Tag Archives: Value

How Smart is your Smartphone?

A few months ago my friends at Soluteo asked me to work with them on a short presentation on “How Smart is your Smartphone?”  It was one of those fun projects and the output which was presented about a month ago is up on Slideshare and embedded below.

Although part of the presentation is a bit tongue-in cheek we are strong believers in the final answer.   Your Smartphone is only as smart as …

  • The end user?
  • The apps?
  • The application developers?
  • The device manufacturers?
  • The network?

Or is there something else?  Let’s narrow it to an enterprise environment.    What makes a smartphone smart for an enterprise?  Feel free to comment after the slides.

Making Money Mobile – Of Value and Values

Mobile banking, mobile commerce and mobile money for us is mostly out of interest and stems from noticing the opportunity that exists in these areas – a business opportunity.  For others it is about the gadgets, the novelty and the convenience.  In other places around the world, mobile becomes a vehicle through which people can be brought into the formal economy.  It is about a lot of things – safety, economic inclusion, survival, the opportunity of a better life!

Value in mobile takes on a completely different meaning in other parts of the world. We prepare ROI studies and company valuations over here to prove value. Over there value is about every day living. Kind of neat.

We forget about it over here (where ever that is for you).   So it is both appropriate and inspiring to include the video below at this time of the year.  The busiest December for me in a very long time can easily turn into a December in which I focus on myself and work and forget about others…

13 Things To Remember When Integrating Mobility (Or How To Avoid Process Peddlers)

Regardless of whether it is the first time your mobile workers receive a device, or if you are deploying a new application, your people and your processes will never be the same. Mobility changes the way we work; it is transformational and because of this you need to pay very close attention to your processes. If you are not looking (and I mean really looking) at how to best integrate your new technology or application into your existing workflows you will be faced with anything from poor adoption to outright failure.

So what do I mean by process peddlers?

Process peddlers may be vendors, mobile application developers or even the junior resource in that other department on the fourth floor. These process peddlers talk about the importance of process mapping but at the end of the implementation, all they have done is connected a few boxes with some arrows (current and future state workflows) without adding value to the ultimate success of your project. Sadly enough, I have seen them far too many times. In fact I have even worked with them or had to come in and fix their mistakes to try and revive a failing implementation.

In case you don’t get  through the long post here are the two main takeaways:

  1. Process peddlers are a waste of resources.
  2. Real process integration experts are invaluable to the success of a mobile implementation.

To help you avoid process peddlers, below is a list of key concepts you should look for when you are being pitched to. I also understand that you yourself may be one of those people that talks about process without any idea of what or how to analyze one. This list is also for your benefit. At the very least look for the following:

  1. Experience – Real experience with relevant examples of situations where new technologies or new methods were succesfully integrated into existing workflows.
  2. Measurement – As they relate their experiences they will mention results. And these results will be explained to you through measurable improvements. You can’t talk about real improvements without knowing the numbers – the indicators (whatever these are for their given examples).
  3. Upstream and Downstream – Your process expert will talk and ask questions about what happens upstream and downstream of the specific area being worked on. Your process expert will want to understand how current changes impact and are impacted by what happens before and after.
  4. Inputs – This refers to process inputs. What feeds into the process? Actual product? Labor hours? Information/knowledge? Parts? Purchase Orders? It is different from a process trigger and it refers to all inputs into the process.
  5. Outputs – What are the process outcomes, outputs and deliverables? Your process expert will make sure that these are not negatively impacted with the new process. Quality and service levels should not suffer but either stay the same or improve.
  6. Cycle Times – Is the total time from the beginning to the end of the process. Your process expert will want to understand the cycle time for your given process and will be able to explain to you if it will be shortened by the implementation or not.
  7. Capacity – Your process expert will be able to tell you how they measure the capacity of a process and why that is important… and what it could mean to you.
  8. Workload – How much work will each individual employee have after the changes. Will it be more or less? If less then you will want to fill it with more value added work. If more, will it be too much? Your process expert will measure the workload and how it is affected by the new technology.
  9. Compliance – You do not want to overburden you mobile workers by measuring, controlling and following up on every single action. But compliance is probably important to you. Your process expert will be good at being able to find a few key points in the process and advising on how best to measure these to ensure compliance or simply to follow up on your mobile workers.
  10. Documentation – The new processes should be documented in detail in the form of procedures/manuals. It is a given … but just make sure you do ask for this.
  11. Expectations – When you optimize a process the expectations need to change, otherwise you will not reap the benefits of the improved process. If you previously expected your field technicians to do an average of 5 calls per day… the new technology should change that. What is it? 6 per day? 8 per day? Your process expert will help you with this.
  12. Change Management – No this is not about IT change requests. This is about your people and how to help them change from doing things the old way to the new way. Change management is about people and what they need to get on board.
  13. Support – When you implement mobile technology or a mobile application there are going to be impacts on your support organization. Somebody needs to look after it, right? You would be surprised how often this gets overlooked. Everything from use cases, to scripts, to escalation trees and all documentation needs to be in place. Make sure you understand these impacts early on. Your process expert will be able to do this… easily!

