[note: this was written live last week while I was attending Finovate]
Greetings from the Big Apple! I’m here attending the fancy schmancy Finovate Fall 2013 conference featuring tech solutions and innovations from – and for – the financial services industry. Here are some of the offerings and presentations that stood out for me, in the order they were presented at Finovate:
Kofax offers process automation software for lenders, but the big takeaway for me was their recent expansion of mobile, cross-channel, and multichannel analytics for financial providers. Focused on how customers shop for a loan, the dashboard and data are digestible and actionable. The jury’s still out, but strong analytics and easy-to-use tools can help banks improve sales in their lending lines of business.
MoneyDesktop offers digital money management tools – also known as personal financial management or PFM – and their demo at Finovate continued to show their strengths: Nifty tools, clean design, and intuitive UI and UX. The question mark for banks, however, continues to be how well integrated – or better yet, embedded – the experience can/will be for end users.
All of the fighting has resulted in multiple casualties. BlackBerry couldn't keep up the pace and was eventually chopped off at the knees. Microsoft has yet to gain enough developer volume to be a real threat and will eventually reinvent itself as a new company under new leadership. Third-party app stores are distributed and nimble but really amount to nothing more than splinter groups using guerrilla tactics against the major nation states. They just can't compete in the long term.
In the United States, Google Play and Apple iTunes have become the two superpowers in the mobile app war. With exceptional mobile application uptake, these two players have come to dominate the consumer mobile space. Phones don't sell phones. . .applications sell phones, and these two players have won.
Today's re-org at Microsoft comes amidst mixed success as they straddle the gap between capricious individual consumers and the cash-strapped, risk-averse needs of enterprise IT buyers who find themselves years behind the demands of their own capricious workers, who are also consumers when they go home. Windows 8 shows us that Microsoft has more learning to do about where to place those bets, but we also think their work on server, cloud and hybrid cloud is excellent, and that their longer-term strategy is viable. We see this organizational re-alignment as very positive.
The Server and Tools Business becomes Cloud and Enterprise Engineering Group
Satya Nadella and Scott Guthrie both have done a great job of driving Agile development and continuous delivery into every team in STB and that is resulting in faster moving and more compelling products and services. They deserve a lot of credit for this and so putting even more under them seems a good thing. The key is whether it is the right things.
For perspective: one of Microsoft's greatest strengths is that they give smart people development tools that are extremely easy to use and deceptively powerful. So much so that generations of developers will commit themselves and careers to mastery of Visual Studio, for example. Microsoft democratizes software development by lowering the barriers to entry like no other company. The shift to cloud gives them the chance to do it again, and the improvements in Visual Studio 2013 shown at BUILD in San Francisco are superb and stretch smoothly from the datacenter to the cloud.
Understanding the terms and technologies in the mobile security market can be a daunting and difficult task. The mobile ecosystem is changing at a very rapid pace, causing vendors to pivot their product direction to meet the needs of the enterprise. These changes in direction are creating a merging and twisting of technology descriptions being used by sales and marketing of the vendor offerings. What we considered “Mobile Device Management” yesterday has taken on shades of containerization and virtualization today.
Mobile antivirus used to be a standalone vision but has rapidly become a piece of the mobile endpoint security market. Where do we draw the lines, and how do we clearly define the market and products that the enterprise requires to secure their mobile environment?
In an attempt to help the enterprise S&R professional understand the overlapping descriptions of mobile security products, I am working on new research that will help organize and quantify the market. Understanding the detailed state of each of the technology offerings in the market, and their potential impact on a five- to 10-year horizon, will help enterprises make more-educated purchasing decisions.
To begin the process of covering all of the technologies being offered today, I’ve divided the solutions in the space by technology type. Not only am I analyzing technologies that are available now, but I’m also researching any additional products, services, and vendors in the mobile security space that have innovative new concepts that they are bringing to bear. These new-age offerings will help shape the future of mobile security, and we need to get ahead of the concepts now if we wish to have a better understanding of the impact of the innovation.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, what is the value of 16 billion pictures? According to Instagram, whose 130 million active users had shared this number of photos as of June 2013, the answer is “priceless.” Individuals’ enthusiasm for capturing and sharing photos shapes our media consumption as much as it does our co-creative potential; with the launch of its video capability, Instagram’s platform may become entwined with our social futures.
Online photo and video sharing continues to gain momentum as an emerging method of communication. Internationally, Instagram plays the role of news channel by turning local perspectives into global awareness. In fact, the role of media-sharing sharing technology is so significant that the Chicago Sun Times Newspaper laid off all full-time photographers, including a Pulitzer Prize winner, with the intention of moving toward more online video provision.
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.