, Part 2

There are several different categories of mobile applications that work with or integrate with SAP.

  1. Those that provide real-time mobile views of complete SAP applications
  2. Those that provide mobile queries and reports on SAP data
  3. Those that provide custom mobile forms for subsets of SAP business processes based upon roles and responsibilities
  4. Complete, disconnected mobile applications (like work orders) that synchronize with a field force automation solution (e.g. Sky Technologies, Sybase, Syclo, ClickSoftware, etc) on the backend where it is integrated with SAP
  5. Custom mobile applications for inspections, assessments, plant maintenance and other niche requirements that may be synchronized with custom databases that are integrated with SAP databases.
It is important to understand which category or categories your solutions fit, and how this impacts your ability to leverage the SAP sales and marketing organizations to help grow your business.

The different categories of mobile solutions and architectures listed above often have different users. A field service technician needs a connected/disconnected mobile application, while the administrator may simply need mobile access to the SAP ERP. You must recognize who your user is before you start marketing. What department's budget will pay for a white collar worker's mobile access? Who are the decision makers? What are their priorities? Is it saving money, making money or doing more with less?

Can you think of other mobile application categories that I missed?

Read Advice to Mobile Start-Ups: Working with SAP, Part 1 here, Part 3 here and Part 4.

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Author Kevin Benedict
Independent Mobility Consultant, Wireless Industry Analyst and Marketing Consultant
www.linkedin.com/in/kevinbenedict
twitter: @krbenedict
http://kevinbenedict.ulitzer.com/
http://mobileenterprisestrategies.blogspot.com/
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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

New and Unique Mobile Applications and Business Processes

It seems like everybody can now build a mobile client. I remember when that was a very big deal. Now it is quickly becoming a commodity feature. The value of mobile applications is quickly shifting from the mobile client to the business process that is being mobilized.

Last week I had the opportunity to talk with Chuck Sacco of Movitas. These guys focus on some very interesting and unique business processes in the hospitality markets. They want to help their hotel clients offer time sensitive "distressed inventory" to their guests via mobile devices.

Chuck educated me on the meaning of distressed inventory. Distressed inventory describes open time slots for services. For example, a spa may have open time slots on their schedule. These open time slots are not making any money for the property.

Motivas' solution is designed to be able to notify guests of available services, and even perhaps discounts on services on the property. The purpose is to improve the revenue generating potential of distressed inventory. An unused time slot generates zero money. If you can send out a SMS message to guests that there is a 50% discount on spa treatments between 4:15 PM and 4:45 PM, then you can generate money where there wasn't any. I guess this assumes that guests that were booked at 100% of fees don't reschedule to the 4:15 PM time.... That would be an important configuration feature wouldn't it? Notify only the guests not previously scheduled :-)

The key points are the following:
  1. Saving money or making money for the enterprise customer is the key
  2. Enabling a business process to work no matter the technology
  3. It is not the gadget that is important, but the business results
  4. Deep vertical industry expertise is critical to providing real value
  5. Make it easy on the user ~ push timely information out, don't depend on users to discover
  6. Identify areas of latency, inefficiencies and poor service and fix it in a scalable model

I invite your thoughts and comments.

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Author Kevin Benedict
Independent Mobility Consultant, Wireless Industry Analyst and Marketing Consultant
www.linkedin.com/in/kevinbenedict
twitter: @krbenedict
http://kevinbenedict.ulitzer.com/
http://mobileenterprisestrategies.blogspot.com/
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Sunday, January 24, 2010

Advice to Mobile Start-ups: Working with SAP, Part 1

I was invited to spend time on SAP's rain soaked campus in Palo Alto, California last week and met with people from several different groups to discuss mobile computing, mobile strategies and how mobile start-ups can best partner with SAP. This article reviews some of those discussions.

One of the first points to understand is that SAP LOVES mobility. In December SAP announced that one of their key focuses for 2010 would be mobility. I wrote about SAP's announcement here in December. What this means is SAP is looking for partnerships with mobile software companies that will extend the reach of their core software to more users. Let's talk about what that means.

