Ubermobile's Next Chapter...

Greetings, this is Bill Clark, Global Vice President Mobile Strategy at SAP. I am looking forward to blogging on all things “UberMobile” going forward!

This is my first blog for UberMobile, and I am looking forward to providing insights on all things mobile at this particularly exciting time as the impact of mobile penetrates deeply into mainstream business and IT scenarios.   Thanks to Eric Lai for his contributions to making UberMobile a cyberspace destination for thought leadership in mobility and I wish him future success.

So, where to start this new chapter?

The answer lies in where this blog will lead — towards an evolution from mobile user interfaces to multichannel, context-aware user experiences.

The road there is a long one, one first chiseled into the IT forest by the upsurge of “consumer grade” experiences on smartphones and tablets during Eric Lai’s tenure at UberMobile.

This chapter will run likely well into the next decade and will be fraught with false promises and failed technologies alongside incredible opportunities.

I’m convinced the dawn of a new era of split-client cloud computing is what is necessary to achieve the vision, and my goal is to both push our thinking outside our comfort zones to rethink assumptions about software, and at the same time filter market developments with the experiences gleaned from 25-plus years of building wireless businesses and technologies.

(Nostalgia: My first wireless app was back in 1987, an industrial automation application on Intel 8088 platform using a Motorola wireless modem at 1200bps; and yes, coverage remains an issue today… some things never change).

Mobile commerce is driving much innovation and investment that is providing the kinds of breakthroughs needed to realize the vision of multichannel, context aware world of experiences, so I invite you to check out my opening webinar from a new Mobile Thought Leadership series.


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Christmas Lights, Big Data, And The Utilities Industry

Lindsey Nelson

There’s this house about 15 minutes away from me and for the past six years these people cover their home in Christmas lights. Now I know what you’re thinking, Chevy Chase in flannel with a staple gun stapling 25,000 imported twinkling lights to his quaint Suburban home, but this is way more high tech than that, and way bigger than Clark’s.

They transform their home into a Christmas light wonderland, synching the patterns of the lights to their very own radio, playing the seasons classics. 50,000 animated lights, 3 miles of extension cord, 448 individually computer controlled LOR Channels, and so much more, all with a set up time of 4 weeks plus 30 extra hours of programming. Even if you’re a notorious Grinch, I’d put money on the table you’d walk away with at least some holiday spirit.

Being the curious person I am, I wondered as everyone oo-ed and ah-ed, how much would this cost in electricity ($75 extra for this house)? Are the utility companies utilizing big data and analytics so they expect a jump in this fanatic’s grid each year?

You’d never think that your energy bill might have something more to say than you have a serious case of Christmas spirit, but you’d be surprised how much it has to share.

All that charging, illuminating, and so forth is actually data, hundreds of thousands of bytes of information that can shed light on new opportunities for the utilities industry. Opportunities such as new products for home efficiency services to decreasing operational and capital expenses.

Sounds smart right?

In fact, smart is just the word being used to describe these new meters, grids, and other initiatives. These intelligent devices are part of a comprehensive network where information is collected and then examined by utilities using analytics software.

These efforts are enabling people and businesses to save energy and money while bringing the utilities industry up to technology par. Previously, the data from meters and grids was collected, at the very least, monthly. Now, a digital smart reader can collect on 15 minute intervals – meaning the utilities industry could be handling more data than any other.

So how can big data help utilities transform its industry?

  • They are in the prime position to benefit from big data because they are already used to dealing with data. Having the experience to capture, analyze and understand the information at hand gives them a leg up on gaining visibility, insight over operations, and energy patterns and security.
  • Smart grids providing both companies and businesses the opportunity to forecast their usage for budgeting purposes, as well as determine fraud and predict certain maintenance requirements. How? With all their big data of course. This in turn will allow smart grids to evolve and eventually they will respond on their own intelligent terms, by turning things off and on as they see fit.
  • Smart meters, using the big data collected, have the ability to display fluctuating electricity prices to the house owner. Giving them the opportunity to perform their high consumption chores like laundry at times when the price is low, in turn saving money for the users. Or for example when your next door neighbor wants to turn on his annual light display.

