Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Downside of Mobile Applications

I had the fortunate opportunity to meet a classmate for coffee this week. I had not seen him for over a decade. He serves as a traffic cop and uses a TDS Recon mobile handheld computer in the course of his work writing tickets.

During our conversation we discussed the rugged laptop he had mounted in his unmarked police cruiser. He said it had many of their police forms and documents on it, but that the mobile software was not able to keep up with the required edits and changes needed on the forms. As a result, they had stopped using it for much of their documentation.

This discussion highlighted the need for a mobile workflow application that is a separate layer from the data layer. The field data collection requirements should be very simple to edit and not impact the field user. If the mobile application requires a complete update to edit data fields, then it risks early obsolescence or as in my earlier example it will simply not be used.

- Kevin Benedict,
Mobile Strategies Consultant, SAP EDI Expert and Technology Writer

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Mobility Visions of Christmas Present

I visited the same bookstore twice this Christmas season, and both times I was confronted by mobility and the transformation that mobility is bringing to the world.

On the first visit a sales person greeted me at the front door and handed me an electronic book reader. The sales person said this mobile device, with free Internet connectivity through AT&T, would enable me to receive all of my books and many newspapers remotely, so there was no need to come into the store. Interesting sales presentation that does not bode well for the future job of the sales person that was standing before me. I wondered if the sales person had thought that far ahead?

On my second visit I was in the bookstore with my wife and daughter. As was our habit we selected some of the most interesting books from the shelf and ordered hot drinks. When our drinks were emptied and we had selected our favorite books, I directed us to the checkout line to purchase them. My wife looked up from her iPhone and said they were already ordered for half the price and free shipping. I sheepishly looked around and placed our books back on the shelves and exited the brick and mortar.

So the bookstore has been transformed into a comfortable coffee shop and showroom for books that we will buy elsewhere. I am not suggesting that it is good, just reality. It is part of the churn and transformation that mobility is bringing to all industries.

2010 will be the year of the connected, geospatially aware, super smartphone. There will be much change and some victims, but also many new and exciting opportunities.

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!

Author Kevin Benedict
Independent Mobility Consultant, Wireless Industry Analyst and Marketing Consultant
twitter: @krbenedict

Monday, December 21, 2009

New Analyst Report by Mobile Market Development

Mobile Market Development and Wireless Profits has just published a report, that I authored, called Enterprise Mobile Data Solutions which is now available here.

The following is the synopsis.

Enterprise customers potentially offer MNOs (mobile network operators) high profitability, low churn rates and strong demand for mobile data services - but they bring challenging application requirements as well. Additionally, neither of the purchasing models of large enterprises or SMEs make it a given that MNOs will achieve the value-added primary relationship with regard to mobile data solutions that would assure future margins in this sector of the market.

  • Large enterprises will be likely to partner with vendors and systems integrators with specialist skills and knowledge of the business area, potentially making MNO selection a tactical issue based on coverage and price and allowing for multiple, competing MNOs to be selected.
  • Smaller enterprises (SMEs) are more likely to buy off-the-shelf solutions with some customisation performed by value-added-resellers.
As a consequence, a large and profitable market with strong growth may be difficult to address efficiently by MNOs unless they configure offerings and develop partnerships that will work well with the enterprise customers' own business and purchasing models. Mobile Market Development has researched and analysed this market to identify specific trends, strategies and models that can be used by MNOs to help them profitably address this market and its opportunities. The report concludes with a range of recommendations, some addressing the specifics of individual segments of the opportunity and others that deal with the overall approach that MNOs need to take to maximise their return from the very large spend that enterprises will make over the next few years in order to upgrade efficiency and effectiveness in their own mobile workforce.

Table of Contents
2.1Background to the Report2
2.2Report Content3
2.3Currency and Conversions3
3The Mobile Enterprise Market5
3.1Historical Perspective of Market Development5
3.2Current Market Status, Size and Growth7
3.3The Future - Convergence of Mobile Technologies9
3.3.2GPS Integration10
3.3.3Location Based Services10
3.3.4Mobile Workflow Extensions from the Enterprise10
3.3.5Turn by Turn Navigation and Route Optimisation11
3.3.6Geotagging - Static and Dynamic11
3.3.7Mobile Business Analytics12
3.3.8Network-Centric Businesses12
3.3.9Enterprise 2.0 and Mobile Data Solutions12
3.3.10Mobile Training Videos and Live Video Streaming12
3.3.11Smartphones - Personal and Professional13
3.3.12Mobile Device Management13
4Sales & Distribution Models14
4.2Orange's Partner Progamme and The Application Shop14
4.3AT&T MEAP16
4.4BlackBerry App World18
4.5Alltel Wireless Business Solutions19
4.6AT&T and Psion Teklogix19
4.7Sales and Distribution Channels Analysis20
5Mobile Enterprise Application Segments22
5.2Size-Based Segments22
5.2.1Large Enterprise Markets22
5.2.2SME Markets23
5.3Mobile Field Service Automation23
5.3.1Industries Served25
5.3.2Value Propositions25
5.4Mobile Sales Force Automation28
5.4.1Industries Served28
5.4.2Value Propositions29
5.5Mobile Asset Management30
5.5.1Mobile Proof-of-Delivery30
5.5.2GPS Fleet Tracking and Fleet Management30
5.5.3Industries Served31
5.5.4Value Propositions31
5.6Facility and Asset Management31
5.6.1Industries Served32
5.6.2Value Propositions32
5.7Mobile Resource Management (MRM)32
5.7.1Industries Served33
5.7.2Value Propositions33
5.8Mobile Data Collection33
5.8.1Common Use Areas for Mobile Data Collection34 Inspection Services34 Job Estimates35 Insurance Applications35
5.9Machine to Machine (M2M)36
5.9.1NV Energy and Telemetric M2M Case Study36
5.10Mobile Public Safety Applications37
5.11Mobile Health Monitoring and Telemedicine37
5.11.1Mobile Health Monitoring and Hemophilia38
6Mobile Device Considerations40
6.2How Enterprises Select Mobile Devices40
6.2.1Environmental Factors40
6.2.2Using the Device in the Real World40
6.2.3Device Technology & Functionality Issues41
6.2.4Budget Issues42
6.2.5Deals Available42
6.2.6Reliability and Support42
6.3How Enterprises Support Mobile Devices43
6.3.1Supporting and Managing the Mobile User43
6.3.2Technical Fixes45
6.3.3Security, Control & Central Support45
6.3.4Operational, Commercial & Management Issues46
7.2Market Opportunity48
7.3Segment Recommendations48
7.4Overall Recommendations50

Author Kevin Benedict
Independent Mobility Consultant, Wireless Industry Analyst and Marketing Consultant
twitter: @krbenedict

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Postage Stamps, Units of Time and the Mobile Internet

Yesterday my wife sent me to the post office to purchase stamps. I grumbled that the line would be long due to people shipping gifts. Haven't they heard of's direct shipping? After completing my assignment my wife asked me how long I waited in line. My answer, "About 5 online articles." That is the power of Internet enabled smartphones. They can change the very units of measure we use for time!

