Why are we not excited by Windows Mobile 7?

25 02 2011

I have read numerous articles now on Windows Phone (or Mobile) 7 which essentially say it’s a failing, dead platform. What’s more worrying is that any blogs and articles I read on Mobil 7 and the Nokia deal are often greeted with comments such as “good, I love the fact its failing”. When we read articles about the Nokia deal with Microsoft, all we read are points that essentially “want Nokia and Microsoft to fail”…Why is this?

Why people hate Microsoft

I think a lot of this is from years gone past and has nothing to do with current products and services Microsoft offers. Many hate the big corporate and as such, Microsoft will always be hated by them as a big corporate. Many claim that windows itself is poor, I still receive jokes about blue screens, which I haven’t actually seen since Windows XP was released. Others hate Microsoft simply because they aren’t Apple and aren’t Google. Then we come to those, mainly tech geeks, who claim they hate all things Microsoft because it’s not “open” or because they believe their products to be second rate, or there is some hidden agenda to bully small companies and destroy them. Finally, it seems many hate Steve Ballmer (I can see why on that one)…

So with this in mind, it makes it hard for Microsoft to launch new products with a bang and to some excitement in the consumer world these days (perhaps the exception is Windows 7).

But, how many of these reasons are actually valid? How many are actually previous experiences or how many are just based on rubbish we read online?

Well in years gone by perhaps you could argue the case for many of these reasons, but if we actually compare like for like experiences, I think most people (when not being biased) would opt for products delivered by Microsoft, and that includes Mobile 7. The issue is, at the moment, they don’t. Most of us now “presume” Apple experiences are better (because they were considerably compared to Mobile 6 or even Windows 3.11 … remember that? I think thats where the blue screen jokes are still coming from). People also presume that “Android” devices must also be cool and great, after all there are so many of them and it has such a great name, “Android”. Anything with that name must be out of this world…But Windows? Huh, we have all seen Windows, it’s nothing new…

The mobile market

It seems many consumers hate Microsoft, and within the mobile market, there are real options to not use Microsoft products. I know there are different platforms available for PCs but if you actually start to use them, it’s like being on mySpace while all your friends are on Facebook, almost pointless. However, in the mobile world, well the smart phone mobile world, we have real choice of operating systems, and because a mobile OS is “limited” compared to a real PC, the providers can really deliver good usable solutions.

I remember my Nokia N95 and I was very impressed with it. But I also remember my Windows Mobile 6 which, to be fair, wasn’t great but was an improvement on my Nokia 95 user experience. Sure it wasn’t a patch on the iPhone, but the mobile market needed a good kick in the bum at that point, and hats off to Apple for doing it…But user experience is king in many ways, and the iPhone and iOS massively outstripped the rest when it comes to usability (if not functionality). Apple here has lead the way and all are playing catch up. This coupled with the real Apple lovers (no matter what Apple delivers they claim is the best thing since the wheel was invented) makes it hard for others to compete initially, or launch with a massive bang and queues round the block.

That being said, we should throw in Android, which many hail as the greatest mobile OS around, but it really isn’t. In many ways it looks clunky and delivers a poor imitation of the iOS. Imitation is the biggest form of compliment, but it isn’t the real deal, and Android feels like it isn’t the real deal. The reason it is so popular is because its available on so many handsets, basically because it costs pennies (don’t think its because manufacturers can tailor it to their needs, they don’t want to, but they need to, to try and differentiate their devices from the competition). Android also taps into the open source bunch of consumers and lovers of Google. So where does this leave Microsoft?

Windows Mobile 7

All this leaves Microsoft launching a product into an environment where Microsoft doesn’t exist in many ways, its an environment with bloggers and tech geeks who essentially hate Microsoft and one that is dominated by the iPhone and Android. This all means it is hard for Microsoft to get real exposure of their platform. An example of this was the launch date. When Apple released the iPhone 3GS or iPhone 4, we had lots of ads on TV, lots of ads online and each mobile store that had hold of the iPhone made the most of it, advertising with massive window displays and billboards…What did we see with Windows Mobile 7? Nothing…O2, Organge etc in the UK didn’t even make it clear it was now available! Thats madness, and makes it hard to actually show consumers what the product is, and what it can do…

