RESEARCH & RESOURCES

How Mobile Computing Will Impact the Value of Time

Anytime, anywhere access to applications and data is what mobile computing is all about. We explain how the technology can harness the value of time.

By Bill Hewitt, President and CEO, Kalido

The past year has brought a number of trends into focus. The ascent of Apple as the most valuable technology platform is not due to iPhone or iPad sales; it is a reflection of our changing global economy, culture, and how we interact as the human race.

Think about it -- when news breaks, most often it's the cell phone video that goes viral while the news outlets are deploying fixed assets and talent to report on the issue. Whether it's the capture of a dictator or the occupation of parks in protest of Wall Street, content is now being produced and distributed at a more rapid rate than ever before.

Today, from a data management perspective, we are in love with the mobile world. We download apps to give us access to our favorite content and applications. We deploy business apps to extend the reach of our enterprise apps globally. This a wonderful time for mobile -- we can still manage data the good old-fashioned way, either centrally or tightly distributed. Most smartphones and tablets do not store data; as a result, there is still a level of control akin to any distributed environment. In essence, these devices are nothing more than memory-enabled terminals.

However, a storm lies on the horizon. Soon, tablets will ship with memory capable of storing data. Suddenly data management professionals will be charged with not managing hundreds of repositories of data but thousands (or more). Each device will become its own "stack" of database, infrastructure, and applications, and computing will become truly distributed as these devices can page in and out of different networks and different systems at will.

How will this affect the "Value of Time"? If we do it right, we will enable individuals and workers to be truly mobile. They will have computing power that assists them in everything they do. Today, I use my iPad almost everywhere I go for work or personal use -- last night, I made dinner from a recipe I pulled up on epicurious.com and could read the recipe as I was making dinner without having to worry about which cookbook or magazine it came from, as well as read reviews from others suggesting minor "tweaks" to the original recipe. This morning, I'll use my iPad to give a presentation to our board of directors. It's ubiquitous. Eventually, I will use it to buy things and as I interact more, some smart application will keep track of what I do and tell all those who wish to monetize me as an asset.

The iPhone began a convergence among phone technology, a music player, and the ability to run applications from a hand-held device. Playing music is nice because now I can consolidate two devices into one; but the ability to run applications is the game changer. Apple understood that this will deliver different levels of benefit based on the individual preferences of the user. If you can impact one dimension (such as time by doing something faster), you might receive a 20 to 30 percent benefit, but if you add a second dimension (in this case, personalization), you might add another 50% benefit, which would compound your benefit to 100-150%. Add a third or fourth (and so on) and you get the idea.

Some might call this the "magic of compounding" but it answers the question as to why people would pay $400 for a phone and $800 for a tablet: it's because they aren't just a phone or a tablet. The devices can quickly and dramatically drive change in a way that can be quickly absorbed by the user.

There's no doubt about it – our lives are changing faster than ever before, and mobile technology is playing a key role. Consider these statistics:

  • Seventy-eight percent of Internet users conduct online product research
  • Web-based e-mail usage has dropped 59 percent among 12- to 17-year-olds in the past year
  • Ninety-one percent of e-mail users have unsubscribed from a company e-mail to which they had previously opted-in

For data management professionals, this could be a nightmare. Data management today is still mostly a manual effort, with repositories being managed primarily for the data they contain. For all the talk about Master Data Management, the penetration of the technology is still quite low.

What's required is for data management professionals to take a more strategic view of their roles. This means understanding how data supports the business processes that exist in each business and how better organized data and new data can provide a quantum leap in business performance.

One of our customers maintains a warehouse that does nothing but track the moves of its competitors. This information is accessible to the top executives only as part of their strategic planning process. It's such a powerful weapon that its mere existence is a closely guarded secret. I can't tell you who it is, but I can tell you that their market value has increased over 75% in the past 3 years. What they have done is understood how both time and data affect the quality of their decisions. Companies that desire to grow and be competitive are proactive with their disruptive technologies.

Mobile computing will have the most profound effect on society, more than any other technology delivered. I have already seen applications that replace EKG machines for a fraction of the cost; I've seen very sophisticated tracking apps and many of our own customers have outfitted their sales forces with iPads. Tablet devices are not only great because they can deliver information, it's because they can also collect it. Millions if tablets are out there every day, capturing information from users, either knowingly or un-knowingly and more and more applications are being written for the tablet market.

That's the power of mobile computing. Anytime, anywhere access to the applications and information -- the assets you need to improve your business and your life. With it, we can harness the "value of time" and use it to grow economies, societies, and improve the world, one device at a time.

Bill Hewitt is the president and CEO of Kalido, a company that specializes in business-driven data governance software. Bill is responsible for the company's business strategy and operating results. Before joining Kalido, Bill served as president, Asia-Pacific for Novell, as well as senior vice president and chief marketing officer. He has also held senior executive positions at PeopleSoft, Hyperion Software, and IBM. You can contact the author at bill.hewitt@kalido.com.

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