Gartner’s Vision Of The Future Of Mobility; Should Users Be Afraid?

The opening session I attended this morning at the Gartner symposium was entitled “by 2017 your smartphone will be smarter than you”. The speakers were Martin Reynolds and Carolina Milanesi from Gartner and the moderator was Charles Arthur from the Guardian. As a matter-of-fact, the discussion ended up being far more interesting than the title suggested. The panel started to review the future of Smartphones and wearable devices and connected it very well to the issues of data privacy and user benefit, which are central to the use of big data.

Carolina Milanesi introduced the subject by saying that “smartness is achieved through sensors and also geolocation. Yet, “we are not there yet” according to her, and mostly if “people don’t want to share their location information, smartness may not even happen”. I think she exposed the issue very well by emphasising the fact that innovation related to Smartphones will not just be a matter of technology, but of user acceptance and benefits.

clip_image002

Gartner’s Martin Reynolds and Carolina Milanesi today in Barcelona

There are, according to those 2 Gartner analysts, 4 phases of what they call “cognizant computing”. “We have caught glimpses of each of these phases at the moment depending on the vendors and the services, but we are nowhere near complete smartness” Milanesi added. She and Reynolds went on describing these four phases:

clip_image004

Gartner’s four phases of “cognizant computing”

  1. “sync me”: this is the most obvious phase, the one which most of the Computing giants have achieved; it is composed of storage and the syncing of personal data,
  2. the “see me” phase: this is all about our digital footprint. “This phase is still not very intelligent, and not many companies are taking advantage of this” the Gartner analysts said,
  3. the “know me” phase: this is about understanding who the user is, what he likes and what he does through the data he stored; so that he can be presented with offers and messages which are relevant to him,
  4. “be me” phase: this is where services are acting on the user’s behalf based on learned or explicit data.

Yet, looking at how many companies do this show that there is still room for improvement:

  • the “sync me” and “see me” phases are pretty common and are mastered by most high-tech giants like Evernote, Google, Apple, Amazon etc and Facebook of course,
  • the “know me” and “be me” phases are more restricted at the moment to mostly Google and also Apple. “Google now” is a good example of that, mostly on Smartphones: it is able to suggest ideas, for instance a restaurant which is relevant to your tastes, when you might actually need one and one is available in the vicinity. Apple’s Siri is a bit different. “It looks smart but is not” said Gartner’s Milanesi. When Carolina’s daughter spoke to Siri and said: “Siri, I don’t like you” he responded “now, now”; that’s because it was cleverly programmed but it doesn’t mean that it’s smart at all, Milanesi said.

clip_image006So all in all, we are several years away from smartness, Martin Reynolds explained. “Smartness will happen when your phone is able to ring 30 minutes earlier because there is to be heavy traffic and you have a meeting with your boss” he added. Yet, “if the meeting is not with your boss but just with a colleague, then the system should be able to send an email to say that you are going to be late”. That’s an example of how smart and predictive a service can be. I must admit that some of the stuff that I see from Google on my Galaxy S4 smartphone (the service is called Google cards) at the moment is already very close to this as Google is able to propose quite a few things (sights, public transport, stocks, birthdays, all based on social data…) already without me asking for anything (see screen grab).

Only a limited number of companies have that ability

Only a limited number of companies have the capacity that Google has gathered over the years in order to store and compute all this data. Others are following now said the Gartner analysts. Microsoft is on Google’s heels with an amazing catch up in terms of how many servers they are investing in at the moment, Reynolds said. Apple, and even Amazon too, but to smaller degree, they said.

But the real question is “how does this innovation affect regular businesses”?

“Some of these ideas will be disrupting traditional businesses” Martin Reynolds said. Through a combination of mass storage and Twitter feeds (Martin thinks that companies which don’t have a proper kept Twitter feed will soon be at a disadvantage) you will be able to reach a proper strategy which will project your company in the future.

What will change by 2017?

Carolina demonstrated a Plantronics prototype headset which is “a lot smarter than existing headsets” insofar as it knows what its user is looking at. Applications for that innovation could be found in video conferencing, but also in the user shopping experience, live navigation in Google Street view (as demonstrated live to us this morning), and even insurance applications for bikers and hikers, for instance, who would be able to record road accidents even before they happen.

clip_image008

Gartner’s Martin Reynolds and Carolina Milanesi

Powerful motion sensors

“There are also new motion sensors which make it possible for online services to know exactly what it where you are going and at what speed” Martin Reynolds added. “You will be able to record all your movements” he said. “Companies like Google and Apple, and even possibly carriers, will be able to map out where people go; even your house will be tracked” said Martin, and you will be able to see where you, but also your guests, are actually sitting and moving about in your house.