According to investment firm Morgan Stanley, the mobile web is experiencing faster growth than its desktop predecessor ever did. They go on to forecasts that more consumers will access the Internet by mobile devices than PCs within five years.

For any person blessed or cursed with time on their hands, waiting in lines or on mass transportation, time will increasingly be measured by what they accomplished on the mobile web.

Author Kevin Benedict
Independent Mobility Consultant, Wireless Industry Analyst and Marketing Consultant
twitter: @krbenedict

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Google and Mobile Phones - Analysis

"It is understandable that Google wants to be a serious player in mobile communications," writes Martin Peers in an article on December 15th, 2009 in the Wall Street Journal. However, he follows by saying, "It is unclear why it (Google) needs to sell mobile phones to dominate mobile search."

Lets discuss: Google Goggle allows you to take a picture of a landmark or building and then automatically combine the photo with the integrated GPS coordinates to conduct an automatic query that displays information about it. This convergence of technology, GPS radio, digital camera and wireless radio to connect to the Internet are all hardware components in the phone.

The GPS and digital camera components are mobile data collectors. The information collected is used to perform automated searches. These searches can bring up the details of the objects in the photos as well as other choices for food, hotels, shopping etc, near that location. The LBS (location based services) where local companies pay money to have their presence and products marketed is the profit center.

Google would also recognize value in knowing who owns the phone. As the manufacturer and vendor, they would have a good reason to know who owns the phone. They could then connect this information with what they know about you from your existing Google Accounts. They could combine what they already know about your browsing habits and interests in the virtual world with your travels, habits and interests in the physical.

I can fully understand Google wanting to control and own the mobile data collection hardware. It will drive mobile marketing that they want going through their search engine and LBS business now and in the future.

Is it a bit creepy? Yes.

Author Kevin Benedict
Independent Mobility Consultant, Wireless Industry Analyst and Marketing Consultant
twitter: @krbenedict

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Geospatially Aware Mobile Inspection Applications for Military and Commercial Use

I have spent many years working with mobile application development tools. Each of the vendors I have known speak about the simplicity and speed of using their tools to develop and implement mobile applications. It is, for the most part, marketing speak.
Developing a mobile application is as simple as the database schema of the business application in which it will be integrated. If it is a simple data collection form that can be integrated with a simple spreadsheet or database, then it is fairly easy and will usually take days or a few weeks to develop. However, if the user wants a mobile version of their ERP, then I hope they have a few months and a significant budget. The point is, most mobile applications that synchronize with back-office enterprise database applications are not easy and simple and this is a problem for companies that need to inspect a wide variety of things.
I have witnessed over and over the challenges an inspection company has with mobile applications that run on handheld computers. The applications take longer to develop and cost more than the inspection task or project justifies. As a result, the inspection company continues to do it by hand. In another scenario, one inspection project may justify the time and expense of developing a mobile inspection application, but the next project does not. As a result, the inspection services company continues to use paper inspection forms on the majority of their projects. That is the economic reality, at least until now.
Recently I read an article called "Kenaz and Touch Inspect: Must-Have Products for the Warfighter" written by Don Jewell. Jewel writes articles for GPS World focused on Defense and the military. He has spent more than thirty years in the Unites States Air Force, where he was involved with GPS systems from their inception, either as a test system evaluator or user. He served as a Commander at Schriever AFB, the home of GPS, and retired as the deputy chief scientist at Air Force Space Command.
In Jewell's article he speaks of a mobile solution called Touch Inspect by Mobile Epiphany. It is essentially a computerized, geospatially aware, data-collection application with an amazing user interface. "The user interface matters to our warfighters!" Jewells writes, "because one of the biggest complaints from our warfighters concerning military user equipment (MUE) such as the Precision Lightweight GPS Receiver (PLGR) and the Defense Advanced GPS Receiver (DAGR) is the user interface."
Mobile applications for the military need to be geospatially aware. I wrote an article called Network-Centric Mobile Field Force Automation that explores this requirement in detail from both a military and commercial perspective.
Touch Inspect is unique. It focuses on geospatially-aware inspections and provides a powerful pre-built platform in which custom mobile inspection applications can be developed in just hours. It is unique in that no coding or programming is required and the solution is designed by a company that has a deep history in the electronic games industry. This is quickly apparent when you see the intense graphics and sophisticated features that I have never seen before in a Windows Mobile application.
Jewell writes, "Touch Inspect allows you to build databases on the fly for inspecting things, and I do mean just about anything. But more than that, it is a flexible, user configurable database system that can be adapted for so many uses that are critical to our warfighters and first responders."
Jewell sees applications for this software in almost every aspect of a warfighter’s day, starting with running the various checklists they need to run for weapons, radios, vehicles, and GPS devices. With GPS devices and GIS mapping information right on the device (in other words, you don’t need an Internet connection to see your geospatial maps like you would using something like Google Maps), this new software really shines because it incorporates the warfighter’s current GPS position and time — or the asset’s GPS position — into every database entry, with photos if necessary. And this system uses the topographical maps or aerial images you want it to use, not just simple street maps. Plus, when the computer is once again in Internet, LAN, or WLAN range, it automatically updates the server at HQ and downloads new information automatically without any user interaction.
I recently wrote an article about the use of rugged handheld computers and mobile inspection applications following the devastating fires that killed 173 people last year in Australia. In this case the police and emergency responders had an immediate need for a mobile inspection application that was geospatically aware. This immediate need for a custom mobile inspection application could not be solved by taking weeks and months to develop a mobile application. They needed it now! Touch Inspect has all the appearances of solving requirements for near-real-time dynamic and custom mobile inspection applications.

Author Kevin Benedict
Independent Mobility Consultant, Wireless Industry Analyst and Marketing Consultant

Analysis - SAP's Emerging Mobility Strategy - Fasten Your Seat Belts!

SAP has announced this week that one of their strategic focuses for the next 5 years is mobile computing and mobile software applications according to SAP chief technology officer Vishal Sikka said. The pervasiveness of mobile computing and social networking also have SAP developing applications and extensions, which will allow wireless users to collaborate and utilize SAP and non-SAP related data for on the fly computing.
I write wireless industry analyst reports and provide consulting on mobile strategies so have been keeping a careful eye on this market. It is moving at warp speed now! After many years of mostly small software companies in the mobile enterprise software applications market, the big kahunas are jumping in with both feet and this will change the industry. Read a few of these article titles:

A quick glance at the above articles shows you that the biggest technology companies in the world are now taking mobility seriously and the M&A activities are heating up. Mobile Epiphany is not a large company, but its parent is well funded and sets a higher standard for other start-ups than was faced in the past.

