What "Design For Mobile First!" Really Means

It's been three months since we published "Mobile Is The New Face Of Engagement," and we've learned a lot by listening to CIO customers and industry professionals talk about the stories and strategy of mobile engagement.

The thing that leaves people scratching their heads is the mantra, Design for mobile first! "What does that mean, exactly?," they ask. "Is it about user interface design?" The industry answer is that it's about user experience design, but that's not quite right. Design for mobile first! is really about business design. Let's start with a thought experiment to re-imagine what's possible on a touchscreen device:

Imagine that your service is in your customer's pocket at all times. Imagine what you could do with that honor.

You could serve your customers in their moments of need. You could use data from device sensors and your own data to understand their context, the time of day, where they are, what they did last time, what they prefer, even their blood pressure, weight, and anxiety level. You could design your mobile experience to be snappy, simple, and built around an "action button" to (you guessed it) help them take the next most likely action.

With the right data and predictive analytics, you could anticipate your customer's next move and light up the correct action button before they even know they need it. You could serve them anywhere at any time. Not just give them self-service mobile access to your shrunken Web site or forms-based transaction system, but truly serve them by placing information and action and control into their hands.

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How Many iPhones Does It Take To Circle The Earth?

So asked my 11-year-old daughter this morning. You may remember Sophie. She’s the one whose 3rd-grade teacher took her to the Apple store in Burlington, MA, for a field trip. They actually learned how to make movies and stuff, so I guess it wasn’t all for fun.

To answer the question in the title, iPhones are 4 1/2 inches long and the equator is 24,901.5 miles long. So that means it will take 350,613,120 iPhones laid end to end to circle the earth. Apple’s sold 183 million iPhones so far, so they have a ways to go. Can they get there? Read on.

Sophie’s world view is surrounded by, informed by, inundated by Apple’s presence. So she thinks about crazy stuff like iPhones lined up around the world. It was a funny image – iPhones marching down Route 2 to Boston Harbor and out across the Atlantic. Funny, but poignant, too. Poignant because Sophie’s digital world is so dramatically different from my own. [Stay with me. This is going somewhere. I promise.]

I remember buying my first PC – an IBM PC XT with a 5 megabyte hard drive – to manage my band’s mailing list. It cost $4,800 -- more than my car. I wrote the contact management and label printer software myself. Bart the drummer called me geek. But he liked it well enough when we no longer had to use a typewriter and White-Out to manage thousands of mailing labels.

So I remember a world without computers. But Sophie doesn't. Her world began with a computer in her pocket that she can use for just about everything in her 11-year-old life. (Or will do when she finally gets one.) And her expectations are miles higher than mine. She expects an amazing experience. She expects to be served on a whim, wherever she is.

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Apple's New iPad In The Enterprise: Laptop Replacement Gets Closer

As my colleague Sarah Rotman Epps so aptly observes: the third generation of iPad is a gut renovation masquerading as incremental innovation. The new iPad looks basically the same but now carries a snappy 4G radio and a much more powerful graphics processor than its predecessor. The big hardware advance lies in the components, particularly in the graphics processor to handle the high-fidelity Retina display and rapid-response touchscreen control. How will an iPad with much better graphics and a faster network connection affect the enterprise?

Some Forrester data from our workforce surveys and forecasts to set the stage:

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YouSendIt Expands Its Cloud File Services For The Enterprise

In 1996, a would-be MIT entrepreneur pitched me on this idea: “What if we could package up huge files like engineering drawings and email them to people instead of FedExing them?” I listened politely, but it all seemed a little futuristic to me at a time when even email wasn’t ubiquitous. 

Of course, this is exactly the business YouSendIt launched in 2003. The nine-year-old company does this quite simply by using email to send the message and YouSendIt to carry the payload — the gigantic file that you can’t attach to the message directly. The company now has 23 million subscribers; according to Wikipedia, 500,000 of them pay for the privilege.

Today the company announced Workstream by YouSendIt, a set of business enhancements to its evolving set of file services. The goal, in the words of CMO Tony Nemelka, is to give enterprises “systems that extend their line of sight beyond central storage and beyond the firewall.” I found three notable things about this offering:

  1. Integration with Outlook and SharePoint with plugins to make it easy to send and retrieve files. While this may not be unique, the integration is quite intuitive. In the experience of David Michel, CIO for Atlanta-based law firm Burr & Forman, giving employees tools they recognize makes it easier for them to use them. Further, it’s integrated into their common workflows such as eDiscovery.
  2. Enterprise administration tools for user and group management. This is what IT needs in order to provide a business-ready alternative to consumer-focused Dropbox. It’s what drew Michel to the offering. Now, this is not lockbox-type security or administration that you could get from a virtual deal room product from IntraLinks, but it’s enough for email-level security and administration.
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Beware Of Mobile's Unintended Consequences (Part 1)

[This is the second in a series of posts on our report for Forrester clients, "Mobile Is The New Face Of Engagement."]

A successful smartphone app is great, right? Especially when it fronts a system of engagement that lets people click and serve themselves in their moment of need rather than waiting until they can fire up a computer and go online. Or (gasp), dial the phone and tie up some customer service rep's time in India or Africa or Fargo. The mobile engagement is 10 times more convenient than traditional Web and one tenth the cost of a call center contact. So what could possibly go wrong?

In short, just about everything that could go wrong does go wrong when consumer brands, retailers, and B2B companies open up their mobile engagement channel. In this first of several posts on mobile's unintended consequences, we'll describe the unbelievable success that mobile can bring. In future posts, we'll expose the sheer technological ugliness that lies behind those consequences and lay the groundwork for enterprise mobile engagement.

