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Archive for August, 2010

Mobile Business Strategy Best Practices

Does your business have a mobile strategy? This is a question posed to many executives these days. Given the dynamic and changing landscape in enterprise mobility, many companies are scrambling to define a mobile strategy that enhances their business, and fills the needs of their customers. There are several common mistakes being made in industry on a regular basis.

First, businesses are thinking short-term and rushing to keep up with an industry (mobile) that they do not fully understand. This is not based on ignorance, just the simple fact that mobility is not a part of their core business. This short-term thinking of filling the enterprises mobility needs, such as work order management, business intelligence, inventory management, just to name a few, causes firms to work with products that are inflexible and do not fully meet the needs of their business. The end result of this quick action, a company having to either replace mobile enterprise software, or even worse being locked into a solution that is not achieving the intended business goal. This problem can be  solved before it starts by partnering with mobile application development firms that bring through leadership and a strategic partnership at the beginning of a enterprise mobility project. This allows for the following benefits:

  • Platform and Device Knowledge
  • Business Requirements Gathering
  • Back-end ERP Blueprinting
  • Knowledge share of where technology is going (short-term and long-term)
  • Custom Solution Proposals  (get you what you need, not what a firm has to sell you)

The benefits of taking the proper first steps when developing a mobile enterprise strategy are staggering. Lets take inventory management for example. Each business has different inventory management needs, just in time production creates the need to monitor and move inventory and parts rapidly through a warehouse. Workers on the floor, can keep track of movement of goods, via RFID technologies and track that movement throughout the production process all on a rugedized mobile device currently used. Inventory stock-outs can be eliminated by alerts sent to workers mobile devices. Once received the worker can locate the needed stock in the warehouse, request the stock, get the right product in the right place at the right time. Reducing not only stockouts, but inventory caring costs, and meeting production goals.  The impact is a major return on your mobile investment in the short-term.

Looking out to the long-term, you can port a mobile application to multiple devices all consumer grade, and use bolt on technologies to reduce the high costs of rugedized mobile devices. The addition of enhancements such as speech recognition, scanning and signature capabilities the technology becomes viable for your business through software updates is a via a road-mapped software development life cycle.

 A partner in mobile strategy not only saves you money in both the short and long-term, but tailors solutions to provide your firm with a real and quantifiable competitive advantage. Some say this is only for large corporations, but many small and medium size businesses can implement a mobile entrise strategy, getting the same benefits as larger companies. This can be done reasonably by simply using the consumer grade mobile devices their employees already have such as Blackberry, iPhone, Droid, on Windows Mobile phones. While many mobile application developers for the enterprise offer an out of the box solution, the failure to take into account the current situation of an individual business makes this out of the box solution a mess. Working with a strong mobile development partner, will pay for itself over and over. Bottom line is by implementing this approach from the begining your mobile enterprise solution can not only reflect your business needs, but grow and change as your business does.

For more information on mobile strategy check out.

Why is it Important to Have a Mobile Strategy?

or

Enterprise Mobility Prioritization Best Practices

Interactive Mobility Question Facing Businesses…

Here is a little something to get your wheels turning… Do you think management strategies need to be changed in recognition of the advances in mobile workforce technologies? If so, what, when, why and how? We look forward to your comments, as well as discourse this vital strategic question brings.  Jump in!

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Droid 2 Deep Dive

Motorola Droid 2

Without question, the the Motorola Droid — and Verizon’s marketing blitz behind it — is what really put the Android smartphone on the map. It’s safe to say millions have been sold,  and mobile application developers are excited to develop inovative and compelling applications for the device. Here are some of the device highlights..

And now we have the Droid 2. Launched with little fanfare compared to its older brother and its cousins in the Droid line — the HTC Droid Eris, HTC Droid Incredible and the Motorola Droid X — the Droid 2 keeps with the look and feel of the original while adding some needed improvements.

So join us after the break as we take a closer look at the Droid 2 its place in Verizon’s Droid line.