SAP is planning to compete against in 2010. has a popular mobile application and SAP will be required to launch one as well to successfully compete. This is an example of what entrepreneurs should be looking for now. Opportunities to help the ERP vendors meet their 5 year plans with add-on mobile solutions that extend their business processes to the mobile workforce.

My analysis - mobile start-ups cannot simply have a good idea now days. They must do a thorough investigation into the plans of the wireless carriers, mobile device manufacturers, mobile operating system developers and ERP vendors to understand the solution gaps and market place ambitions before launching another mobile application. The enterprise mobile applications market has just been promoted to the big league.

The growth strategies for mobile start-ups these days in the enterprise mobile applications space should involve working closely with the wireless carriers, mobile device manufacturers, ERP vendors and mobile operating system developers. Mobile start-ups are going to need to get in the game quickly or be left behind.

"Sixty to seventy percent of the population have mobile devices" said Don Bulmer SAP VP industry relations, adding that mobile gear is the preferred communications and computing platform. "There are lots of opportunities for SAP," he said.

SAP users want to be able to use social networking sites such as Facebook to collaborate, said SAP executive board member Jim Hagemann Snabe. "Companies want to take advantage of these technologies without disrupting business," he said. Much of SAP's innovation focus will revolve around flexible extensions to core applications and processes, which can be developed and deployed quickly, via an on-demand or on-premise model, said Hegemann Snabe.

Mobile start-ups - Did you catch the model proposed by SAP? They want innovations (think mobile) that are flexible extensions to their core applications and processes that are available to customers in an on-demand model (SaaS).

Social networking is responsible for much of the huge growth in mobile data usage these days. Adding social networking to the enterprise market promises many opportunities for mobile applications companies as SAP has described. If the enterprise adopts mobile solutions with a social networking emphasis, you will quickly see the wireless carriers plunge into this market as well. Keep your eyes open!

I look forward to your thoughts and comments.

Author Kevin Benedict
Independent Mobility Consultant, Wireless Industry Analyst and Marketing Consultant

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Mobile Applications for Fighting Crime, Reporting Potholes and Birdwatching

Several years ago I consulted with a company in The Netherlands on a city government project to enable all city workers to instantly become the eyes and ears of the police during emergencies. It worked like this - an alert would be sent to all city workers that had government issued phones and were located in a certain geographic area. This alert would ask them to look for a specific car, person or suspicious activity.

This project was clever, efficient but also a little creepy. If the police are chasing a bad guy through the city, then asking for all city workers within a certain area to keep their eyes and ears open is efficient, since it is in all of our best interests to stop bad guys, but in the wrong hands creepy. From a resource utilization, a great idea. This project was an early example of location based services (LBS). If your phone is in this particular zone, keep your eyes open for this bad guy.

This summer Microsoft acquired EveryBlock, a company that feeds local crime and health inspection information to news organizations. With GPS enabled phones, crimes can be reported that are instantly shown on maps and available for the public to see. Instead of just using city employees you are turning the entire populace, at least those with smartphones, into your eyes and ears.

Mobile technologies with integrated GPS are helping the public to be even more involved in the management and priorities of local government as this NPR article describes. The Citizens Connect iPhone app is part of the Boston Mayor's strategy for working closer with citizen's to help manage the city. The program is called Citizens Connect. The Citizens Connect iPhone app is targeted at enlisting Boston residents and visitors to gather information about the physical state of the city (See photo above about pothole reporting).

I am very impressed with these applications and their utility. I consulted on another project where a non-profit organization was taking inventory, using smartphones, of trash and abandoned vehicles in particular neighborhoods. This information was then synchronized into a database and clean-up efforts were organized based upon this information.

Another interesting application that I read about yesterday is called Birdseye. This is an iPhone application for birdwatchers, but it is not just a static reference application. It uses the integrated GPS features of the iPhone to identify the location of bird sightings. This information gets uploaded to Cornell University's Lab of Ornithology and its massive eBird database of bird sightings. This information is then distributed to all subscribed members of the eBird email distribution list. Beware of reporting a rare bird in your backyard. In minutes you may have hundreds of strange people in safari attire and binoculars elbowing their way onto your property.

From a mobile technology standpoint, many of these iPhone applications are similar. They involve mobile data collection with integrated GPS coordinates that are uploaded to a publicly available Internet based application that distributes this information to subscribed members and the collected data is shown on a map.

Have you seen other clever applications? Please share them by adding them to the comments below.

Author Kevin Benedict
Independent Mobility Consultant, Wireless Industry Analyst and Marketing Consultant

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Barcode Scanners on Every Smartphone

This is an interesting develop for smartphones. Sophisticated barcode scanning software built into the digital cameras so a quick photo of a barcode takes you immediately to a mobile website rich in content, coupons, rebates and other product information related to the scanned product. Read below:

Today NeoMedia Technologies, Inc. (OTC BB: NEOM), the global leader in mobile barcode scanning solutions, announced that Sony Ericsson has selected NeoMedia as its strategic 2D barcode partner. Sony Ericsson will begin shipping phones pre-loaded with NeoMedia's NeoReader barcode scanning application globally in the 1st half of 2010. The NeoReader will be pre-installed across all Sony Ericsson platforms.

"Sony Ericsson is very happy to work with NeoMedia as our global provider of barcode scanning solutions. We see great potential in the 2D barcode market and support NeoMedia's strategy to promote and drive the open 2D barcode standards. We are looking forward to working with NeoMedia to explore all the potential the technology enables," stated Robert Westin, Business Development Manager, with Sony Ericsson.

Iain McCready, CEO of NeoMedia Technologies commented, "The marketplace is ready for 2D barcodes - retailers and brands are already experimenting with them, and the technology has long been validated. The challenge is in creating a scalable pool of mobile users capable of scanning barcodes. This partnership with Sony Ericsson will make mobile barcode scanning a simple, out-of-the-box experience for consumers."

McCready continued, "NeoMedia's vision has been to create an open and interoperable 2D barcode ecosystem which would provide a consistent and reliable consumer experience worldwide. This agreement with Sony Ericsson is another important step towards making this vision a reality and is part of NeoMedia's ongoing strategy to accelerate adoption through relationships with manufacturers, operators and brands alike."

The NeoReader transforms camera phones into mobile barcode scanners [1] which provide easy access to mobile content via 2D barcodes. The simple "one click" action makes the mobile internet much more accessible for mobile users. By scanning 2D barcodes via the phone's camera, users avoid typing in long URLs and navigating cumbersome mobile menus.

The NeoReader is a universal barcode scanning application that reads all standard 1D and 2D barcode symbologies - QR, Data Matrix, Aztec, UPC and EAN - so users won't need multiple barcode readers.