SAP is one of the largest software companies in the world and traditionally they have focused on selling to the largest global companies. They have been successful in this strategy, but even with their successes, they still have relatively few users in each of their customers' operations. Some estimates have it at about 445 users per customer on average. That may sound like a lot of users, but many of these companies may have tens of thousands of employees.

SAP's strategy now is to look for solutions and partnerships that will expand the value of their core systems to employees within their customers' operations that are not traditionally SAP users. This is a key point for mobile software companies to understand.

If you imagine the glassy surface of a pond and how it looks when a rock is thrown into it. The rock lands with a splash and a series of circles form. The inner circle is the smallest and represents SAP's current users within an enterprise. Each surrounding circle is bigger and covers a wider area and represents more possible users. These are the circles SAP wants to move into and where they want to add value. If you, as a mobile software company, can help them do that, then they are interested.

Let's explore how to expand the circles. What do we need to know?
  1. Who needs access to SAP system data, but is not sitting in a cubicle with SAP access today?
  2. Who collects SAP system data that is not currently a SAP user? They may be collecting data on paper forms today and re-keying the data into SAP at another time.
  3. Who are the mobile employees at a SAP customer? What are their roles and what data do they need to view and collect while on the road?
  4. What supervisors need access to SAP anywhere and at anytime?
  5. What managers need SAP management reports while on the road?
  6. Is there SAP system data that needs to be shared externally with extended multi-enterprise supply chains via mobile devices? You don't want your supply chain partners to view all of your system data, but are there alerts, updates, reports, etc., that should be shared via mobile devices?
  7. Should the logistics department have mobile "proof-of-delivery" applications in the hands of their truck drivers?
  8. Should plant maintenance managers have mobile inspection applications that feed SAP?
  9. Should service technicians be using mobile service tickets that feed SAP or an SAP partner's work order management system?
  10. One SAP customer has over 600 food processing inspectors worldwide. This inspection data needed to be collected and stored centrally. While this may not be a core SAP application, it shows that SAP customers often have a large number of mobile data collection requirements that can be turned into management reports and provided to traveling managers.

All of these applications are adding new users to the SAP family. If you can add new users to the SAP family, then you will have the ear of the entire SAP sales organization.

Part 2 of this series can be found here, Part 3 here and part 4.

If you would like to discuss this subject in more detail please email me here. If you would like to follow my discussions and be alerted to new Mobile Strategies for Businesses' articles, then you can add me to your RSS reader or twitter account @krbenedict.

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Author Kevin Benedict
Independent Mobility Consultant, Wireless Industry Analyst and Marketing Consultant
www.linkedin.com/in/kevinbenedict
twitter: @krbenedict
http://kevinbenedict.ulitzer.com/
http://mobileenterprisestrategies.blogspot.com/
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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Advice for Mobile Start-Ups: Find Your Market Aggregation Points




Mobile start-ups often struggle with how to get their message, product and company brand in front of their target markets. They quickly realize that the expense of marketing their solutions directly to each end user is cost prohibitive. How then can they effectively market their solutions in a cost effective manner?

Mobile start-ups need to first identify their target market, and second identify the "market aggregation" points. In the image above, look at the red dots. Those are the market aggregation points. Those are the points where the mobile start-up needs to be marketing. Why? That is where their audience can be found. The eyes and ears of their target market are tuned to that location.

Mobile start-ups should focus all of their efforts and financial resources on the red dot - market aggregation points. Often it costs no more to invest resources in the red dots, than it does to target each end user - end point.

If you are targeting SAP Mobility, then you will want to look for locations that aggregate that market. Where can you find the eyes and ears of the SAP market? If you are focused on field service automation, where is that market aggregated? If your solutions are exclusively for SAP ERP for iPhones, then where is your market aggregated?

Where are the red dot market aggregation points for your market?

If you would like to discuss this topic in more detail please contact me.

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Author Kevin Benedict
Independent Mobility Consultant, Wireless Industry Analyst and Marketing Consultant
www.linkedin.com/in/kevinbenedict
twitter: @krbenedict
http://kevinbenedict.ulitzer.com/
http://mobileenterprisestrategies.blogspot.com/
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$21 Million Raised by Pressing the Keys on a Mobile Device

The Red Cross was "texted" $21 million dollars in donations for Haiti disaster relief efforts according to this article. This is an incredible development, and it happened on mobile devices.

