Monday, March 24th, 2014
I recently attended an industry event where analysts from Gartner and Forrester discussed some of the key industry trends. They identified two major technology categories:
- Wearable Devices – anything from Google Glass to FitBit to RFID tagged clothing
- Data Analytics – in particular, those applications and services that present data in a fashion that can be easily consumed by the average business person or consumer – without the aid of a data scientist or analyst.
The next obvious question asked of the analysts was, “What about privacy?” In unison, both chimed in that it is the pivotal issue surrounding the success or failure of certain products, services and initiatives in this space. We agree.
Connected devices provide enormous information about each of us that can be used to help us get more exercise, loose weight, manage our household security, the location of our children and elder parents and even manage chronic diseases more effectively. This information, if not managed properly can lead to unwanted marketing messages, at best, and pricing or service access discrimination by unscrupulous organizations. Technologists talk about the opportunity of the Internet of Things (IoT). From a societal and business policy perspective, the discussion is really about the “Internet of Me” (IoM).
It becomes imperative that users have a choice about the control, use and flow of their personal data. It also becomes vital that companies who collect and/or use connected device data have clear and unambiguous policies and disclosures about data use. Remember – pie isn’t free at the truck stop. There is always a cost – obvious, or hidden. So before you choose a “free” service over a paid subscription, or finalize your connected device data business plans, take to the time to understand if and how all that “IoM” data will be used.
Friday, January 31st, 2014
I read a wonderful post today written by Ben Horowitz - The Little Country that Cloud. The post describes Estonia’s groundbreaking work to use technology in way that builds trust and communications between a government and its populace.
As noted in the post, everything has not been perfect, but it does provide hope – and a roadmap – for countries to productively engage its citizenry through the integration of technology and commercial infrastructure built upon trust and respect. While Estonia, through political upheaval had the opportunity to “re-invent” itself, think of how efficient just our healthcare system could be if we applied even a part of what they have put in place as we build out our e-health initiatives.
The future does indeed look bright!
Monday, July 22nd, 2013
Is it just me or has the tech industry hit the doldrums? Are we now in a mature market for PC’s, Smartphones and Tablets? If this article is correct ‘Apple to report dismal results’ then it would appear so. On top of this Microsoft just wrote off almost a billion dollars of ‘Surface’ inventory – what’s going on here?
Well I think we’re just exhausted trying to keep up with the Jones’s and keeping track of where all our data is. I’ve been in the business now for over two decades and I’m trying to cut down to just two devices simply because it’s hard to keep everything in synch and know ‘whose on first’.
With almost a million apps to choose from on iTunes (or is that the iStore, or the App store (am I the only one who gets confused with this?)) what can possibly be left to build? And with the average price of an app now around $0.99 cents Apple has effectively driven software to almost nothing in an effort to support it’s own high margin hardware products.
Microsoft learned early on that it’s all about the developers, and they provided the tools and the ecosystem for developers to flourish with decent margins. Apple has wiped that out and in doing so have given developers no ability to make money.
So with no room to make money and a mature ‘form factor’ for tablets and smartphones we have a ‘more than good enough’ situation which explains the doldrums. More of the same won’t solve the problem – what we need is some good old fashioned innovation and in my opinion it’s not wearable (the last thing I want/need is more stuff to support with software updates).
What’s needed is a way for developers to make what’s there work better and generate them net new revenue. That will have the effect of driving more hardware sales.
What I call ‘upstream innovation’ is really hard, easy to ignore, laugh at, or outright dismiss. But as history has shown us, that’s what drives the next wave (pun intended) – not more of the same.
Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013
Recently, I was contacted by a responsive design blogger. Apparently, a blog comment of mine rang true with him. So I started to do a little digging and found that the concept of Responsive Web Design (RWD) is picking up steam as noted in this recent Forbes article, Why You Need to Prioritize Responsive Design Right Now. The concept now has a Wikipedia page associated with it, which skews to the technical side of the movement.
It appears that the concept of RWD is attributed to Ethan Macrotte in his 2010 blog, A List Apart) may have been an extension of the responsive design architectural theory that outlines how physical spaces may respond to the presence of people passing through them. This is a sea change in design that impacts many industries.
While there are a few technical standards emerging around the responsive design concept, my interest lies around the goal – to make Web content responsive to the device that is accessing it. As noted in the Forbes article, responsive design (a technical term) has now made it into the Forbes E-Commerce Marketing Checklist for 2013. This is a relatively new technical concept and it is already making it into the marketing mainstream. That is a very big deal and a very good trend for increased relevance and personalization of Web content.
