The SmartPhone Wars — Why Windows Phone Deserves More Love

Earlier this month, Apple announced iPhone4GS; remarkeably, over 4 million units were sold in the first week.  Consumers seemed to overlook that that the much awaited iPhone 5 release was effectively pushed well into 2012, having to settle for the iOS5 version without the anticipated sleek hardware.

And then there was Siri…a new voice enabled personal assistant, capturing consumer’s curiosity and offering as much fun as Angry Birds.  Make no mistake about it…Siri may provide fun entertainment today; longer term, Siri offers the potential for productivity; soon everyone may have a personal assistant on-the-go.

Around the same time, Microsoft announced the release of Windows Phone 7.5, referred to as Windows Phone Mango along with three new phones from Microsoft’s newest phone partner, Nokia.

Let’s just say the consumers did not pay as much attention to Windows Phone Mango as iPhone4GS.  This is a shame; Windows Phone is innovative in both design and functionality — here are a few reviews for both Windows Phone 7.0 and Windows Phone 7.5.  While I won’t call out all of the features, it is worth mentioning a few outstanding considerations:

  • Integrated Email — one email tile (box) for several accounts; so now I can consolidate all my hotmail, yahoo and gmail accounts into one box
  • Threading — like messages are grouped together; I particularly like being able to group conversations i begin in text and move to email
  • Social — includes tight integration of common social apps; I like having the option to text with SMS or on Facebook
  •  Groups — now that i have integrated Facebook and LinkedIn contacts into my phone, groups help me better organize people
  • Wi-Fi Hub — phone has built in capabilities to operate as a hub; unfortunately, most major carriers block this feature

Windows Phone 7.5 is well designed OS, easy-to-use and integrated with social features.  So what is missing?  Well for starters, hundreds of thousands of applications available on iOS (e.g., Starbucks app, WSJ) and  thousands of applications optimized first for iOS, then Android and finally released less than optimally for Windows Phone (e.g., many of the airline apps).  However, none of us use hundreds of thousands of apps; we make due with a dozen or so.

Aside from avid xBox users, the Windows Phone  seems to be too much productivity and not enough fun; iPhone on the other hand the appears alot more fun (e.g., introduction of apps, camera and Siri) and becomes increasingly useful over time.  While we should love Windows Phone for its ease of use and productivity, we sure would enjoy a bit more flash and fun along the way.

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Thirty -five years of Technology Transformation — Thank You Mr. Jobs

Apple Mac 1985

Apple Mac 1985

This has been a remarkable week, providing moments to reflect over the past 35 years for technology. When you have lived through the times, it is not quite history but more about points in transformation. It is remarkable how the personal computer has changed our lives — how we interact, live with technology, integrate into the day-to day.

I remember disbelief and delight when I saw the first Apple Mac, writing my first Excel spreadsheet on the Mac, setting up my first network with Apple Chooser, all small feats by today’s standards, evolutionary at the time.

There has been quite a bit written about Mr. Jobs this week.  Along with the storm of outreach, I want to say thank you to Mr. Jobs  for his revolutionary contributions — changing how we interact and consumer technology and what we have learned.

Going back to the not-so-distant past, conventional thinking for Apple Computer and Apple products was not exactly what it is today.  Back in 1999, the outlook for Apple Computer was not so certain — once popular Mac publications were closing and consolidating; friends and family were jumping ship and trying their first Windows based machines; just two years earlier, rival Microsoft had invested $150M, bolstering Apple’s cash reserves; application providers were analyzing Apple’s declining market share numbers, unable to justify support for the Apple platform…all of this reflected in the stock price’s low point at $10 per share.

Conventional thinking at the time was that Apple was an anachronism.  It’s core strength was tight coupling of software and hardware design.  While important in the early days of the personal computer, software had evolved and over-taken these advantages.  Simply put, Windows 95 was good enough; with Moore’s law and lowering costs for hardware, there was not enough room for innovation from design… but then came the iMac, iPod, Macbook Air, iPad, showing a burst of new innovation, bringing together sparks of progress from smaller, lighter, cheaper hardware with new usability paradigms from software.