The hardware

At first glance, the Droid 2 doesn’t appear too different from the original Droid. It retains the horizontal sliding keyboard, angular shape and industrial look and feel.

Motorola Droid (left) and Droid 2
The original Motorola Droid, left, and the Droid 2.

The LCD touchreen remains the same 3.7-inch Gorilla Glass of the original. And it’s as good as it ever was. The capacitive buttons below the screen have been rearranged to the menu-home-back-search layout, keeping consistent with the Droid X.

And just below the buttons is where we find our first major design change . The sharp sloped chin and ledge on the original Droid has been replace with a rounded scoop that extends to the bottom of the phone. It gives a softer feel to the front of the phone. Also, the front bezel of the phone no longer is made of metal. That eliminates much of the cold feeling of the original Droid, though it doesn’t do much for weight, with both phones at 6 ounces.

Motorola Droid and Droid 2

Size-wise, the phones are identical at 60.5mm by 116.3mm by 13.7mm. No sense messing with a good thing, as the Droid 2 combines a large screen with pocketability.

The buttons of ports of the Droid 2 remain in their familiar places. The power button and 3.5mm headphone jack are up top; the microUSB port (with new LED indicator) are on the left-hand bezel; and the volume up/down rocker is on the right-hand bezel. The volume buttons also have been reimagined a bit. They’re more rounded and stand out a little more, making it easier to increase or decrease the volume level. The dedicated camera button is still there, though it’s been toned down a tad and isn’t quite as easy to find by feel.

Motorola Droid 2Motorola Droid 2

The main microphone is on the bottom bezel. There’s a second, noise-canceling mic on the rear of the phone, near the 5MP camera and flash. (Pro tip: Make sure any case you buy has a cutout for the secondary mic.)

And speaking of the camera, very little has changed here. It’s in almost exactly the same place — but not quite, meaning you’ll likely need a new case. More on the camera in a bit.

Motorola Droid (top) and Droid 2

The sliding keyboard has exactly the same feel as on the original Droid, and that’s a good thing. It’s solid, with just enough resistance to make you not worry about it breaking, but no so much that it’s a pain to open. And you have the same familiar “click” sound when the keyboard is fully opened.

But once it is opened, that’s when the biggest change becomes apparent. Gone is the copper-colored five-way directional pad that looked more like a fingerprint scanner than anything else, replaced by arrow keys and an OK button. And with that D-pad out of the way — it took up about a sixth of the keyboard’s width — there’s room for some real improvements.

Droid and Droid 2 keyboard comparisons

The Droid 2′s individual keys are wider and more raised than their predecessors — two improvements that were sorely needed. And they feel pretty darn good. The alt and caps lock keys have shifted a tad, a tab key has been added, as has a key to trigger the voice search microphone. And those awkward blank keys from the original Droid are now gone.

The silkscreening of the keys’ secondary functions — punctuation, numbers and the link — has changed from a copper color to blue. Again, a softening of the design.

The redesign of the keyboard on the Droid 2 can’t be praised enough. And, truthfully, it’s what the original Droid should have had in the first place.

Changes under the hood

The Droid 2 has a beefed up TI OMAP 3630 processor running at 1GHz — almost double the clockspeed of its predecessor. That’s not to say that the original Droid was anything of a slouch, but the sequel is that much more powerful.

The Droid 2 sports 512MB of RAM and 8 gigabytes of on-board storage. That’s in addition to an included 8GB microSD card (it’s capable of reading up to a 32GB card). Repeat: That’s 8GB on the phone itself for storing apps, which also can be moved to the SD card, thanks to improvements in the Android OS. (More on that in a bit.)

Droid 2 battery

What hasn’t changed is the battery. The Droid 2 comes with a 1390mAh battery (it’s often rounded up to 1400mAh). We can squeeze out a day’s use with generous e-mail use, limited background notifications from twitter and the like, and a smattering of phone calls. Your mileage likely will vary, though.

