Where Will Mobility Take Us?

Where Will Mobility Take Us?

By Michael F. Finneran July 26, 2013 1 Comments
UCStrategies Experts
Where Will Mobility Take Us? by Michael F. Finneran

Recent articles with conflicting viewpoints on the topic of the "Mobile Revolution" spawned this Industry Buzz podcast. The UCStrategies Experts discuss the future of mobility, wearable devices, and the possibility of a backlash as privacy concerns mount. The podcast is moderated by Michael Finneran, and includes Dave MichelsRoberta J. FoxArt RosenbergPhil Edholm, Bill MacKayClark RichterSteve Leaden, and Kevin Kieller.

Unified Communications Strategies

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Transcript for Where Will Mobility Take Us?

Michael Finneran: Good morning, good afternoon or good evening, this is Michael Finneran here with the UCStrategies team, and it's my pleasure to host our podcast today on the expanding mobility peripherals market and what it might mean for UC and the channel.

Now, the mobile market continues to thrive, throwing off enormous numbers of great ideas. But the one core problem mobile operators are facing now is market saturation. I was checking on Wikipedia and in the U.S., the percentage of mobile phones as compared to the percentage of the population is now 103.9, which means we have more mobile devices than we have people in this country. Of course, they are counting people with multiple phones, data cards, and M2M devices. Saudi Arabia, by the way, was the highest with 169.5 percent. But the growth and excitement is not so much about the phones any longer but about apps, services and peripherals. And particularly the peripheral market looks poised to explode. According to Boy Genius Report, the peripheral market for cell phone add-ons was about $20 billion last year; the overall cell phone market is in the order of about $170 billion in the U.S.

The top five sellers are mostly boring stuff like Bluetooth headsets, chargers, memory cards, cases, and ear buds. However, there are some real interesting ones in the offering, particularly things like smart watches. You are seeing those from companies like Pebble today and the much-anticipated Apple iWatch. Beyond that, the other hot area is wearable viewers like the Google Glass. Google Glass gets a lot of press, but we have had things like that around for years.

We also see a lot in the exercise and healthcare markets. Activity monitors like the Nike FuelBand or the Jawbone UP, allow you to monitor what you are doing during the day, and how well you are sleeping.

And there are also a lot of things surrounding services. One company I have been watching lately is a company called Euclid Analytics. They collect anonymous visitor data from people’s smart phones. Essentially your smart phone sends Probe messages periodically, so if you are walking by a store, the store can tell that you are passing. They do claim they make the data anonymous; basically they take your MAC address, run it through a one-way hash, so they can tell if the same person comes by, but they still cannot identify who the person is and have no means of communicating with them. There are still some privacy concerns around that. Al Franken, who is now a Senator from Minnesota, is looking at that in his Senate committee. But this whole idea of identity capture and location open a whole new range of "context" possibilities for UC. Chris Hummel of Siemens was on our podcast last week  and pointed out that their new Project Ansible does incorporate some elements of location.

The big question I will be raising for the experts today is, is this going to be good or bad for Enterprise UC? Are we going to have Enterprise applications for smart watches? Are we going to see people wearing viewers around the office? Of course one ancillary technology I think is going to be a big blast here is something called Miracast coming out of the Wi-Fi Alliance. Miracast is basically a wireless interface that will transmit content (documents, pictures, videos) from any mobile device to things like big screen TVs. So in essence, rather than coming up with some hokey cable to connect your smart phone, tablet or laptop to the big TV set, anyone in a meeting can project from their smartphone onto a large screen TV. The other big questions whether these new peripherals will spur adoption for has been a moribund market for Mobile UC? The Jabber, the Lync Mobile client, Avaya one-X, all of the things we see demonstrated at Enterprise Connect – but you never really see anyone in the real world actually using. The other potential outcome is that it will just mean that we’ll see more consumer technology adoption in business as an alternative to UC? So, in essence, will the users say, “Gee, I‘ve got all this great stuff available to me now in the consumer market, just forward my desk phone calls to my smart phone and I will take it from there.” So, will mobile UC continues to be “call forwarding?”

We have a number of our UC experts on the call today who want to weigh in on various parts of this, and as this began with a little bit of back and forth with Dave Michels and myself, I’m sure Dave is ready to take the alternate position. So, Dave, what are your feelings on this?

Dave Michels: Thanks, Michael. The post that I wrote said that the mobile revolution is over and I was referring to what you just said about the market saturation and it’s going to start leveling off. But I anticipate, in the not too distant future, that there is actually going to be a bit of a backlash. I remember going to the consumer electronics show probably around 1999, where one of my chief objectives when I went there as an IT person, was to check out the latest line in pagers. We had already gone from simple to alphanumerical, now we were all excited about these two-way pagers. Those are completely gone; no one talks about pagers.