Location-based services were the first real step in RWD and now device detection and mobile content are taking hold. Take responsive web design one step further and content, including navigation options, may be modified in real-time, for each individual user. This is the marketer’s holy grail of one-to-one marketing – and it is available right now.
We here at 3PMobile are working hard to make the Responsive Web Design vision a reality. We believe that to truly be responsive, you must know the user’s preferences – and respect those preferences. Our Choice® software provides marketers and IT with the data they need to respond not only to the multitude of today’s devices, but directly to their individual customers’ needs and preferences. When you respect choice and respond with relevant Web content, you build loyalty and improve the bottom line.
Wednesday, March 13th, 2013
Hard to believe that it’s a browser that is doing this. All of those menus are nothing more than good old fashioned HTML. You can change them in real time to suit the user, the location, the days special. Basically it’s always personalized for ME in real time.
Thursday, January 24th, 2013
What we do differently if we had the chance to do it all over again? There’s no question that the Internet has ushered in some of the greatest changes of the century. And yet as humans we should ponder the question – What if?
What if in the future, the Web could deliver a richer experience and respect my privacy?
Think about that for a moment. It’s actually a pivotal argument which appears to be an almost impossible problem to solve. The Web has always been synonymous with free. As in free content in return for using your private data to deliver advertising.
After 20 years of using the Web i’ve yet to see an advert that appeals to me on a Web page. It’s like they (the advertisers) know absolutely nothing about me. I’ve often wondered why there isn’t a simple menu option in the browser which allows me to ‘share my personal ad preferences’ with the content provider?
And yet to this day there’s nothing.
The question that no one can imagine asking is how can I share my private data in return for a better experience. There’s currently no ‘Internet of You’ (or Me) and yet with Advertising becoming a limited resource (there’s only so many Web pages for ads) why isn’t someone ‘re-imagining the Web’ to provide a richer more personalized experience?
I define Privacy as the ‘ability to control the collection flow and use of my Private data’. What I want in a re-imagined Web is the ability to control that collection, flow and use in a simple and easy to use manner. And in the act of sharing more value with the content provider in return receive more value in return.
If you go back in time (Innovation, The Internet, Standards And the Arrow of Time – Part I & Part II) you’ll see that the key to unlocking the future is to re-imagine the current. In the examples shown you can see how obvious it is as the arrow of time moves forward.
At 3PMobile we started out re-imagining the future of the Web. It’s one which aligns perfectly with the current Web, and then extends it into the future for those who want something better.
Monday, January 21st, 2013
(Or Why I think 3P-Based Infrastructure and Value-Add Channels are Sexy)
Over the past decade, rapid advancements in mobile technology and mobility in general, have changed how we live and how we do business. It has changed us from an “on-demand” world to an “always connected” world. No doubt, mobile is here to stay and it is big business; but it’s just getting started. We are just approaching the point where open standards and open channels can deliver the real benefit of a business ecosystem.
Modern mobility started as a walled garden. The carriers and handset companies controlled everything due to very real bandwidth constraints, network limitations and industry knowledge. Voice improved, but data experiences were still lacking. Good money was made on mostly disconnected enterprise app development for Palm, Blackberry and Windows Mobile devices. Over time, control shifted to the OS companies, where vertically integrated handsets and operating systems were designed to support better consistency in the user experience. Unfortunately, controlling the user experience has lead to more restrictive monetization models, locking out most developers from making meaningful money. Effectively, we shifted the gatekeepers from the carriers to companies like Apple – but at the expense of the channels that provide value-add functionality and content. One step forward. One step backward.
Users appreciated the improved experience, so brought their devices to work. BYOD was born, and with it, arose app development, security and curation platforms. Emerging leaders in this space include Adobe, Antenna, Good and Appcelerator, to name a few. In an effort to simplify and improve profitability, market consolidation is underway. While this may simplify things in the future, it is currently wreaking havoc on IT. Platforms have added complexity without improving the user experience.
The answer to many of these problems is staring us in the face. Apple had the original right idea – “the real Web on your mobile phone.” The infrastructure just wasn’t quite ready back then and the user experience was limited to the user interface – which is a naïve view of modern mobility. An “app for that” was born and now we are living with the fallout.