In many ways Windows Mobile 7 is the best OS on a phone out there. It delivers a unique user interface, it looks great and its performance is very good. In addition it has an app store in Marketplace which seems to be growing by the minute. All in all, it’s a great platform. When, as an end user, you compare it like for like you soon realise that it’s a big rival to the iPhone, and if anything, is far better in many areas. (Android for me just is too beta and doesn’t compete in terms of look, feel and functionality). But, it’s version 1.0 at the moment, sure there are things still to come and big improvements but that’s part of a platform evolving. Now, many people at this point will be shouting, “it doesn’t even have copy and paste” etc etc etc blah blah blah. They have a point, it doesn’t, but it’s not something I can say I have missed. Sure I want it there and I am sure it will be there very soon, but shall we just forget that the iPhone released without copy and paste, oh and without the capabilities to send MMS or even forward SMS….

So what does Microsoft have to do? Well unfortunately the Microsoft “brand” in the eyes of many consumers is the real issue, so much so that the carriers in the UK I believe are nervous of making a big thing of the Windows Mobile 7 launch and platform, rather trying to see what happens…

Microsoft hatred in many ways has spread opinions about Microsoft products and services without people actually experiencing them for themselves, or even making informed decisions. So much so, that they just presume windows mobile 7 is poor, or they heard it was poor (probably from an Android or iOS lover), and haven’t actually bothered to look at the platform or a device running it. So when people say Windows Mobile 7 is dead, I’m not sure it is, rather they are trying to kill it off. Why? Because they hate Mircrosoft. It has nothing to do with the platform at all…

Nokia deal

Nokia traditionally has a good brand name in the mobile world; it still does, being the biggest player in the mobile industry. However, in the world of smart phones Nokia doesn’t exist it seems. I have to say I believe Nokia has a strong brand loyalty, almost everyone I know who used to have a Nokia would swap back to a Nokia, if they delivered a smart phone that competes with those iPhones and Android devices….For me, this points to the Nokia Microsoft deal as a good thing…

Its a shame that Windows Mobile 7 was called Windows. Let’s face it, it isn’t a sexy name now, its fine for the PC because we expect that to be the name, especially as everything is delivered in a window environment. However, on the mobile device it isn’t Windows. I think Microsoft missed a trick here and should have opted for a different name, shame Android was already taken….

Nokia Windows Phone 7

Nokia and Windows Mobile 7 could be a great match

With Nokia, Microsoft though have the chance to showcase their Windows Mobile 7 platform to more and more consumers. Once consumers start to see that platform and use it, then more and more people will start to say it’s a good platform (rather than forming opinions based on old Microsoft mobile experiences or here say from others). Why? Because it is. Just spend a small amount of time using it, using the live tiles and you will start to like it.  Its also great for business, linking Outlook to exchange, synchronisation with my desktop and working environment and on top of that, the option to store, utilise and share content via the cloud.

We also can expect with Nokias clout to see Windows Mobile devices being rolled out on cheaper contracts, hopefully being able to compete with Android devices, but on superior hardware. Then throw in to the mix that, Nokia has a strong brand loyalty, and you may well find that Nokia and Windows Mobile 7 aren’t dead at all; rather they are a sleeping giant waiting to reclaim the mobile marketplace…

Conclusion

We really should judge solutions based on merit, as opposed to perceptions of a company or particular brand look. It seems Mobile 7 is being reviewed by the masses based on misconceptions of Microsoft, of Windows and previous Windows Mobile experiences…Hopefully with Nokia, we will see more and more people judging based on merit…

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ECM, eDiscovery and the Social Media problem

24 02 2011

Today I read briefly that social media access may cause governance problems for corporate using such sites as Facebook. Now this could be a real big issue, especially as more and more organisations are using Social Media to not only connect and engage, but to actively interact with customers and solve customer issues even.

You can read the article here http://www.eweekeurope.co.uk/news/social-media-access-may-cause-governance-problems-21424

A simple view

If we step back and think about it, any content that we place in the public domain as an organisation needs to be discoverable, and if necessary, produced to meet certain governance rules. Now this is fine for outlets the organisation controls (their own website, published press releases etc), but what about content that was created on, and essentially resides with a third party. This is typically how we use Facebook and Twitter for example.

