Everyone loves the idea of a paperless office. Many technologies have tried to deliver on that green vision, but none so far have halted our tree-killing ways.
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I may not be able to make to the Venetian/Palazzo Congress Center, but I still plan to attend TechEd virtually, watching sessions and talks viaSAP’s broadcast platform.
Sessions begin at 8 AM in Las Vegas, or 7 AM Pacific Time. So if you’re in California or Washington, set your alarm clock. Or catch the replays, which should be up within a few hours.
Some of the talks and workshops in the Virtual Events Catalog have incorrect starting times or durations. Please double-check the main catalog to get the best, latest schedule.
There are many worthy technical sessions on SUP, Netweaver Portal, BusinessObjects Design Studio and Afaria, that I’d recommend for developer and IT types. They may also want to download the Developer Survival Guide for TechEd.
Here are the higher-level mobile sessions I plan to catch remotely:
Tuesday, Oct 16:
11 AM: Mobility Platform Road Map and Strategy. Get the latest overview of where the SAP Mobile Platform, including the Sybase Unwired Platform, Mobilizer and SAP Afaria, are headed. This features two ex-Sybase technical experts, CTO Jagdish Bansiya and product manager, Sami Lechner.
3 PM: Business Benefits of Mobile. In a 20 minute interview, hear the thoughts of Bill Clark, one of Gartner’s former top mobile analysts, who has just joined as SAP’s global VP for mobile strategy.
8 PM: Demo Jam. The annual showcase of the best business demo applications created by SAP, and its customers and partners. Mobile entrantsinclude the intriguingly-named “Singularity” created by Accenture and Cooper Tire to enable instant collaboration across mobile devices, “Food Agent” by Roberto Clemente Middle School that is a mobile app that lets shoppers scan supermarket barcodes to check the origin of food items and possible contamination, and “Personas,” an SAP app to let users self-customize SAP application interfaces for better productivity on their PCs or tablets.
Wednesday, Oct 17:
12:15 PM: SAP User Interfaces – Strategy and Road Map. Improving the design and ease-of-use of applications, both its own and its partners, has never been more important for SAP. I’m eager to hear about the UI development toolkit for HTML5 from SAP.
Thursday, Oct 18:
11 AM: Avoiding Design Errors and Improving User Experience for Mobile Apps. The speaker promises to “share examples of real and already in the market applications” and how their UX/UI is or isn’t up to snuff.
2:45 PM: Developing Apps and Interfaces with Our Cloud Solutions with an On-Demand SDK. The world is moving to the cloud, and SAP is keeping apace. Werner Wolf, a solution manager at SAP, will demonstrate how to bring an iPad, Business Objects, and cloud data together.
Traditional retailing, at least in the U.S., is in a funk. Of the 100 largest U.S.-based retailers according to STORES magazine, only 17 are growing in the double digits. Fast risers are either growing overseas or are in hot categories like mobile phones (Verizon Wireless and AT&T) or discount goods (Dollar General).
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The futurism business is so competitive these days that technologies get declared dying at the very moment they are actually peaking. In monarchy terms, that’s like preparing to crown the boy prince when the reigning king is a hale and hearty 40-something.
So it goes with text messaging, aka SMS. Nobody disputes that SMS is the king of mobile communications today. 7.8 trillion SMS messages were sent last year, according to Portio Research. Another firm, Informa, counted 5.9 trillion text messages worldwide last year, comprising 64% of mobile messaging traffic. You also have research showing that in developed countries, texting has just become more popular than voice calling.
Not only is SMS on top, but it’s still growing substantially. Portio predicted earlier this year that it will increase 23% this year to 9.6 trillion SMS messages.
According to Portio: “SMS is not dead. SMS is still the king and will remain so for some time to come.”
Yet, many experts have already declared the death of SMS. Consumers don’t care – they’re too busy texting. And some companies are reaping the marketing benefits (see Mobile Marketer for more North American case studies and Sybase 365 for the rest of the world).
