Monday, April 28, 2014

Location Based Services and RFID Help Hospitals Save Money

The words location based services (LBS) immediately brings to mind mobile marketing apps and other location based sales and marketing services based upon GPS coordinates.  If we have an enterprise IT perspective we may think of fleet management, asset management and equipment tracking.  The technologies and strategies behind these technologies, however, are not limited to rugged outdoor, blue collar environments.  They have now also moved into sterile indoor environments.  Let's review a few of these use cases documented by Caleb Benedict, Research Analyst, GIS/IoT.

The use of LBS (location based services) in the healthcare industry is growing rapidly. It is being used to save time, money, and reduce liabilities. Earlier this week an article was published by Pharmabiz.com that described how Tyco Security is providing Indian Hospitals with RFID services to track patients, medical equipment and pharmaceuticals (http://bit.ly/PAIJvP).  Along with knowing patient locations, these solutions allow hospitals to track and maintain security over expensive equipment, and to closely monitor prescription drugs to limit dangerous mistakes.

A recent report by Research and Markets predicts the healthcare RFID market will grow at a CAGR of 35 percent through 2017. As this forecast demonstrates, RFID technology continues to gain traction in the healthcare industry proving that it has moved beyond its roots tracking cargo containers and freight (http://bit.ly/PAIJvP).

LBS technologies are also on the rise.  Markets and Markets reports that the location based services market will grow at a CAGR of 25 percent annually through 2019 and the market will be valued at $39 billion. They also report that the largest portion of LBS growth will come from the healthcare asset management sector. LBS solutions help hospitals monitor patients locations and track ambulances as they respond to emergencies and deliver patients (http://bit.ly/1l7gV10).

It is our analysis, based on a review of publicly available data, that the healthcare industry will continue to adopt these technologies as they are proving to save money, reduce loss and limit liabilities. These solutions, along with GIS applications in healthcare, illustrate the huge potential the industry has in applying location and tracking technologies in everyday hospital operations.
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Kevin Benedict
Senior Analyst, Digital Transformation, EBA, Center for the Future of Work Cognizant
View my profile on LinkedIn
Learn about mobile strategies at MobileEnterpriseStrategies.com
Follow me on Twitter @krbenedict
Join the Linkedin Group Strategic Enterprise Mobility
Join the Google+ Community Mobile Enterprise Strategies
Recommended Strategy Book Code Halos
Recommended iPad App Code Halos for iPads

***Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I am a mobility and digital transformation analyst, consultant and writer. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Insurance Industry Disrupted, The Quantified-Self - Wearables, Telematics, Code Halos and Digital Transformation

By Peter Abatan, Studio Thirteen, Cognizant

The New Finance Meet-up group is currently running a 6 part series over a period of 6 months to determine what could disrupt the Insurance industry. In the most recent meet-up the focus was on how the quantified-self could disrupt the insurance industry. I came away from the meet-up with the conclusion that smart insurers will begin to develop products that are more customizable to the individual needs rather than offering products desiged on demographics, i.e. where you live, your age group, family size etc.

So what is the quantified-self? The quantified-self is the data that has been accumulated on the individual’s behavior, health status, medical conditions and overall well-being by the individual themselves (We call this data Code Halos at Cognizant). In the future many experts believe that it will be the basis on which insurance products are sold to customers.

There is still a lot of controversy around ownership of data and whether once that data has been released to an insurer whether it can be withdrawn, and whether an adverse event could impact or prevent an individual from being able to buy an insurance product. However, many experts have come to the conclusion, that smart insurers would use this adverse data to help customers to manage that event better rather than use it as an opportunity to charge very high premiums.

For example if you drive more in the night you are three times more likely to have an accident than someone who drives during the day (Forbes). In this scenario, your insurance company can help with providing tools that minimize the probability of that happening instead of charging very high premiums for someone who has driven in the night for the last 20 years and never had an accident. There are no guarantees that the person would never have an accident in the future, but the tools provided can help reduce that risk to a minimum.

There were about 40 to 50 delegates that attended and attendees came from new start-ups, the technology and insurance sectors. The session started with a product feature from Francis White from AliveCor. AliveCor is a heart monitor that provides individuals with the ability to track heart health anywhere, anytime at an affordable cost, you can see more about the device at www.alivecor.com. What is great about this company is that it has a cloud strategy in which you can grant access to your ECG data. It also has alerts that will warn you of any impending dangers and therefore recommend that you contact your physician. The device is portable enough to fit onto the back of a smartphone and takes the ECG reading from both thumbs allowing you to take readings anytime and anywhere.

The second product feature was by Matt Lewis, the founder of Quantid (www.quantid.co), a start-up that is aiming to revolutionize the health industry. Quantid already does what MapMyWalk and Training Peaks already does and more. Quantid describes itself as the Facebook of quantified human data. It is a social networking platform, enabling users of personal tracking devices and apps to make profound improvements to their health, fitness and overall well-being by delivering insights and analysis of their quantified personal data. Although at the time of writing this report their website was down, I can say that the founder has some well meaning ambitions.

Quantid supports a rich set of features; the application integrates with most popular tracking products on the market, making it easy for users to access all their personal data aggregated within a single platform; it allows users to share specific datasets with friends, doctors and other practitioners; and it offers the ability to set reminders, goals and challenges. Quantid plans to amass an enormous database of quantified human data. "By leveraging the power of big data analytics we plan to develop sophisticated algorithms to identify trends and correlations, enabling our customers to generate powerful insights into their behavior, health status, medical conditions and overall well-being." The key challenge to Quantid is the matter of trust, and the guarantee that the customer’s data would never under any circumstances be sold or given to third parties.