You get to the battery and microSD card through the same sliding rear cover as on the original Droid. The slider mechanism feels a tad more sturdy than its predecessor, and we’ve got little fear that it may fall off on its own.

The software

Droid 2 home screens

The Droid 2 is the first U.S. smartphone to actually launch with Android 2.2 (aka “Froyo”). And on top of that, it sports the same UI tweaks (don’t call them Motoblur) as the Droid X. That includes seven home screens and a number of preloaded widgets custom built by Motorola, in addition to the usual Android widgets. The Motorola and Android widgets are listed in separate categories in the home screen options.

Live wallpapers are there, naturally, though surprisingly the Droid 2 doesn’t have its new glowing red eye loaded by default. It’s there, and it’s a more robotic and a little less monsterous than on the original Droid, and you can use it if you’d like.

Droid 2 application launcherAnother cool trick from Motorola is that some of the widgets it designed are resizeable. You tap and hold, then drag from a corner. It’s a neat way to customize your home screen on the fly, giving it a real desktop feel.

There are a fair number of apps included on the Droid 2. Verizon’s 3G Mobile Hotspot app (subscription required) is there. So are the Audible audio book app, Kindle e-reader and Blockbuster movie rental apps. Motorola’s excellent Car Dock customizations (large, easy-to-read buttons) are there. And the City ID app (think caller ID) is there, too.

DLNA media sharing and Motorola’s Media Share app are there to connect your phone to other devices. And Need for Speed Shift is there for some driving, and Skype Mobile (still a Verizon exclusive) is on by default. There’s an RSS feed reader built in, and you have the standard news and weather app, too.

Is there “bloatware” on the Droid 2? Sure. Just like every other phone released by a carrier since, well, forever. Out of all the apps preloaded on the Droid 2, the City ID app is the only one we’ve never once used. And rememeber that the inclusion of these apps help keep the price of the phone lower through subsidies. It’s a trade-off. But with a full 8GB of on-board storage, it could be worse.

What about the rest of Android 2.2? We’ve covered a good many of the major Android 2.2 improvements in our Froyo Features section. The ones we’re most happy to see on the Droid 2 are the Just in Time Compiler (JIT), the ability to natively move applications to the SD card (though doing so may still break things like widgets).

The Droid 2 camera

Droid 2 camera
(See our full Droid 2 camera test here)

The Droid 2 has the same 5-megapixel camera as its older sibling. And it’s OK. Still not great, but OK. We’re not sure if the Droid X has a different lens or if its the 8MP sensor that makes the difference, but the Droid X seems to take better pictures.

Droid 2 camera test

By default, the Droid 2 takes pictures in “Widescreen” format. They’re not the full 5MP in that setting, but they fit the resolution of the phone and fill up the screen. If you’re worried about showing off photos on the phone more than you are having the higher resolution, then you’re all set. Otherwise, you’ll want to dive into the settings and change that one.

Shutter speed is quite fast (you can trigger it either with the physical button or an on-screen button), and Motorola’s camera software offers plenty of customizations, including a handy panoramic feature that walks you through taking extra-wide pictures.

Droid 2 panorama of San Francisco
(Click to open in full resolution in a new window)

There’s one-touch access to switch to the video camera, or you can use the “camcorder” app. By default, the Droid 2 takes videos at its maximum 480p resolution. It’s OK. Not great, but OK. The microphone does a good job of picking up voice even amid a slew of background noise.