Avoid crossing the “creepy line” (Eric Schmidt)

Where is the boundary between storing a lot of personal information for statistical purposes in order to bring value to the user and prying into personal data in order to be able to track what people do? That is the real question. A lot of that issue boils down to who actually does the tracking in fact, and how much trust the user is putting in them. Governments definitely seem to be out of that game (at least if I believe the responses from the audience to Gartner’s questions), but also possibly carriers (for the same reasons). Strangely enough, companies like Google, and to a lesser extent Facebook, were perceived as less intrusive by the audience because “they bring more value to the user” according to Gartner. So the “creepy line” is less about the usage of personal data as it is about the value that the service brings in the users’ eyes.

As a Conclusion, what will be the future made of?

“The unlocking of all the data that is being stored at the moment will always take place” according to Reynolds, but the real question is “whether this is being done with the objective of bringing value to the user or third-party”.

According to the Gartner analysts in the panel today, value will also move away from the handsets and therefore we will witness a shift in prices and a lot of pressure on the manufacturers in the next three years. Even then, it’s difficult for us to see that happening in the very near future, given the recent demise of Blackberry and Nokia which left a very significant market share to Samsung and concentrated the market in a few hands. Also, “Consumers are starting to get more interested in the ecosystem and applications than the hardware itself”, Reynolds added. A sign of this being Apple’s decision to give away its software for free (as they did with “Pages” and other apps on iOS recently).

So what will be the future made of in 2017? And how smart will our Smartphones be? Certainly, more wearable devices will be available out there. And Smartphones will probably not get much smarter than they are at the moment as intelligence is bound to shift into the software and the ability to do predictive things using the data that users have provides… that is to say as long as they agree with that!

A pictorial guide to my Business portable Samsung Galaxy S4 office

mobile-large_thumb.gifAs I am preparing for the Gartner symposium in Barcelona, due to take place on November 11 – 14, having been kindly invited by Samsung to join a team of bloggers, it seemed only natural that I would write up a little story about how I am using my brand-new Samsung Galaxy S4 as a portable office. I have not yet studied all the possibilities, and my device hasn’t been fully customised either, but I have already set up a number of applications and spotted a great number of things to my liking. Let me share them with you here in a few pictures:

1. first and foremost, I have sorted out all my apps by category. Just below my Google screen (the android search feature is very useful I find) I have put a number of utilities, namely related to multimedia functions which I use rather often. Page number 2 shows a number of my most used applications including email, cloud storage spaces, maps, Kindle, Evernote and a few newspapers including the Independent and flip board. other pages are devoted to utilities and personal stuff. I haven’t had time to install my many online banking apps yet, but I can add as many as I wish on the large screen.

2013-10-31 15.08.592013-10-31 15.29.422013-10-31 15.30.032013-10-31 15.30.15

2. Evernote premium is probably one on my favourite applications. I am using it across all my devices. I have 242 living notes in my notebooks at the moment, but many more have been deleted in order to unclutter the space on my desktop. Evernote is one of these applications you cannot put down once you’ve tried them. I use it to update my posts on the go, after they have been processed through voice recognition and stored in that application for editing.

2013-10-31 15.10.37

3. One of the nifty business applications I have found on Google play and installed on my Samsung Galaxy S4 is the camcard business card reader which scans any business card, or almost any business card, and turcs it into a proper virtual card for for your Exchange contacts list.

2013-10-31 15.13.02

4. as a business professional, I spend my time reading and reading and reading and reading. And I’m not just reading novels. I buy my books from Amazon and store them on my Kindle application on my S4. It’s very convenient because the screen is large and very comfortable so that reading is plain and easy on this new device. I love it and keep reading all the time. By the way, for those interested in innovation, I definitely recommend Edmund Phelps’s mass flourishing opus.

2013-10-31 15.14.15

5. as a digital professional, I spend a lot of my time in blogs and writing pieces in WordPress. The WordPress android application makes it easy for small corrections and editing to be implemented. It’s quite convenient to be able to update your blog on the fly. Here I’m showing my own personal blog, but of course I do this for business most of the time and manage quite a few of them.

2013-10-31 15.15.15

6. the Samsung S planner is the standard calendar application for the Samsung Galaxy S4 and I find it very convenient. For one, you are able to mix different calendars which is very good because I have 2 of them (one on Google calendar, for personal events, and one on Exchange for business events. It is important for me to keep things separate). The tabs on the right-hand side make it easy for you to access different views including tasks.

2013-10-31 15.16.10

7. the Samsung S memo application is something I discovered quite recently. As long as you have a screen-friendly soft stylus, you will be able to add handwritten information into your Samsung Galaxy S4 in order to keep that information at the ready. It’s very convenient and you don’t need to type on a quirky software keyboard. After all, handwriting is probably the most advanced technologies of all!

2013-10-31 16.00.16

8. working with pictures as far as I’m concerned is not just a hobby. It’s part of my job. One of the things that I first noticed on my new galaxy S4 is the fact that my Picassa albums as well as photos from the camera and screenshots etc. were all put together into the gallery application. For even more convenience, I have selected the option which backups all pictures to dropbox on the go. As a matter of fact, as soon as I get back to my desktop, I can download all the pictures taken from my phone into whatever blog post of document in which I wish to include those pictures.

