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June, 2011

Headlines from the App Economy: June 18-24

by Tom Parish

Let’s begin this week’s headlines recap with the news of Foursquareteaming with American Express on cash-back deals.

Here’s how it works: Users will need to link together their Foursquare and credit card accounts. When you check in to an establishment and pay with American Express, a discount will appear on your monthly bill. Read more about this at PCWorld.

Here is an article that gets us back to a central theme at The Appconomy – “The App Economy – Who is Really Making Money.” Several points raised by this article are obvious:

  • Apple is making a great deal of money
  • Google is struggling with a consistent billing platform for paid apps
  • Mobile ad networks and exchanges are doing well, but…
  • The average app developer isn’t thriving, given the ‘needle in a haystack’ problem resulting from a plethora of apps

The article goes on to say RIM’s efforts seem pretty stale and Microsoft Mobile has yet to find true resonance with consumers. I found this article quite revealing, so I encourage you to give it a thorough read.

As a newsworthy side note, it seems RIM’s VP of Digital Marketing defected to Samsung. More on this atMobileBeat.

Bet you didn’t know this tidbet: Twitter’s own iPhone app uses twice the data of TweetDeck. Isn’t that interesting…?  More details at TechCrunch.

If you haven’t yet heard, Cisco is about to release their entry into the tablet marketplace. It’s called “Cius,” it’s running the Intel Atom processor and the Android OS, and it ships in July. Cisco is bundling virtual desktop features so you can use VMWare and Citrix to run a Windows virtual desktop. I can see this option being helpful to enterprise users.

If you’re a fan of Forrester Research (I am), then you will want to catch their webinar on June 23. “What Retailers Need to Know When Selecting and Implementing an Mcommerce Offering” is an hour long, and it’s free. You can sign up directly here.

I’m going to end this week with an article from eSecurityPlanet.com on “How to Secure Mobile Devices.” We should all give this some thought considering the details of our personal lives that now reside in our smart phones. Some of us might be carrying critical enterprise information, or even important tidbits like other people’s social security numbers.

I imagine each of us worries at times about what could happen if our phone falls into the hands of others who want to use it for their own gain. Give this article a read and familiarize yourself with the security options of the phone you’re using–then use them!

That’s all for this week. See you again next Friday.

Tom Parish, lead curator – Enterprise Mobility news

Apps for Gold: HITEC First Impressions

by Steve Guengerich

We’re in and out of the HITEC 2011 annual conference this week in Austin, Texas.  HITEC is billed as the hospitality industry’s (think hotels, resorts and the like) largest technology conference and is produced by the Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP) association.

The timing of this conference was good, coming on the heels of a recent two-part Markets Overview series we wrote on App Trends in Hotels & Lodging.

After Day 1 of HITEC, I was left with this uncomfortable impression of an industry wrestling more than most with the transition to the app economy. Perhaps it’s because the hospitality business is an uber-personal one, with an emphasis on (literally) the personal touch rather than communicating via a bevy of social, local, mobile apps.

I give credit to the HFTP event producers and their steering committee for gamely presenting opportunities to engage the attendees in some mobile experimentation.  For example, on the plus-side, they developed a mobile app – native-like for iPhone and Android, as well as a mobilized form for Blackberry and other mobile device users – containing all of the conference’s speakers, sessions, and other useful info.

On the minus-side, the app’s design left a bit to be desired, with a long load time at the initial screen (I thought it was broken at first) and some perplexing visual choices, like selecting a template that grayed out of content at the top of the screen.

Another good experiment, running all week, is a mobile scavenger hunt – which I call “apps for gold,” riffing on the cash4gold commercials – where, literally, the winner of the hunt gets $1,400 in gold!

To participate, you must scan QR code signs stationed around the conference grounds (like the one shown) with your mobile device and then use the “clues” to construct a winning entry.  The execution is a little half-baked – like failing to suggest a QR code app, such as Unboxed, and having the QR code launch a non-mobilized web page – but I love the spirit.

Much more so, in fact, than the spirit of one of the workshops I attended, featuring three experts on IT security for the hospitality business.  The amount of fear, misinformation, and down-right wrong answers by all three was appalling.  Cloud computing?  Stay away; doesn’t work.  Mobile devices for guest services?  Avoid them; a license for fraud.  The most startling was how all three summed up their comments by saying they weren’t technical.

Fortunately, to counter that trainwreck of an information session, Randi Zuckerberg (yes, they are related) of Facebook did a very nice job of presenting a closing keynote for the day, describing the opportunities for the hospitality industry in social media and mobilized apps.