But too many companies are being persuaded not to invest in SMS or its picture/video-enabled sibling, MMS, in favor of building native apps, or waiting to see what the mobile IM services or Twitter or even fast-rising ‘free’ Over-The-Top (OTT) services like WhatsApp.
I understand that there is a consumer desire for a cheaper alternative to SMS. But I think that companies waiting for the death of SMS will wait for a lot longer than they expect. In the meantime, there will be huge costs, in the form of blown opportunities to exploit the right-time, contextual marketing capabilities of mobile today.
As much as I’m a champion of apps, they remain largely a first-world phenomenon. Globally, smartphones that can run apps were outsold by featurephones by 2:1 last year.
The research firm mobiThinking estimated earlier this year that based on the 6 billion mobile subscriptions and the roughly 1 billion smartphones sold in the last 3 years, at most only 16% of mobile phones in use worldwide today are app-enabled. AT MOST.
“The media tends to overegg the importance of smartphones and Apple in particular,” wrote MobiThinking. But “businesses that ignore featurephone customers do so at their peril.”
Put another way: “If you’re a major global brand and all you use are apps for marketing, you’ll miss out on 70-80% of your customers,” Howard Stevens, a senior vice-president at SAP division, Sybase 365, told me in a recent interview.
Stevens, of course, has a horse in this race. Sybase 365 is the largest independent carrier of mobile messaging, processing more than 2 billion messages, mostly SMS, per day. It also provides back-end services for enterprise marketing and communications, such as real-time alerts, interactive polls, banking and coupons – all via SMS. But I think his advice is solid:
- “Even those [consumers] who have smartphones, there’s no guarantee they have or will download your app.”
- “I don’t believe it’s apps versus SMS. You need to have all channels covered. You can’t do it all with in-app notifications. The only truly ubiquitous form of communication is voice or messaging, and SMS is the most prevalent.”
FaceBook, which is often touted as one of the OTT players that will kill SMS, evidently agrees with Stevens. Last week, it added the ability to send and receive text messages from its FaceBook Messenger app for iPhone and Android.
What Does The Future Hold?
Admittedly, there are a ton of OTT players that are vying to beat SMS, including: traditional instant messaging services like Yahoo Messenger or AOL, BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), VoIP services like Skype, Apple’s iMessage, FaceBook, Twitter and, most formidably today, WhatsApp.
The free WhatsApp, unlike BBM and iMessage, is not restricted to particular brands of devices. And its fast rise – it carries 10 billion+ messages a day, up from 1 billion 10 months ago - means it is nearly half the popularity of SMS today.
There are several things, though, that should make you wonder how sustainable this growth is. For one, these services are all fragmented. I don’t see that changing anytime soon – can you imagine iMessage and Microsoft’s Skype suddenly interconnecting?
Also, OTT services generally rely on users having a smartphone with a pricey mobile data plan. For many consumers (though not readers of this blog), that all-you-can-text package may seem like a better option. And smartphones remain outnumbered by featurephones 5:1 worldwide.
Also, the use of mainstream IP networks by OTT players can leave them more vulnerable to outages and delayed messages than SMS.
Finally, while these services are free, some – namely Twitter and WhatsApp – will need to figure out a way to make money. Starting to charge consumers could cause a sudden halt or reversal in their popularity.
Even if SMS is no longer dominant half a decade from now, it will still probably the largest player. Informa, for instance, thinks SMS traffic will grow 60% between 2011-2016, and hold 42% of the market.
Bottom line: Companies thinking about their marketing and communications strategies should consider SMS an important part of the mix for many years to come.
How long did it take for your company to upgrade to Windows 7 after it became available in July 2009? Months? Years? Still hasn’t happened?
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That made me wonder: what are the reasons why enterprises stumble or fail at their mobile rollouts?
Coincidentally, several days later, I happened to be a guest on the business technology radio show, In the Cloud with Gamechangers, hosted by Bonnie D. Graham (and, full disclosure, sponsored by SAP).
Other guests included Sheryl Kingstone, director of mobile and CRM research for analyst firm, the Yankee Group, Blake McLaughlin, an associate consulting partner at IBM and the lead for its SAP mobile practice, and Matthew H. Schwartz, IBM’s North American head of innovation around SAP software, including mobile.