The host for the meet-up, Eddie George, took 10 minutes describing what the quantified-self is and how wearables are key to this concept. He described it as all the vital health and other data that could affect how you are offered insurance premiums. Your health and activity data or the lack of it will, in the future, affect the premiums that you pay for health and life insurance.  It will also impact your vehicle insurance. This also led to the question as to how much of your quantified-self do you let your insurance company know about you in order to offer a fair premium.

George identified 3 challenges that face the quantified-self namely, aggregation, analysis and access. Aggregation in the sense that currently individuals are in possession of different types of data related to their health and physical training/activity, therefore it might make analysis a lot more challenging, also access to this data is highly siloed and spread across different providers.

After George’s description of quantified-self we were all split up into break out sessions where we discussed whether there is a benefit for insurance companies and the individual when it comes to this subject matter? One key outcome from my break out group was that, if insurance companies could use the quantified-self to help the individual to make better decisions, rather than punish through hefty premiums it will guarantee the survival of that organization in what is considered a very competitive landscape. Another lesson shared was that insurance companies should start to use technology and the quantified-self to bring individuals on the fringe who normally find it difficult to get insurance into the fold and make the insurance products more accessible to these group of people.

From the number of representatives from the insurance industry at the meet-up, one thing was clear, the insurance industry knows digital transformation is imminent, and they do not want to be caught unawares when this happens.  They want to approach it from a position of strength, rather than from a position of weakness by developing a closer and stronger relationship with their customers by offering better products and services that are value for money.

Peter Abatan is a project manager and a team member of Studio13, a design studio which provides product and service design to a wide variety of Cognizant’s customers in various market sectors.

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Kevin Benedict
Digital Curator, Writer, Speaker
Senior Analyst, Digital Transformation, EBA, Center for the Future of Work Cognizant
View my profile on LinkedIn
Learn about mobile strategies at MobileEnterpriseStrategies.com
Follow me on Twitter @krbenedict
Join the Linkedin Group Strategic Enterprise Mobility
Join the Google+ Community Mobile Enterprise Strategies
Recommended Strategy Book Code Halos
Recommended iPad App Code Halos for iPads

***Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I am a mobility and digital transformation analyst, consultant and writer. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.

Real-Time GIS for Increased Visibility, Accountability and Productivity

By Caleb Benedict, Research Analyst, GIS and IoT

Companies are quickly finding new and innovative ways to recognize value by integrating real time mapping applications into their business processes. Real-time mapping is the GIS process of tracking changes on the earth’s surface and displaying that information on a computer screen. This process can include changes to company assets and resources (vehicles, cargo containers, people), and changes in physical terrain based on weather conditions, construction activity, etc.  Companies are increasingly using real-time GIS to improve workforce and project supervision, oversight and accountability.

Examples can be seen in a variety of industries:
  • When port security officials track the location of cargo containers, personnel, and ships as they travel through sea ports.
  • When disaster relief officials track the movement of floodwaters 
  • When insurance companies monitor impact areas from natural disasters allowing them to estimate monetary damages and number of claims
Recent applications of real-time mapping:

Port security officials in Los Angeles use GIS to increase their security measures by tracking people, ships, cargo containers, and vehicles in real time.  This allows them to monitor all aspects of port operations so that any abnormalities can be easily identified and investigated. (http://bit.ly/1jtqwbM)

A handful of insurance companies have also found a way to use real time mapping to estimate the impact of natural disasters to policyholders by mapping the damage areas from floods, tornados and other events that result in insurance claims. This has been helpful to insurance companies because it allows them the ability to estimate damages and prepare their staff for high volumes of new claims. (http://bit.ly/1h9iHus)

The use of GIS in real-time is another element of digital transformation.  You are using imaging sensors to digitize physical terrain, assets and resources so you can develop algorithms to help you more efficiently understand and manage your business.

Adding sensors from connected devices can also add valuable data to your maps.  Knowing the location and status of your vehicles, equipment, materials and workers can enable sophisticated algorithms that impact scheduling and resource utilization.


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Kevin Benedict
Senior Analyst, Digital Transformation, EBA, Center for the Future of Work Cognizant
View my profile on LinkedIn
Learn about mobile strategies at MobileEnterpriseStrategies.com
Follow me on Twitter @krbenedict
Join the Linkedin Group Strategic Enterprise Mobility
Join the Google+ Community Mobile Enterprise Strategies
Recommended Strategy Book Code Halos
Recommended iPad App Code Halos for iPads

***Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I am a mobility and digital transformation analyst, consultant and writer. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

How The Healthcare Industry is Using GIS in 2014

By Caleb Benedict, Research Analyst, GIS and IoT

GIS technology is being used in the healthcare industry today for patient care and preventative medicine among other things. Hospitals and other organizations, with GIS and big data resources now have the ability to collect geographic information from their patients and study trends in illnesses based on where the patients live now and have lived in the past.  By displaying this information on a map it allows healthcare workers to visually see trends in illnesses and predict which communities will most likely to be impacted in the future.  In addition, understanding where patients have traveled over time enables healthcare officials to predict where ground zero for viruses might be located and how the diseases may have been spread.

A recent GIS study conducted in China determined the next likely at-risk region for the H7N9 avian flu virus is located in a northern region of Vietnam. They were able to determine this information by mapping previous cases of the flu virus which created a cookie-crumb trail that helped them predict northern Vietnam.

GIS applications like the one in China can be used for a variety of healthcare trends. If hospitals start building databases using patient locations, they would be able to detect trends based on patient geography. This could allow hospitals to stock medical inventory based on predictive analytics, train their staff in advance of diseases, and forecast the number of patients that will be affected.