Sure, nearly all of her examples were taken from Facebook pages and apps.  But they were good ones and she was well-prepped with a nice variety, showing everything from in-app bookings for rooms to high-tech/high-touch examples of customer engagement.  I heard a lot of murmurs in the audience as she was speaking that sound like “that would never work at our property,” but the crowd listened closely to Randi’s talk and there seemed to be a good buzz afterwards.

Later this week, there are several sessions on mobile computing for the hospitality industry, so check back for a final report.

A “Baker’s Week” – 8 Great Headlines in 7 Days

by Tom Parish

So how exactly can mobility transform the customer experience and how do you make this really work for your business?  You’ll find some important perspectives in a Vodafone article that references GSMA research showing how smartphone users spend more time with their apps and messaging than they do on calls and web browsing.

The punch line?  Don’t think of your app as the “call to action” landing page that a marketing splash page delivers; instead, invest the resources to learn about users’ behaviors, making sure that you’ve pulled IT and other parties into the process so they can help interconnect mobile apps with existing business intelligence processes.

For those of you following Google Chromebook progress, you might take a look how Apple’s OS X Lion features could give the Chromebook products a tough competitor.  This is going to be an interesting summer as we see Samsung and Acer being the first out of the gate with their Chromebooks.

How about we line up Apple, Google, RIM, Nokia, Palm, and Microsoft and create a graphical look comparing how each is doing in the market place.  This App-o-graphic provide some very relevant notes that developers and business development managers will want to scan, in addition to the clever, graphical comparison.

And, while we are on infographics, here’s another from last week that vividly shows mobility trends in the enterprise and the explosion of users and applications.

Speaking of apps, here is a look at the “Best iPad Appsfor IT Administrators.”  Being a IT guy myself, I just have to toss in the most useful app I have for home and client work: SNAP.  This is a useful security tool that automatically sweeps a local network to find devices and identify them by manufacturer and name information. Whenever I’m debugging a problem on a wifi network I have it with me on my iPhone.

I’ve mentioned on numerous occasions the growing awareness by many enterprise managers, seeing the need to have their own app store for mobile devices. There is a good article on this topic that talks about new trends emerging around federal application stores.

Are you curious how tablets and smartphones are being adopted by the global mobile workforce? You can get lots of graphics and data on this trend at Marketingcharts.com, including information like how many use tablets at work, how often they check their smartphones during downtime, how likely Gen X is to check their smartphone during the day and so forth.

Finally, learn more from the speakers at a recent Search Marketing Expo about the interactions among traditional, mobile, and social marketing methods. There is no ‘single’ solution anymore, like the old days of simply making your website more visible. These days, you want to consider a more integrated approach.

That’s it for another week.

Tom Parish, lead curator – Enterprise Mobility news

David Pogue: “The Social, Mobile Enterprise”

by Tim Gasper

Last week, I attended David Pogue‘s keynote address on “Web 2.0, Social Media, Mobile Culture, and You” at the HR TechWeek conference. In addition to hearing what Pogue had to say, attending the event was doubly interesting for me, as the entire thing was run as a virtual conference.

(You can read my observations of the mobile “friendliness” of the virtual conference in an Analysis article this week.)

As a technology columnist for The New York Times, Pogue has accumulated many years of experience reviewing software and gadgets. He has seen and predicted how the technology world is transforming not just how we live and play, but also how we work.

Despite the shaky economy, in a recent survey nearly half of the responding companies (46%) reported they are increasing spending on HR software, and many are considering social media features. In every way possible, web 2.0 is revolutionizing the way we think of the enterprise. Some of the data points that Pogue cited:

  • Wikipedia is 2% more accurate than the encyclopedia Britannica
  • Craigslist and Facebook have become the communications back channels of the world
  • Fewer than 2% of photos are printed out anymore; the rest of the photos are all viewed on a computer screen

In summary, he said, the next generation employee doesn’t just want the workplace to feel like web 2.0; they expect it.

Mobile is changing the game

A major part of the new work environment and increased company investments is mobile. Instead of being handcuffed to a desk, Pogue said, work is in your pocket and on your mobile tablet.

He cited Forrester’s expectation that tablet sales will continue to increase at the expense of the desktop market at a drastic rate. Adding his personal experience interacting with The New York Times audience, Pogue took it a step further to say that “no one cares about desktops… or even laptops anymore.”

Instead, mobile is where all the excitement, interest, news, and development is. And, as these devices replace legacy PCs, so are the ways in which they are used. “Say goodbye,” said Pogue, to the outdated separation paradigm of work phone, work computer, personal phone, personal computer. Part of the credit to this fundamental shift in usage is due to the capability of the devices themselves: they represent a third, new class of device (with desktops, then portable computers, being the first two classes).