The Haiti relief campaign has been promoted by both traditional media sources and online social media. However, it really took off in the first couple of days through its promotion on Facebook and Twitter. The report said these donations were texted, so these donations were submitted on mobile devices.

It works like this:
  1. You get notified of the campaign through a mobile Facebook or twitter application
  2. You send a text to a given number and a $10 dollar charge (donation) appears on your mobile phone bill.
  3. You pay your mobile phone bill and the money is transferred from your carrier to the Red Cross

I am amazed at this example of the power represented by mobile communications, social media and mobile devices. I am also intrigued by the e-commerce processes represented by using the mobile phone billing system to collect these donations.

By simply pushing a few buttons on a handheld mobile device you can (collectively) be saving lives on the other side of the planet.

Let's all take a moment to be amazed together, and celebrate the good in these times of pain.

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Author Kevin Benedict
Independent Mobility Consultant, Wireless Industry Analyst and Marketing Consultant
www.linkedin.com/in/kevinbenedict
twitter: @krbenedict
http://kevinbenedict.ulitzer.com/
http://mobileenterprisestrategies.blogspot.com/
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Monday, January 18, 2010

Advice to Mobile Start-Ups: You are a Publishing Company Like it or Not!


I am a consultant to mobile start-up companies and an expert in the area of Web 2.0 marketing. I have successfully built mobile software companies from the ground up. I have made just about every mistake one could make, and learned how to overcome and avoid them in the future. I now work with mobile start-ups to help them implement the right Web 2.0 marketing strategies to build their sales pipelines in their targeted markets.

I advise my clients that like it or not they must become an Internet publishing company. Why? Unless they have millions of dollars or euros to burn on expensive pay-per-click campaigns, conferences, call centers, flights, hotels and rental cars, they are going to need to leverage the Internet and all of the free Internet tools available to build their sales pipeline, reseller channels, brand and partner communities.

Using the Internet requires the consistent production and publication of rich and valuable content that is useful and desired by your target audience. It needs to be updated daily or weekly and it needs to be found by your audience. You must first find and attract an audience that values your content, and then motivate them to return over and over and to provide you with their contact information. You must first become a trusted and dependable information asset to them, and then they will become fans, prospects and finally customers.

How do you become a valuable asset to your target audience? You must provide them with information that will improve their business by fixing their problems, reducing costs and/or increasing their sales. Here is the challenge. Mobile start-ups are busy places. They often have engineering geniuses, but few have the time or interest to write expert content to share with the public. Writing is hard work and time consuming. As a result, few start-ups consistently publish and expand their footprint on the web by utilizing Web 2.0 marketing strategies.

Mobile start-ups, however, must recognize that publishing prized and valued content that is read by their target audience is not a luxury, but a requirement now days. Setting up the processes, resources and systems to write, publish, promote and syndicate rich content on a daily basis must be part of every mobile start-up's business and marketing plan.

If you would like to discuss this subject in more detail please contact me.

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Author Kevin Benedict
Independent Mobility Consultant, Wireless Industry Analyst and Marketing Consultant
www.linkedin.com/in/kevinbenedict
twitter: @krbenedict
http://kevinbenedict.ulitzer.com/
http://mobileenterprisestrategies.blogspot.com/
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iPhone Mobile Audio Guides Created on the Street

Last week I was sitting in a soft leather chair in the corner of the Eagle, Idaho Starbucks Coffee Shop. Not so unusual, but this time I was recording the event on my iPhone using a free application called Woices.com. This application is the result of an entrepreneurial project out of Barcelona, Spain.

This application enabled me to record an audio guides using the "Memo" function of the iPhone, associate a digital photo, capture the GPS coordinates and add a description and title. All of these individual functions exist already on the iPhone, but Woices brings them all together in one clever application and enables you to upload them to a centralized service so others can search and find your audio guide.

When I first opened Woices, it searched on my GPS coordinates for any pre-existing audio guides that were within a certain distance of my location. If they exist, it lists them. In my case, I was the first user in Eagle, Idaho. Woices can turn any storyteller, traveller or history buff into a mobile reporter. I love it!!