Not only can GIS help predict future at-risk areas, but GIS applications can also help hospitals reduce expenses and improve patient care. A recent study in Maryland compared the use of life flight helicopters to ambulances. The study determined that in 31% of cases when a life flight was used, an ambulance would have been a better choice.  Knowing when an ambulance is a better choice could save a lot of money.

The use of GIS technology and big data analytics in healthcare is an emerging area worth watching. Here are some of the use cases referenced above:

A study by the University of Cincinnati uses GIS to compare the use of life flight helicopters and ambulances. (http://bit.ly/1noQnoQ)

GIS is used to study how pollution levels in different regions of the U.S. affect residents. (http://bit.ly/1jIHGoz)

A recent study in China uses GIS to predict the next impact area for the H7N9 avian flu virus. (http://bit.ly/1fU8yBI)

Join Kevin Benedict at the M6 Mobility Exchange in San Diego!
Click to Learn More!
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Kevin Benedict
Senior Analyst, Digital Transformation, EBA, Center for the Future of Work Cognizant
View my profile on LinkedIn
Learn about mobile strategies at MobileEnterpriseStrategies.com
Follow me on Twitter @krbenedict
Join the Linkedin Group Strategic Enterprise Mobility
Join the Google+ Community Mobile Enterprise Strategies
Recommended Strategy Book Code Halos
Recommended iPad App Code Halos for iPads

***Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I am a mobility and digital transformation analyst, consultant and writer. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.

Monday, April 14, 2014

IoT Devices and Apps for both Industry and Consumers

By Caleb Benedict, Research Analyst, GIS/IoT


Recently Google acquired the home automation company Nest. Nest is a company that sells IoT (Internet of Things) enabled devices that allow homeowners to control the temperature of their homes through their smartphones, plus it sends notifications if it detects dangerous levels of smoke or carbon monoxide. This company is a great example of how IoT is expanding beyond its industrial roots.

Why would Google get involved in home automation systems?  Because their real goal is to collect, analyze and utilize data to provide more personalized online and mobile experiences. Cognizant calls this strategy "Code Halos" strategies.  Nest will provide Google with a much deeper understanding of consumers' "patterns of life."

In the next few years we will see widespread adoption of IoT technologies for consumers. This will include a range of applications such as smartphone controlled appliances, home irrigation systems, alarm systems, home automation systems, smart-watches that monitor vital signs, Internet connected vehicles and new applications that we haven't even heard of yet. There is and will be massive expansion of the IoT for personal use.

IoT is growing quickly and is expanding into new industries. IoT strategies are currently being used in vehicle fleets, home automation and management, healthcare, manufacturing, smart grids, ATMs and much more. Not only are IoT applications being embraced by industry, but also by consumers.  In 2014 we are seeing many new Internet connected devices such as Google Glass, smart watches and smart appliances appear.

Some examples of IoT applications today:

Tracking vehicle fleets for increased accountability
Monitoring vehicle performance to maximize efficiency and reduce operating costs
Viewing electricity usage through smart meters
Managing production lines through M2M sensors
Internet connected-alarm systems
Monitoring vitals for hospital patients
Home management-systems that control thermostats, appliances, irrigation systems, etc.

Recent IoT market forecasts:

IDTechEx research has found that the wireless sensor market will grow to $1.8 billion by 2024. (http://bit.ly/1i5Q29P)

Gartner predicts the “internet of things” will hit 26 billion devices by 2020, up from 900 million five years ago, and this will increase the amount of information available to supply chain professionals, as well as exposure to cyber risks. (http://bit.ly/1e57GG6)

According to a recent report from Navigant Research, cumulative utility spending on IT systems for the smart grid will total $139.3 billion from 2014 through 2022. (http://bit.ly/1ka16DL)

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Kevin Benedict
Senior Analyst, Digital Transformation, EBA, Center for the Future of Work Cognizant
View my profile on LinkedIn
Learn about mobile strategies at MobileEnterpriseStrategies.com
Follow me on Twitter @krbenedict
Join the Linkedin Group Strategic Enterprise Mobility
Join the Google+ Community Mobile Enterprise Strategies
Recommended Strategy Book Code Halos
Recommended iPad App Code Halos for iPads

***Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I am a mobility and digital transformation analyst, consultant and writer. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.

Digital and Innovation Expert Interview: Sean Middleton

Something new, this way comes!  Over the past couple of years, in increasing frequency, companies I am working with on digital and mobile strategies are asking advice on how to set-up an environment that encourages internal innovation.  Some have set-up innovation contests (think Someplace has Talent for those that can't sing), and others teach internal workshops.  Why bother?  Often the people closest to problems are those on the frontlines with innovative ideas, but no obvious path or budget to implement them.  These innovative ideas may be the right formulas for competitive advantages and success!

With this subject in mind, I arranged to interview digital and innovation expert, Sean Middleton, COO of the EBA (Emerging Business Accelerators), at Cognizant.  He runs the EBA which is the venture arm of Cognizant.  A place where innovative ideas receive an audience, get peer reviewed, funded and matured.  Enjoy!

Video Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ltSXl84_z5U&list=UUGizQCw2Zbs3eTLwp7icoqw&feature=share

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Kevin Benedict
Senior Analyst, Digital Transformation, EBA, Center for the Future of Work Cognizant
View my profile on LinkedIn
Learn about mobile strategies at MobileEnterpriseStrategies.com
Follow me on Twitter @krbenedict
Join the Linkedin Group Strategic Enterprise Mobility
Join the Google+ Community Mobile Enterprise Strategies
Recommended Strategy Book Code Halos
Recommended iPad App Code Halos for iPads

***Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I am a mobility and digital transformation analyst, consultant and writer. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Could Mobile Devices and the Internet have Prevented the Rwandan Genocide?

