Dion Hinchcliffe has been a luminary in the social technology space, however with this talk “Mobility First: New Opportunities” he has shifted into being an evangelist for mobile computing. For a very good reason: the shift to mobile computing is the most dramatic technology transition in history. Ever. What follows are my notes from the talk.
We live in an era when technology change is happening faster than ever before. Mobile is rapidly becoming the new dominant form of personal communications. The mobile device is not only portable, but is is always connected if we want them to be. There is a tsunami of new devices. It is the preferred way to access the cloud. It rides the SaaS wave. There is a big shift to “Do It Yourself” (DIY). People are predominantly getting their own devices, provisioning themselves, and setting it up themselves. This hooks into a flood of Big Data. The mobile devices are packed with sensors: video, audio, location, etc and this can be leveraged in a multitude of ways.
For the first time in a generation we are moving away from mouse to a touch based user interface. Email is now being challenged by multiple technologies. Similarly, the “No SQL” movement is radically changing how we process data and knowledge, and this is seen as a response to the changes of the times, not the cause of anything. Simply put: the old way does not work.
Mobile technology has been adopted faster than anything else in history. Tablets are now the fastest growing segment of the tech market. There will be 1 billion android devices sold in next 12 to 18 months. Smart devices already rule the roost in corporations. Laptops still growing, but eclipsed by smart devices. The challenge of the technology crowd is to make it work and make it safe.
Social Net, Mobile, and Search are the three most important applications today. We don’t do this well inside the corporation, but we need to. The change keeps coming.
The average age of a tablet: 2 years, 19% of workers now have one, 50% of phones are smart, 1M mobile applications. This is not just gold rush of companies running to grab a new market, but people are demanding mobile devices and applets. They expect and app for all information needs, and they expect a good one. It is not acceptable to simply take a web application and make it fit the smaller form factor.
A smart device is not just laptop without keyboard. The average one has 12 real world sensors which can capture all sort of other information about the user while using it.
80% of firms have some form of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy. Some companies are looking at radical new approaches: for example, a new hire will be offered $13,000 to spend on equipment. Employee can get whatever they want, but there is no support from the IT department.
Companies have fallen behind this trend. 1 billion digital natives have moved to such mobile platforms, and are waiting for companies to catch up. Younger employees will expect it as a natural part of their working life, and are looking for companies that understand.
There is a large amount of channel fragmentation. Platform fragmentation is the norm. Still, old systems are not being retired nearly as fast as new systems are being brought on board.
If you are going to provide access via mobile devices, the application has to be really easy and reliable. If you don’t give them something like Evernote, they will use Evernote, much to the consternation of the IT department. External technology is changing, we have to gear up for it within the enterprise. Younger workers have a DIY mentality, and they don’t care what the rules are. Disposable IT is the new thing: in order to accomplish a task, they might download an app, and then later discard it when the task is done.
Lifespan of average company is 15 years now, down from 75 years in 1940. Driven, of course, by pace of technology adoption.
No small system can withstand sustained contact with a large system without being fundamentally disrupted.
Business value: mobile platforms allow you to be more connected than ever before, and this means customers more engaged than ever before. For an application to be successful, it must much faster, easier to use, low barrier to access, fun to use, even though the IT guys say they are not in the fun business. It is competition in the enterprise, and fun apps will win. Employees want access to everything in a single place. Best of all is the “one button control to your life.” He gave examples of apps to control his sound system, thermostat.
Expected functions: Aggregations – show me what I want all in one place. In-phone assistance concierge like Apple’s Siri which have built in access to Wolfram Alpha and it able to answer almost any question. For example “how many water molecules in a drop of water?” Social Features, location awareness, native functionality (not HTML5 because it does not yet work as well) One of the killer apps is self service CRM where customers can serve themselves.
Free apps to access your services are required, but they also have to be good. He showed apps for a few finance/investment companies, but at the same time showed the “Pageonce” app which is not free — they charge $7 — but gives access to a collection of financial services and has nearly a five star rating. These apps are getting the connection with customers.
Then there are some really cool innovative ideas like:
- the “star walk” app which has an augmented reality mode that points out constellations.
- Word lens is an augmented reality app with real time translation which actually inserts the translated text into the picture over where the other language had been.
- virtual assistant button: one button pizza – you enter you preferences, credit card, ahead of time. Then, with a single click of the button a pizza is delivered to the location that your phone knows you are standing.
- Another really useful one is the taxi button. One press orders a taxi, and then goes into a mode with regular updates on how close the taxi is, and when it is finally there. The taxi company already had the system in place for tracking taxis, but this app simply tapped into it allowing the customer the benefit. Whatever your company does, you need to have “the button.”
- Multi-point video conference like Oovoo.
- Self-serve CRM applications
- Business intelligence
Not just about computing while you walk around. Creates new possibilities representing a fundamental reinvention of our computing environment. The bar is very high and you have to build competency quickly. Users want the same good user experience as other applications.
Future: New devices will come with near field communications which will allow the phone to interact with a multitude of near by sensors. Location awareness in 3d space. Battery life is getting longer. He can use an iPad for entire flight while the laptop will only last a few hours. The devices are always on, always available, so people can be productive whenever they want to be. Business applications around touch. Voice control is becoming bigger.
New operating systems are coming — for the first time windows is actually threatened by new suppliers without long experience. The native OS is still very important. For simple applications HTML 5 is OK. Still a lot of things that native OS does that HTML5 can not do, and the better app will be on the native OS.
App stores: a bigger challenge than mobile. There are 100 different companies are setting up app stores, but only a handful will remain 5 years from now. Most IT departments are unable to block them. This idea has spread to all software.
An open debate with whether the future applications will trend toward lots of small apps (atomization) or a few big powerful apps. He thinks that atomization will be the future.
How do you recommend for us to balance blazing change of IT with users who tire of changes? Some people like change, and others don’t. The slower parts slow the whole organization down. Need to decentralize the adoption pattern, and try not to force the slow ones to keep up.
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