Category Archives: Android (Gphone)

LinkedIn is not a social network, Facebook will morph

After about 2 years of talking about this topic, I thought it best to collect some solid data before doing an official blog about it.

LinkedIn is not a social network.

A thing is defined by it’s major attribute.  While LinkedIn has aspects of a social network, it is actually a social database.

Hey Donato…But they say they are a social network!

In the early days they were.  As the network grew, savvy users realized they needed to grow their networks as large as possible to spread their reach.  In polls done over the last year in live webinars, I’ve asked groups ranging from 200-600 how they use LinkedIn.  Here are the questions and the responses.

1.  I get as many connections as possible and figure out how to contact people directly.

2. I use LinkedIn to as it was meant.  Connect with people through a series of connections.

3.  I don’t use LinkedIn.

69% of people choose option 1. Last year, it was only 50%. The trend is growing and…

LinkedIn is a social database.

Continue reading LinkedIn is not a social network, Facebook will morph

Grandfathering bandwidth and the flexible appliance

There is a new commodity in the high tech world.

Unlimited bandwidth.



Ask any of the iPad user that got one in the early days. Unlimited bandwidth is no longer available on the iPad.   I am one of the lucky users. With a combination of my travel schedule,  high Bandwidth using applications like Netflix and Broadlook’s Profiler, I regularly top 12-15 Gigabytes per month in data transfer.  Data plans today cover 2GB which means I am using 6-8 times the bandwidth that new iPad users get.

I am a bandwidth hog.   I am one of the 2% of people that use the majority of the bandwidth and I’ve got a message for AT&T…I’m keeping my plan…forever.

Why blog about this?  It is a warning for the uninformed.

Guess what?  Very soon you will be a bandwidth hog.  AT&T, Verizon and the other carriers understand this.  It is the nature of technology.  More and more applications, business logic and media rests in the cloud.  Now Apple and Google each want to offer streaming music services.  No longer will you have your iTunes on your desktop, laptop or iPad.  Nope.  They want all your music in the cloud.  Why?   Apple gets a piece of the service fee that you pay AT&T for your iPhone or iPad.  Bandwidth is the new electricity.

This is reminiscent of 2002–2008 when every idiot said that you must make your software offering SaaS (Software as a service).  SaaS is mostly good for service providers since it gives them reoccurring revenue, but it is not always the best solution.  Don’t get me wrong, I am huge believer in SaaS, but it is not a panacea.

Now they (the same smart zealots who want your $$)…are saying that they want all your stuff in the cloud.  Why?  Simple, if you store everything : backups, music, CRM, etc in the cloud then you need bandwidth to access it.

Whose cloud?

At the recent Oracle OpenWorld conference, Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle talked about the cloud NOT being a single set of servers but a flexible appliance.  Thank you Larry!  He gets it. Most don’t.

The Flexible Appliance

What is it?  My iPhone is a flexible appliance.  In a recent talk at the MRI Worldwide conference (The Near and far Future of Recruiting), I demonstrated on stage the advent of the mobile web server.  My laptop connected to a website that was hosted on my iPhone and one person in the front row said “that’s cool!” out loud.  Not the response I was hoping for, but it sunk in to enough  people that had time to think about it.  It inspired some great conversations about the future of recruiting.

I used an iPhone app called ServersMan that makes your iPhone a web server.  Being able to run a web server on a mobile phone has huge implications.

If you want to test the vision of a technical leader ask them this question:

When mobile devices (iPhones, iPads) can act as functional web servers, what does that mean for the technology landscape?”

They should be stunned, they should be wondering, they should be smiling.  If they don’t, then they lack vision.  The advent of the true flexible appliance will bring:

-Massive bandwidth usage.  Via your mobile flexible appliance/personal web server, you will be connected to everything

-Downfall of Facebook.  News to Zuck.  The future social networks will be controlled from the pocket.

-movement from “their” cloud to “my” cloud.

When I have proposed the above, among tech folks, they remind me that some sort of middleware needs to facilitate one mobile web server finding and connecting to another.  This already exists, it is called dynamic DNS and their are a bunch of companies that offer this.   With DynamicDNS, my iPhone web server could very quickly connect to 200 of my friends and update my status on their mobile devices.   No cloud, no Facebook needed.   The only limitation is bandwidth and mobile processing speed.

The above scenario will happen once people realize they don’t want Facebook storing everything about them.  Due to the nature of the beast, they will continue to violate the privacy of their users.  Eventually it will go away.  Don’t get me wrong, I like Facebook.  It gives me a way to connect with grandma and show pictures of the kids.  Facebook may change and become the king of the middle, middleware the ties everything consumer together.  But do you trust them?  I don’t.

It’s all about the middleware.