You could argue that’s mobility and whether mobility is still important, but I think there is going to be a backlash against mobility to be honest with you. They are becoming more invasive. They are tracking our location. They are tracking our calendar appointments. They are monitoring …. It will not be long until we start getting speeding tickets mailed to us based on how fast our phone traveled. Google Glass is changing things. We have already got cell phones banned in locker rooms because of the cameras and who knows what’s going to happen with Google Glass.

One of the creepy things I find with Google now, which is not only knowing where I am at, but anticipating where I am going, because it looks into my calendar and figures out my routines and it is telling me how much time to allow to get to where I am going. It is just becoming very, very invasive. I was talking to the folks at Blackberry and they have enough sensors in their phones now that they could actually identify you by your gait. They know who is wearing the phone. You don’t even need to use the phone; they know who’s carrying it. And they know your patterns and they could figure out things like, “Well gosh you are running to this location and you do not normally run to this location, maybe you’re in danger of some kind.” And it’s just getting a little too creepy for me. So I think there is going to be a backlash.

Right now we talk a lot in UC about being able to work anywhere, at any time and we do work anywhere at any time but I think there is going to be backlash against that, with the work-life balances, and turning off work. I used to go to my ski cabin and not work, but now that ‘s got internet so I am working all the time. Airplanes used to be a sanctuary. Tropical resorts were a great sanctuary, but everything’s got internet, you’re always online, and so I am just anticipating that we are going to see a big change. And whether it’s wearable technologies, or the latest new cell phone, or the latest new smart phone, I think it’s going to get to the point where people just don’t care anymore. And I look back to the Hitchhiker’s Guide, Douglas Adams’ book. That book was written in obviously different time, I think it was the 80s. And he talked a lot about how impressed humans were with digital watches. That’s worn off. We’re not impressed with digital watches, we don’t care about digital watches, and we don’t blog about digital watches, it’s just not a topic of interest.

And mobile phones have been a compelling topic: what they can do and how they have changed things have been an absolutely amazing conversation for the past five years – but it will end. It may not end this year, it may not end for another five years, but it will end. The market will stay saturated. I’m not saying that is going to change, but our interest will decline and there will be new shiny pennies that do grab our interest. Though, I’m looking forward to the backlash actually.

Michael Finneran: I actually still have clients who have pagers, primarily in healthcare and they’re dirt-cheap so we really like them. But I think you might be right with the backlash, but it might also very well be a generational element that comes into play. Certainly, folks of our generation have at least developed some degree of concern regarding privacy. The generation X, Y, and whatever comes after that seem to look at these things differently, based on all the stuff that they’re posting on Facebook. But Phil Edholm has some thoughts on that and we will get to him in a few moments.

Roberta Fox, I understand you have been working with some interesting customer applications up your way involving mobility. What can you tell us about them?

Roberta J. Fox: Well, what’s interesting, listening to what Dave and yourself have said Michael, I agree with both your comments from two different perspectives, but I think there are enterprise customers from the UC projects that we have worked on that have very unique requirements. So, for example, both for a mobile device that is designed to be industrial type of clothing needs to be safe, needs to be fashionable; it could be a bus mechanic, or a train mechanic, or somebody working in oil fields. They cannot wear jewelry; they cannot wear things around their waste, so we have worked with designers to actually have things embedded into the clothes. It needs to be small; it needs to be rugged. And the other part that’s interesting is not too many cables, chargers and docking stations.

So you were asking us also about, do people care about being monitored or measured? Well, in this case, it’s a plus to have them be able to be recorded and kept track of for their own safety and the technicians. There is always some interesting things related to union rules and things like that and so the anonymous location technologies like Euclid Analytics would be very useful for specific niches.

The last point is, it’s more than a check off in these types of segments in their UC RFPs. The challenge is to get these solutions and the peripherals to go with the use of vendors. So I encourage the industry side to start making these cool gadgets, to have them made available because it is a big tipping point for the Cisco’s, Avaya’s, and Microsofts to have these kind of add-on applications.

Michael Finneran: Thank you, Roberta. Actually, I worked on a project with another STC member earlier this year and we designed a portable video rig for field technicians. They are actually using Microsoft Lync at the other end of this. We’ve tried things like helmet cameras; we found out they couldn’t hold their head steady enough so we wound up with a high quality camera clamped onto a Windows tablet that the guys could hold up and they could see the images as well as the engineers back at the factory. These were big, greasy machines we were working on here. Art, I understand you have a view that this is a bigger subject than just communications, Art Rosenberg.

