Watches, Wearables, Worth It ?

I am a big fan of my Galaxy S3 Frontier Watch. I can replicate expensive watch faces, change straps and get notifications from a number of key apps……what’s the temperature?, email, SMS. I can also tell (roughly) my heart rate, and be told that I have reached a step target. One really cool thing is that I can get my mpro5 job notifications on my watch (nice).

All useful – BUT there’s a BUT.

As a watch, I want to wear the watch all day. I have a very nice charging dock (Thanks Samsung) but if I forget to put the watch on charge, or if I don’t put it exactly on the dock then, well the next day I am not going to have much charge in the afternoon and have to go into power saving mode. That’s the end of notifications for me. A significant factor is that the watch doesn’t charge directly from a cable (so a clunky power pack with proprietary charger is my only option).

It has to be noted that one presumes that a Samsung watch runs on Android. It doesn’t. Tizen is Samsung’s hybrid watch OS. I don’t have a massive problem with that but it does mean that not all apps are compatible and writing Tizen code is (according to our Head of Development) not “straightforward”

If we look at a wearable as a notification device, my S3 is probably overkill. A lighter device (Fitbit?) could do the “there’s a job that needs doing” notification and, let’s face it the Galaxy watch is not particularly cheap. I am told that the new Galaxy Watch 2 has a better battery life.

Finally, my dream watch is a Longines Moon Phase. I actually have this face on an app on my Galaxy Watch – it cost £4.99 on the app store…..

AI is just IFTTT……..or, software

Acronyms, jargon, call it whatever you like but AI (Artificial Intelligence) is, in my humble opinion, just IFTTT (If this then that) which we tend to call , now let me think, ….software, that’s it.

AI suggests some sort of robot intelligence or action that means that a non-human could cure cancer, go and do the shopping or even improve Arsenal’s defence. All of which are not yet foreseeable.

AI is advertised as Chatbots (a database with a GUI (Graphical User Interface) ) , machine learning (the machine doesn’t learn) and home management (Alexa, are you AI ?) . All of these things are software, some with algorithms (logic) that’s quite cute.

Until Hal, the computer from 2001; a Space Odyssey (released in 1968 !) says “Sorry Barrie, I’ve worked out that you are going to need diabetes medication in 2024 (still software in my opinion) I’m sticking with the fact that software is getting better, faster and has more data than ever. It is therefore smarter rather than intelligent.

mpro5 does all sorts of smart stuff, it is not artificial, but it is quite intelligent – It just processes data with (very) smart code (software) . Hopefully true AI will stun us all eventually – but at the moment it is the latest “buzz” that sells more software

**Thanks to Dale Walker, a writer for ITPro for the article here

Security in the cloud

For many years I have said that the major cloud providers’ cloud environments are “probably” more secure than a private network. Seems that others now think the same , unless you are using a multi-cloud environment. At mpro5, we use Azure exclusively and the article at cloudpro here suggests that our single provider strategy is the right one.

The argument for private networks usually revolves around control. Examples of password security, back up and controlled access are often brought up. However it is what is usually missed in this argument that makes on-premise deployments of software slightly more scary to my mind.

On site I’d like people to think of things such as:-

Have you ever restored a back up?

What happens in the event of a fire – it’s OK having a backup, but where is the server?

Have you ever actually tried your off premise solution (connectivity, access, building security)?

Of course, the folks at Microsoft have a very rounded cloud security policy. It’s quite long, but you can see it here. I like to think we can rely on Dell, The City of Barcelona and The Seattle Seahawks to make the right decisions. We rely on Azure and, as Microsoft Gold Partners for over 10 years, we understand how to use it properly and…..securely.

Our friends at Samsung shine ….

I was always a fan of PCPro magazine (before everything went online) and the Dennis group now package the news as Alphr. In any event, they say (via expert reviews) that Samsung outsold Apple this quarter. Excellent news for our friends at Samsung. Of course mpro5 is cross platform and runs best on the range of devices that Samsung provide . The article is here

Using “second hand” medicines

I read today that in Greece, people were being allowed to donate leftover medicines to people less able to afford them (credit:bbc)

Of course mpro5 has allowed the tracking of medicines for some time, particularly through its service for the NCC (National Coagulation Centre) in Ireland to track coagulant to aid folks with haemophilia.

We could use blockchain technology to ensure that such medicines which were in excess of requirements to be passed on, secure in the knowledge that we knew where the original product originated.

When my mother passed, she had many unused asthma “pumps”, all of which were perfectly capable of being sent to those in less fortunate circumstances. regrettably they were disposed of . My sister in law told me that they would cost in excess of $100 each in the US…where of course the cost in the UK had been borne by the NHS.

Why not embrace scanning and blockchain technology to move perfectly good medical products and medicines through the chain and on to the next patient ? Transportation costs are a competitive market – surely we can find a way of handling the logistics of such an exercise?

 

 

Mobile enterprise apps – a capital problem?

According to research conducted by VDC Research (a leading independent enterprise mobility research authority), the top two technologies which are expected to have the greatest impact in driving business transformation over the next three years remain cloud computing and mobile solutions.  

enterprise mobility snip

Yet, the report also states that on average, ‘organisations require more than six months to develop and deploy a single mobile application, and 48% spend more than $100K on each mobile application they develop.’