As I look at SaaS (Software as a Service) and then PaaS (Platform as a Service) combined with the advent of the flexible appliance, I realize that my previous thinking was limited.  In the mobile future,  the mobile is the cloud, the flexible appliance.  For consumer apps like Facebook, people will eventually prefer to keep their personal data in a place they control it.  However, for business applications like CRM and ATS (Applicant Tracking), I see a new class of business.  Middleware as a service (MaaS).

Middleware as a service will balance the load between the cloud and the flexible appliance.  Unlike the limited browser-based applications today, MaaS systems will balance the rich interface and local power of flexible appliance with the security, flexible business logic and data storage in the cloud.  It will be interesting to watch it evolve.

With all this stuff in the works… if you get an unlimited bandwidth package, read the contract and if you can, never give it up.  Providers will offer unlimited bandwidth as a promotion and then like AT&T/Apple, try to get you to downgrade from $30 per month to $25 per month to relinquish your unlimited package.

Did I mention that once you get it, never give it up?

Are mobile Sales & Recruiting apps for real?

The Stage

The Apple AppStore has over 100,000 iPhone applications.  Verizon’s Droid is a a few months old and Google just launched the Nexus One.  Microsoft has Windows Mobile and the Palm has the hot new Palm Pre.  The current king of Mobile Business is the Blackberry (RIM),  but it is losing ground fast.  Apple, Microsoft, Google, Palm, Verizon & RIM all going   after the same market and that makes for great headlines.

The Hype

Articles are starting to appear talking about the mobile replacing desktop as a work environment.  For the most part, this is bunk; A symptom of someone looking for a headline, but not thinking.  When I see an interesting article about a controversial topic, I like to first look at the last 2-3 headlines by that author.  If last week they were talking about global warming, the week before about cyber-crime and this week about mobile technology replacing the desktop; I classify them as “reporter”.  Reporter does not equal expert.  While reporters are absolutely essential to get a pulse on minor variations on trends,  I prefer to seek the experts to get a deep understanding of a new technology.   Even better is to immerse yourself and get first-hand experience.  Most of the buzz today is reporter, not expert created.

Definitions

To better understand if/when/why mobile will or will not replace the desktop, definitions are in order:  Desktop refers to the hardware, be it PC, Mac, Linux, either desktop or laptop.  This desktop can be running any form of software including installed, Client-Server, SaaS and browser based.  Mobile is the generally understood concept of a smart-phone like a Blackberry or iPhone.

Mobile vs. Desktop

So will “mobile” business application replace the “desktop”?  Yes and No.  The first Hurtle for Mobile to replace Desktop is CPU & Memory. Over the next decade, mobile form factor devices will have the processor and memory of today’s desktops.  So throw out processing power as a differentiator.  Mobile will catch up.  In fact, most applications today, especially SaaS applications only take up a small amount of CPU and memory on the desktop.

What else constitutes a desktop environment?   Input and output devices.  This is the big one.  I personally have both Mac and PC setups, each with a bunch of big monitors. Besides the large monitors, I use full size keyboards, and a laser mouse.

My Mac & PC workstations

Big ideas need big work spaces.  When I first realized that my iPhone was actually a mobile computer, I tested the limits.  Doing basic operations like reading email works fine.  What about spreadsheets I thought?

Designing a spreadsheet on a mobile device is possible, but very, very inefficient.  I tried it and it’s infuriating.  However, using an already designed spreadsheet on mobile device is realistic.  Reading email; easy.  Writing email; possible, but not as easy as using a full size keyboard.

This is where I had my epiphany that would steer the mobile strategy for Broadlook.

Mobile Technology is an extension of and not a replacement for PC-based business applications.

Why?  Desktop business applications have evolved over the years to take advantage of everything possible.  Case in point, at Broadlook, we switched to the Microsoft Dynamics CRM.  The default setup did not fit our selling model, so we modified Dynamics to fit our business process.  Dynamics is a Platform as a Service (PaaS) environment; a base of CRM functionality which each business can build on.  Our modifications to Dynamics CRM included data points that most companies don’t have access to (unless they are Broadlook customers).  Simply put, the average screen was too small to get all the data on it that we needed.  We could have created a system where everything was accessible in a drill-down fashion (click, click, click).  However, this included too many clicks to be efficient.  I can’t stand having to click 3-4 times to get to data that should be there.  The answer: bigger monitors.  Standard at Broadlook, we now have 24 inch monitors with 1920×1200 resolution.  The things that most people have to click 2-3 extra times to get to their CRM, we have on the first screen.  Simple things like having all the contact info points in the initial search grid.


Broadlook’s Leads Screen in MS Dynamics CRM on a 24 inch monitor.  All info points are available so a sales rep can take action from the first screen.  A typical implementation of SalesForce.com or MS CRM would require you to click 2-3 times to get at all the information on this screen.