This week marks the tragic 20-year anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide.  On April 7, 1994, the Hutu majority, which was in power at the time, began an organized effort to wipe out the minority Tutsis living in Rwanda and other neighboring countries.  During an approximate 100-day period nearly 800,000 Tutsis and sympathizers were massacred, most by machete.

The genocide was only stopped when an exiled Tutsi rebel group marched into Rwanda and overthrew the Hutu government.  No outside international forces intervened to stop this massacre.  The UN peacekeeping soldiers, lacking authorization to intervene and protect, stood by as the massacres happened within sight of their forces.  This was and is to this day a great international shame.

In Boise, Idaho we have a fast growing Congolese and Rwandan population of refugees that were forever impacted by this event.  Many have spent the last 15 years living under plastic tarps on mud floors in refugee camps.  The tragedy of these events is personal to me.  It hits home nearly every day as our home is often filled with newly arrived Rwandan refugee families and friends.  Many of my close friends suffer nightmares to this day from the mental and physical scars of these events.

I often wonder if mobile devices with broadband Internet could have prevented or limited the Rwandan Genocide.  In 1994 letters were sent through the postal service from fearful Tutsi families and churches begging for protection.  Here is an excerpt from just one letter sent by a pastor to his church leadership, “We wish to inform you that tomorrow we will be killed with our families.”  Tragically, the pastor’s words went silent and his predictions came true.  His entire family and congregation was massacred.  These letters were sent through the postal service.  The world was not aware, informed or alerted in a manner that rose above the noise.  These letters are now archived for us to read, remember and learn from.

There was no instantaneous access to social media sites, online forums, blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or places where citizen journalists with iPhones and broadband Internet could upload photos, videos and articles.  There was no YouTube or widely used public news websites to spark immediate worldwide outrage.

In 1994 the news of the massacres leaked out slowly and the rumors were too horrific to be believed.  Facts were hard to come by. The scope and scale of the tragedy was difficult to measure.  News crews found it dangerous to venture out into remote areas.  It took weeks for the world to begin to learn the full scale of the violence and genocide and by then the tragedy had nearly run its course.

I ask again, could mobile devices with cameras, broadband Internet connectivity and access to social media sites have stopped or limited this tragedy? In 1994, the world had limited news, limited understanding of events, limited perspective of the scale and scope of this tragedy, and limited interest.  These challenges limited international outrage and prevented UN intervention and humanitarian responses.

In the absence of news crews and photojournalists, the Hutu government, militia and instigators of violence felt immune from personal accountability, scrutiny and retribution.  They gave into a mad, uncontrollable and unexplainable bloodlust.  The violence continued unabated for 100 days.

In 1994, the ruling Hutu party controlled most of the radio stations and newspapers in Rwanda. Propaganda ruled the airwaves calling for violence against the Tutsis.  Many of the Rwandan news agencies and broadcasters themselves were later found by International courts to have been guilty of instigating and organizing the violence.

I hope and pray that the ubiquity of mobile devices would make keeping genocide a secret far more difficult today.  Every person with a mobile phone has the potential to be a citizen journalist.  Every act of violence has the potential of being documented and the location and perpetrators identified.

There are models today that demonstrate how mobile devices can be used to help prevent future genocides.  In Kenya, a small group of volunteer programmers have developed a website and mapping solution called Ushahidi, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ushahidi, where people with mobile phones can report violence and document the location of incidences on a map.  This information is instantly projected to a map on a website for the world to visualize, study and understand.

Today, freedom of speech and the ability to widely communicate news, knowledge and ideas has the opportunity to transform societies and peoples as never before.  Evil does not like the exposure and light of public scrutiny and debate.

In some circles, it is popular to cast disparaging remarks at technology, mobile devices, the Internet and social media, but I for one appreciate the value of information transparency afforded by these technological advancements.  I will celebrate the opportunity and freedom to know, and pray for the strength and courage to react with immediacy.

*************************************************************
Kevin Benedict
Senior Analyst, Digital Transformation Cognizant
View my profile on LinkedIn
Learn about mobile strategies at MobileEnterpriseStrategies.com
Follow me on Twitter @krbenedict
Join the Linkedin Group Strategic Enterprise Mobility
Join the Google+ Community Mobile Enterprise Strategies

***Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I am a mobility and digital transformation analyst, consultant and writer. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Mobile Expert Interview: Dave Akka on Mobile Platform Strategies

I had the privilege today of interviewing mobility expert and Managing Director for Magic Software UK, Dave Akka.  In this interview we dig deep into mobile platform and mobile app development strategies.  Enjoy!

Video Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jwm5ig7ARc4&feature=share&list=UUGizQCw2Zbs3eTLwp7icoqw



Read the article by Dave Akka, In Defense of Mobile Platforms for Enterprise Mobility.

Code Halos (the data that surrounds people, organizations and objects) are important to us as individuals - most of us generate and share digital information every day. What's critical is that Code Halos are also vital to future business success. Research conducted by the Center for the Future of Work reveals that companies that understand how important this data is and how to find business meaning from it are best positioned to win their markets.

My colleagues at Cognizant's Center for the Future of Work have just published a new book that is now available everywhere on this subject, http://www.unevenlydistributed.com/codehalos.  This is a very important topic as it defines a strategy for utilizing big data and everyday data to beat your competition.