Now in our more traditional scenario we can have our published content stored within our ECM repository, that’s fine. But since the content was stored on a third party solution, and essentially is up there on the web, how do we ensure we have it for our records? How do we find that content again if needs be (especially if it’s now a couple of years old)

What we have to remember is that not only do we need to retain access to that content, but we also have to protect ourselves (the organisation) from that “original content” going missing. Let’s face it, as an organisation do you trust Facebook to store all of your status updates for the next 8 years? Probably not…

How we create content and how we discover it

Ideally we need to maintain a link to all that content sitting with Facebook, Twitter, mySpace or whoever. We also need to protect ourselves from that content going missing. So the real answer is to not only keep a record of that contents location (typically a URL or post ID with that provider), but also a copy of the actual content itself (in our ECM repository). If we do this, then we can discover all our social media interactions and produce them on request.

Essentially we have two options of doing this. The first is to create the content via your own software solution. If you do this, then you can take a copy of that content, store it in your ECM repository along with a link to the location on Facebook / Twitter for example. This approach ensures all content is kept and you can then take control of your retention periods that may apply to that content. The second is to constantly discover content from the source and either store links to that content, or again store links and copy that content (into your ECM repository).

My personal approach is a mixture of both of these.

The first option makes life easier for agents, it ensures they have a better view of all the content and discussions going on and allows them to quickly do what they need. It also short cuts the need for discovery while ensuring the end user isn’t getting side tracked with their own Facebook status updates (personal related content). There is also an added benefit of working this way, and that is protection of the content itself. If Facebook was hacked, and false status updates made, or status updates modified, these can be related to those stored in our secure ECM platform. This is a form of protection…The second option ensures nothing gets missed. So this is our “belts and braces” approach. From time to time a user may well interact with Twitter or Facebook directly, or via an application such as tweet deck. Now the whole holistic and adaptive approach means we need to adapt to that need, so using such tools (especially if on the move or done out of hours) needs to be expected / allowed for. Our discovery then makes sure that content is brought into our ECM repository and not “lost”. In this scenario we can also “see” status updates / tweets etc that have been made. So in the case of a “hacker” ruining our online existence, we are quickly made aware of the issue and can address it sooner rather than later. Once in the ECM platform, we can always cross check content and essentially ensure its credibility.

 

Conclusion

Governance may scare some companies into not engaging with social media, but this will be a big mistake. With social media providing so many big wins to organisations (and in some ways a necessity just to compete), it is something organisations cannot do without now. With this in mind, organisations need to adapt and understand that governance will apply to social media content, just as much as any other content, so they need to take control of it and start getting it in their ECM repositories.

The content challenge is one that is ongoing. Content only grows within an organisation and as such, social content will no doubt be one of the fastest growing areas of any company. Investment into platforms that allow management of that social content and discovery of it will prove to become more and more vital as more and more interactions occur via social media sites.

All content is the responsibility of the organisation, even if it is created on a third party environment. Organisations need to take control, ownership and responsibility for their social interactions, always, and this is easily done, if you have all your content residing in an ECM repository. The key, get all content, no matter its source and location, into your repository and you will meet governance requirements…





Adaptive Working Environment (@WE)

17 02 2011

In previous posts I have spoken about the importance of a holistic approach to delivering IT to business, which aligns IT solutions more closely to the actual needs of the business. I have also posted about the importance of being highly adaptive and flexible to business needs, which ultimately includes the needs of end users and the most important of them all, customers…So with all this in mind, Adaptive Working Environment (@WE) makes a lot of sense, if you understand what it is…

It was interesting to read Max J. Pucher post on ACM is Dead! Long live ADAPTIVE as many of his points regarding ADAPTIVE are areas I have been working in / towards for some years now. Sure the terms are a little different and even the areas are (I have come from a far more ECM orientated silo) but many of the points he raises about ADAPTIVE can be applied to not just the areas we frequent (CRM, BPM etc). My previous post touched on some of this, and I thought it was time I spoke about the holistic and adaptive concept I have been working on and off for the past 8 years now…

What’s the concept?

8 years ago, myself and a colleague had the idea of delivering a single platform for ECM, CRM and BPM. This isn’t that radical really, but the concept was to ensure that it was a single platform, no silos loosely related requiring integration, rather a single platform that delivered these functions.  We also wanted the platform to be as highly flexible as possible, allowing end users to change its structure, change classifications and even definitions of processes / work that had to be done. That concept started its life as project workFile, which has since become a company in its own right. The concept itself has gone through iterations too, with new “terms” being used to describe our big idea, new methods and even new approaches to delivering on that concept. But the concept has remained, a single, highly flexible platform that looks at a business problem in a holistic fashion.