The next steps I would like to see are the following:

1) Democratize history - let every person with an experience in a specific location, record it using text, digital photography and audio formats with a GPS coordinate, date and time stamp. It can be first romances, first driving ticket, childhood home or something big like a forest fire you witnessed as a child.

2) Set up a function that will revolutionize newspaper reporting. Let every person be a reporter. They can review the recorded history, experience or event and report on it. These can be picked up by local newspapers and reported under the title of "citizen" reporters.

These features would be intended to merge personal experiences, personal history, social networking and geospatial data together to form a democratic form of history, perhaps a wiki-history and/or wiki-reporting.

Think about it for a moment. How many of us have known people that had volumes of history in their memory, but it was lost with their passing? I would love to walk through a historic neighborhood, and have stories, history and experiences popping up on my iPhone application list as I walked from block to block listening.

What are your thoughts? Where can you see these kinds of features and services being useful in business?

I can see the benefit in big construction projects where experts can share thoughts, recommendations, warnings and insight as they tour the project. These captured thoughts would be associated with audio files, text files, GPS coordinates and digital photos. These recordings could then be accessed by others on the project.

I look forward to your comments!

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Author Kevin Benedict
Independent Mobility Consultant, Wireless Industry Analyst and Marketing Consultant
www.linkedin.com/in/kevinbenedict
twitter: @krbenedict
http://kevinbenedict.ulitzer.com/
http://mobileenterprisestrategies.blogspot.com/
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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

SAP ERP on iPhones

I met with a team of mobile software developers this week that have developed a fascinating mobile technology that enables the user to access ALL of SAP's ERP and other SAP components on an iPhone. I am particularly intrigued because I have never seen a mobile application that can quickly enable an entire ERP with only a 25 MB download and a 15 minute set-up.

The use case would be any SAP user or expert that needs to access any page or component of SAP while out of the office. It is all there on the iPhone. I was very impressed. Most often only traveling sales or service people are prioritized for enterprise mobile applications, but this technology will enable anyone in the company that needs access to the SAP system to simply login with their iPhone and go to work.

This company will be releasing the iPhone version first, and then versions for Android, Blackberry and Windows Mobile over the next few months.

Let me know if you want more information and I will point you in the right direction.

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Author Kevin Benedict
Independent Mobility Consultant, Wireless Industry Analyst and Marketing Consultant
www.linkedin.com/in/kevinbenedict
twitter: @krbenedict
http://kevinbenedict.ulitzer.com/
http://mobileenterprisestrategies.blogspot.com/
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Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Advice to Mobile Start-ups: Focus on Mobile Content, Mobile Business Processes, Integration and Workflow

The mobile and wireless industries have changed dramatically in the past year and this has significantly changed the market for mobile application start-ups. Many of the missing application development tools and features that forced programmers to develop their own proprietary mobile middleware, have been filled by the mobile OS (operating system) developers over the past 12 months. This is both good and bad news for mobile start-ups.

The good news is that mobile application developers can focus more on providing business value, rather than coding clever mobile client and mobile middleware features. This is good for the entrepreneurs that have started with an existing back-office business application in mind and simply wants to support it with a mobile client.

The bad news is that many mobile application companies have already invested heavily into their own mobile client technology, mobile application development tools and mobile middleware platforms. Why is this bad? Because most enterprise buyers won't appreciate the investment.

Enterprise buyers own smartphones. They download mobile applications over the weekend for $1.99. Their expectations have changed. In the past, mobile applications were a novelty surrounded by mystery and complexity. Mystery and complexity made it easy to charge $500 or more per mobile user. Now mobile applications are only a finger stroke and a password a way on their favorite mobile app store.

The mobile application itself is not where the biggest value can be found. The biggest value is in the following:
  • Mobile client integration with enterprise business applications and data
  • Support for enterprise business processes
  • Support for ERP (enterprise resource planning) workflows
  • Support for ERP data requirements
  • Integration with high value data sources (web services)
  • Support for complex and niche business processes
  • Support for high value data collection hardware (survey equipment, RFID, Barcode, GPS etc.)