About NeoMedia Technologies:

NeoMedia Technologies, Inc. (OTCBB: NEOM) is the global leader in mobile barcode scanning solutions. Our technology allows mobile devices with cameras [2] to read 1D and 2D barcodes and provide "one click" access to mobile content. Combining this technology with advanced analytics and reporting capabilities revolutionizes the way advertisers market to mobile consumers.

NeoMedia provides the infrastructure to make 2D camera barcode scanning and its associated commerce easy, universal, and reliable - worldwide.

The company's mobile phone technology, NeoReader, reads and transmits data from 1D and 2D barcodes to its intended destination. Our Code Management and Code Clearinghouse platforms create, connect, record, and transmit the transactions embedded in the 1D and 2D barcodes, like web-URLs, text messages (SMS), and telephone [3] calls, ubiquitously and reliably.

My analysis is that product packaging and newspaper ads will start including barcodes that are in addition to the product barcode. They will be designed to activate an automatic Internet query for additional product information. These automatic Internet queries will also show coupons, rebates, discounts, etc. A quick scan with your smartphone and you will instantly have additional information including the nearest location, based upon your smartphone's GPS coordinates, that sells that product all provided by SaaS vendors that use companies like Midphase hosting to host their services and provide the look-up and product information.

We can use your imagination from here, but this is an interesting development for smartphones and mobile marketing. It is an automated marketing and sales workflow that is activated by the scanning of a barcode on a smartphone.

Can you think of additional uses for this feature? I look forward to your comments.

Author Kevin Benedict
Independent Mobility Consultant, Wireless Industry Analyst and Marketing Consultant

ClickSoftware Enters the MEAP (Mobile Enterprise Application Platform) Market

I have wondered for some time how companies like ClickSoftware deal with all the requests for customization from their clients. Inspections, asset management, custom database applications all require custom mobile applictions. This announcement last week from ClickSoftware seems to have answered that question.

ClickSoftware now has back-office and mobile field services software, an SAP partnership and a MEAP (mobile enterprise application platform). They are doing things right.

BURLINGTON, Massachusetts, November 24 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- ClickSoftware Technologies Ltd. (NasdaqGS: CKSW), the leading provider of workforce management and service optimization solutions, is today launching the ClickSoftware Mobility Suite that will allow companies to seamlessly extend the power of enterprise systems to employees via their mobile devices, whilst also sharing with back-end systems the critical information on activities that they complete in the field. The mobility suite is available as a standalone product but it can also be easily extended, if required, to include other parts of ClickSoftware's ServiceOptimization Suite.

ClickSoftware has combined years of mobile application experience with the latest functional and technical developments to create a step change in mobile enterprise applications. The Mobility Suite has been designed to enable system administrators to easily configure the system to comply with any business requirement without requiring expensive coding or programming skills. Visual configuration tools make it simple to turn business requirements into simple processes and mobile workflows. All can be deployed and maintained remotely, significantly reducing the total cost of ownership.

Paper can be eliminated, business processes shortened and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) tracked with electronic capture of data through forms, barcodes, RFID, and cameras. Real time location monitoring also provides visibility of mobile operations, allowing organizations to see where resources are, what they are doing, and spot and resolve connection problems.

All this information, in combination with the latest mobile technology, gives rise to some exciting possibilities across all business functions. Accurate expected time of arrival notifications (triggered as a result of real-time activities and location) can be automatically sent via SMS to customers. This means that the end client can plan their day around more important commitments, rather than waiting for hours at home for the engineer to arrive.

ClickSoftware's Mobility Suite totally breaks down the walls that have traditionally existed between the back-office, the field and the customers. This communication revolution is enabled through:

Author Kevin Benedict
Independent Mobility Consultant, Wireless Industry Analyst and Marketing Consultant

Microsoft's Ray Ozzie on Mobile Applications and the iPhone

Ray Ozzie, Microsoft's Chief Software Architect recently commented in an interview with CNET, "Yes, iPhone has a lot of momentum, unquestionably. But I think the phenomenon we're in right now is the app phone. And if you look at the depth of apps that are on these phones, they're not very deep. It's not like Office or AutoCAD, where there are just thousands of man years that have gone into developing these apps. They're relatively thin apps that are companions to some service."

Ozzie may be right in that the novelty of cute mobile applications may wear off as powerful mobile clients that work with SaaS (software as a service) back-office and ERP applications catch up. Rather than have all these thin client applications that are OS (operating system) specific, simple mobile applications may retreat to the mobile web browser so they can more easily port from one OS to another, and thick clients will run on powerful and full functional operating systems that are used on laptops and PCs today.

It will be interesting to watch.

Author Kevin Benedict
Independent Mobile Strategist, Sales, Marketing and Business Consultant

Smartphone Market Trends and Analysis

Lenovo, a PC maker for the Chinese market, is buying back their mobile handset unit, for twice the price that they sold it for in 2008. Why? Lenovo said the acquisition "signals that Lenovo is gearing up its efforts in the burgeoning mobile Internet market." Lenovo Chief Executive Yang Yuanqing said they view the mobile Internet as a key growth area..."

Wall Street Journal reported in Monday's Edition (November 30, 2009) that Dell, Acer, Asustek Computer and HP have all launched handsets to diversify their product offerings.

What is my analysis? Lenovo sold their handset unit in 2008. Less than 2 years later they buy it back as they believe it represents a key growth area, and they buy it back just as the other large PC makers are launching their own new mobile handsets (smartphones) products to attack the growing mobile Internet market. This signals that PC manufacturers see smartphones as both a competitor to PCs and the future of mobile computing.

I believe that Internet enabled smartphones will be competing more and more with PC sales. As Google, Microsoft, and other companies make more applications available on the Internet in hosted and SaaS (software as a service) models, there is less need to have a desktop PC loaded with large applications waiting for you back at the office. The notion that all things should be mobile has passed the tipping point.

This is also a wake up call for software companies. Smartphone access to back-office applications goes from being a novelty to a requirement. This means software vendors must quickly enable hosted and SaaS versions of their applications to be accessible via the Internet. It means there MUST be mobile application support for smartphones.

As I noted in an article yesterday, even mobile projectors can now be part of your smartphone. As these improve, they even may remove another reason to carry a laptop. Mobile broadband, high powered smartphones, social networking and SaaS models for software all work together to make the smartphone the preferred computing device of the present and the future.

What this trend should tell mobile software application developers is prepare yourself. There is going to be a huge and rapid transition from early adopters of mobile applications, to mainstream users. Everyone is going to want their ERPs and business applications available on smartphones and someone needs to be developing them.

MEAPs (mobile enterprise application platforms) that can mobilize many different back-office applications will benefit if they can develop a successful business model that is appealing to software developers and their customers.

I look forward to your comments. If you would like to discuss any of these trends and my analysis please email.