In 1997, Steve Jobs became Apple’s CEO again; today we applaud Mr. Job’s role as CEO taking Apple Computer from $10 to $400 a share, largely based upon his vision for the company.  Again, back in 1997, the outlook for Apple Computer was not so certain. Criticisms were launched against Mr. Jobs and his ability to run a business; concern flaired that Apple would become a design shop with little market relevance.  One of the harshest criticisms launched suggested that the inmates had overtaken the asylum.  But then again, Apple share price $10 to $400, suggesting that vision, tenacity and flawless execution (alright a few missteps along the way as well) trumps bean counting anyday.

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Consumerization of Information Technology — the Latest Wave To Manage

Consumerization of IT 0911<<excerpts from a recent presentation attached for reference>>

I am not exactly sure what the word consumerization means.  The word does not exist in either Merriam Webster, Oxford, or Cambridge dictionaries.  Yet, whenever we hear the phrase consumerization of IT we all nod our heads knowingly with vague references to the latest phones, tablets or online communications apps such as Facebook, Skype, YouTube or Salesforce chatter.   Generally, we may agree that Consumerization of IT is how all the stuff we can now do in our personal lives with technology will benefit our business environment and applications.

While Consumerization of IT is a timely trend, it is hardly a new.  Indeed, Gartner, a well regarded technology technology research organization, created quite a stir when stating that Consumerization Will Be Most Significant Trend Affecting IT During Next 10 Years — back in 2005.  Indeed, Microsoft often suggests that the entire consumerization trend started back in the early 1980’s when x86 PCs started shifting workloads from mainframe computers.

While the consumerization of IT trend is not exactly new, we are responding to an acceleration, primarily driven by new devices,  new web applications (i.e., apps) and the Cloud available on demand and greatly impacting how and with whom we connect, how we may communicate (text, phone, email, sype, etc.)  and consume information (aps, web based applications, etc.).  Today, there is interest in these benefits, many (including me) believing the likely source for productivity enhancements which are sorely needed in today’s business environment.

While exciting, for business enterprises, the challenge just got alot bigger and complicated for IT infrastructure management and evolutionary for the application development (i.e., next generation app dev here we come).

For IT infrastructure management, you have many more devices and headaches…

  • Bigger — it used to be 1 PC per user; now you have PC, phone, tablet and remote access points
  • Complicated — information leakage, device loss, theft, compliance rules, IP protection, malware apps to name a few

While there is no one size fits all approach for enterprise businesses,  most firms are managing infrastructure in light of consumerization trends via a combination of  holding the consumerization trend at bay and setting policy in place to manage.  Trying to hold back an accelerating trend is not exactly a sustainable approach; the visual image for me is firehoses and very small wooden buckets.   Policy — both compliance and enterprise information management provides a longer standing approach (i.e., who gets access to what information on what devices and in which locations); if you are familiar with IT infrastructure, think of this as your next generation directory services; if you are a document management pro, think of this as an extension of document lifecycle management to embrace accessibility from people, locations and devices.

For application development, expectations are emerging for consumption of software and incremental software updates on-demand, much the way we do in a consumer app market today and drastically more agile from the plan development test deploy /rollout schedules we built into 5 year planning cycles.

To thrive in the next wave, enterprise businesses will require building skills in areas such as access, security, app development and enterprise life-cycle management; making this transition in an era of limiting IT budgets and headcount will require many firms to consider outsourcing IT activities to providers offering lowering costs via software as a service models.

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Windows 8 Revealed and the Future Tablet Wars

It has been nearly a month since I have been using my new iPad; I have joined the love affair around me for the iPad.  Largely due to the apps at my disposal, it is revolutionary.  My personal favorites are Dropbox for transporting and reading documents , Flipboard for reading news, Instapaper for reviewing web content and Outline for reading my Microsoft OneNote files.   Bringing together a well designed product with a world of apps, iPad is the productivity boost saving time, paper and ink cartridges.

At first glance, it looks like there is quite a bit of imitation in the market place with me-too products coming forward from Android, WebOS and Windows; Apple may find this somewhat flattering….well initially anyway.  Longer term, both Google and Microsoft are beefing up to move ahead from Apple’s early lead.