Now Im not saying this is something unique, and there are vendors out there with the same holistic approach.  But what I spoke about many years ago, and what the drive is at workFile now, is an Adaptive Working Environment (@WE), which is more than just an adaptive mindset, or an adaptive holistic approach to CRM, or BPM or whatever…

The Adaptive Working Environment drive if you like, is to embrace both adaptive and holistic thinking fully. So thats in terms of a single platform, how that platform is architected, integration capabilities and delivery through a single extensible user interface. With the areas I work in that means a single platform for adaptive ECM functionality, adaptive CRM and of course Adaptive Process Guidance (APG) in place of traditional BPM.

But an Adaptive Working Environment (@WE) needs to be more; it needs to make life easier for the end user in terms of human computer interactions, so to do that, a single user experience is required. When I talk of a single user experience I mean this to be delivered through a single application, not multiple applications accessing the same platform, but a single application delivering a single user experience. That single application also needs to provide integration possibilities, have extensible capabilities so that other solution screens can be built, and delivered, via that single interface. How much simpler is that for the end user?

But we still need to do more to be completely adaptive to the business needs. We need to be aware that business will have many more applications and solutions running, many of which may need to be integrated with either tightly or loosely. That integration should be made as simple as possible, and as flexible as possible. With this in mind, the @WE (Adaptive Working Environment) needs to be built completely on a Service Orientated Architecture (SOA). A good SOA coupled with an extensible user application, provides the maximum flexibility in integration requirements.

With this kind of thinking we are delivering an Adaptive Envrionment for users to work within (hence Adaptive Working Environment). This environment empowers staff fully, it allows the business to utilise their users brains as assets, and it ultimately leads to a more efficient business that provides great customer services.

 

Can @WE be used for other silos?

Well I have termed @WE for the areas in which I have been working in, so that’s the adaptive holistic approach to CRM, ECM and (in my case) APG. We also use the term to convey other important points, such as being built soley on a SOA, and providing that single user experience that is highly extensible. 

However, the point is to be holistic and adaptive to your approach to whatever, and taking that as the point, then Max’s definition of ADAPTIVE is what we / you are embracing. As I said, we use the term @WE to describe not only our “concept” but in many ways how that concept is implemented (built on SOA, single extensible UI). 

I would argue that any platforms that embrace ADAPTIVE thinking (not necessarily related to ECM, BPM, CRM etc) can be termed ADAPTIVE, perhaps we should ask Max. I would agree though that if they are adaptive, holistic and then implemented using nothing but SOA and deliver a single extensible UI, then they are an @WE…

 

The key @WE elements to remember

To deliver an @WE, IT solution providers need to carry out the following, which will align their platform far closer to the actual needs of business:

  • Embrace a holistic stance / approach (address the complete business problem)
  • Embrace complete adaptive capabilities
  • Build their  application on a solid SOA, providing clear integration possibilities
  • Deliver the option of a single user experience that is extensible to the possible integration needs of the business

If IT does this, then we are delivering Adaptive Working Environments to the business and end user…





Long live ADAPTIVE

15 02 2011

Today I read Max J. Pucher’s blog post “ACM is Dead! Long live ADAPTIVE!” and I really wasn’t surprised…Many are surprised though, as it sees one of ACMs strongest supporters leaving the camp, in a…well rather public fashion. But should we be surprised?

For a long time Max has spoken of ADAPTIVE capabilities and goals that reach beyond silo approaches, so why have these defined in an a three letter acronym that essentially means only a fraction of what he conveys…After all ACM is Adaptive Case Management, and that doesn’t make me think of:  

“a globally encompassing technology approach that is linked to business architecture and strategy” – Taken from Max’s post.

So why is ADAPTIVE the key term

Well read the article for yourself to hear from Max. But for me, adaptive capabilities are at their heart, about returning power to end users and putting them at the centre of how business operates, empowerment is the term and is really the only route to great business efficiency and customer services.