First, the unbelievable success that a mobile app can have (see the figure below):

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A Billion Smartphones Require New Systems Of Engagement

It's a technology big idea: that organizations can best serve their customers, partners, and employees with new "systems of engagement." (Thanks to Geoff Moore for permission to define and use his term.) Let us explain why.

First, the logistics. John McCarthy and I spent the last eight months sifting through the patterns that have emerged from firms that have harnessed mobile, social, big data, and cloud technology: 100 conversations; 61 interviews with experts; and Forrester surveys of 10,000 business and IT decision-makers, 10,000 global information workers, and 50,000 consumers. Out of that research we've just published a 28-page report for Forrester clients that we will deconstruct and re-assemble via blog posts over the next few months.

We began by looking for the unintended consequences of a successful mobile app, expecting to find some best practices in experience design, middleware APIs, server deployments, app development, and organizational alignment. We found those things and captured them in the report. But we also found something more important: a new  ability to empower customers, employees, and partners with context-rich apps and smart products to help them decide and act immediately in their moments of need.

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MacBook Air: The Ultra Ultrabook And Business Windows, Too

I've been testing the MacBook Air for five months now. I use it for work and for home. At work, I run our corporate image Windows XP with the attendant applications and security software in a Parallels virtual machine. At home, I run the Mac side. After a few hiccups with the security software going haywire in our corporate image (thanks to the Parallels support team and to our own IT client and network security team for help), it's been a great experience.

I don't need to wax poetic about just how good the MacBook Air itself is. Plenty of testers have already explained just what makes the MacBook Air the ultra ultabook. See Engadget, CNET, Fortune. (And of course ultrabooks were all the rage at CES this year, see HP's showcased by Serena in Gossip Girl and Dell's XPS 13.)

But I do need to describe my experience with this travel-friendly, totally modern, and practical combination of hardware and software. I'll then also point out some things that are still challenging in using the MacBook Air in a Windows-centric business world. First, the experience in four bullets:

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An Investment Strategy Checklist For RIM's New CEO, Thorsten Heins

RIM co-CEOs Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis have stepped aside to let a new leader pilot RIM through the straits. Thorsten Heins, a hardware executive from Siemens, has been COO for about a year now. Welcome, Mr. Heins, to a rough sea and dark night. But there is light in the depths of the hold. (Okay, enough ship references. Down to business.)

Here's the straight story: RIM has been focused on the wrong assets for the past three years, competing in a consumer market against the most powerful consumer brands in the world and suffering from tablet night terrors. It's not working. Forrester's data is clear: Based on a survey of 5,000 US information workers in May 2011, RIM's share of employee smartphones has dropped from around 90% to only 42% in the US in the past three years. Apple and Android together now have 48% of that installed base.

Stop fighting the consumerization battle. Fight a battle that takes advantage of what made RIM a fabulous company in the first place: its secure data delivery network. Here's the differentiated asset analysis:

With this analysis in hand, the challenge and the opportunity become clear. It's the business and government IT relationships and the RIM secure global data network that differentiate RIM products and services, not the consumer market demand. No other mobile supplier in the market has foreign governments asking for access to its data network in the interest of their national security. (That government interest is a good thing -- it signals just how potent RIM's network is.)

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"iMessage Killed The SMS Star"

Yeah, the tune is playing in my head. Video Killed the Radio Star. But in this case, it's Apple's iMessage service that's killing the SMS cash cow. For those of you haven't experienced it yet, check out this picture.

It's my riding buddy Joe sending me a text message, or in this case, an iMessage. The blue box is the giveaway -- it came over Apple's texting service, not AT&T's SMS service. It's "free." That is, it travels over the Internet, not the SMS network, and it's free on Wi-Fi or included in my wireless data plan. And while I have unlimited texting, I do pay $30/month for the family plan, about $0.10/message last month. (I know, some of you text so much that it's probably a penny a message or less.)

So, let's do the math:

100 million iOS users.

Sending 50 messages a month to another iOS user. (iOS users move in packs.)

Each person pays for the SMS message, so that's 100 messages per person.

Each SMS message costs (let's say) $0.05.

So 100,000,000 iOS users x 100 iMessages/month x $0.05/message = $500,000,000/month.

Said another way, that's $6B taken out of the SMS value chain by the iOS iMessage service every year. Then there's the BlackBerry Messenger service for inter-BlackBerry messages. And the Magic SMS app for iPhone and Android. And probably a hundred other SMS alternatives that I'll never know about. Add it all up, and 10 billion dollars in SMS value (not revenue) could be siphoned off to the wireless data market in 2013.

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Some Thoughts On Digital Strategy And The Four Technologies Driving It

I've been hearing a lot about digital strategy and digital transformation lately. (Is that what they call a tech meme?) To my ears, it sounds like a good way to get technology people and business people together to answer four important technology questions: 

1. How do I serve customers and employees on the mobile device of their choice? This one becomes even more important as smartphone and tablet adoption soars. In the US, we at Forrester expect based on our surveys that over a third of smartphones are and will be used for work and over half of tablets will be, too. Consumerization rules this roost.

What it means: Mobile devices are yet another digital touchpoint for marketing, sales, service, and product teams to master. But of course multi-touchpoint means that things must work well on all digital devices and channels: mobile, Web, social, and video.

2. How do I harness social technology for the good of customers and business productivity? IBM and Salesforce.com are betting big that social business will drive technology investment. And of course it will, though not without a fair amount of soul searching into the real sources of value on the part of business and technology people.

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