Last month, Google announced it’s acquisition of Motorola Mobility for $12.5BN.  At first glance, the acquisition analysis focused on the patents Google would be enjoying, particularly after Apple and Microsoft had gained access to the Nortel patents.  Then, confusion set in over the channel friction with Google as both a hardware manufacturer and software operating system vendor.  On the surface, the strategy looks a bit like Apple (tight coupling of hardware and software) and a bit like Microsoft (maintaining an ecosystem of providers to embrace software); my read is that Google is simply ensuring access to the mobile marketplace for phones and tablets, much the way that Microsoft created a closer relationship with Nokia earlier this year.  It will be interesting to see if Google and Motorola can work more closely together on set-top-boxes and access to the television — the big looming prize for all three companies.

And then just a few days ago, Microsoft provided a deeper sneak peak into Windows 8 at the Microsoft BUILD Conference  targeting the Windows developers, a community critical to support Windows 8 with applications running on the operating system.  While the press has been quick to show us how Windows 8 looks and feels with inclusion of Microsoft’s Metro user interface, it is Microsoft’s unique approach for addressing the proliferation of devices into a PC world with one operating system — Windows 8 which is most intriguing.

Microsoft is suggesting that everything is a PC and should operate optimized for the hardware it is supporting.  For example, get touch when you are running a tablet, plug in a keyboard and resume as a PC or set into a docking station for presentation mode.

This is intriguing providing a productivity boost beyond my iPad today and providing Microsoft both the challenge of flawless execution (e.g., get Windows 8 to recognize all those hardware drivers) and the opportunity to sell many more copies of Windows across those devices.

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Collaboration — How Aps May Redefine

There is a nice summary outlining how collaboration applications may redefine collaboration infrastructure posted on The Cloud Computing Blog suggesting how cloud based apps such as Yammer and  Chatter may provide a faster, cheaper, easier means vs. today’s collaboration infrastructure

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The iPad — An Emerging Love Affair

Last week, I attended the annual International Legal Technology Association (ILTA) conference in Nashville, TN.  This year, the hot topic was Consumerization of Information Technology — largely driven by the current love affair underway between attorneys and the iPad.

It was striking to see an the agenda and discussion so heavily influenced by the encroaching  devices — including a killer app downloadable from the iTune store to manage the event agenda and announcements.  Most interesting were the best practices shared During the Revolution:  Indsutry Leaders Discuss Law2020 Hot Topics by Foley&Lardner and Berwin Leighton Paisner.

As you may expect, when it comes to the adoption of technology, law firms are a cautious bunch.  The number one objective of the law firm IT department is to secure and protect the firm’s crown jewels — documents and email.   So when something new approaches, there are usually rounds and rounds of discussion, primarily regarding security, compliance, manageability, etc.  before legal technology adoption finally takes off.

This is not the case for the iPad; attorney love affair for the devices simply will not allow firms to take a wait and see attitude — much the way Blackberry impacted the industry a decade and a half ago.

Today, firms seem to be taking three approaches to the  iPad

  1. Treat your iPad like an oversized Blackberry; use if for email only; lock down your email with security infrastructure such as Good for iOS
  2. Virtualize everything and run it on the iPad;  it sounds great from a manageability and security standpoint but remains impractical; watching applications load will make you want to hurl your iPad across the room at the IT administrator;
  3. Wait and see with a blind eye — wait for new products offering improved manageability and security; pretend attorneys are not using iPads today and / or disgruntled that they are not connected to enterprise infrastructure

For law firms, this is the beginning of a journey to accomodate consumer experiences for practitioners.

  • Communicate — chat, presence, easier video conferencing, blogs and tweeting may follow
  • Connect — Proliferation of the devices hitting the corporate network requiring improved  manageability; the problem will grow exponentially as will devices;  software providers such as Odyssey Software and Microsoft  Systems Center 2012 announce remote manageability support for iOS along with other platforms
  • Consume — while the devices are thin, light and wonderful to touch, much of the charm comes from the easy inclusion of customization via apps; how easy it may be in the future to provide customization and updates to legal practitioners via apps; already Apple has announced it’s business apps store while Microsoft has released it’s OneNote product on the iTune store.