Author Kevin Benedict
Independent Mobile Strategist, Sales, Marketing and Business Consultant

Monday, November 30, 2009

Mobile Applications that Blend Data and Services from Multiple Sources

Research In Motion's co-CEOs Mike Lasaridis and Jim Balsillie recently stated that software depth, breadth and integration will drive future device sales, noting the potential that lies in applications blending data and services from multiple sources.

This is important. I have been writing for some time about convergent devices, however, it is most often in the context of mobile devices and hardware accessories like GPS, bar code readers, digital cameras, voice memos, WiFi and other Bluetooth devices. The blending of data and services from multiple sources combined with convergent hardware is even much bigger.

Let's think about a simple scenario -
  1. Field service technician (X) orders a part for a furnace online from his smartphone. He will complete the job when it arrives.
  2. The part is shipped and an alert email notifies field service technician X which day it will arrive.
  3. Field service technician X notifies the customer via email about the status and notes this information in the mobile CRM application.
  4. When the part arrives, the dispatcher gives it to a field service technician Y as Y is is going to work at a location close to where field service technician X is working.
  5. Field service technician X is wirelessly sent a service ticket to finish the job, and notified that the part is with field service technician Y at the following GPS coordinates.
  6. Field service technician X and Y meet up and the job is completed.

In this example, the field service technicians have smartphones with mobile Internet, wireless work order dispatch, GPS integration, mobile email, online parts tracking and mobile CRM. They have blended data from multiple sources and services.

The more business processes that are mobilized, the more mobile data services will be used by the mobile workforce. This will require faster and more powerful smartphones. Mobile enterprise application platforms will need to be able to manage and integrate data from multiple sources and integrate them into one mobile application. This requires some interesting software development.

I believe that the integration of multiple sources of data and services begs for mobile analytics. Business analytics will interpret the data and recommend action steps based upon this analysis. I invite software developers who have expertise in these areas to comment.

Author Kevin Benedict
Independent Mobile Strategist, Sales, Marketing and Business Consultant

My Dream Come True - A Mobile Projector for the Smartphone

I don't think I am the only person that has craved a smartphone with a mobile projector in it. Obviously LG and AT&T believe there is a market. I have carried a laptop bag and a separate mobile projector bag many times. I have often dreamed of having a smartphone that could project my power point presentation so I could leave the heavy laptop and projector bags at home.

Several months ago, Omin Consulting Group reported that smartphones have now advanced to the point where business travellers can rely on them for roughly 80% of what they need for work. With a mobile projector, about 98% of a road warriors work can be done with their smartphone.

Read below:


7.2 HSPA-capable Smartphone from AT&T and LG Mobile Phones Packs a Powerful Punch, Features Optional Mobile Projector

DALLAS, November 30, 2009 -

AT&T* and LG Electronics MobileComm U.S.A., Inc., today announced the LG eXpo will be available online beginning December 7. Featuring the first 1 GHz processor in the United States, the LG eXpo allows business professionals to meet their demanding data sharing needs while on the go. Available exclusively for AT&T customers, the handset will be compatible with AT&T's High Speed Packet Access (HSPA) 7.2 Mbps technology, which provides a considerable speed boost to the nation's fastest 3G network. The LG eXpo is the first device in North America to support an optional integrated pico projector. The LG Mobile Projector snaps onto the back of the device and allows users to share presentations, slideshows and even online videos straight from their mobile phone. Weighing only 1.8 ounces and small enough to fit into the palm of your hand, the LG mobile projector provides users with powerful new technology in a compact design, featuring a projection distance as far as eight feet "LG eXpo adds to our growing portfolio of smartphones that operate on the latest upgrade to our 3G network and offer customers a great choice," said Michael Woodward, vice president, Mobile Phone Portfolio, AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets. "As we move to HSPA 7.2 technology, it is crucial to provide our customers innovative and future-proof smartphones." With the upgrade to HSPA 7.2 technology, AT&T continues its investments to deliver the nation's fastest 3G network.

Author Kevin Benedict
Independent Mobile Strategist, Sales, Marketing and Business Consultant

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Mobile Applications for Tracking Diseases and Saving Newspapers

I came across a very interesting new iPhone application from today called Outbreaks Near Me. It was developed by John Brownstein, as assistant professor of pediatrics at Children's Hospital Boston and Harvard Medical School along with colleagues at MIT's Media Lab.

This application combines GPS coordinates with LBS (location base services) that report on disease outbreaks near your location. You are able to set up the application to alert you whenever a disease outbreak occurs near you.

HealthMap brings together many different sources of data to provide you with a unified view of outbreaks of infectious diseases. The iPhone application even lets you submit your own reports including digital photographs of disease outbreaks. Don't ask me what digital images you would submit. This is very interesting to me as I am currently writing a report on telemedicine and mobile health monitoring. In fact, the research firm Gartner reports that by 2012 mobile health monitoring will be a Top 10 mobile application.

I find this application and concept very intriguing. It is a way of having people quickly share information and news, from the street or hospital bed, about specific health related events that are quickly displayed on a map for all to see.

This concept may also relate to newspapers. I have been pondering the fate of newspapers for some time. I am a big fan of the Sunday Edition of the New York Times with my hot drink on a Sunday morning. I suffer the thought of newspapers struggling to survive. I wonder if people reporting events from their neighborhoods and locations around the world on iPhones to a central web server which produces a form of Wiki-Newspaper is the next evolutionary step in news.

I can see it now. Your iPhone's GPS coordinates automatically configures your local edition of the Wiki-Newspaper and the news is collected and aggregated from people and news sources from all around your location.

What are your thoughts?

Author Kevin Benedict
Independent Mobile Strategist, Sales, Marketing and Business Consultant

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Mobile Applications and Mobile Data Services

I am currently researching and writing a report on mobile enterprise applications and their impact on mobile data services for an analyst firm. I wanted to share some insights that I have gained through this exercise.
  1. LBS (location based services) the concept and technology have been around for 10 years, but it is getting ready to explode. I rarely use the search function on my iPhone any longer when looking for a local business, I simply open my map application and search on it. The iPhone application recognizes my location and shows me all the Thai food restaurants around me.
  2. Mobile marketing is going to be big. I want to know about lunch specials in my area at 11:45 AM. I want to know about sales on tires when I need new tires. I want it to be location relevant.
  3. Telemedicine is going to be big. Mobile Health Monitoring is going to be a top 10 mobile application by 2012 according to Gartner. I worked on a very cool mobile Telemedicine application for children with hemophilia several years ago. Each patient was provided with a smartphone that was integrated with their clinic and medical provider. Kids could report any bleed events, status, medicine used and remaining inventory. Integrated SMS enabled the medical staff to text the kids to check on their status, etc. Most patients with chronic illnesses or diseases could benefit from closer contact and communications with their medical service providers via smartphones.
  4. M2M (machine to machine) mobile communications. Rather than pay a person to drive around all day monitoring equipment, enable the equipment to monitor and report their own condition and status wirelessly. Machines and equipment of all kinds can use M2M efficiently.