Improved bandwidth, ubiquitous connectivity, attention to user experience and now, an emphasis on simplifying security, management and app access are all here – everything needed to lay the groundwork for an incredibly rich mobile ecosystem. It’s an ecosystem, which can be monetized by the greatest number of development, product and service delivery channels. We’ve made great strides forward, but in order to realize the monetary benefit throughout the entire ecosystem, a new openness must ensue; the kind of openness that is exemplified by the Web economy.
Just as Microsoft created an open and engaging development community that fueled the PC economy, one, or more of these infrastructure leaders must apply the same model to mobility. How?
- Deliver an exceptional user experience. Include optimal performance, privacy and security management, and the ability to personalize the experience by device, location and personal preferences.
- Include meaningful channel monetization opportunities. Offer standards-based tools, support and best practice advice for developers, integrators and service providers that can be put to use with existing skills and expertise.
- Provide a platform that supports choice. Choice for both app and Web-based solutions. Choice that supports both free and paid content. Choice that supports both consumer and enterprise needs.
Once these three criteria are met, as in industry we no longer have to build walls in the name of bandwidth, user experience, or preserving the “free Web” business model. With the openness of Web standards, we can increase user choice and satisfaction, while unlocking mobile monetization for the entire ecosystem. (Although the thoughtful few that move first will reap the biggest benefits).
While most people don’t view infrastructure as sexy, I believe that adding the 3Ps to mobility not only makes infrastructure cool, but also enables new channels and all classes of business to fully monetize mobility. Now, who in business doesn’t think making money is sexy?!
Wednesday, December 12th, 2012
In Part I I introduced the notion of the ‘causal arrow of time‘ and how innovation moves forward in time with what has come before, always enhancing existing technology and the infrastructure that has come to depend on it, in the least disruptive way. In each case there is always the same outcome, a lowering of costs, new customers and services, and an increase in revenues. I used two analogies to illustrate how building standards based infrastructure helps drive innovation and move commerce forward. In this final blog i’ll talk about ‘Enhancing HTTP’ and how a new innovation in three critical areas (Performance, Privacy and Personalization) will drive the next wave of revenue on the Web.
As I mentioned in Part 1 there was no option in the standard version of HTTP to transmit Privacy information over the Internet. In an ironic twist of fate the original designers of the HTTP protocol actually added a method for adding ‘standard data’ to the transmission. This link points to RFC 2616 which is the actual protocol which runs the Web. Here’s the critical section that points to how the protocol can be ‘Enhanced’ (see the bold highlights below) …
- The Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) is an application-level protocol for distributed, collaborative, hypermedia information systems. It is a generic, stateless, protocol which can be used for many tasks beyond its use for hypertext, such as name servers and distributed object management systems, through extension of its request methods, error codes and headers
It’s those exact highlights which illustrates how you can enhance the Web using ‘standards’. Unfortunately as you continue to read the spec (Section 12.1) it tells you why trying to do this is not a good idea. But ‘what if you ignored that’ and went ahead and did it anyway? Well you’d have to solve a lot of complex problems, but if you did, then you would have successfully enhanced the standard by which all devices connect to the Web.
So what would all this look like?
A browser talks to a Web server
over current infrastructure using Web standards
A new data channel allows the browser to send
real-time private data over current infrastructure using Web standards
Enhancing HTTP – Adding a Channel for Privacy, Performance and Personalization Data
The need to transmit private data over existing HTTP infrastructure is increasing. 3PMobile believes the best approach is to use an encrypted channel inside the HTTP protocol itself. Like on a telephone network, this data is hidden during transmission, but recognizable by a Web server. The ‘Private Data’ being added to the HTTP request can be either STATIC (privacy preferences, personal information, performance enhancing data) or DYNAMIC (GPS, sensor data, etc.). It is added using existing HTTP standards, such as headers and cookies, so devices and developers need not learn anything new.
The addition of a private data “channel”, just like the added channels to the phone networks, enables countless new revenue opportunities without disrupting the existing HTTP protocol or infrastructure. It inserts seamlessly into the existing protocol, to ensure no disruption and no new learning by developers and IT professionals. Location-based services are the first to be monetized and a privacy preference “switch”, like the Do Not Track (DNT) header is currently being considered by governments and the W3C. A sampling of what standards-based, private data channel innovation enables includes:
- Enhanced Privacy
- Enterprise policy management & compliance monitoring
- Secure transmission of biometric user authentication
- Identity Wallets and consumer sharing choices
- Personalized Web Services
- Personalized content and advertising
- Managing policy, promotion and simplifying navigation via browser menus
- Mobile apps that can rival apps in UI and functionality
- Performance Optimization
- Real-time, real world device and wireless network performance testing
- Real-time performance monitoring by device, network and location
- Mobile SLA analysis & remote device testing and management via the Web
Innovating the Standard… 3PMobile®
Since the very beginnings of ‘transmission technology’, every time a standard has emerged and has been adopted for wide use there have been ‘alternate channels’ invented and applied to those standards for the purpose of transmitting ‘more information’ than the original technology was designed to transport…
… all without disrupting or replacing the original technology.