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Kevin Benedict
Senior Analyst, Digital Transformation Cognizant
View my profile on LinkedIn
Learn about mobile strategies at MobileEnterpriseStrategies.com
Follow me on Twitter @krbenedict
Join the Linkedin Group Strategic Enterprise Mobility
Join the Google+ Community Mobile Enterprise Strategies

***Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I am a mobility and digital transformation analyst, consultant and writer. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.

HTML5 and the Future of PhoneGap and WebView+

By Peter Rogers, Principal Architect, Mobility, Cognizant

HTML5 is still one of the most discussed topics amongst us technical types.  The key challenge, however, has remained unanswered for a long time. How do you effectively wrap HTML5 for use in native mobile applications? Unfortunately I do not have a universal answer, but I do have a solution for Android.

Firstly, I recommend looking into the use of Vellamo in order to benchmark the performance of HTML5 on Android (http://www.quicinc.com/vellamo/).  Vellamo is designed to be an accurate, easy to use suite of system-level benchmarks for devices based on Android 2.3 forward. Vellamo began as a mobile web benchmarking tool that today has expanded to include two primary chapters: the HTML5 chapter evaluates mobile web browser performance; and the Metal Chapter measures the CPU subsystem performance of mobile processors.

I have my own custom architecture that extends RESS (Responsive Design + Server Side Components) called P-RESS (Performance RESS). The idea is to include performance based information inside the device family configurations. This means that an HTML5 based mobile client can query the RESS server to ask about the performance characteristics of its device family. This can be used to downgrade the graphical experience, for example removing a parallax scrolling background.

The big problem up until recently was that wrapping HTML5 into a WebView on Android meant that you had to use the default web browser, which unfortunately was not Chrome. Instead you ended up with the Android Stock Browser, which was a long way from Chrome. With Android 4.4 (KitKat) we now have the ability to use the Chrome browser through the WebView by default and this is very much welcome (https://developers.google.com/chrome/mobile/docs/webview/overview#what_version_of_chrome_is_it_based_on).

There are two downsides to this effort though:
  1. It only works on Android 4.4
  2. The WebView shipped does not have full feature parity with Chrome for Android (it is based on Chrome 30 as opposed to Chrome 33)
This means that the following features are not available:
  • WebGL (3D canvas)
  • WebRTC
  • WebAudio
  • Fullscreen API
  • Form validation
There have been a number of open source efforts to deliver a Chrome WebView that works across Android 4 and now it appears two companies have started to offer their own versions: Famo.us (http://www.infoworld.com/t/mobile-development/famous-were-building-better-phonegap-236267); and Ludei (http://support.ludei.com/hc/en-us/articles/201952993).

There is a subtle difference in marketing though: Famo.us claim to be building a better PhoneGap; whereas Ludei claim to be building something that is PhoneGap compatible. Both systems bundle the latest edition of the Blink engine (Chrome 33) with the App using a Cloud based build system. The two companies also have cool demos of WebGL running through a WebView on various Android 4 devices. This also means that when Chrome 34 arrives then it is presumed that could be bundled instead – depending on backward compatibility with earlier versions of Android 4.

Famo.us actually answer one of the key questions. Does each app have its own separately bundled edition of Chrome? Each time a Famo.us app needs a particular version of Chrome, that version is installed in such a way that other apps that need it can also use it – think shared libraries. At the moment the footprint for Chrome 33 is around 15-20MB but they predict the size will come down to 10MB. They can also have it not be part of the initial download of the app, but rather as an app upgrade.

It is unclear if Ludei will offer a similar shared library system at this time. One thing Ludei do mention is the increased portability and performance that WebView+ (as they call it) brings to the web environment. Ludei used to only offer support for games but just recently they added application support as well and this is when I really took notice of CocoonJS.

With one consistent HTML5 environment then it means the developers know the feature set to code towards. It becomes a sort of HTML5 Reference Implementation for Android. The minor downside is this only covers Android 4 and above. The major downside is this only covers Android. There is no way of bundling the latest version of Safari with an App on iOS and Windows 8 is even more problematic.

The other thing that Ludei and indeed Intel XDK offer is technology that cross-compiles HTML5 Canvas into OpenGL(ES) for Android or iOS. That means that if you are wrapping an HTML5 Canvas into a Native App then it makes far more sense to cross-compile it into Android or iOS native code. Ludei claims to have the fastest accelerated HTML5 Canvas, but Intel acquired similar technology from AppMobi.  When Web Components become more widely supported then it would appear to be the next candidate technology to be cross-compiled into native code.

Oracle offers ADF Mobile which combines a Java VM with an HTML5 presentation tier, the benefit being totally portable plug-in extensions. Unfortunately when I looked into the solution there was no backward compatibility with existing PhoneGap plug-ins. Ludei has been clever here and made sure that PhoneGap plug-ins are explicitly supported and I am sure Famo.us will follow.

I had a chat with the W3C recently and asked if there was likely to be any standardisation in the following spaces:
  1. Control over hardware acceleration
  2. Mixing native code and HTML5
  3. Pure HTML5 deployable Apps
The answer was that only the latter is being standardised and they are not seeing much uptake outside of Firefox OS. The manifest specification is being thoroughly updated through and this will see improvements to both HTML5 Cache Manifest and its future replacement called ServiceWorkers – all to be discussed in my next Blog (‘The future of HTML5’).  They also told me that the Windows 8 App Store allows you to host pure HTML5 applications.

This means that outside of standardisation, we are going to need to be looking at a new gold standard for HTML5 based Hybrid Apps as follows:
  • A Chrome 33/34 WebView for advanced performance, feature set and portability
  • An HTML5 Canvas to OpenGL(ES) conversion for Native Apps
  • PhoneGap backwardly compatible for existing plug-ins
These are Peter Roger's personal observations and opinions and don't necessarily represent his employers.  You can contact Peter Rogers directly at Peter-2.Rogers-2@cognizant.com.