Not only do mobile devices have a plethora of special sensors and location awareness, but they are intended to operate with you being constantly connected to the Internet at all times. “All the sensors and GPS are whizzing non-stop, and you are getting pinged with tweets, emails, and texts at any second of the day.”

What are the ramifications of this emergent mobile and web 2.0, i.e., social culture, where – through such social, continuous connectedness, our work time and play time are meshing, as is on time and off time? Pogue’s observation is that “usually new movements pick up from the grassroots, then corporation pushes back; same deal” now, with the social, mobile revolution.

Corporate pushback

While it bodes positive rewards for the workplace, with unparalleled collaboration, communication, and immediacy – both within the enterprise, among employees, and outside of the enterprise, among its customers and supply chain partners – companies are also worried about the perceived, negative cost of the risks.

As evidence of this worry, for example, Pogue notes the unfortunate fact that more than half of companies (54%) have banned Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks on company time, with the main reason for the ban being fear that the corporation’s reputation will be harmed. Bans are the completely wrong approach, Pogue argues, for several reasons:

  • they prevent “brain breaks” (i.e., a departure from conventional thinking) which are important for being energized and productive,
  • employees lose out on bonding and professional networking
  • they also miss out on training opportunities
  • perhaps, most importantly, they create a culture of mistrust, which can foster a whole array of morale problems, including stress, absenteeism, and secrecy, among other issues

Besides, banning social media is akin to locking the doors when the “horse is already out of the barn” so to speak with the advent of personal mobile devices in the workplace. As Pogue explained, employees who are banned from social media are just going to look up their Facebook and Twitter streams on their phone.

In fact they don’t consider such behavior to be in conflict with company policy because nearly 50% of smart phones and 80% of tablets in the enterprise are bought by individual employees, according to IDC – not the company.

Thus, regardless of whether HR, IT, or management intended it, BYOD (or “Bring Your Own Device”) has become the workplace norm.

What businesses can do

Can you create a culture where people can use web 2.0 and mobile, but also get their job done? Pogue says “yes you can,” noting that while it may seem passé and stating the obvious, it is people that are the root cause of mobile and social abuses…as well as the path to solutions – not social media or personal devices, themselves.

Some of his prescriptions are good old-fashioned “HR 101″ basics:

  • Focus your efforts on hiring more trustworthy people
  • Create a more open, trusting culture
  • Build an environment where workers who prove they can assume more responsibility with less supervision, continue to have fewer constraints
  • Deal with fringe cases individually when there is a break in policy, rather than punishing everyone for violations
  • Monitor employee social media messaging tactfully, but not overbearingly

In addition to the basics, Pogue also advocates that HR professionals adapt to the new times. This includes writing a social media policy, that covers essentials like guidelines for those roles in the company authorized to represent it (primarily jobs requiring outreach, like sales, marketing, and customer service), and outlining what people can and can’t say about the company online.

In addition, just as subjects like facilities safety and IT security have become required, annual parts of a company’s training regimen, an annual refresher on social media use, including accounts accessed on personal, mobile devices, should become part of the baseline portfolio. A good resource to consider tapping into for policies, training and other best practices are SocialMedia.org (whose event, BlogWell, we wrote about in February 2011 and the Social Business Council.

Finally, Pogue suggested, be vigilant about your corporate social media – whether you are a Fortune 500 company or are the coffee shop on the corner of 500 Fortune Street, “Any Town, USA.” Vigilance can take shape a variety of ways:

  • Listen to what consumers think about your company or industry
  • Proactively help customers with issues presented on social media before they become PR “black eyes”
  • Test out promotions and other contests with what is more-than-likely a smart, savvy audience – Pogue cited industry data claiming that the average Twitter user, e.g., is 35 yrs old, makes $75,000 a year, and is highly educated
  • Build a loyal and engaged following where customers become evangelists
  • Humanize your brand by allowing employees to express qualities like empathy and humor to your customers

For more information about David Pogue, visit his website

One Size Fits All with Virtual Conferencing, For Now

by Tim Gasper

Attending Workforce Management’s HR TechWeek virtual conference last week ended up being like one of those dreams you hear people describe as an “out of body experience.”

As best I can recall what people have said about such an experience is that their mind is on two things at once: the activity of the dream itself – whatever they are the other participants in the dream are doing – but also the experience of being an observer, watching themselves in the dream and seeing how their “dream self” and others are relating.

In Virtuality, Jet Lag and Room Limits Don’t Exist

In the same way, while I was participating in the virtual conference itself – listening to keynote speaker, David Pogue’s comments, browsing the exhibits, etc. – I couldn’t help but also pay attention to the experience of the virtual conference.