Anticipate…

  1. More chat, Skype, YouTube and Facebook like experiences within the firm
  2.  More software to manage access and control of information from remote devices
  3.  More apps released and more focus on apps development within firms and with software providers
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Big Data and the Information Market Place

WalMart uses Big Data  to help determine what you may buy, as outlined in recent Gigaom report.  The big question is from where does this data come?

One option is to grow your own data — with the decreasing costs of storage, computational power and emergence of cloud based offerings, this is a natural approach for both WalMart and your company.  As well, third parties provide market data to support predictive analytics.  For example, WalMart may determine what I may buy, considering local demographic, retail sales and consumption spending from third party sources.

Data market places are making it easier to both procure and consume third party data, allowing companies to extend traditional business analysis with mashups to market data .  Data market places and analysis tools are making it easier for firms to include market information into analysis reducing the labor of parsing data, simplyfing the complexity when structuring databases and improving visibility into data sources available.  The result is information mashups with real  time and near real time integration of data to guide analysis.

Here are a few examples…

  • Data Market places such as Infochimps and Azure Data Market place provide easy access and integration of  data (e.g., census data, retail store data, hospital locations) ready for analysis
  • Database streaming analytics such as IBM Infosphere Data Streams offer analysis and correlation of information to identify the data sources you need

For companies, this provides easy access to market data.  For information providers, this is provides a new distribution channel and challenges managing the half life of existing data services (similar challenges from the early Internet days).  Stay tuned!

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The Emergence of Big Data

There has been quite a bit of discussion lately around inclusion of Big Data — inclusion of more and more data into analysis driving business decision making to improve business productivity.  For example, a McKinsey & Company study concluded that creative and effective use of big data could create $300BN in value annually for US Healthcare.  A few  examples are outlined in a recent Gigaom report, my favorite of which is the Zero Intelligence Project for analyzing progress in the Afghanistan conflict.

While the idea of Big Data is not exactly new, the technology is certainly evolving to a new frontier.  With lowering costs of computing, (e.g., cloud based computing and storage) companies are saving and storing more information.  With mash ups and improvements in search, it is easier to have several data sources working with one another vs. one source.

Two areas to bring Big Data forward are enterprise search (e.g., Microsoft’s Project Barcelona, Apache Solr) and cloud based data sources for information (e.g., Infochimps, Microsoft Azure Datamarketplace)

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Reinventing Professional Services

Ari Kaplan has done it again, publishing his second book — Reinventing Professional Services:  Building Your Business in the Digital Marketplace  http://www.reinventingprofessionals.com/  The describes how technology is driving Professional Service firms to adapt their business model to grow and prosper in a changing environment.  The books includes insight from both leading and emerging Professional Service firms.  I am pleased to contribute (page 44) outlining changes in the marketplace impacting knowledge mangement, firm organization, collaboration and relationship development.

This book follows Ari Kaplan’s earlier book:  The Opportunity Maker:  Strategies for Inspiring  Your Legal Career —http://www.theopportunitymaker.com/ a great primer showing how lawyers may  develop their career thru professional networks

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Welcome

Welcome!  This is my introductory communication; thre are more to follow…

This blog will discuss some of the key trends in technology —  providing examples, making technology simpler to understand and providing context for you and your business.  The goal is to help all of us make the most of technology in business.

Here are a few of the questions I am hearing

  • What is the Cloud anyway? Where is it? What is in it?
  • Why can’t I find I just find information inside my company like on Google?
  • Why do I have to carry this big laptop instead of an IPad?
  • Why do I have to wait 5 years to get the latest and greatest Microsoft Word on
    my computer?
  • Why can’t I chat with my colleagues and clients?
  • Why does the market seem to have information we don’t?

…and you can be a part of the conversation!  So go on…share your content and perspective; ask your questions

Here are examples of technology trends we may follow

  • Cloud Based Computing — the availability of an endless supply of computers and software whenever and where-ever you need it
  • Consumerization of Information Technology — unleashing the power of consumer technology experiences within the business world; think about it — why not Skype your clients or turn your business programs into touch apps?
  • Social Computing — how computers are changing our social behavior — how we stay connected, form consensus, learn from one another and share
  • Big Data Analytics — real time availability of data to improve insight into operations, customer behavior and business outlook

brian

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