*************************************************************
Kevin Benedict
Senior Analyst, Digital Transformation Cognizant
View my profile on LinkedIn
Learn about mobile strategies at MobileEnterpriseStrategies.com
Follow me on Twitter @krbenedict
Join the Linkedin Group Strategic Enterprise Mobility
Join the Google+ Community Mobile Enterprise Strategies

***Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I am a mobility and digital transformation analyst, consultant and writer. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.

Increasing Productivity and Getting Strategic with Geospatial Information Systems

By Caleb Benedict, Research Analyst, GIS/IoT


Companies in many different industries are realizing applications of GIS (geospatial information systems) can provide competitive and strategic advantages, productivity increases and efficiencies in operations. GIS, when combined with mobile devices like smartphones, tablets, laptops and other handheld devices allow organizations to use GPS sensors, digital maps and editing software in order to view, document and analyze all kinds of things in new and innovative ways.

Once you represent your environment, location and processes digitally, you can build all kinds of analytics, algorithms and processes to take advantage of this data.

Even in simple scenarios interesting analytics and processes can be done. Knowing the location of a mobile asset at a date and time is helpful.  If it is moving, knowing how fast it is going and estimating the time of arrival is useful.  Knowing where a mobile worker is located and their skills, qualifications and job status enables you to plan their next job dynamically.  All of these items start with knowing their location.

Some additional examples of GIS applications are:

  • Tracking fleets of vehicles with dynamic maps to estimate time of arrival and ensure safety and compliance
  • Monitoring the location of employees to ensure safety and optimized utilization
  • Mapping underground utility lines for sewer, cable, electricity, to provide safety and optimized construction and maintenance activities
  • Mapping construction progress to ensure deadlines and schedules are met

A decade ago, GIS technology required expensive hardware and software to support it. Today, however, relatively inexpensive iPads and smartphones can be used with Google Earth and other GIS databases.

ESRI, the largest GIS software developer, allows workers to use tablets and smartphones to input data and create maps.  ArcPad, ESRI’s application for mobile devices, allows field workers to collect and input data on their mobile device and sync that data with their desktop programs such as ArcMap or ArcGIS. This technology is relatively new and is increasingly important for companies of all kinds.

Examples of GIS in action:

Columbia County, Georgia is using field GIS applications to map underground broadband Internet lines in order to have accurate locations of their utility system. Using field workers equipped with GPS devices and GIS software the county was able to quickly collect this data with the highest level of accuracy. (http://bit.ly/1hy7OxU)

Australian mining companies are using GIS to increase productivity and safety for their operations. Using GIS the mining companies have been able to track supply shipments by outfitting truck drivers with iPads that relay their locations to other iPads with the same real-time, dynamic map of mining sites. In addition companies have been tracking employees to ensure their safety when working in dangerous environments. (http://bit.ly/Pr9jrr)

The North Charleston Sewer District in South Carolina is using GIS to track construction progress and asset locations. This has allowed project managers to supervise the construction progress with more detail and to have better accountability on county vehicle usage. (http://bit.ly/1mWdQOd)

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Kevin Benedict
Senior Analyst, Digital Transformation Cognizant
View my profile on LinkedIn
Learn about mobile strategies at MobileEnterpriseStrategies.com
Follow me on Twitter @krbenedict
Join the Linkedin Group Strategic Enterprise Mobility
Join the Google+ Community Mobile Enterprise Strategies

***Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I am a mobility and digital transformation analyst, consultant and writer. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

The Latest on Microsoft's Windows Phone 8.1 for Enterprise Mobility and IoT

By Guest Blogger and Cognizant Mobile Expert Peter Rogers

A lot of attention lately has been given to Android and iOS, but let's not forget developments from Microsoft. Microsoft made some exciting announcements at Build 2014 that we should consider.

The Windows 8.1 update was given an imminent release date (April 8th) and Windows Phone 8.1 Dev Preview Program is just starting. There was a nice quote reflecting their intentions with Windows Phone 8.1, “We believe Windows Phone is the world's most personal smartphone”.  Microsoft is bringing Windows Phone 8.1 to all Lumia devices running WP8  and the next generation of Lumia devices were shown with ridiculously good cameras and a Snapdragon 400/800 chip inside (1.2/2.2 GHz).

Cortana is Microsoft’s version of Siri (with a husky voice), that is powered by Bing, and has been fully integrated into the phone experience. Windows Phone 8.1 also comes with an enterprise VPN and Internet Explorer 11. The desktop version of Internet Explorer now has an enterprise mode for improved compatibility (white listing of sites) and finally supports WebGL (3D).

The first announcements that was of keen interest to me was the new Universal Apps. These are based on the Windows runtime environment and are portable across the following: PCs; tablets and even Xbox. There is an update to Visual Studio 2013 that allows you to build such Universal Apps. A demo showed the same App running on both Xbox and Windows Phone; and there was also a demo showing the improvements in DirectX 12.

The second thing of interest for me was that ‘The Internet of Things’ got a lot of air time and Microsoft were very keen to talk about Intel and their new Quark chip. It's the smallest SoC the company has ever built, with processor cores one-fifth the size of Atom's, and is built upon an open architecture. Quark is positioned to put Intel in wearables and they even showed off a prototype smartwatch platform Intel constructed to help drive wearable development. Intel President Renee James pointed out that Quark's designed for use in integrated systems, so we'll be seeing Quark in healthcare too. The link for Microsoft was of course their Azure Cloud platform and the shock announcement that Windows will be available for free for Internet of Things-type devices - and indeed for phones and tablets with screens smaller than 9 inches.