There are some things missing here. But if you are able to get a process expert to answer and prove their worth on the points you are well on your way to integrating your new mobile technology or mobile application into your existing workflow.

Finish Strong Or Stay Home (Some Thoughts On Strategy Implementation)

A good sound strategy is more than a beautifully produced plan with eloquently worded thoughts on the future. It is also more than carefully laid out words on glossy paper. It is also definitely much more than a collection of great ideas. A strategy needs to be executable.

If you don’t have a way of executing your strategy then you might as well not even have one. You should probably just stay home!

Many have failed along the road to achieving their dreams for one obvious and painful reason – their inability to finish strong. Starting strong will give you an advantage. Perhaps you will even be a few paces ahead of your competition at the beginning; but if you can’t finish you might as well not waste your time. Again … stay home!

A strategy needs to be ‘implementable.’ In other words, it needs to be doable. You should be able to do it! Or else it is not worth the effort put into it and it is a waste of resources.

Many are tasked with the preparation of strategies, plans, roadmaps (call it whatever you want) but the lack of realism in these documents make them nothing more than a pipe dream. An exercise to extend someone’s employment or to get a firm (consulting or analyst) more work. They become nice-to-haves; instead of a reality.

This is not a rant, it is only what I have seen both in enterprise, government and even in non-profits. We spend more time planning and dreaming instead of doing, executing and implementing.

A strategy needs to be realistic. And so does a mobile strategy.
A mobile strategy needs to be implementable and executable.

Now you know what you need to do … either execute or stay home!

Mobile Banking In Canada (Reason 2): Mobility is Personal, Intimate and Present

This post is part of the series we began in August entitled: 12 Reasons Why Canadian Banks Should Really Offer Mobile Services. As a Canadian consumer of financial services I want those services on my mobile now! This is all part of my own little push to get it done.

Unlike other channels, the mobile channel does not require a customer to go somewhere; nor does it require a bank representative to go to the customer. The mobile channel is with the customer. It is on a belt, hanging from a backpack, at a bedside table, in a purse or on a desk. It is always close enough so as not to miss the next phone call, email or text message.

Today a mobile phone is both a business productivity tool and a fashion accessory… it is a cultural lifeline and an emergency hotline. Over two-thirds (72%) of Canadian households have access to a wireless phone in a country where 98% of its people live in an area with wireless coverage. The mobile channel represents a unique opportunity to financial services providers due to its personal nature (my phone, my pictures, my address book, my emails, my songs, my themes, my ringtones) as well as its immediacy (close enough for me to hear it or feel it).

Mobility and banking on a mobile device is not just another banking delivery channel. It is more than the simple delivery of content to a mobile individual and it is certainly more than the push of existing services to a mobile form factor. Mobile financial services is about empowering the financial services consumer and placing the control back into their hands. It is not about data and it is not about the delivery of that data. It is about a person in a mobile context. The question then becomes – what does this person need in relation to their finances while mobile?  And …how can this person relate to their financial assets and the bankers that hold those assets… while mobile?

In Canada ownership is more personal than ever before… with 70% of Canadians personally owning their wireless phones, while the remaining 30% had access to their wireless phones through employers, self-employment or someone else in the household. There was also a marked growth in the use of wireless phones for personal purposes. An interesting number in this category is that almost half of the respondents (46%) have used their wireless phone to help them out of an emergency situation.

Click on the images to see a gallery of graphs.

If the mobile channel is so personal and can provide the perfect delivery mechanism for financial service organizations … why isn’t  it leveraged in Canada the way it should?

Why is the Canadian financial services consumer deprived of this experience?

(Please note all figures are from the 2008 Wireless Attitudes Study from the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association –
September 12, 2008)

Making Sense of Mobile Application Development

My plan was to compile all the excellent feedback received here and in other places on the debate whether it is best to develop mobile applications for the browser or native to the device (platform).  I gave you a glimpse into my preference a few weeks ago with the teaser called –  Mobile Application Development: Native or Browser.  We will come back to this topic next week with a summary post but in the meantime I wanted to take the conversation in a slightly different direction… yet still related to the decisions around the development of mobile applications.

Ultimately the decision on what and how to develop your mobile application is a strategic one; one that should be based not on the currents of opinion (analysts and vendors) or on the noise around us (blogosphere and marketing).  Instead, this decision should begin and finish with the mobile user.  I realize this is nothing new … but hang in there.

