Showing posts from November, 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 - Field service technician (X) orders a part for a furnace online from his smartphone . He will complete the job when it arrives. The part is shipped and an alert email notifies field service technician X which day it will arrive. Field service technician X notifies the customer via email about the status and notes this

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: AT&T AND LG MOBILE PHONES ANNOUNCE THE FIRST 1GHZ SMARTPHONE IN THE UNITED STATES, THE LG EXPO 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 announ

Mobile Applications for Tracking Diseases and Saving Newspapers

I came across a very interesting new iPhone application from HealthMap .org 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 he

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. 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. 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. 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 seve

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 f

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 kno

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 w

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 o

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

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

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 http://kevinbenedict.ul

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 ***********************************************

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, b

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

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

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 techno

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 voi

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 proj

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 http://mobil

Mobile Field Services Score Cards

Mobile score cards for field service technicians. That is an interesting notion that is written about in this article . You combine mobile work order management applications, with mobile business intelligence dashboards and perhaps even mobile customer surveys. The results are a score that is shared company wide to all field service technicians. In this scenario, everyone can see the total number of work orders a technician has completed each week, plus the results of customer satisfaction surveys and the totals of any products or services each technician has sold. This score is presented on a mobile dashboard on each of the technician's mobile handheld computers or Smart phones. The idea is that a competitive spirit and peer pressure will encourage and motivate field service technicians to do the things that most benefit the company. The customer service survey, each service technician must have the customer fill out on the screen of the mobile device, helps keep the serv