If you would like to discuss any of the above topics in more detail please email me.

Author Kevin Benedict
Independent Mobile Strategist, Sales, Marketing and Business Consultant

Thursday, November 19, 2009

More Mobile Applications that Move Things - Video

Here is a video of an iPhone application that can drive a car. It was developed by some university engineering students. I wrote another article on mobile applications that can move things here.

Author Kevin Benedict
Independent Mobile Strategist, Sales, Marketing and Business Consultant

Mobile Field Services, Cross-Selling and Enterprise 2.0

Selling more service contracts, warranties and appliances were three reasons Sears gave for mobilizing their field service technicians in this recent article. Cross-selling is also a key to successful field services organizations according to Gartner's Magic Quadrant for Field Service Management ( May 2009). Isn't it interesting how important onsite sales are for organizations that provide services?

It seems that in these days of internet e-commerce, people still like to look into the eyes and talk to a real person. If that person just happened to fix your satellite TV hours before your football game, you are very happy with them. You are willing to listen to them as they make recommendations and referrals.

If you are a software developer of mobile applications for Field Services Automation (FSA) you are going to have to take the notion of "sales" seriously in your application. Gartner states that leading FSA companies will need to include CRM components in their field services applications. This may include integrations with mobile sales force automation tools or SaaS providers, product catalogs, inventory levels, shipment tracking, etc.

Location based services may also have a role here as discussed in this article on mobile sales applications and LBS.

Let's continue this thought process and integrate cross-selling, Enterprise 2.0 and mobile applications. In this article on Enterprise 2.0 and Mobile Software Applications, the idea of a Facebook like application for businesses is explored. The ability to have an enterprise collaboration and communication tool that utilizes many of the concepts of social networking. If a key contributor to the success of a field services company is selling products and services while onsite with a customer, then what would happen if the service technician expanded his product line with those of key collaborating business partners?

Let's think through a scenario:
  1. Plumber Edward fixes a leak for Mrs. Jones
  2. Plumber Edward sees the tile floor on the bathroom needs repaired
  3. Plumber Edward is connected to a tile installer via an online Enterprise 2.0 website
  4. Plumber Edward refers the tile installer and uses the Enterprise 2.0 website or the iPhone version of it to notify the tile installer
  5. The tile installer receives the referral via the Enterprise 2.0 service on his Blackberry and wins the business.
  6. The tile installer notices that the floor needs repaired and refers a carpenter via the Enterprise 2.0 website.

You get the picture. A group of linked and collaborating businesses cross-sell each other's products and services via a mobile Enterprise 2.0 service. Each of these collaborating businesses have eyes, ears and faces in the marketplace seeking to find business for the other members. This is business collaboration with big benefits!

I can image a time when there is a monetary value placed on each level of referral. Direct referrals are worth more than a 2nd level referral. Members could participate in different collaboration groups depending on the market dynamics.

Sears said that the onsite service technician, standing face-to-face with the customer, had the best opportunity to sell products and services. They invested in equipping their mobile service technician with more wireless mobile software applications to assist in closing more sales. They reported it was successful.

I would like to hear your thoughts and comments.

Author Kevin Benedict
Independent Mobile Strategist, Sales, Marketing and Business Consultant /

Monday, November 16, 2009

Asset Tracking, Asset Management and Mobile Handheld Applications

In this article Trimble's joint venture with CREEC is discussed. CREEC is the China Railway Eryuan Engineering Group Co. Ltd. This joint venture is to help deliver solutions to effectively manage the construction and maintenance of rail roads and their assets.

How many of you have ever lost your keys around the house, or misplaced tools in your garage or shop? Image having billions of dollars worth of assets that you must locate, manage and maintain over thousands of miles and hundreds of properties. You can easily see how important it is to effectively track these assets, maintain and manage them in a powerful database system designed for asset management.

Geotagging (geotagging is discussed in more detail here) the assets enable you to know where they are located. Inspecting and completing regularly scheduled "conditional assessment" reports using mobile handheld computers that are synchronized with the asset management system in the office, enables you to know their condition and to schedule maintenance on them. Since most of these assets are located outside of the office, they need to be inspected remotely. This is the role for mobile handheld computers and mobile software applications. Work orders, or scheduled maintenance services can be dispatched from the office to the mobile handheld computer used by the service technicians. All of this information is sent back to the office wirelessly so the records can be maintained and the assets effectively managed.

Author Kevin Benedict
Independent Mobile Strategist, Sales, Marketing and Business Consultant

FedEx, GPS Fleet Tracking, Mobile Applications and Complaints

In this article on the blog called Trimble Fleet Tracking and GPS, FedEx's inability to estimate their time of delivery to a time window of less than 6 hours is discussed. It is interesting to ponder what technology and business process challenges FedEx must have to not be able to improve upon this.

I wonder how much lost productivity there is as a result of not knowing when a delivery will arrive, and being required to wait most of a day for it. With LBS (location based services) available, it seems that FedEx could alert the recipient when they were 1 hour from delivery, or within a 3 mile radius.

I wonder if it would work for FedEx to announce they would be parked at a certain central location for 15 minutes and you could drive there to pick-up your package early in the morning, rather than wait all day for it. Just wondering....

Author Kevin Benedict
Independent Mobile Strategist, Sales, Marketing and Business Consultant

Friday, November 13, 2009

Efficiency in Healthcare Services through Mobile Applications and Telemedicine

Recently my wife had minor surgery on her arm that was accompanied by an allergic reaction on her skin. She called her doctor who asked for a description. She provided, as best she could, a lay person's description. The doctor listened to the description over the phone and provided some simple recommendations. This was relatively efficient telemedicine for a non-serious situation. There was no visit required, just a couple of minutes of the Doctor's time and everything worked out fine.

It occurred to me later that we could easily have taken a quick well lighted digital photo with my iPhone and emailed the digital photo to our Doctor for review, reference and inclusion in our electronic healthcare records as well. Why not? It would likely have provided better and more accurate information. I wonder how many simple health related issues could be resolved using telemedicine and integrated digital photos sent by the patient?

We are at a transition point in the evolution of mobile technologies. The mobile technology is available and relatively inexpensive, but not yet integrated into even basic services in many cases. We need industry healthcare experts to start implementing these basic technology steps that improve efficiencies and reduce costs for both the provider and the patient.

I am reminded of a call I made to a plumber a few years back. I called and said I need a plumber to do a task. I said, I will send over a series of digital photos that show exactly what I need with measurements. The plumber said, I don't know how to receive and view digital photos. As a result, he drove out, looked at the scene I could have emailed him, left for another hour to purchase the parts and returned. He turned a quick 30 minute job into a 3 hour job with the added fuel and travel costs.

Healthcare providers need not be like the plumber. Telemedicine, digital images, and remote wireless health monitoring devices that send data to the Doctor's office at regular intervals could provide incredible efficiencies.