As a side note.  These monitors are about $250.  Picking up 50 of these monitors was many many more times cheaper than wasting the time of a sales rep in click-click hell.  In addition developing with the large monitors in mind is much more forgiving than having limited screen real estate and making a design decision that makes 1/2 the people happy and 1/2 ticked off.

How would this business process, which depends on “big hardware” translate to a 4 inch mobile screen?

It won’t.

No way, no how. This is why we won’t see CRM for mobile replacing CRM on the desktop/laptop.  I’ve seen a few mobile “stand-alone” CRM’s on both the sales and recruiting sides.  They are a joke.  An absolute productivity waste.  What works with mobile CRM is when it is used to enhance the desktop experience.  Salesforce has done a good job of it, as have several others.  If your mobile can access your CRM, you can look up a contact, review notes, or line up a few calls for when you are on the road or after hours.  Mobile CRM as a value add to your CRM is an absolute must-have.

What about applications like social networking?  LinkedIN is a good example.  LinkedIN for iPhone is great, I’m looking forward to when LinkedIN or Facebook adds a practical proximity alert to your social network.  That would be something that the desktop or even laptop would not be practical for.   This leads me into the areas that mobile will dominate and why.

For those existing business applications that have evolved on the desktop, mobile will add additional value.  However, for the new frontiers, areas that were birthed in mobile, those will be the areas where mobile can stand alone. It is the same concept which allowed desktop applications to evolve.  You develop to the potential of the environment.  CPU, memory, screen size, input devices, always on (yes/no), network connectivity, battery life.  All of these are the factors that effect Darwinism on both the desktop and mobile device.

Today, most of the successful mobile applications are consumer-based.   As of this writing, none of the top 25 apps in the iPhone AppStore were business apps.  Blackberry pundits:  only 2 of the top 25 for Blackberry were business apps.

So where does this leave us?

  • For business applications that evolved on larger form factor systems such as CRM and  Spreadsheets, mobile will be a value-add, but not a replacement.  If someone is promising CRM on your mobile to replace your desktop, run like hell or carry a 12 year old with tiny fingers to type for you everywhere you go.
  • New and currently undiscovered business applications that are born and evolve on the mobile will rule the mobile.

2010 is going to be a fantastic year for mobile! I am excited and personally committed to developing on mobile.

Caveats:  (1) When mobile becomes a conduit to work with outside peripherals such as an wall screens and video goggles, then mobile could replace the desktop, however, what is really being accomplished here is emulating the functions of a full form factor desktop & monitor. (2) Seamless voice recognition can get around the problems with small form factor keyboards.  I have not seen voice recognition that is worth it’s salt.  I tell my car “Radio Off” and it says “Please say the name of the street you want to navigate to”.

Idea for Google Android(GPhone): no ring zone

After reading about the new Google Android cell phone platform (the Gphone), it rekindled an idea that I had at a conference some time ago.  Turns out there is no “phone” behind the gPhone.  Instead it is an open source platform for cell phones.

About 2 years ago, I was a member of  a technology panel at a recruiting conference.  While one of my fellow panelist was finishing answering a question, a cell phone started ringing in the audience. 

On most panels, audience questions naturally get directed to the right person; the panel learns quicky how to use each others expertise and take or defer questions as needed.

I got a question right after the cell phone rang.  The specifics of the question, I do not remember. It was something about how to apply the right mix of technology in a recruitment process (right up my alley).   A cell phone ringing 10 minutes after the event MC asked everyone to turn their phones off perturbed me.

With microphone in hand, I addressed the crowd. “I’m wondering if the people in the audience today heard the announcement about turning off cell phones. It is quite disturbing for the people on stage.  I guess I don’t understand it.  In the last 30 minutes, I’ve heard 4 cell phones.”  Several people noticibly slinked down in their seats…most likely the offenders.  The crowd was expecting that I was going to chastise them all. 

In reality, I had an idea that I wanted to share with the audience:  The no ring zone.  The topic of the panel was technology in recruitment. 

Here is a general idea of what I said

“We’ve been talking about the right application of technology and when to apply it.  Here is a perfect example.  What if there was a device set at the door of this conference, that when passed by, set cell phones to vibrate only?  Call it a no ring zone.  In high schools around the country, cell phones are being banned.  As a parent, I want my children to be able to reach me and I want to be able to reach them.  What if this same device could set high schools to parent only ring zones?”

I got a good deal of nodding heads, and a few emails from people over the last year about this idea.  I’ve had good conversations about it and it always ends up with our agreement that unless there was some unifying standard behind the cell phones, we wouldn’t be seeing this feature any time soon.

Now that Google has the Android platform, we just need some developer to create a single application, make it free, and market it to speakers, conferences, high schools and parents. Not a bad little market.