Art Rosenberg: Yeah, first of all, obviously, there are certain applications in a business world or particular vertical market or whatever, that would require specialized devices. But by definition, everybody who works for anybody is going to also be a consumer. And I look at it from a consumer and in general, “What would they want? What would they need? No matter what their job is, because by definition, they are also business users because they are customers too. So you cannot just ignore the fact that consumers have needs and they will need to be able to communicate in more than one way, which we can do now with UC capabilities.

But it’s not just with people, person-to-person stuff, and pagers, and things like that. It’s now going to be, what I call, interactions with business processes applications automated rather than notify you if something is wrong, especially in healthcare; “hey, your blood pressure is up (because we detected it).” And/or reminders: “it’s time to go and take your pill.” There is a lot of things that have to be done that will require more than just one mode of communication and the device can’t be too limited, for example, can you talk to your eye glasses very easily, or do you have to wear the eye glasses? And can you see information if you are just having something on your wristwatch, can you talk to it as well? So, I am just suggesting, it has to be multi-mobile. Whatever the size is, wherever you wear it, because everybody by definition is going to be a consumer end user and not just job related. But they want to be able to handle their jobs as well if that’s possible.

Michael Finneran: Thanks, Art. Actually, we get to Bill MacKay in a couple of minutes; he has some observations on the applications of this stuff in healthcare market. Healthcare, in terms of peripherals, has really taken on a life of its own independent of all these other things.

Phil Edholm, we were talking before, it sounds like you have some concerns about the possibility of recording with some of these things and the privacy implications. Certainly Dave brought this up, but what are your feelings about it?

Phil Edholm: I have a couple of comments. I think that, to start off with this interesting perspective that says that you know, we are now creating technologies that can in fact record both audio and video. One of the comments that has come with Google Glass is, you are in a room, you can have your Google Glass record, there is a light that comes on, and people know you are recording. The question, of course, will be, how long those lights will be there? Will people start taking them off, covering them over, or clipping the leads? And so all of a sudden, we are opening this incredible can of worms of recording being something that’s common. I think for the Enterprise, as these technologies come into the Enterprise …. I think one of the comments I will make is that they are absolutely going to happen. The concept of wearable sensors, wearable IO devices is absolutely going to happen. They are going to come in masses. The technology is there. It’s going to raise some really interesting questions. Because, in many ways we are now approaching this point in time that we talked about as an industry 10 years ago, of having a personal area network, where as you move around, you have a personal area network that is associated with you and devices that come into that network can become associated with you and your personal area network. If you look at cell phones for example, they are coming to hotspots, huge questions about what that raises. I was actually talking recently at a conference and they were talking about how bad the Wi-Fi service was. When you went online and looked at how many Wi-Fi antennas access points you could see, I counted 47 one time. Because basically, everybody who has one of the advanced smart phones, is now turning on Wi-Fi as a hotspot, so all of a sudden you are in a room with 400 people and a third of them have hotspots.

So there are huge issues that come with this but we are creating this concept of a personal area network, a network that is around you, that devices get associated with. I think from a UC perspective, there are really two big impacts of this that we need to think through on UC. The devices are going to come. We are seeing them happen. There are really two things we need to think about. One is context. How do these devices allow us to understand context better? If you look at what Plantronics has done, they have a contextual API where you can actually determine the association between the device so, for example, if I am out of the office my device is working with my mobile device; when I go into the office it works with my in-office device. If someone’s in my office and because of their wearable device, my office knows that they are in my office, it know that there is a context that I am interacting with, that may impact my availability. So if you look at the big players in UC, one of the big challenges over the next few years is the whole concept of context and I think devices can bring context.

The second side of devices is this concept of being able to capture, whether it’s video or audio, literally anytime or potentially all of the time. While video is interesting, one could argue for service technicians and that, I think audio could be even more interesting. Because the audio bandwidth necessary to send my audio back to the cloud, is actually getting relatively small. If you look at, obviously on the internet, I am getting 50 megabytes to my house, the 80 kilobytes per second for high quality voice that’s compressed is almost irrelevant. And the same is actually becoming true on the wireless network, with 4G and anticipations of movements to 5G in the next three or four years.

So all of a sudden, being able to get up in the morning, put a couple of devices in my ears that literally are recording everything that I say all day long, and sending it up to the cloud, having a personal agent in the cloud manage that in the cloud for me, and help me manage components of my life, and be able to interact with me, is going to become a reality. I think from a UC perspective, we need to begin to think that Unified Communications is not just about communication events, it may be about a continuum of machine assistance for individuals. So I think there are some real exciting things that are going to come out of this wearable tech.

