I recently took some holiday leave and saw two small, but clear examples of where mobility changes the economics of IT. The first was in a restaurant where the wait staff used their own smartphones and a simple order taking app. There was no expensive mobile platform for the restaurant to purchase in order to use this system. There was no expensive training program in place to teach the employees how to use the software. They simply bring along their own phone, download a free app to their device and start working.
The software is intuitive enough that any training required is done by their fellow staff members during shifts. What’s interesting about this example is that using mobile devices for taking restaurant orders isn’t new – but using employees own devices is. Previously, the expense incurred by restaurants having to purchase proprietary devices meant that only high margin operations could afford to use mobile order taking systems. And loss, theft or damage of the devices was not only expensive but also proved to be a sticking point for employer/employee relations.
The second example provides a sharp contrast. It involved a trip to a museum and the use of the audio commentary service. Though almost every visitor to the museum now has a smart phone device, an old proprietary hand held device was still in use there. This is an expensive option to operate for a low-margin business like a museum. There are now museums that have recognised this and offer apps on smart phones with capabilities well beyond what the previous dedicated hardware could provide. One such museum is the American Museum of Natural History. It not only uses the rich visual interface of the smart phone, along with the required basic audio commentary services, but it also reportedly helps the user navigate the complex campus using sophisticated wi-fi triangulation.
UPDATED 26th June 2013 As you may be aware Microsoft has finally introduced its Office Suite for the iPhone (launched in the US on Friday 14th June, and now available in much of the rest of the world according to my sources). This is great news — it has been one of the real holes in the iOS application store and in high demand in many businesses we speak to (although will be MUCH more valuable when it's available as a native iPad app). Over the next week or so it is likely that many of your senior executives will read this news — as it has already made the consumer press. Soon they'll be knocking down your door asking how to get access to it.
However, the licensing model that Microsoft has chosen is one to encourage the uptake of the Office 365 Suite. ONLY those users with a MS Office 365 license will be able to activate the apps on their iPhone. This may mean a significant licensing impact for you. If, like many companies, you have not yet made the move to Office 365, your company’s employees will not be able to use the Office apps on their iPhone. There is a big risk here that you will see employees activate the license themselves and charge it back through the traditional expenses channel. And if senior management are doing it, it is hard for them to say no to the more junior ranks.
I reached out to Duncan Jones, one of our resident sourcing pros and Microsoft licensing experts to get his analysis of the situation. Here are his thoughts:
Notes from the TechAmerica Europe seminar in Brussels, March 27, 2013
This may not be the most timely event write-up ever produced, but in light of all the discussions I’ve had on the same themes during the past few weeks, I thought I’d share my notes anyway.
The purpose of the event was to peel away some of the hype layers around the “big data” discussion, and — from a European perspective — take a look at the opportunities as well as challenges brought by the increasing amounts of data that is available, and the technologies that enable its exploitation. As was to be expected, an ever-present subtext was the potential of having laws and regulations put in place which — while well-intentioned — can ultimately stifle innovation and even act against consumer interests. And speaking of innovation: Another theme running through several of the discussions was the seeming lack of technology-driven innovation in Europe, in particular when considered in the context of an economic environment in dire need of every stimulus it can get.
The scene was set by John Boswell, senior VP, chief legal officer, and corporate secretary at SAS, who provided a neat summary of the technology developments (cheap storage, unprecedented access to compute power, pervasive connectivity) giving rise to countless opportunities related to the availability, sharing and exploitation of ever-increasing amounts of data. He also outlined the threats posed to companies, governments, and individuals by those who with more sinister intent when it comes to data exploitation, be it for ideological, financial, or political reasons. Clearly, those threats require mitigation, but John also made the point that “regulatory overlays” can also hinder progress, through limiting or even preventing altogether the free flow of data.