I would like your thoughts and comments on telemedicine and using mobile and wireless devices for providing healthcare services.

Author Kevin Benedict
Independent Mobile Strategist, Sales, Marketing and Business Consultant

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Mobile Inventories, Field Services and Changing a Light Bulb

Today I walked by a van in the grocery store parking lot and saw the doors on the van open. A man had a shopping cart next to the van and was slowly and methodically taking out boxes of light bulbs, entering their product codes onto a paper work order form and then placing them in the shopping cart.

Presumably the young man was not a detailed oriented thief, but rather was preparing to take the light bulbs into the store and replace those that were burnt out. I watched as he looked for the product codes and wrote each one down. Someone is going to do something with that paper form. The likely scenario is that someone in administration will type the information on the paper form into the work order management software in the office when they can find nothing more fun to do.

I wonder how accurate the product codes are after the service technician writes them on the paper form, and the data entry person interprets the handwriting and then types them into the system?

There are numerous issues with this scenario:
  1. Inefficient use of a service technician's time - although it may not take a lot of skills to change a light bulb.
  2. Inaccuracies in the documentation of product codes and work order details caused by poor handwriting and inaccurate data entry.
  3. The lack of timely work order and inventory reporting, as the details are available only on paper until the data entry person gets to them.

Now this particular light bulb changing company may have been small, but think about the ones in big cities or Las Vegas even. Inefficiencies can add up to massive problems as they scale up.

With powerful, ruggedized handheld computers with integrated GPS, wireless connectivity and bar code scanners, inventories can be quickly scanned into the van (mobile inventory) and the mobile work order software can associate the parts and products with work order numbers and synchronized directly into the work order management system in the office for quick invoicing.

We finally have the answer to the age old question, "How many people (name your ethnic, geographical, religious or cultural stereotype) does it take to change a light bulb?" The answer is LESS THAN IT DID BEFORE, if you mobilize your work order processes with handheld computers and use data collection technologies like bar code scanners to document your inventory usage.

Author Kevin Benedict
Independent Mobile Strategy, Sales and Marketing Consultant

GPS Fleet Tracking for Added Sales

I passed a blue Sears Appliance Repair van with a white satellite dish on the roof yesterday and it reminded me of their business strategy. The white dish serves as both a satellite uplink and GPRS link to the Internet. The vans are basically mobile WiFi centers. They are able to be tracked via GPS and they are able to provide some significant benefits for the service technicians that drive the vans.

The vans have both satellite uplinks and GPRS connectivity so when there is poor wireless connectivity, the van's communications can automatically switch over to the satellite uplink technology and continue communicating. This is a relatively expensive option, but Sears reports that it is worth it. What is the value proposition?

Sears reports that providing each of their service technicians with live access to CRMs (customer relationship management) systems, customer records, warranty information and product catalogs helps them sell more products and services at the point of work - the customer's home. They have measured these sales and report solid ROI.

The ROI is not what might have been expected. The relatively expensive communication system that each van has is equally used for GPS fleet tracking and to increase sales and improve onsite customer service.

It is important that GPS fleet tracking vendors and users think about the whole business process and the customer interaction when contemplating ROIs. Sometimes the ROI comes from a broader set of business drivers that initially assumed.

Author Kevin Benedict
Independent Mobile Strategy, Sales and Marketing Consultant

Monday, November 09, 2009

Dynamic and Mobile Inventories and Location Based Services

On the blog, Mobile Applications Australia, the author discusses the concept of dynamic and mobile inventories and location based services. The idea is some products may not have enough demand from one store location to sell out. They may have ordered too much inventory and even with discounts the product does not have enough demand at one store to sell out, but the demand across 10 stores may be sufficient to sell all of the inventory.

The excess inventory can be loaded into delivery vans and as the inventory nears each store location LBS alerts can be sent out to each subscriber's Smart phone or other mobile device announcing the availability of discounted inventory for a limited time.

It seems to me that LBSs may be able to revolutionize a lot of retail processes over the next 5 years.

Author Kevin Benedict
Independent Mobile Strategy, Sales and Marketing Consultant

Managing Cases and Children's Care with Mobile Applications

A technology writer that I enjoy reading is Philippe Winthrop. He recently wrote about a mobile software application that he learned about that helps case workers take better care of kids in this article.

Author Kevin Benedict
Independent Mobile Strategy, Sales and Marketing Consultant

Sunday, November 08, 2009

More on Dynamic Ride Sharing - Avego

I was once told by a mentor that once you come up with an idea, it is released to the world for everyone to ponder. Last week I was pondering the concept of dynamic ride sharing and wrote an article about it (read here). Will that idea was already released to the world through a company called Avego. It appears they are executing on the idea, which of course is what makes them different from me. I just pondered the idea over a cup of coffee and they were building a company.

Avego claims that the average driver has $3,000 per year in extra passenger capacity in their vehicle. If they could simply advertise the extra capacity via their iPhone's mobile software application, then many more people could car pool. I love the idea and will be watching Avego closely.

Could that same concept be used for cargo, tools, equipment? I have a pick-up truck and you need to move some boxes. I need a chain saw and you have a chain saw. Of course there are plenty of challenges to these models, but it is interesting to ponder.

Best of luck Avego!

Author Kevin Benedict
Independent Mobile Strategy, Sales and Marketing Consultant

Friday, November 06, 2009

Dynamic Ride Sharing Mobile Applications

I am fascinated by the concept of dynamic ride sharing services and the challenging issues surrounding it.

Mobile handheld devices with integrated GPS technologies open doors to all kinds of services never before possible.

Think about this concept - a driver opens an application on her iPhone and notifies the DRS (dynamic ride sharing) service that she will be driving from point A to point B at 4 PM. The DRS system computes the distance and posts the ride details to subscribers with a ride value of $8.55.

Interested subcribers (riders) register for the ride. The driver reviews each potential riders' referrals and online record and accepts up to 3 riders. The acceptance process then sends the Driver's details to the riders for review and acceptance.

At the designated pick up location, each rider confirms they are in the vehicle via email, iPhone application or text message. Upon the trip completion, the driver and each rider completes a brief trip report that is sent to the DRS service and shows up on each of their online records.

No money changes hands in the vehicle. All financial transactions are completed online between the accounts of the driver and riders. The DRS service collects a fee on each transaction.

What are your thoughts? What an interesting way to better utilize cars, make your trip greener and share costs.

There is a mountain of challenges to this concept, but I would like your thoughts.

Read Part 2 of this article.

- Kevin Benedict,
Mobile Strategies Consultant, SAP EDI Expert and Technology Writer

Time Sensitive LBS Use Cases

There are a lot of new and interesting services that could be offered businesses that get creative with the LBS (location based services) concept.

Could restaurants sell extra or left over food, rather than throw it out if they could immediately notify subscribers of a discount on it for the next 45 minutes?