When considering decisions around mobile application development I have noticed an unfortunate pattern.   There is one thing that is being overlooked too often.

When trying to understand mobile workers, most people will mention the importance of location, presence, coverage, whether or not they are power users… and yes they will mention context.  So far so good right?  Well let’s dig deeper.

  • Location refers to a users place in space.  As in geographic space.
  • Presence refers to availability and whether or not others can see if the user is available.
  • Coverage refers to network coverage and whether the user’s device is in or out of coverage.
  • Regular vs Power Usage typically refers to how much and how often a user uses his device.
  • Context typically refers to a user’s surroundings and their interactions with those surroundings.
  • These and other criteria that popped into your head are all good and valuable things to cover.

    However, if we want to talk specifically about mobile workers the conversation cannot revolve around any one of the above points.  Instead it needs to focus on one thing:

    the mobile worker as part of a process that adds value to your organization

    It may sound harsh to some.  If it does you are not getting what is being said here. We are not forgetting that the worker is also an individual, but instead we are focusing on the main reason why that individual works in an organization (profit or not-for-profit) and gets paid.  They get paid to add value.  Your mobile application strategy needs to revolve around that one fact…

  • A worker exists in an organization to add value… even if mobile.
  • A mobile application needs to add value to the mobile worker.
  • The analysis therefore needs to focus on the work that the worker performs.
  • We will develop this topic further in the coming weeks (after I get some more mobile banking posts under my belt).

    In the meantime please take a look at IT Business Edge writer Carl Weinschenk’s article with a similar title as this post and which makes reference to one of our articles.

    Mobile Search Now With Video – YellowPages.ca iPhone App Updated

    Yellowpages.ca issued a press release this morning announcing a sweet update to their iPhone application:
    New Version of YellowPages.ca™ Mobile Search Application for the iPhone™ puts Video in the Palm of your Hands (links and pictures below).

    Yellow Pages Group (YPG)(TSX:YLO.UN) launches a new version of its popular YellowPages.caTM local search application for the Apple iPhone. The latest version features advertiser video content and continues to put the power of Yellowpages.ca in the hands of on-the-go users.

    As a local advertiser with Yellow Pages (Canada) you can now include videos. I think that’s great for local merchants and advertisers! But this update is even more important to me as a consumer since now I can get a better taste and feel for what the merchant is like and what they are offering before I set foot (or call them). Why is this important to me as a consumer? When so many of the products or services I need are available from so many different vendors what typically converts me into a return/repeat customer at your shop is not what is on the shelf (since everyone else has the same thing) but it is the experience around what is on your shelf. You got it – it is you and your sales staff. You better believe that if you have a video I will be looking at it if I am looking for what you are selling.

    Perhaps I am a simple shopper (simple minded some would argue) but the purchasing decision for me is (and has to be) surrounded by the right experience. Let me give you an example. I have been using the same cleaners now for almost 20 years. I tried to leave them several times (yes I did cheat on them) but I always ended up returning to them for one reason – because I like them! I know their names (Jeff and Lucy) and although they might be a little more expensive than the place 2 minutes away from my house, they are friendly, they do a great job, they are environmentally conscious and they know me and call me by name. Whenever I visit Jeff and Lucy it is always the right experience and that is why I drive 20 minutes out of my way to my old neighborhood.

    In a big city I still look for the personal touch. And I think the video on the YellowPages.ca iPhone application will help me pre-qualify some of my vendors.

    Here are some screen shots of the application. I will play with it a little so you can feel free to ask me questions later this week.

    More from the Press Release…

    “Canadians are adopting the iPhone and other smartphones rapidly. Our YellowPages.caTM App brings video in local business search for iPhone users across the country,” explains Stephane Marceau, Chief Marketing Officer, Yellow Pages Group.

    The YellowPages.caTM App includes the following features:

    – Full access to merchant content, including video and photo montages

    – Business, Person and Reverse phone number look-up

    – Save to your favourites (My Favs) and/or address book

    – Share listing results with others via email/sms

    – Local proximity-based search using GPS & Maps

    – Direct connect to Voice Search (no charge usage)

    “Our YellowPages.caTM App remains in the top-200 free downloaded apps since launching at the iTunes App Store,” added Marceau. “It leverages the power of our national database and the location-based/GPS functionality of today’s smartphones to provide local, relevant results to consumers. We have seen significant growth in the number of YellowPages.ca mobile page views and we believe the enhancements made to the App will continue to help us connect advertisers with their potential buyers.”

    In the press release they also mention that they have created an international version of the application in order to make it available to business travellers and visitors to Canada, notably for visitors to the Vancouver Winter Olympics in 2010.