After all, I’d heard about the virtual conference phenomenon for a couple of years and sat in on (or conducted) many online webinars. Like many, I’d also dabbled in Second Life and some of the multi-player, avatar-based games; but, I’d never taken the time to engage in a fully simulated, business conference – definitely a new experience.

Now that I have, here are some observations.

After first entering the online conference website, I was placed in the virtual lobby. There I was shown an introductory video and could travel to any of the different conference zones. Areas included Conference Sessions to watch presentations, Exhibit Hall to see different company booths, Resource Center to download takeaway materials, and Networking Lounge to chat with people at the conference.

Overall, I think the virtual concept is really mind-blowing. Not only was I able to see great presentations in real time, but I could even engage with other attendees. In general, it’s invaluable to meet with people in person and get the full conference experience. However, that can be costly and take a lot of time.

Virtual conference technology is going to make it easier bring the experience of brands, speakers, resources, and new business contacts all with the convenience of your Internet browser. While I don’t see this supplanting the traditional conference experience, it will certainly spawn a whole new breed of well attended, highly valuable online events.

Mobile device access? Not so much.

Unfortunately the conference website doesn’t seem to be very mobile-accessible. First of all, there wasn’t a dedicated mobile-specific app for the event. Perhaps conference organizers determined that mobile screens simply aren’t large enough to get the full experience. This was highlighted by the display for the conferences being optimized for a screen at least 1000 pixels wide.

Second, the conference application was Flash-based, meaning it wouldn’t work on iOS devices, specifically the iPad or iPhone.

Third, even if you had a non-iOS devices and were willing to squint, the conference required various additional, multimedia playback plug-ins. Thus, if you had an Android tablet, the app might fit on the screen and the Flash would load, but the presentations might be audio-only without the video plug-ins.

Despite these mobile shortcomings, the app works perfectly on laptops and desktops. Anyone who participates in a conference like this one is likely to be accessing it from those devices, where it’s easy to meet the technical requirements for participation. In fact, my Mac computer already had everything it needed and I could proceed directly to the sessions.

For now, it appears, one size fits all with the “brave new world” of virtual conferencing.

Have you participated in a virtual conference; sponsored or hosted one? What experiences can you share for one produced that is accommodating to tablets, smart phones or other mobile devices?

M is for Mobility and Marketing: May 27-June 3

by Tom Parish

I would imagine everyone is aware that Apple has their annual WWDC event scheduled for June 6.  Word on the street is the headline news will be the official release of Lion, the next  major operating system update for Apple computers.  They are finally moving to a full 64-bit architecture and making better use of multi-core CPUs.

There is a lot of talk about your iTunes music library being available to you from iCloud with a promise for videos and TV shows also becoming available in the future. You can find out more from Mac Rumors over the next few days.  I’m hoping we’ll see a merging of the desktop OS and the mobile OS making them more seamless in the way they work together for sharing information with mobile devices.

One example of creating a mobile app with greater engagement is to include mobile sharing, written about in this week’s Mashable. People love sharing photographs so give some thought as to how that could help you in your business. Every time a person uses your app, they think of your business.

One of my favorite articles this week is from Mobile Commerce Daily, “The Dirty Little Secret about Mobile Apps“  Why? Because everyone in business is wanting to build an app for their customers and clients to use.  Spoiler alert here – it’s not the number of downloads that gives you success, it’s how often people ‘use’ your app that counts.  So the trick in building an app is focusing on the social aspects of using the app.

How can your customers use the app and interact with other customers about your products and services? Author, Daniel Odio makes a number of other relevant points. Recommended reading if you’re wanting to determine the business value of your investment in a smartphone app.

Are you following the mobile wallet debate with Google’s Wallet announcement? This is a tricky area for success.  Let’s face it, we all give so much personal information to Google already.  Giving Google access to our wallet makes a lot of people nervous.  I’m not hankering to do so myself yet, but I’m watching and learning. See more inPC World at “Google Wallet: The Debate Rages.”

Speaking of Google, do you monitor search hits on your website? Mobile searches are an excellent indicator of your clients’ and prospects’ interest in your business via their smartphones. From the businesses I know, mobile traffic from mobile searches is rising quickly.  Learn more about mobile behavior and search trends from thisMobile Commerce Daily article, “Google Search is Top Site as Total Mobile Traffic Grows to 105M Uniques.”

In addition to mobile searches being on the rise, so is the use of mobile barcodes. Take a look at the trends and best practices to see where marketers are looking to unlock value from their existing media placements and 2-D mobile codes from this article at eMarketer.com.

-Tom Parish, lead curator – Enterprise Mobility news