So whether you’re draining your smart energry grid with your holiday spirit, or just looking for the best time to wash your Grinch suit, just know the utilities industry is getting smart with your big data and most likely looking for ways to save you money, which could be the best gift of all.


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How to Stay On The CIO Career Fast Track

Susan Galer

With the influx of advanced technologies in the enterprise, CIOs have an opportunity to take on a more strategic role in the business. One area they should concentrate on is social. 

Photo: iStockphoto

Photo: iStockphoto

One of the dangers that come with the rise of technologies like cloud is that companies devalue the CIO. They mistakenly believe that because software is outsourced, the CIO is no longer needed. In fact, the CIO has never been more valuable.

For example, Josh Greenbaum, principal at Enterprise Applications Consulting puts deep, statistical analysis skills at the top of the CIO’s job requirements list. “The company has to figure out how to unleash the statistical analysis needed to do business better, and CIOs may be in the best position to lead the charge. This elevates the CIO to a strategic position away from operational facilities management,” he says.

Incredibly dynamic business models, particularly in consumer industries, are forcing CIOs to assume the mantle of visionary. Evan Quinn, an industry analyst at ESG, believes CIOs need to start viewing everything from the outside in. “They have to ask what is my competition, my industry, and my business doing? What interesting IT skills are out there? Then they can look at what they have internally and develop a path forward.”

Innovations are changing everything

Unprecedented access to technologies like mobile, cloud, and real-time analytics are fundamentally changing the CIO’s role. CIOs need to make the strategic connection between technology and the business so companies use innovations to their greatest advantage.

Quinn sees business finally entering the Enterprise 2.0 era, where IT brings more value to customers and partners. “Integrated technologies are redefining the notion of applications. We’re seeing apps that combine social, transactional, and big data analytics, and that deal with multiple languages, currencies, and the expectation of real-time fulfillment.”

If CIOs don’t execute and deliver projects on time and on budget, they won’t have the credibility with the business to support anything else. As Quinn points out, “The CIO has to keep pace with trends. This includes understanding the landscape of technology products such as SAP HANA that help produce business results.”

Greenbaum believes the growth of intelligent devices armed with sensors will dramatically change business models. As technology is embedded into every aspect of our lives, from sensors in wearable devices, to “smart” parking, clothing, paper, pens, appliances and the like, CIOs need to respond.

“Are we going to participate in Facebook and Twitter are easy questions. But will we put a sensor with an RFID chip in our products, and what will we do with the information we collect is a much bigger issue for CIOs to grapple with,” he points out.

The concepts of engagement and collaboration—internal and external‒are among the big initiatives sitting on the CIO’s desk today. Greenbaum predicts, “One of the great discoveries over the next five years for CIOs will be how to put social into a context where it’s no longer an experiment waiting to fail but actually an initiative that can succeed.”

Greenbaum also notes that cloud computing has shifted IT from a capital to an operational expense, ostensibly freeing up the CIO’s budget for more innovation. However, he warns against innovation fatigue. “The CIO has to sort through all kinds of ideas walking in the door looking for money – good and bad. They have to keep the lights on and stay ahead of the innovation curve.”

Collaboration matters, budget ownership doesn’t

Innovations like cloud computing and mobility deliver software that appeals directly to line of business decision makers. It’s a dynamic that changes how the CIO relates to internal stakeholders.

Steve Romero, president of Romero Consulting, says many businesses expect the CIO and IT to simply “get out of the way” while the business makes unilateral information technology purchases – at least until they need the CIO and IT to solve the operational, maintenance, security, and assurance needs that these new technologies almost certainly introduce.

He calls on everyone to work together on formal governance processes to explore and adopt new technologies. “Beyond just bringing in the sexy, fun smartphones, the business needs to be accountable for security, assurance, availability, compliance and reliability while IT needs to be open to the needs of the business,” he says.

Michael Krigsman, CEO of Asuret, also urges the business to give the CIO the respect that a genuine partner deserves, “If you work in a line of business, treat IT as a business partner. Don’t devalue IT.”