    The application can be downloaded directly to your iPhone from the App Store or by simply entering http://installyp.ca/iPhone from your iPhone.

    The Press Release is here. Greg Sterling posted this morning here and for a related topic and a cool real-time implementation of local search go to Calgary.com (source).

    Small Disclaimer: I know the folks who developed the application for YellowPages.ca very well and I know some of the folks from the Yellow Pages Group (YPG) as well. Please keep in mind of this as you reread this post. In fact if you are interested in an excellent mobile application developer please contact me and I can hook you up.

    Mobility Video from IBM

    As I was surfing and researching for an upcoming presentation and white paper on a very interesting topic (you’ll know soon enough) I came across this video from IBM. Although it looks dated and even the narrator’s voice makes it sound like a throwback from the 1960’s it appears to be less than a year old. It was included in a press release – IBM Helps People Stay Connected With New Software And Mobile Devices where their Mobility@Work services were also announced.

    If you are in the industry please don’t view this video since it is very basic and you might even consider it boring.   If you are new and just dropping by consider this video a short primer on the benefits of mobility.

    Collection of tiny mobile apps for your iPhone (or my Personalized Enterprise Gateway)

    New to me … but probably old to you (remember I don’t use an iPhone in everyday life).  It took me back to some of the projects I have worked on before and the ever present need of providing relevant information to our mobile users/workers.

    So today I bumped into Leaflets

    Leaflets are small, mobile web-based applications you access from Safari on your iPhone or iPod Touch. And since Leaflets are designed to run fast over EDGE networks, you can use them anywhere: no wi-fi or 3G required.

    The seeds for Leaflets were planted when we learned that the mobile web would be the primary way to deliver applications to iPhone. We knew what kind of apps we wanted on our own iPhones, so we built those. Then we found a few that other folks had built. Then we put them all together at getleaflets.com. From photos to feeds, Leaflets puts the best iPhone apps at your fingertips.

    Interesting little concept which may already be outdated (for these purposes) because of what the iPhone/App Store combo can already do on its own.   Although their blog does state that…

    The primary goal of Leaflets is to provide relevant public and personal information in the mobile context. This project is meant to upgrade the core product to version 2.0, bringing it up to date with modern convention.

    This gives the impression they may still be working on it.  However, it looks unlikely since the last blog post is from January 19 of this year.

    More to why I find it interesting.  Leaflet to me is a simple concept: a gateway to the mobile web.  Someone does the initial filtering work for me thus saving me time and effort.   I know what you are thinking… as a consumer you want the choice and you want to be the one that navigates, researches and ultimately chooses what you want on your device.   Absolutely… as a consumer more freedom and more choice to you!  You have spent your hard earned money and helped stimulate the economy with your spending.  You should choose your own applications.

    But just for fun let’s turn our sites on the enterprise.  Let’s not talk about you as an individual but you as an individual in an enteerprise (or other large organization).

    I am sure something already exists out there but I would like to see this gateway (actually more like my personalized enterprise dashboard) provide me with quick access to what I need for my job and for managing my device.  These of course will already be pre-approved apps or links (behind the icons) which have gone through all the necessary enterprise rigour necessary to get them through your doors (security, c0mpliance, blah, blah).

    Thus providing mobile users with quick, safe and approved access to ‘corporate, public and personal information in their mobile context.’

    Somethings to provide your users:

    • Self-management options through an internal portal (web or on device).
      • Submit and review tickets
      • Report problems
      • Provide suggestions
      • Change passwords
      • Live chat with your enterprise service desk
      • Request approval for new applications
      • Load new applications
    • Work related applications
      • Whatever is needed for your role… SFA, FSA, etc
    • Administrative related applications
      • Time and expenses
      • Flight requests and approvals
    • Collaboration and productivity applications
      • Email, contacts and calendaring
      • Instant Messaging
      • Other interesting Enterprise 2.0 apps
    • Reference and knowledge based applications
    • Reporting and Dashboards
    • What else?

    There is a lot of integration speak out there… but we haven’t made it so for our valuable resources – our mobile workers.

    Access SAP CRM from your BlackBerry

    SAP and Research In Motion announced two days ago the availability of an integrated solution that provides customers with anytime, anywhere access to the SAP® Customer Relationship Management (SAP CRM) application on BlackBerry® smartphones.  It is now available from RIM and you can check out the ‘campaign’ section over at the BlackBerry site here. which includes a video and a demo.

    For anyone out there that has ever deployed mobile CRM (or mobile SFA) you know this is a good thing and the claims in the press release are in no means an exaggeration.  I personally have done studies and lead projects into several organizations and can say that if you are looking for a quick win (if done right) you can become a superstar rather quickly.  When time ceases to be my enemy I will try and provide you with some pointers on how to do a proper business case for this…

    The full press release is here.