So with this in mind adaptive capabilities stretch far beyond Case Management, BPM and whatever else you want to throw into the mix. Business is not about IT based silos, or IT platforms or applications…Business is about getting things done, and therefore requires a holistic approach to platforms, architectures, solutions and applications. But let’s be more specific, this holistic approach needs to be highly adaptive too, in order to empower the business users…I think the term ADAPTIVE conveys this thinking far more than ACM, so horray, ACM is dead, long live ADAPTIVE…

Adaptive Working Environment (@WE)

This is a concept that we thought up at workFile almost 6 years ago now (though then workFile was a fledgling product of One Degree). Sure it has grown and changed a little, but in essence the concept was, and is, a single adaptive platform for business needs, that brings together typical silos such as CRM, ECM and BPM.

In realising this concept, the “adaptive capabilities” have often been the issue, especially for BPM. The adaptive requirements have seen us move from a typical BPM implementation to one that leverages “intelligent” business process maps that are built by developers, along to a far more flexible approach now, with APG (Adaptive Process Guidance). It has also seen us move away from a silo module approach to a single solution platform with a single user interface…

So what workFile terms as @WE (Adaptive Working Environment), I believe Max is driving at with ADAPTIVE (though Maxs products are out there to purchase and workFile Vision 2.0 is only at an alpha state). If anything, ADAPTIVE could be far wider reaching than @WE. ADAPTIVE thinking has the potential to change the way all platforms and applications are structured and delivered, in essence, how business users work with IT solutions (if we remember not to pin it to a particular silo, methodology or platform)…Now I wonder if that is what Max is conveying, or if I am reading too much into the whole ADAPTIVE thinking?

If you want to know more on workFile @WE concept then have a quick read at http://www.workfilesuite.com/what-is-@WE.aspx





The future of the web? Apps all the way…

11 02 2011

This year will be the first year it is believed, that web access will be carried out on more mobile devices than actually through a PC or laptop. That’s a massive shift in the way we use the web. But don’t think that means we are sticking with browsers and HTML 5 even. What it really means is that more of us are looking towards mobile apps for access…

Take an example, do you from your mobile device use Tesco website for your shopping, or do you use their app. Almost everyone will say the app (if you shop at Tesco via the web that is). So why do we use the app and not the website? Simple, user experience…

Apps User experience

The problem with mobile devices is the screen real estate, they are simply small, even when you use an iPad, the real estate is smaller than a traditional netbook or my 19” wide screen TFT monitor…So seeing everything can be tricky, and it means scrolling around a lot. Secondly is the experience, waiting for pages to load over the web etc etc.

Apps provide a more “desktop” type experience, often loading is done in the background or even core data is stored on the device. So that means performance is greatly improved and we don’t have to pay greater network charges. In addition, apps are designed specifically for the realestate problem, so we get nice smooth experiences which make browsing using a web browser pale in comparison…

What can we learn from this…

What we learn is that, HTML 5 may be the future of websites and even rich internet experiences on the web and to some extent mobile devices, but the future is still on the device itself. Running software via a browser is architecturally inefficient; it’s very restrictive and comes with no end of issues. That’s simply because the web was not designed to deliver applications, rather it was designed to deliver content.

Can we deliver “apps” to the desktop? Yes we can. This is something I am a strong believer in. The web is great for delivering content and communications between the client and a server. If we make the small leap that components of an application are content, then we see that we can deliver desktop apps down to the client via a website, and have them communicate with servers in the cloud over HTTP. This is why I love the Silverlight model, as it’s all there…

Delivering applications this way makes the most of the web architecture and leverages all the benefits of being on the desktop, just as “mobile apps” make the most of being on the device. This is a great way of delivering real applications to business users, either over the web or intranet, running them out of the browser. You have a desktop app, with all the flexibility of a web app. A great solution….

Facebook scenario?

I’m not saying this is where we should all be, but websites such as Facebook would benefit massively from having a desktop app version. Why? Well how many people do you hear actually compliment the Facebook website on its looks, feel and how they use it? I don’t think any, rather I hear constant moaning about its performance, lack of intuitive navigation and, well the list goes on. The only good point is that they can access it over the web. But, how many use Facebook the website on their phone? Hardly any, rather they opt for their devices Facebook app (which delivers a better experience than the website most times). So if you had the choice as an end user, would you  have a rich desktop app for Facebook, rather than having to go to the website? I know I would!

Silverlight and Flash can deliver those capabilities, HTML 5 cannot. I think the future should be HTML 5 for websites, Silverlight and or Flash for desktop “web” apps…