The value of mobile business applications, no matter what the original investment was, will be attributed to the above capabilities not the mobile client itself. ROIs need to be achieved by supporting core business functions in mobile environments. It is the efficient support for a business process, not the mobile client where the real value can be found.

As a mobile software vendor, having the best of breed enterprise mobile applications will not be good enough. Companies will continually seek to simplify their IT environments and reduce the number of applications they are required to support. They will look to find mobile solutions that are hosted in a SaaS (software as a service) business model in a cloud computing environment, and that are most closely aligned with their primary ERP or key business software solution either through ownership, endorsement or partnership.

Early adopters will experiment with best of breed and leading edge technologies, but the masses want simplicity and security.

Do you agree? I look forward to your thoughts and comments.

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Author Kevin Benedict
Independent Mobility Consultant, Wireless Industry Analyst and Marketing Consultant
www.linkedin.com/in/kevinbenedict
twitter: @krbenedict
http://kevinbenedict.ulitzer.com/
http://mobileenterprisestrategies.blogspot.com/
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Monday, January 04, 2010

Mobile Applications, Location Based Services and Lifestyle Preferences

I love hiking. I enjoy gardening. I love mobile gadgets. I crave Thai food. I love drinking coffee in a comfortable chair and reading the New York Times. I would appreciate and use a mobile application that would connect my lifestyle preferences to a map and suggest locations conducive to my lifestyle.

I would like to arrive in a new city and open my mobile application and have it suggest great walking tours and hiking trails that were close to highly rated coffee shops, Thai restaurants, bookstores and public gardens. I would want to see these locations on a map with a suggested route. I would love to be shown several options all based on my preferences.

The application could also show me user comments and ratings of these locations, and overlay crime statistics of these geographic areas so I can weigh the risk of going there. Is the Thai food worth getting mugged?

I can see it now - you should be able to set different safety ratings. You can configure the mobile application to show just the safest locations based upon accident, crime and health inspection data, or you can live on the wild side.

I am looking for suggestions and recommendations if this mobile application already exists. If not, all you entrepreneurs should start working.

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Author Kevin Benedict
Independent Mobility Consultant, Wireless Industry Analyst and Marketing Consultant
www.linkedin.com/in/kevinbenedict
twitter: @krbenedict
http://kevinbenedict.ulitzer.com/
http://mobileenterprisestrategies.blogspot.com/
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Location Based Services and Mobile Device Customization

Many SMEs (small to medium sized enterprises) that use smartphones such as iPhones would benefit from the ability to add business information, alerts, tags and advice to a specific location on a map. Large enterprises can achieve these features by investing in business analytics, GIS solutions, route optimization applications, mobile data collection solutions and integrate them all with CRMs, but these enterprise solutions are often cost prohibitive for SMEs. They need these features all on a simple mobile application that is either connected to a web service or independent on the device.

Let's consider a few scenarios:
  • A taxi driver has found a very good place to pick-up riders. He/she wants to mark this location on a map and include other relevant information such as day of week, time of day and the reason this is a good location.
  • A house painting contractor driving through a neighborhood notices that it has a large number of houses that may need painting in the near future. The contractor pulls over, marks a map on his iPhone and enters the details.
  • A landscape company owner notices a new housing development is going in. He pulls over and marks his map and enters the details.
  • A neighborhood watch member notices ongoing suspicious activities and marks the location on his/her iPhone map and relevant details.
  • Citizens report potholes in the road to the appropriate government agencies. They mark the location on their maps and then call in the details or enter the data in a government sponsored website.
  • A parent enters the location of their children's friends' homes, by marking them on a map so they can quickly find them and know where they are located.

Any information that is location based and would help a person plan their business or personal life better would be useful. It would be beneficial if these applications were easily customizable so that individual users could quickly and easily edit them for their specific needs.

Can you think of other features that would be useful?
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Author Kevin Benedict
Independent Mobility Consultant, Wireless Industry Analyst and Marketing Consultant
www.linkedin.com/in/kevinbenedict
twitter: @krbenedict
http://kevinbenedict.ulitzer.com/
http://mobileenterprisestrategies.blogspot.com/
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