I was somewhat staggered by this statistic – although one famous CRM system had a reputation for being “two years and two million”!

When you hear a statement like that, it’s no wonder organisations would rather ‘sit still’ and stick with what they know, rather than invest in new technologies and innovation.

It’s for this very reason that technology investments, such as the development of mobile applications, are often associated with large-scale, costly projects that involve much time, resources and upheaval; often with no guarantee of the desired outcome.

The answer, in my view, is that organisations need to invest in IT as an ongoing service, opposed to a one-off software “solution” (a word I hate).

By ‘service’, I mean a full service. One where the technology provider’s team essentially becomes an extension of your own. One where they work with you every step of the way to ensure that the software or perhaps more importantly, software platform, helps you with your own, unique business needs. Why waste internal resources ? Why not let the experts help?

SAP, Sage, Office 365, SalesForce, Dynamics 365 are all available as SaaS (Software as a Service) applications that many of us use on a daily basis at work. We pay a monthly fee to use their software. Yet, if I have a problem with one of these programs, or want it changed slightly so that it better fits the needs of my business, I’m pretty stuck. Large providers are not going to adapt and change their software specifically for my business. My business has to fit around their software, rather than the other way round.

Mobile enterprise applications,  where a full-service element is offered as part of the subscription license is a fairly unique offering. They include website, mobile app, reports and alerts – if you need  changes or adjustments made to tailor the system, it can done for you, at no extra cost, and in a timely manner.

The benefits?

Control – You have  control over the tap marked ‘cost’.

No large upfront capital investment – a mobile application for your business need not cost hundreds of thousands of $/£! Enterprise applications available on a subscription basis mean that you only pay a fraction of that amount each month – allowing you to measure benefits and return on investment almost immediately.

Available to use in a days/weeks, not months/years – subscription-based mobile applications mean that you can have an enterprise-level application up-and-running within your business in a matter of days/weeks rather than a custom-built solution that takes months or even years to develop.

A service that grows with your business – Businesses are constantly changing and evolving and so do technology needs. As a result, custom-built apps and fixed SaaS models can become restrictive and less valuable for your business over time, unless you continue the process of updating the platform and adding new features – which costs more money and time. A major benefit of subscription-based mobile applications with a full service component is that they can be tweaked and refined, as part of the monthly subscription fee, to match the changes within your business.

No need to continually maintain and update the app – Updating and testing a custom app on new versions of operating systems and devices is incredibly time consuming and resource intensive. It’s essential that you have a rigorous testing process in place to mitigate against all potential bugs and faults that can occur from app upgrades and fixes. A massive benefit of opting for an existing mobile enterprise platform is the fact that this entire process is taken care of. Updates and bug fixes are all done for you – you simply upgrade to the latest release via your app store, be that iOS, Android or Windows.

In summary, big capital IT projects are old hat – custom or subscription-based apps for mobile applications are fine (i.e. SaaS models), for a while, but an ongoing enterprise mobile platform service will stay with your business as it changes and grows. Why commit to one app, when you can engage with a service provider which grows its platform and provides you with an essential business support function. ? 

Internet of Things: walk before you can run

I came across this article posted on Forbes yesterday about the Internet of Things (IoT) and its crucial link with enterprise mobility.

It struck a chord with me because it states that before businesses can really harness the true power of IoT, they need the right foundations in place. The ‘right foundations’ being a powerful enterprise mobility platform, which is something that I truly agree with.

For those of you not familiar with the term ‘enterprise mobility’ – it’s the ability for employees to be able to interact with enterprise applications and the information stored within them, on any mobile device, at any location, at any time. By doing so, it ensures that employees are completely connected to the business while working outside of the office and can collect job data and report this back in real time. Online or Offline, on any modern mobile device , from smartphone to tablet to laptop. From Apple to Android to Windows.

This is crucial for remote workers who are not bound by a desk or an office.

I was surprised by the statistic that ‘80% of companies could not access their maintenance management software from a mobile device,’ since maintenance staff present one of the strongest use cases for enterprise mobility and IoT, especially within facilities management.

If employees don’t have access to their key software via mobile devices, how do companies expect IoT to improve their efficiency and service levels? It seems as though we are all caught up in IoT as a buzzword, with very few organisations actually having the infrastructure in place to harness its power.

An organisation with siloed workers and siloed applications is in no fit shape to implement an IoT strategy. If its workers aren’t connected in the first place, how will a device be able to communicate with them to carry out an action?

Imagine a warehouse containing industrial freezers. IoT sensors have been placed in each freezer to monitor temperature levels. If the temperature rises above a critical level, an alert is fired off. However if there is no mobile strategy in place, where does that alert go? What instructions are provided with that alert? If an engineer arrives, how will they quickly access the maintenance history of that freezer? If a new part is needed to fix the freezer, how will they request or order that part? How will they ensure that the job is invoiced? And so on…

They put it perfectly when they say, “The largest barrier to digital transformation may have nothing to do with connected things but connected people.”

It’s therefore essential that organisations learn how to walk before they can run and in the case of IoT, that means getting the right framework in place so that they can harness the full transformational power that this technology has to offer.