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