Other odds and ends

  • Phone calls: Yep, it makes ‘em. And Verizon’s network is as strong as ever.
  • Data speed: Same here. It makes out at EVDO Rev. A, so you won’t be able to take advantage of any LTE launches that take place over the next year or so.
  • Keyboards: You have Motorola’s custom keyboard on the Droid 2 by default. Swype also is pre-loaded and uses a custom skin from Motorola.
  • Speakerphone: Have I mentioned before how much I love Motorola’s speakerphones? This one’s tops.
  • Wifi hotspot: Yeah, you have to pay extra for this. And that’s not something we’re happy about. But it works, and it works fairly well.
  • Indicator light: Yes, it’s there, next to the front speaker. And it’s green.
  • The supposed antenna problems: I’ve used this Droid 2 — a full retail unit and not a review unit (if that matters) — in two major cities (Miami and San Francisco) as well at home in the Florida Panhandle. I’ve had zero problems dropping calls or losing data. Does that mean you won’t have any issues? Not necessarily. But in our testing, it was just fine.

So should you buy the Droid 2?

If you’re looking for a Verizon Android phone with a keyboard, it’s a no-brainer. The Droid 2 has a worth step up from the original Droid. It doesn’t bring next-generation hardware or software to the table, though we’re more than happy with the speed and power in the 1GHz processor. Really, we’re talking another meat-and-potatoes phone here, which isn’t a bad thing. And don’t overlook that keyboard. It’s been greatly improved.

Droid 2, Droid X and the original DroidIf you’re coming from another platform, you can’t go wrong with the Droid 2. And the same goes if you’re comiing from another carrier. If you’re already on Verizon? It’s a bit of a tougher choice. The Incredible is another solid phone and has the HTC Sense customizations on the same size screen. The Droid X has a larger screen and the same customizations as on the Droid 2. (Anecdotally: We watched on launch day as the second person in our Verizon store — we were the first — traded in a Droid X for a Droid 2.)

And for those of you on the nerdier side (we’ll call you “in the know”), what about that whole eFuse thing that supposedly could keep custom ROMs from being loaded? Just like we expected, that’s proving to be less of an issue (though still a speedbump) on the Droid X than was feared, so we’ll likely have plenty of hackery going on with the Droid 2 once everybody gets their feet wet.

For the masses, know this: The Droid 2 is a strong follow-up to the original. It has a much-improved keyboard, is as fast as just about any Android smartphone available today and should last for quite a while. Really, the only thing we want to ding Motorola on is the camera, but it’s not a deal-breaker. It’s interesting that Verizon didn’t make more of a fuss over the launch of the Droid 2, given its place in smartphone history. But then again, the Droid has quickly become a workhorse phone, as at home in a purse as it is a in a suit coat or tool box. And the Droid 2 certainly keeps up that legacy.

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Enterprise Mobility Project Prioritization Best Practices

With many business scrambling to get a piece of the mobile pie (web 3.0), multiple mobile projects are thrown at managers. How can a manager properly prioritize these projects, forecast the ROI, and build a strategic mobility road-map? Given my experiences in industry I can truly say there is no one-size-fits-all approach, but by adopting the following framework mobile projects can be prioritized to optimize the finite resources of a business.

First think of Risk vs. Reward. The more risky a projects success, obviously the more reward (revenue, reach, profit, savings) a project must have. While it is difficult to measure this apples to apples, think of creating a weighted average in the form of a rubric.

Now you need to think about your cost of capital: ie. How much does it cost you to fund the mobile projects. As the risk/reward can vary greatly from one mobilization project to the next. The use of a blended Beta is recommended. This can be calculated by regression or blending similar firms or competitor’s betas.

Now you can look at a project through a cost-benefit methodology. Build a model, allowing for a risk-reward-cost metric, allowing for all mobility projects to be compared the same, the project with the highest risk/reward – cost value can then be placed in the production cue all things being equal.

While this is a high-level method, and many other factors should be considered. This approach will provide you or your firm with a simple and effective solution to Enterprise Mobilityproject valuation/prioritization. Other items to consider are if you have a large investment is a back-end system such as SAP or another ERP, time-line issues, and  implentation planning done through solid project buleprint methodology.

For more information check out:

Mobile Business Strategy Best Practices

or

Why is it Valuable to Have a Mobile Strategy?