The topic, “Mobile Moments: Opportunity or Catastrophe?” was a juicy one, and it ended up taking a turn around the biggest risks that enterprises going mobile face today. They included:
1) Brochureware. This was a dot-com term to describe Web sites so hastily and superficially built that they were no more interactive than the printed pamplets they were supposed to replace. Often, they were literally just scans of paper-based marketing materials.
Brochureware for a fake paper company. How fitting.
Credit: NBC’s TV show, The Office
History is repeating itself with mobile. “People are just taking their Web sites and mobilizing it and saying ’Good enough,’” Kingstone said.
Just as bad dot-com era sites failed to take advantage of the Web’s interactivity, bad mobile sites and apps fail to take advantage of the real-time geolocation features of mobile devices. Or they try to jam too much information into a device’s small screen. Or they forget about the advantages and limitations of a touchscreen.
Bad mobile sites and apps disappoint your workers, customers and managers. And they’ll leave you far behind the curve of your competitors. Fortunately, they are easily corrected.
2) Letting IT control mobile’s fate. Not so easily corrected is the bad attitude of who should be mobile’s biggest advocates.
Sure, in some organizations, the CIO is the force for pushing mobile forward. Take SAP’s Oliver Bussmann, for example.
But in organizations with a traditional, command-and-control style, CIOs and IT managers can be mobile’s biggest enemies (no surprise if you’ve seen my book, The Mobility Manifesto).
“The best ideas come from outside (IT). I see IT as almost an inhibitor,” Schwartz said. Many CIOs “have a lot of concerns around security, and how to sustain and maintain the infrastructure around mobile. Unless the line-of-business steps up to declare that they will pay for this, IT won’t go forward.”
My personal take: half or more of organizations out there are in this situation today. Fortunately, that’s changing. CIOs recognize that their role is changing, from the Department That Says No to a Partner and Enabler of the Business Side.
3) “Paralysis by analysis.” Sometimes the caution towards mobile is spread more widely than in IT. Mobile’s very new-ness creates “many challenges” for organizations, McLaughlin said, due to the “moving parts” that touch many departments besides IT: legal, sales, operations, business processes, upper management, etc.
It’s enough to create “a lot of guesswork and paralysis by analysis,” McLaughlin said.
For Schwartz, inertia is more often the result of lack of a single champion for mobile within a company. “If I go to a company, and ask who’s in charge of mobile, either no one raises their hand or 5-6 people raises their hand,” he said.
While informal champions – think of the sales VP who evangelizes the success of the mobile CRM app for his charges – are good, companies typically need more, argues Schwartz. Companies should consider appointing Chief Mobile Officers and creating a Mobile Center of Excellence to help push mobile projects along, unify disparate deployments within various departments and offer guidance on the best way to deploy devices and apps.
4) Expecting R (Returns) without the I (investments). There are many organizations making huge investments in tablets and smartphones. Yahoo, for instance, is rolling out iPhone 5s to all 12,000 employees.
Problem is, some organizations think it starts and ends with the devices, and, maybe, e-mail. If that’s your mindset, then you might as well have stuck with BlackBerries, then.
“Organizations are failing to put a stake in the ground and make the tough choices to move forward and build apps as quickly as they can,” McLaughlin said.
(Speaking of rapid app development, McLaughlin will present on this topic at the Enterprise Mobility 2012 conference in Las Vegas on October 30. Check him out as well as the all of the other SAP mobile experts speaking there.)
Other organizations hear the word app and are fooled into thinking that mobilizing business processes should be as quick and easy as buying something from Apple’s App Store. That’s Schwartz’s beef. Companies “think it will be fast and cheap. And mobility isn’t necessarily like that.”
For example, if you run a manufacturing plant and want to ensure uptime and save millions of dollars, a single “out of box app may not fit your needs,” he said. You will need to plan for multiple apps, and then customize then to wring out the full value.
What are the biggest reasons you’ve seen why enterprise mobile rollouts can stumble or fail?