We finally have sunny weather here in the Netherlands -- and for me, and many of my friends and colleagues, that means it's time to prepare for our summer holidays! Will it be a family vacation close to home this year, or should we play safe and opt for a sunny getaway to Southern Europe? While collectively deciding on a destination for the family (and sometimes the extended family, too) may demand caution and compromise, the act of making travel reservations has never been easier. With hospitality companies and travel agencies moving from online to mobile portals, we have the potential to research, book, change, and enhance travel arrangements on our mobile phones at any moment – and most consumers take advantage of this.
In fact, US consumers recently selected Expedia's Hotels & Flights application as the People's Voice Travel App in the 17th Annual Webby Awards. Available for free download in nearly 20 different languages, Expedia's Hotels & Flights app serves travelers globally. Forrester’s Consumer Technographics® data reveals how consumers around the world engage with travel applications. While the trend is evident among US online adults, metropolitan Asian online adults have shown even greater uptake of mobile travel apps:
The video is called "Field Trip" and shows off some of the features of Google's Field Trip app. It's a short, but extremely compelling video that shows how mobile can be used to personalize your world - whether it is a wander about the bay area (this video) or your childhood home. You can consume someone else's story or tell your own story. Not to be creepy and it isn't Halloween, but what if you could use augmented reality - digital overlay of content triggered by location or recognizing an object/symbol - of grave stones? Visiting a cemetary could be SO cool. Visting your apparel shop, grocery store, airport lounge, restaurant, bank branch, healthcare clinic could also be cool IF you use your imagination.
Google's Ingress game layers both content and a game onto the physical world. (watch the video)
What's in it for the eBusiness professional?
I'm not necessarily suggesting a scavenger hunt in your store. Ingress + Hint Water did pull this off - not a hunt, but what is a game that combines digital with the physical world as a game board? I remember when Starbucks ran a scavenger hunt that started with a SMS-based trivia game more than five years ago. It was a huge hit.
The SF 49ers will soon have a new stadium in Santa Clara, CA. This May 30th article from the SF Examiner describes the new stadium as "entirely cashless and ticketless." The assumption is that "... the fans will be carrying around smartphones." "Software engineers are already building apps to order food, watch instant replays, listen to play-by-play and check bathroom lines from the seats."
As a mobile analyst, I love the concept. Has anyone every been to a conference though with thousands or tens of thousands or 68,500 people? How's your Internet connection?
The expectation that any desired information or service is available, on any appropriate device, in context, at your moment of need.
Our research on the Mobile Mind Shift and our global surveys allow us to examine in detail how attitudes and behaviors are shifting around the world. While the shift is undeniable and is rapidly accelerating, the regional variations are fascinating.
In a speech today at the Forrester Marketing Leadership Forum EMEA, I revealed that Europeans are, in general, behind Americans on the Mobile Mind Shift. Here's a slide from that speech, showing the spread between Europe and the US:
Google sets amazing new standards when it comes to web, mobile, and cloud technologies. That's why we are here at Google I/O 2013 in San Fransciso to find out what new technologies and tools developers can expect on all technology fronts. See this special edition of Forrester TechnoPolitics to experience the energy of Google I/O.
Mobile services must be contextual. Screens are small. Interfaces are limited. Consumers are task-oriented. “I want to pay a bill” or “I need to make this shopping list before my son is finished with soccer practice." Total context – the sum of everything you know about a consumer, including what he/she is experiencing now – must be used to create the relevancy in the delivery of content and services.
Context can help shorten the number of steps on a phone to complete a task. We already see this with companies like Apple – the application switches to “store mode.” Starwood Hotels switches its app to 'travel mode' when a guest is within 48 hours of a stay. Services we only envisioned two years ago are real today.
Why don’t more companies use mobile context? Our research tells us it's lack of bandwidth; executing on the basics keeps us busy enough. It’s also hard to do – and most enterprises don’t have the right analytics or metrics in place to measure the impact.
Google rolled out a number of tools/features for developers today to make using context easier. It’s exactly what we need.
Here’s the list:
1) Geofencing within apps: This allows developers to set up 100 geofenced areas. It will be excellent for local services and smaller brands (plus media companies). Too few for large national brands with hundreds or thousands of locations.
2) Google Activity: It abstracts the context of walking, running, cycling, making it easier for developers to use motion context.