LG will have an 80/20 Rule with Windows Phone 7 being 80% of their Phone Mix

LG had some interesting things to say, at least according to ‘What Hi-Fi?

First, we get more confirmation of a Europe-first launch, where LG says they’ll have their 3.8″ device based on the Optimus-line (previously seen to be running Android, looky here) ready to go, ahead of Samsung and HTC. This device will presumably be lacking a hard-keyboard.

The next bit is that in the U.S., we’ll be getting the version with the keyboard, like above (Panther/GW910), in November. We’re guessing AT&T for that one, but wouldn’t mind a Sprint model to kick around.

Finally, LG is either trying to make Microsoft look good or they really believe in Windows Phone 7, as they supposedly told Korean reporters that

 … it expects WP7 to outperform the two rival smartphone operating systems

The rivals being of course Android and the iPhone (don’t you love how Blackberry is not even mentioned anymore?). Sounds good to innovative application developers….

Executive Use of Enterprise Mobility

Besides doing the stuff on a smart-phone that keeps us human such as Facebook, Twitter, and Urban Spoon; enterprise mobility application developers are making applications that enhance business management. Picture this a regional sales manager is traveling to multiple sales offices to perform performance appraisals on the six offices she is in charge of. Just before arriving in her cramped rental car she stops for gas. The manager then decides to view sales performance of the sales executives of the Cleveland, Ohio office she is about to visit in real time. The manager pulls out her Droid Incredible, launches a BI app, which links to the data stored in IBM’s Cognos, located on-site at Corporate headquarters. Instantly the manager has a real-time view of sales by employee, the ability to compare actual sales to the sales forcast, all in interactive dynamic charting format. After viewing this information, as will as key performance indicators for all of the staff she relized one sales executive just landed the largest account  in the Cleveland offices history yesterday….

As the manager is rewarded for this, along with the sales executive, she immediately changes her lunch plans to take this rising sales executive. The manager then searches for a proper restaurant using the Urban Spoon application, also on the Droid Incredible, sends a lunch invite to the sales executive and is off to the Cleveland office.  Truly this information she received at the point of performance changed her day, the career of her direct report, and the profitability. As we all know what gets measured gets rewarded, and whats rewarded gets done. 

Business can be bland, but the combination of innovative mobile applications allowing for real-time data to be pushed to a mobile device, interactive/creative displays of that information, and the tools we use everyday in life and in business can really make it exciting. Few people like staring at a spreadsheet, but if you can flip graphical representations of data with a finger, drill down to the account level, and have a fine steak…. Life gets a little sweeter.

Divergence or Convergence in Mobility?

To say the current landscape of mobility is rapidly evolving is an understatement. However, forward thinking mobile application developers can use this changing ecosystem to achieve a competitive advantage. First, the platforms: Apple ,Microsoft, Google, and RIM all prosper when they diverge. This divergence differentiates the companies product offering, increasing customer stickiness, and further monetizing applications for their specific platforms. Software OS are also diverging; thus forcing developers expand their skill-sets to develop to specific OS. A good example of this is WinMo vs. Windows Phone 7. To a skilled mobile application developer, these are essentially two separate platforms. If you now throw all the hardware manufacturers such as HTC, Motorola, Apple and their respective competitive interests you get a dynamically changing landscape for sure.

Due to the rapid adoption of mobility by consumers, this mobile revolution as well as the monetization of the new mobile universe has corporations and developers drooling. Mobility itself allows for convergence, giving information at the point of performance (right in the consumers palm). Mobility allows for the sharing of information in a safe and secure manner. The key is to build rich native applications whether you are building a business to business applicationwith SAP integration, or a business to consumer app. Focusing on the user experience, and as a result adoption of the application into the daily lives of the user.  The challenge is not to build to the lowest common denominator (web browsers), but to leverage the hardware/OS interaction and set the creative spirit of developers free! This will facilitate the growth of mobility, innovation in application design, and the experience to the end user regardless of the applications purpose…

At Smartsoft Mobile, this forward thinking approach to mobile application development is used daily. www.smartsoftmobile.com

Why do many SAP mobilization projects fail?