Could grocery stores inform customers of discounts on produce that is nearing end of shelf life.

Think about the notion of "time sensitivity" and LBSs. Could the local tire shop offer immediate 30 minute discounts on tires and services during slow parts of the day? Could the corner donut shop announce a 15 minute sale on the 18 remaining chocolate donuts? Can the busy hair salon announce a discount at 3:30 PM to fill an available slot?

Adding time sensitivity to LBSs is an intriguing concept. Any organization that sells units of time or services could benefit from filling empty slots.

I would like to hear your ideas and comments.

- Kevin Benedict,
Mobile Strategies Consultant, SAP EDI Expert and Technology Writer

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Mobile Software Companies and Their Online Marketing Strategies?

For many years I have developed and managed marketing campaigns for mobile software companies. I ran seminars, Pay Per Click campaigns, white paper distributions, email blasts, webinars, Web 2.0 strategies etc. As a result, I am very interested in seeing which mobile software companies advertise online. It costs money to place an ad on websites, blogs and on search pages. Many companies simply don't have the money to advertise these days.

You can learn a lot about a company by seeing where they advertise. The economy has been tough. Many mobile software companies are struggling, but some continue aggressive online advertising campaigns and you see them placing their advertisements online. This reflects on their financial condition, funding, Web 2.0 marketing skills and ability to execute on a strategic plan.

Many mobile software companies pick certain topics where they want their online advertisements to appear. It is interesting to look at articles about different mobile technologies and see who is advertising. Field services topics are likely to show different advertisements for mobile software companies than the words mobile sales force automation or mobile inspection software. This can also tell you a lot about a mobile software company. Where is their marketing budget going? Usually, companies will back their priorities with budget.

If you are considering purchasing software from a mobile software company, then it might be worthwhile learning where they are spending their marketing budget.

Author Kevin Benedict
Independent Mobile Strategy, Sales and Marketing Consultant

Mobile Convergent Devices and Applications

I can't let this experience go undocumented. I am sitting in Starbucks drinking a Mocha, writing a blog article, chatting with an international client on skype, checking and responding to emails, taking phone calls, recording voice memos, accessing spreadsheets on Google Docs, scheduling meetings and listening to music all on my iPhone.

Yes, sometimes I must ask everyone in Starbucks to stop talking while I am on important calls, but other than that I have complete mobile office. My iPhone has effectively converged most applications and required office equipment into one small mobile device that is now an essential tool for mobile workers.

As I noted last week iPhones can also photograph and identify bar codes, use its integrated GPS to show your current location and nearby business and much more. Convergence is real.

- Kevin Benedict,
Mobile Technology Writer and Consultant

Mobile Smart Phones for Work & Play

I am consulting now days and my iPhone is used for both personal and professional purposes. Several weeks ago I complained in an article about having to use my personal phone number and voice mail for business.

A kind reader suggested that I try the new Google Voice service. I did and am still learning it but it has some interesting feature that I find handy for mobile workers.

Google let me pick a phone number from any location in the USA. I thought about getting a New York City number to be clever, but being clever generally gets me in trouble so chose a Boise prefix and number.

Once I had a Google phone number, I was asked to forward it to my mobile, home or work phone. So now one number can follow me to any location, phone or mobile device. My iPhone now has 2 phone numbers, one that came with the iPhone and now the Google number. I also have 2 different voice mails. One that came with my iPhone service and Google voice mail.

It gets better, Google transcribes any voice mails and sends it to my email address. I could be in New Zealand but read my voice mails through any Internet connection.

I know there is a lot more to learn about Google Voice, but I need to find a different issue to complain about now.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Enterprise 2.0 and Mobile Software Applications

The term Enterprise 2.0 is receiving a lot of press these days (see definition of Enterprise 2.0). In this article we are going to discuss possible use cases for Enterprise 2.0 in the context of enterprise mobile applications.

Carl Frappaolo and Dan Keldsen defined Enterprise 2.0 in this way, "a system of web based technologies that provide rapid and agile collaboration (kudos for buzz words), information sharing, emergence and integration capabilities in the extended enterprise." The bottom line, unstructured information sharing tools for use by the enterprise.

Many of the online references to Enterprise 2.0 are referring to intranet or internal company communications. Since mobility is more interesting, let's focus on how Enterprise 2.0 could be used external to the company in a B2B (business to business) context.

OK, an EnterpriseBook instead of a FaceBook. What information would one company like to share with another? Hummm...location of job sites, upcoming projects, RFPs, press releases, announcements, product catalogs etc. The problem is that when money is on the line companies go silent. They want to control the communication of information and protect the business. They don't want to share information that could fall into the hands of a competitor. So where is the value for enterprise mobile applications?

I see the value when multiple partners win business together. Let's say 6 companies are working together to complete a building project. These companies need to share and collaborate information on various parts of the project. The framers need to know when the foundation is completed, the plumbers need to know when the walls are up, the roofers need to know when the plywood is in place, etc. All of these mobile contractors need to know the status of the project. It would be good to see project photos. It would be good to know about any issues in advance. It would be nice to know what is going to be done today, an online project journal in the status section of EnterpriseBook.

Many of the contractors mentioned above work in mobile environments. They would benefit from having a mobile version of Enterprise 2.0 on a Smart phone or other ruggedized mobile handheld computer.

I could also see trusted business partners sharing sales leads. They could quickly identify the GPS coordinates of a potential lead and share with one of their partners.
How about sharing the price of medical insurance among business partners, or sharing the price of different medical procedures (ICD9 codes) in different medical practices so you can reward the medical practices with the most reasonable rates with your business?

Perhaps form your own buyers' co-op online through EnterpriseBook. You and your company's partners could combine your buying power for shared products and services. The discounted products and services could be listed in mobile applications integrated with GPS features so the various locations of the discounted products could show up on your map. Silly? Perhaps, but many new innovations start this way.
For a related article on Enterprise 2.0 from SD Times click here.
OK, it is now your turn! Where is the value for Enterprise 2.0 in the context of enterprise mobility? Please comment or send me an email.

Author Kevin Benedict
Independent Mobile Strategy, Sales and Marketing Consultant

Barcode Scans and Prices on Mobile Handheld Computers and Smart Phones

Last week I wrote an article pondering the benefits of using my iPhone to capture the bar code on grocery store products, using the integrated digital camera, and then have my iPhone use its GPS coordinates to look at the prices of this product in other grocery store locations that are close to mine.

In the comments part of that article, I received some good feedback from industry veterans identifying some of the challenges to accomplishing that dream. For example grocery stores don't want you shopping around for other products so don't publish their prices, and grocery stores don't want the food manufacturers promoting their products at other locations.

I did receive some links to software companies that are taking steps in that direction. Here is one link from Pic2Shop for your reference.

Author Kevin Benedict
Independent Mobile Strategy, Sales and Marketing Consultant