Romero cautions against using budget size as an indicator of the CIO’s strength. “I don’t care who owns the budget. What matters is if good decisions are being made. No one group should unilaterally have control. With sound IT governance, the business and IT share accountability for decisions, and IT has the means to see them through,” he says.


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How You Can Get Your SMB To The Cloud

Lindsey Nelson

As an SME, you’re looking to have an agile business, raise capital, as well as productivity, all while creating an easy to collaborate environment for your employees.  This in turn will give you an advantage over your competition.

To solve this dilemma, more and more companies are using cloud computing. In a July CompTIA survey, half of the 500 businesses surveyed are planning to increase their cloud investments by 10% this year.

But where do you start?

First, look at you current IT situation. If you switch to the cloud, will it totally consume your staff? If so, you may want to think about a third-party service provider. There are many cloud companies out there, of all sizes that specialize and deliver certain services like security, backup, and data storage.

By outsourcing, it may reduce your risk, improve your cloud, and prevent your IT staff from becoming fully utilized with running the daily maintenance.

Second, take a look at the current state of your system’s security and reliability. If you have a landscape of multiple systems, this is typically harder to secure and make resistant against attacks. It can also create a tangled web of applications, servers, and networks.

When you evaluate your data center, here are some key questions to ask yourself:

  • Is your architecture consistent?
  • Are common business services used by many applications?
  • Are these common services self-contained or dependent on other services within your environment?

You want your data center to support separate business that way it’ll be easier to move component by component to the cloud.

Although cloud security is a commonly cited reason to not switch over, it really isn’t different from any another technology. All are susceptible to attack and in all you must place your trust in the provider. Cloud providers are taking security very seriously and are investing in creating a reliable and secure system to maintain their own business.

If you’re still not totally confident, make sure you craft a well thought out service level agreement that clearly defines what the provider will do with your information and applications. It should also set clear provider expectations you have, what would happen if something went wrong or the provider didn’t meet the requirements, and what functionality you’ll need.

If it seems like a lot, it’s because it is. But thankfully there are tons of resources for you not only on the internet, but also on this site, that will help make your journey to the cloud easier.


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Kaching – Making Money With Mobile Money

I read an article last week that said the Commbank Kaching application has had over 500,000 downloads, and in general, the app has attracted more than 3.5 million downloads.

That’s success if you ask me, especially in a market of just over 20 million. The Kaching application is pretty simple – which is key to the success of mobile, even though many banks do not see this obvious fact – you can pay to any mobile phone, through Facebook, email and even at NFC terminals.

This is quite comprehensive when you look at what it can do, and how easy it is to use. Many people have often asked me about mobile payments, and if there is really any money in it. The short answer is yes, but to be successful, you need to understand two key factors: why would the consumer use the mobile for this payment, and why would the retailer want him to?

While it could be obvious to some, it is hard for many banks to work out as they are still obsessed with their plastic cards. I currently hold gold, platinum and this week I am the proud owner of a black card. Frankly, this means I am all out of colours now so what can the bank offer me next? Maybe Kaching would suit me nicely, as I do not have to care about the color  and I can ‘flaunt’ it with my new iPhone 5, plus I can carry a lot less in my pocket.

Assuming an application like Kaching makes me happy as a consumer, what does it do for the bank?

Well, this is where the future of transactional revenue for the banks lies, and they (the banks) should wake up to it. Take Kaching for example, in less than a year it has attracted500,000 users. While many of these might not be active users – as some people simply like ‘collecting’ apps – they have transacted over AUD1 billion collectively.

So what you may ask? Well, if you really want to know how much money is in mobile banking, consider AUD1 billion at an average transaction fee of 1.5% – that translates to a transactional revenue of AUD15 million. Not bad for an app on your iPhone.

You can see why Commbank is investing into the mobile channel. I think a lot of banks could be looking at this and realising that they are leaving a lot of revenue on the table, let alone not looking into to the future.
Mobile payments and revenue is there, and as bank you should be looking at these examples as proof. It is not just a trend anymore.

Tarik Husain is Senior Director of Sales for mCommerce at Sybase 365, with more than 20 years’ experience in the banking and payments industry. 


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