The final comment I will make as you think about what I just said about the idea of continuous communications. The average human being, everything they say in their lifetime, can be recorded on about two terabytes. Most of us on this call are probably three terabyte people... It’s important to remember that three terabytes is now $99 at Costco. So for a $99 dollar investment, you can actually record everything you will say in your lifetime and maintain it, have it indexable, find it, and remember it. That’s both good and bad, but I think these are all of the issues we need to grapple with, not just as UC as a technology, but also from a process, implementation, regulatory, etc. Anyway, thanks.

Michael Finneran: Thank you, Phil. For point of reference, if I am in a meeting and I see that light come on on somebody’s Google Glasses, the next thing they will be looking for in the viewer is my fist heading for it.

Bill MacKay, I know you had some observations, both on your specialty area, which is E911, or, one of your specialty areas, and also the impact of this stuff in healthcare. Bill, what’s your view here?

Bill MacKay: Thank you, Michael. Actually in Dave’s comment he mentioned the need for people to work anywhere at any time. And that’s one of the problems that the enterprise organization faces particularly with BYO devices because it places a lot of onus on the enterprise organization to be able to make location-based awareness available in the event of an e-mail or one call. So if somebody is calling from a smart phone and they are placing a 911 call, where are they? And how does that information get passed on to the local PSAP to be able to ensure that they are delivering the correct services. It is bit of a challenge depending on what their connectivity is, through their cell phone, or if they are using a smart phone that is connected to a Wi-Fi device on the Enterprise network. Either way it could be a bit of a challenge, but if it is connected to a Wi-Fi that means that perhaps that call might be conferenced to a security department and be able to provide the location-based information of the actual Wi-Fi unit itself, based on the IP address, that sort of information could be provided. But if it is not, then it could be a real, huge issue.

I thought it was interesting because, just in terms of some of her topic matter as well, you mentioned about wearable technology, we have all gone through the cell phone and now Bluetooth headsets are becoming more and more intelligent, but also we are starting to see some healthcare wearable technology that is being able to monitor patients to be able to pass on vital information with regards to patient care tied back to Wi-Fi. We’re also starting to see some sporting companies like Nike and Adidas, who are starting to develop intelligent wearable technology that is sending back pertinent information with regards to perhaps some of their professional athletes who may have taken on some hits. Maybe they are monitoring concussions or they might be monitoring heart rate, blood pressure, that type of thing. It makes for rather interesting data gathering and being able to compare a peak performance of some of their athletes and leveraging some of the UC components and intelligent information that could be gathered.

Michael Finneran: Thank you, Bill. Clark Richter, I understand you have family connections, using this technology in the broadcast industry.

Clark Richter: Yes, I just wanted to expand on Phil’s comments on the personal area network with kind of a real life bleeding edge use case, which is in the broadcast journalism. Traditionally, you had a send out a crew with a live truck, a videographer and a journalist, maybe to report on a story. And they are some of the earlier adopters of the Google Glass, and using it to enable the actual reporter to do the recording of the video and so forth in real time, and using unified communication to report that back. I think there are some limitations still on some of the sound quality from the microphones, but I think you will see it more increasingly on broadcast journalism. It won’t be far off where you will probably see, rather than see Anderson Cooper chained to a post during a hurricane, you will just see his glasses covered with water.

Michael Finneran: Excellent. I think Art Rosenberg, you have another view of the healthcare applications for mobile?

Art Rosenberg: Yeah, as it turns out I happened to meet with some people I know who have developed a very cost efficient way to video conference, to be used by patients and caregivers. They would be using it to minimize the need to come into the office, for the doctor to see the problem they have with video. It’s still evolving, but I call it the patient experience as opposed to the customer experience. So anyway, that’s something that’s coming up soon.

Michael Finneran: It is interesting. They have a whole range of heart monitors, blood pressure monitors, glucose meters …. Actually, the ones that I find are more interesting for me are the things like the Nike FuelBand or Jawbone UP, which basically monitor your activity through the day. What Dave was saying with the sensors they have in smart phones, you may not even need these but essentially, it’s a band that Bluetooth connects to your phone. I saw recently, when we were on vacation, my niece had the Jawbone UP. And it monitors how long it takes you to fall asleep, how long you were in a deep sleep, if you have been inactive for too long. It can give you a jolt so you will get up and move. Also it can input your calorie intake if you want to. So for those who want a real anal control over there life processes, this is just the tool for you. Steve Leaden, you had some ideas to add here, Steve?