The third thing that sparked my interest was from one of the questions in the Q&A, “What's the vision for Microsoft? The vision twenty some-odd years ago was ‘a computer on every desk’. But that's basically been achieved.”  Microsoft's answer, “Mobile First, Cloud First, and a world based on concepts like machine learning.”

I like “Mobile First, Cloud First” as a concept because it stresses the important relationship between the two. Microsoft may not see the success they desire with Windows 8.1 (even when the start menu returns) but it is clear that they are still a force to be reckoned with, and Windows 9 will have all the necessary learning in place to succeed.


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Kevin Benedict
Senior Analyst, Digital Transformation Cognizant
View my profile on LinkedIn
Learn about mobile strategies at MobileEnterpriseStrategies.com
Follow me on Twitter @krbenedict
Join the Linkedin Group Strategic Enterprise Mobility
Join the Google+ Community Mobile Enterprise Strategies

***Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I am a mobility and digital transformation analyst, consultant and writer. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.

In Defense of Mobile Platforms - Guest Blogger David Akka

In several past articles published here, the ever opinionated mobile expert Peter Roger's shared his belief that the age of traditional mobile platforms had passed.  In this article however, guest blogger and mobile expert David Akka shares a different opinion.
***

Over the last six months I met with a wide range of customers and prospects in order to understand how they understand enterprise mobility, and especially to learn whether they see it as a business opportunity or just another piece of technology. It’s no secret that the past few years have seen a debate between two paradigms: whether to write specific code for different devices, or to take a wider approach. The rapid advances in mobile technology have led to a world where there is no single accepted approach, but history looks to be repeating itself from the desktop world, and I believe that application development platforms are the way forward.

In general, the company I work for has two types of customer: ISVs, who develop solutions and typically have some investment in a certain paradigm or technology; and end users across industries from financial services in banking and insurance, through logistics, leisure and more, who may have a preference for one internal environment but who have usually ended up with a mix of technologies. This range makes their perspectives on mobile technologies varied and fascinating.

I have written a lot on the application technologies war, mostly focusing on HTML5. What I’m seeing in the market is that people who have been convinced to develop specific code for each device are sticking with this route, as are those who have chosen to use HTML5 web apps. However neither of these approaches is completely issue-free.

Regardless of whether you choose to code natively or use HTML5, there are both pros and cons. Organisations using HTML5 for mission-critical applications find that they suffer from delays caused by the need to deploy patches; while custom code has proved to be very expensive in terms of time and effort needed to support the multiple versions needed for different mobile ecosystems and device types and keep them all up to date. Just take a look at the iOS and Android Facebook clients for an example of this. The question is, how to move forward?

Once upon a time…

I have long been an advocate of using a mobile business platform in order to build applications with true multi-platform and multi-channel capability, and this is not a choice between developing HTML5 or native applications. Platforms can do both, and which you choose is a deployment, not a development, question. This is not about generating code, rather, it is about pre-packaged functionality that can be configured through a development process and activated across any platform, whether native or HTML5.

Handy component pieces

The real advantage of using platforms is that they provide a uniform approach to develop, deploy and manage applications. From collecting data and processes from multiple sources, whether these are located on premise or in the cloud, traditional enterprise systems or social media, and reusing it in an auditable and governable way, to consumption of data services and user interface across multiple devices. For example, you can set policies to ensure that certain data or applications can only be accessed in certain countries, or only when an employee is working from home, via geofencing.

Platforms have the ability to encode auditability and governance automatically into your applications, going beyond the user interface. You can determine policies for how the application should handle data when there is no connectivity, such as underground or on trains. Offline access needs to be built in, as does security. Today’s enterprise mobile users are carrying out tasks that would previously only have been available behind the firewall, so it’s increasingly important that security is built in at the device, application and user levels. Platforms enable all of this, not as a patch-based solution but as a single-stack solution to enable features to be easily built in.

I have written many times about the benefits of platforms, but I find that their benefits are often misunderstood. Especially in organisations where there is a strong understanding of HTML5, mobility experts fall into the trap of believing that just because they can make HTML do what they want that this is all their solution needs. For example, just because you can fire a HTML wrapper at a problem doesn’t mean that this is the easiest solution to maintain, upgrade or deploy to multiple devices.

The real benefits of platforms lie in the ways they enable you to predictably develop, manage and experience your applications, such as allowing you to concentrate on service consumption and provisioning at all levels and across all your applications. Rapid development is also a benefit, as the pre-packaged functionality in the platform allows you to reduce your development time by up to 80%, thus reducing your time to market as well as costs. Likewise, this rapid, agile development allows end users to participate in all stages of development, ensuring that the resulting applications are better adapted to user requirements and market needs. As most platform vendors incorporate the latest mobile technology into their platform via updates, allowing you to use it without researching the technologies in great detail, it becomes easy to keep your applications up to date. This has always been a benefit of using platforms, but it is especially noticeable with mobile due to the rapid evolution of the technology, especially when it comes to security, data standards, and ecosystems.

To examine why platforms are so important, let’s take a trip to “ancient history”, or as you might know it, about 20 years ago and the early days of ecommerce on the web. When websites first became important business tools they were written directly in HTML, and while there were some very impressive efforts, overall this trend led to sites that were little more than an online version of the company’s paper catalogue or brochure. This also led to pages becoming increasingly complicated as revisions were made or new technologies adopted. Consider that in the space of a few years customers started to expect embedded media, secure payment, live stock levels, mapping and online reviews: trying to code all of this into a page by HTML was very complicated.