3PMobile, with it’s Choice® technology, applies this time-tested and proven approach. The company’s intellectual property adheres to the premise that the most valuable technological advances enable the successful introduction valuable products and services without disrupting the existing technology or economic base. Choice® is additive. It provides a path for new technological and economic growth – without requiring immediate change to current business practices or Web infrastructure. Effectively, the company’s contextual data communications platform simply extends the HTTP protocol with a new ‘data channel’ designed to support Web privacy, personalization, and performance-enhancing products and services.
3PMobile’s approach allows organizations and individuals to change – without forcing the pace of that change. It does so by respecting standards and utilizing existing programming skills for the HTTP protocol. And while many will argue that all standards-based solutions should be open source, one need only look at the number of FRAND and cross-licensing arrangements in play in modern Web and mobile ecosystems to know that while it may be the desire of some, it is not the reality. Market advantage and positive economic disruption is created by early adoption of innovative technologies that plug into the existing infrastructure. Strategically minded organizations have the opportunity to be the first to deliver and monetize products and services that utilize the 3Ps – and avoid the negative market impact regulation can impose on them.
Early adopters will gain the largest economic advantage, but everyone can participate for decades to come. As a standards-based technology, the 3PMobile approach is easily integrated into the enabling infrastructure, just as new services have been added to the fuel delivery, container-based shipping industries. It layers opportunity, just as tone-based dialing and data transmission have been added to the telephone network, or as digital data transmission has beyond simple information about the type of browser.
More data, faster transmissions, more choice in data sharing and management, means, quite simply, more opportunity for the development of profitable products and services. Successful innovation, like Choice®, is additive. It respects the technology, which has come before it. It enables yet-to-be defined monetization models. It ensures replacement revenue for established products and services as they reach their end-of-life. It supports both privacy and personalized content and services – with or without tracking. It is the next major evolutionary step in Internet communications.
Tuesday, December 11th, 2012
Like the ‘causal arrow of time‘, innovation moves forward in time with what has come before, always enhancing existing technology and the infrastructure that has come to depend on it, in the least disruptive way. However in each case there is always the same outcome, a lowering of costs, new customers and services, and increase in revenues. Two simple analogies come to mind:
The gas pump of today has changed little from the day it was invented by Sylvanus F. Bowser in Fort Wayne, Indiana on September 5, 1885. There’s a standard nozzle to dispense the fuel and there’s a metering mechanism to record the amount of fuel dispensed. All of this is ‘packaged’ in an attractive ‘pump’. By following a standard there is now a global distribution mechanism for gasoline that powers commerce.
Building on this (the causal arrow of time) pumps have become driver services delivery kiosks. They offer patrons multiple fuel and payment options, along with wait time video and car wash service options. They enable a new generation of revenue generating services for station owners, energy companies, content creators, and carwash mechanism producers. However the underlying theme always remains the same – improvements to existing infrastructure drive new revenue opportunities
In the case of the shipping containers it was the genius of one man, Malcolm McLean who relentlessly pursued an agenda that made ships, railroads and trucks bow to the intermodal container, and in the process made globalization and a new standard possible. In doing so he created a new economic order by leveraging existing delivery methods. There were five critical elements to McLeans vision which are mirrored in all global innovations. They are:
- Financial: In the beginning, total port costs consumed 48% (or $1163 of $2386) of shipment of one truckload of medicine from Chicago to Nancy, France, in 1960. Fast forward to today: the book quotes economists Edward Glaeser and Janet Kohlhase: “It is better to assume that moving goods is essentially costless than to assume that moving goods is an important component of the production process.”
- Technology: The key was to figure out optimal container sizes and other system parameters, based on a careful analysis of goods mixes on their routes. Today, container shipping systems are so optimized that an added second of delay in handling a container can translate to tens of thousands of dollars lost per ship per year.