2013-10-31 16.01.00

9. Last but not least, the ability to read attachments directly, be they office documents or PDF files like this one, is a very useful business helper.

2013-10-31 17.23.522013-10-31 17.24.34

As a conclusion, there are very few things nowadays that you can’t do without a mobile phone like the new Galaxy S4. I’m not even mentioning NFC payments or security features. Imagination is the limit. Combined with cloud computing and Software as a Service, we are moving closer and closer, every minute, to Mark Weiser’s ubiquitous computing dream.

As a conclusion, there are very few things nowadays that you can’t do without a mobile phone. I’m not even mentioning payments or security passwords. Imagination is the limit. . Combined with cloud computing and software as a service, we are moving closer and closer, every minute, to Mark Weiser’s stream of ubiquitous computing.

2013-10-31 17.23.52

Aaron Paxton Kahlow : The Man Would Wants To Teach The Web To The Whole World

image

imageIn November 2013, a very important event, named Web2connect is about to take place in Paris, France. Web2connect, as the name goes, is the place to be for all start-ups and Internet professionals in France who want to hook up together, network, and exchange tips and tricks. As part of the organisation of the web2connect event, I have been able to interview Aaron Paxton Kahlow, the founder of the online marketing Institute, who will be one of the speakers next week. Aaron has 13 years of experience in web matters, he is therefore an online veteran, so to speak. He started his career by founding a web agency with his brother, “in the back of a dentist office” and this is now a thriving business employing more than 100 people, in San Diego, California.

He then decided to move on to create the Online marketing summit. This event has been a real success and has been instrumental in spreading the word about digital around the world but Aaron, after a while, has wanted to change pace and decided to sell the online marketing Summit in order to set up a new company called the online marketing Institute. “It was impossible for us to teach the world using traditional techniques” he said and so he decided to “use this thing called the Internet to teach digital to the world”. He then proceeded to record hundreds of presentations which are turned into online courses and the result is a real success, both in the United States and the rest of the world. This new venture called the online marketing Institute will soon be opening in France, which Aaron sees as being one of the top tier countries for digital practice in the world. The online lectures hosted by the online marketing Institute are very varied and cover various subjects such as social media, content marketing, mobile web or even how to work together and even big data. Here is my interview of Aaron, which I recorded a couple days ago over the telephone:

Content marketing in UK and Europe: mind the Gap!

eye-large_thumb.gif

There has been questions in certain European countries with regard to how widespread the adoption of contact marketing on the continent could have been (cf. this piece on my French blog, translated into English by the Google robot). Although undeniable progress has been made in the past few years over here in that respect, and though we may even consider content marketing to be a staple of marketing and especially B2B marketing, it is debatable that the adoption of content marketing in certain European countries is ubiquitous and fully understood.

Considering that, in France for instance, 70% of small businesses websites are never updated (source: Marketing PME’s Serge Henri Saint Michel), we can surmise that there is definitely room for improvement.

I found the following survey from the content marketing Institute which shows the huge gap between what we witness in Europe and what is happening in the United Kingdom. The vast majority of UK B2B companies, either large or small, have all embraced content marketing (95% of the B2B companies having responded to the survey have, even though the sample is very small but varied).

Mind the Gap!

Let us make that point clear: the sample is very small, and we have to remain cautious; but at least one feels that there is a major trend and one more European divide in the making. Whereas, on the continent, I am still battling with certain people about the fact that white papers, for instance, are useful devices (I still hear stuff like “White papers serve no purpose!”), in the United Kingdom, this kind of tactics has been embraced fully and totally incorporated within marketing thinking.

Besides, it is only subcontracted by 55% of the sample. There is one more caveat beyond the size of that survey sample though, and it’s that most interviewees are not always satisfied with the results: approximately half of them rate the results of content marketing as average. One assumption would be that competition on content marketing is very harsh in Britain, and the English-speaking world in general, and that doing things differently in English is a lot more exacting than with other, less represented languages on the Internet.

Obviously, in order to stand out from the crowd, A lot of thinking has to be put into your content beforehand . There is a paradox that the areas where people think that whitepapers aren’t any good, are in fact those where it is a lot easier to produce and promote them than it is in Britain, where adoption is broad but competition is fierce. I can predict that a lot will happen in the B2B arena in the near future, at least on the continental side of the Channel.

Passwords: This Necessary Evil [infographics]

computer-large-newPasswords are ubiquitous. We all use them and despite the fact that we keep grumbling that they aren’t good enough, we still rely on them in order to protect our most precious information like bank account details, personal and electronic commerce details and such like. What I learned today while looking at Ken Peterson’s infographics is that passwords, as it were, aren’t a new invention. They were created with WWII for cyphers and were adapted in 1972 to become the classic passwords as we know them. Yet, however important, passwords are still misused by users who use the same passwords for multiple sites (73%), use the same passwords for all their sites (33%), or even use the word “passwords” and other niceties as a secret code. all sources for stats are quoted at the end of the picture.