The solution to the ever-increasing complexity of webpages was to use platforms which allowed new technologies to be implemented as standard objects, rather than having to write everything from scratch, to the point that today webpages resemble a Lego model rather than a hand-written essay. For example, if you want to create a blog site, using platforms such as WordPress or Eblogger is an obvious choice, while Magneta, Shopify and Voluta easily handle the complexities of an e-commerce website, and for a CMS there is a plethora of choices such as Drupal, Squarespace, and Movable. Platforms can also be easily updated to cope with new requirements, thus simplifying maintenance, while custom HTML or Java is used to customise rather than create. Remember that the purpose of mobile apps is not just to present information, but to be able to reuse existing business logic behind a new user interface.

Is the past relevant to mobile?

I believe that the picture in mobile today is very similar in that while many organisations have used HTML or Java to create a mobile experience, but today they are finding that it is no longer enough to wrap these around a page to make a mobile app.

The challenge is that users are trying to do far more on mobile now. Mobile apps don’t just need to present data to a user in an attractive way: users need to be able to update that data, and the more we do, the more important it becomes to ensure the right data gets to the right people, when they want it. Today’s mobile apps need to be able to set intelligent policies regarding who can access what data, they need to have security built in, along with management tools. As users increasingly rely on mobile, offline access becomes critical, and apps need to be updated rapidly as demands change, in a world where “rapid” could mean “within 30 minutes”.

Further, as users try to complete more of their computing tasks on mobile, the mobile experience needs to grow far beyond the cut-down “mobile interfaces” we have come to expect. Mobile users are expecting to have all their workflows at their fingertips, and the logical, integrated processes that result are no less at home on desktop. This means that it makes no sense to separate mobile apps as a standalone page: because we need a template, the full business logic and workflows, mobile is moving beyond a “look and feel” issue. What we are moving towards is a world where collaborating and sharing data is enabled by seamless processes, making users quicker and more effective.

This look at the past shows that many organisations today are just dealing with a thin layer of what mobility is all about. Yes, you can easily design HTML pages yourself, but it is hard to upgrade the look and feel, maintain the applications or assign and control user rights. Learn from the dotcom era and content websites, and move toward using a platform today, to better manage your logic, processes and data in a maintainable way for the long run.

The industry has already acknowledged the key role of platforms in its mature desktop web technology: now it’s time to learn from the past, embrace platforms in mobile and avoid a future disaster.

Watch the Google+ Hangout interview with Dave Akka, http://mobileenterprisestrategies.blogspot.com/2014/04/mobile-expert-interview-dave-akka-on.html.

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Kevin Benedict
Senior Analyst, Digital Transformation Cognizant
View my profile on LinkedIn
Learn about mobile strategies at MobileEnterpriseStrategies.com
Follow me on Twitter @krbenedict
Join the Linkedin Group Strategic Enterprise Mobility
Join the Google+ Community Mobile Enterprise Strategies

***Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I am a mobility and digital transformation analyst, consultant and writer. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Notes on the Location Based Services Market

By Caleb Benedict, Research Analyst, GIS/IoT, Netcentric Strategies


IBM has recently invested $1.1 billion USD into Location Based Services (LBS) and Application Programming Interface (APIs).  The investment was in the development of BlueMix, a cloud-based service, that when combined with Pitney Bowes' API programs, allow businesses to collect data on consumers based on their location and geography.

GPS enabled smartphones are introducing a whole new precision to LBS.  No longer are companies needing to triangulate between cellular towers to get a general location, when GPS data can identify the exact business location.  This enables location, business type, company name and more to be added to time and date.  Patterns of life can start to be recognized and marketing and promotional campaigns created based upon these findings.

In addition to smartphones, the IoT (Internet of Things) enables equipment, supplies, materials, vehicles, trailers etc., to all be located on a map in real-time.  We will talk more about this in another article.

It is my analysis that investments into business intelligence and meaning-making based on LBS is a requirement going forward for many industries. When user locations are recorded and studied by a cloud-based business intelligence system and strategies adjusted based upon the meaning-making of this data, then you can start delivering competitive advantages.

Benefits of Location-Based Services for companies…
·      Companies are able to study consumer habits based on geography
·      Companies can adjust business practices based on consumer locations
·      Marketers can advertise based on precise locations
·      Consumers can participate in location-based coupons and daily deals
           
Some additional notes from my recent research on the LBS market:

Facebook and Google dominate the market share of LBS - controlling 46% according to a recent Berg Insight report. As long as Facebook and Google continue to purchase companies like Instagram they will continue to dominate.

According to the same report the LBS market will grow at a 16% CAGR through 2018 and Facebook and Google will continue to control roughly half the market share throughout those years.

Heineken has been using Foursquare to allow beer drinkers to check-in when purchasing Heineken beverages. This mobile campaign is aimed at engaging consumers and building brand loyalty by offering the chance to win sports memorabilia as incentives for checking-in when drinking Heineken products.

Facebook’s Instagram is threatening the future of Foursquare by experimenting with a new, in-house location-based check-in function in place of Foursequare’s service.  Foursquare’s major clients are currently Flicker, Vine, Instagram, Pinterest, and Path. If Instagram and their 200 million users switch to an in-house check-in service and replace Foursquare this would dramatically reduce Foursquare’s market share in the location-services market.



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Kevin Benedict
Senior Analyst, Digital Transformation Cognizant
View my profile on LinkedIn
Learn about mobile strategies at MobileEnterpriseStrategies.com
Follow me on Twitter @krbenedict
Join the Linkedin Group Strategic Enterprise Mobility
Join the Google+ Community Mobile Enterprise Strategies

***Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I am a mobility and digital transformation analyst, consultant and writer. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.