- Labor: The streamlining of labor unions resulting in a more consistent and economical approach to handling containers
- Globalization: Containerization represented a technological force that old-style manual-labor-intensive ports and their cities simply were not capable of handling. This required a clean sheet approach to handling containers which is now repeated around the globe, offering economies of scale never seen before.
- Simplicity: By adopting a standard companies and countries could now easily move their products around the globe. Hard to believe it all came down to a single box.
Now lets fast forward in time the invention that helped usher in the Internet. At it’s core the Internet depends on the telecommunications industry and the enhancements made over time to the design that started it all – two cans and a piece of string which later became the telephone. In the beginning inventors found a simple way to replace ‘vibrations on the wire’ (the two cans and a piece of string we all played with as kids) with electrical signals. From there the race was on to continue enhancing the existing infrastructure with what’s now known as ‘control signals’, all without disturbing or having to change the in-place technology and standards. Todays telecommunications systems has evolved to support a myriad of new signals the latest of which we currently know as the Internet.
The history of the Internet began with the development of electronic computers in the 1950s. The public was first introduced to the Internet when a message was sent from computer science Professor Leonard KleinRock’s laboratory at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), after the second piece of network equipment was installed at Stanford Research Institute (SRI). This connection not only enabled the first transmission to be made, but is also considered to be the first Internet backbone. In 1982 the Internet protocol suite (TCP/IP) was standardized and the concept of a world-wide network of fully interconnected TCP/IP networks called the Internet was introduced. At it’s core the Internet is based in the advances made by the telecommunications industry followed by the computer industry.
Next in the causal arrow of time came ‘Standard HTTP’ which was layered in as a standard on top of another TCP/IP. HTTP was designed as a very simple stateless protocol. (A communications protocol (layer) that treats each request as an independent transaction that is unrelated to any previous request, so that the communication consists of independent pairs of requests and responses. It can easily be compared to the early days of telephony. The early HTTP technology standards only contained what was necessary to make connections and transfer generic content. There was no concept of ‘Private Data’ in the early HTTP design(s). It was simply a fundamental hybrid of both a transport and presentation layer protocol for data transfer.
In the next and final installment of this blog i’ll talk about ‘Enhancing HTTP’ following in the same ‘causal arrow of time’ footsteps as all of the other innovations mentioned above.
Wednesday, November 28th, 2012
Oh My! That’s terrible! But is it really accurate????
I’m a marketer. I understand how statistics can be modified to support your specific business case. I also get the value of a great “title” or sound bite. This one certainly caught my eye. I can appreciate a good fish tale. And I understand how the precise wording of a question can skew survey results (would you rather pay $100 or $50 for this service? Duh!). I am also a citizen and consumer and I believe that privacy is a right to be protected and that users should have a choice in what data is shared, with whom, and for what purpose.
To that end, I care a lot about what is happening with Do Not Track, and Web privacy, in general. Like most professionals I know, my self-imposed marketing rope is short, as in the end, you must deliver on what you promise or you’ll hang yourself and drive away customers. Clarity is important. Having clear, and agreed to definitions, or a common language is important if you don’t want your customers to be confused or misled.
So when I saw this headline, I was intrigued. And boy is this one from The Drum (Modern Marketing and Media) a whopper! So I just had to read on because this is pretty heady stuff. Why on earth would 1/3 of the people in Great Britain be so anti-IE10? The quote that caught my attention was the following:
“According to the research, IE10’s plans to automatically disable tracking would upset some 87 per cent of Brits who favour auto-fill services and more relevant advertising. Of those surveyed 13 per cent stated they wouldn’t allow their browser to retain information, such as passwords, for future use.”
Auto-fill? Seriously? Do Not Track (in its current draft) has nothing to do with auto-fill. It does not stop a website from collecting data from its users – just from sharing it with others without their permission. And users can easily turn off DNT in IE10, just as easily as they can turn something on or off in any DNT supporting browser.
Now, I can’t say with absolutely certainty that there is some deliberate campaign on the part of certain parties to bash DNT into oblivion, but as a marketer, it sure looks like it to me. I’m sure their data absolutely supports the claims in the article, but the context of the question sure seems off target. And that context is easily muddied given the lack of clear definition that currently exists within the DNT standards working group. It’s no wonder that today, the W3C appointed a new chair to the DNT Standards working group – who by the way is more than an a professor. He also happens to be a privacy attorney, not a technical expert. Ever read a good contract. What’s the first thing in it – a definition of all terms so their is no ambiguity around anything.
So will it be death or definition for DNT???
Make no mistakes, the stakes are enormous!