Steve Leaden: Well thanks. This is a very, very interesting topic. In my opinion, it’s really not dead but it’s really not revolutionizing at this point. It’s really evolving at this particular point. I do agree with Dave Michel’s comments about growth being subsided in the market. At the same time, it’s not dead, it’s just lesser growth.

So what are the things that I see that are quite interesting on what is happening? Well one is, really, the cellular providers are really engaging everybody really, from the consumer base to the business base, to really use data plans more. They’re moving more toward the flat rate model on texting as well as cellular minutes, inbound and outbound. And they’re giving us a lot more data minutes. They are also becoming a lot more friendly in terms of providing us feedback before we hit our maxes on the data plan, so that we don’t have to play hardball with them and negotiate a better rate later on because we, as the consumer business, are upset with overages. We also see integration of these new UC tools, i.e. Project Ansible from last week’s podcast, really blurring the lines of what is a device, what is your primary device? Is it the cellular phone? Is it the smart phone? Is it a tablet? Is it a desktop? Is it a laptop? We don’t really know, but we will see as the lines get blurred. I think everybody is going to see something in use at some particular point.

Last week, I played golf with my brother, and he had one of the GPS watches. I did some homework and some research and found very interestingly that there is a real uptick in the market on that particular area. And there are a lot of golfers taking a look at just using a GPS watch with no subscription attached to it, and literally having a database of close to 40,000 golf courses within just a small watch while you are on the course, and being accurate to very accurate. And it seems that all the major players are out there. And then, finally, we are seeing things like Nike FuelBand and Jawbone’s UP, which will monitor in a 24/7 fashion, what you’re walking, and you’re sleeping, and your exercise activities are. So there is a lot of blurring going on and at the same time, we do not know what the final endgame is going to look like. So, in the end, I do see wearables coming about to some or a large degree, we will see where it goes. But again, overall I really see the market evolving, I really don’t see it necessarily growing, I don’t necessarily see it dead. So thanks, and back to you.

Michael Finneran: Well thank you very much. Kevin Kieller?

Kevin Kieller: Hi Michael, this is Kevin Kieller chiming in with a few quick points. I think, first of all, people have already illustrated that they are willing to give up privacy in return for the convenience of mobility. And certainly, in the business space, the organization has long had the right and privilege to monitor all forms of communication. And so with the proliferation of mobile devices, wearable devices, certainly in the business context, I think privacy is dead and we should just all get over it. Whether the Google Glass light is on or not, we are being recorded. And increasingly with the proliferation of sensors, not only is our video and voice being recorded, but likely our heartbeat and other biometric information.

From a channel perspective, as we look at all of these wearable mobile devices and sensors, I think the channel really has to make sure that they are solving a very specific business problem and that they look at packaging these new devices, these new accessories, and take them to market with a clear message on that business problem that they are solving. What is the value prop? Why should the organization invest in that?

And then if I put on my software developer hat, I think we are seeing lots of sensors: sensors in your shoes, the Nike Fuel Bands, sensors on your wrists, sensors in your watch, accelerometers, compasses, different sensors in your smart phone, and the different wearable devices.

But I think that there is a great opportunity for software developers to step up and consolidate all of those data inputs, into providing some worthwhile, useful information. Both for the individual, such as some of the devices that were mentioned by my colleagues that are trying to monitor your sleep patterns and things like that, but also not only for the individual, but for the organization. From a health and safety perspective, as was mentioned, if you are running in a different area maybe that’s because there is a problem. Or depending on the orientation of your body, perhaps that is indicating that you have run into a troublesome situation. But to conclude, I think it has somewhat been proven that we can prognosticate and then make predictions. But if we just watch a few Star Trek episodes, then we will see what the future will hold. Certainly, many of the things that have been predicted on Star Trek have come to pass. So I look forward to Tricorders and little devices on my shirt so that I can just tap and talk to anybody. I think the only question is, how many years that is in the future. But Star Trek definitely points the way. Thank you and back to you, Michael.

This has been an interesting go around. I started this with an idea in one direction; we’ve gone off in quite a number here, everything from privacy, to backlashes. It is certainly a challenging topic and one that is going to be in our minds for some years to come. So I would like to thank my UCStrategies associates for participating in this. Thank you all for joining us and we will see you next week.


1 Responses to "Where Will Mobility Take Us?" - Add Yours

Alex Doyle 7/26/2013 7:11:40 AM

Nice work, guys. The interchange on people recording Google Glass made me think of this classic West Wing scene (watch the last 20 seconds): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wf8Vl0ORBaE
- Alex

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