 

With the huge desire for enterprises to mobilize the back-office, many firms are making a mad dash to implement mobile integration. While speed and urgency are key to business success, many companies fail to take into account the “consumerization of the enterprise”. SAP is not know to have a great UI for the desktop, so porting that user experience to the mobile device is the first and major reason for failure of enterprise mobilization. Workers who use these tools have become accustom to a seamless interaction with a device, both desktop and mobile. User Experience thought leaders, such as HTC, Apple, and Ebay have further spread this thought. The need for a worker to have an experience that he is accustomed to on a device he already has is paramount and the back-office mobile experience is no exception. Device specific nuances and usability must be thought out at the beginning of a mobilization project. Experts in the field of mobile application development need to be brought in at the start. A road-mapped partnership is necessary to make a mobilization project successful. Thought leadership,   and  mobile industry knowledge are key to a successful project. One major flaw is not looking at your workers as customers, after all they are the ones using the tool. If the worker has a good experience with the mobile device, usage and adoption increases; resulting in increased productivity and a strong ROI.

Windows Flash News

Microsoft

  • Most mobile applicaton developers feel what Windows Phone 7 will be an exelent platfor for rich native aplications
  • “There is swiping and panning, elements that flip in and out and zoom in and out dynamically, and motion control that is more fluid than any Smartphone user interface I have ever used before.” This is consistent with everything we’ve seen so far with Windows Phone 7 – Zdnet
  • “Microsoft is clearly-and finally-heading in the right mobile direction”PCMag
  • While we knew of the strong Facebook integration with Windows Phone 7, just about everyone noticed the lack of Twitter and MySpace integration – ZDnet
  • AT&T rumored to be getting 8m Windows 7 in initial launch
  • LG looks to establish US footprint with Windows Phone 7 partnership
  • There were only 3,000 Windows  Phone  7 devices “leaked”
  • US will be 2nd market to get the phone (Europe in Oct. 2010 then U.S. in Nov. 2010)
  • Expression Blend which is a part of Expression Studio 4 provides a streamlined path for creating and developing the user experience The ability to take ideas all the way from concept to completion helps accelerate the delivery of innovative applications on Windows Phone 7
  • Windows Phone 7 Hub strategy:
    • Part 2: The peoples hub, social networking
    • Part 3: The pictures hub, office hub, games hub
    • Part 4: Zune, voice command, Bing integration, strategy – Zdnet

Windows Phone 7

RIM Flash News

RIM

  • Full blown announcement of the BlackBerry 9800 on Aug 3, 2010 in New York City
  • Launch of Device at AT&T August 12, 2010 for Blackberry Torch
  • BlackBerry OS6 will have five major category folders to improve UX (Frequent, Favorites, Media, Downloads, All)
  • Trackball will be in each device, but touch screen will be the more prominent navigation tool
  • Not only platforms but now carriers ex. Verizon are offering app stores
  • OS6 secrecy is like nothing ever seen internally in RIM sales can’t do their job effectively
  • Touch Screen on OS6 with inclusion of trackball will be new standard for RIM
  • BlackBerry Bold will run OS6 as it has already been spotted and leaked @crackberry.com
  • Mobile Application Developers and SAP/ERP Integrators
  • BlackBerry Torch running OS6 with worldwide 3G connectivity is available
    • 480 x 360 screen resolution
    • 5.0 MP Camera with Auto Focus, Scene Modes support and video recording
    • Location Support through the Geo-location Service and Autonomous GPS
    • Wi-Fi® Support – 802.11n
    • 4 GB of onboard memory, with MicroSD support for up to 32GB (for multimedia, etc.); 512MB Flash Memory (Application Space)
    • The first BlackBerry Smartphone with a keyboard and touch screen!
    • Touch screen and trackpad:

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