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When machines talk...


canstockphoto9333885One of the major themes at the recent Mobile World Congress in Barcelona and CeBIT conference in Hannover, Germany was machine to machine communication. This is sometimes known as the Internet of Things and involves sensors communicating to databases. 

Producing and collecting all this data seems to be the easy part. The real issue is what do you do with it? If you own 100,000 soda machines and the machine is smart enough to tell you at the current rate of consumption, it's going to need refilling in 10 hours, or that it had been vandalized and needs to be repaired, this is valuable information. And if it could tell you that it appears that in the next 24 hours it's going to need a new part, all of this information could be incredibly useful.

If you could anticipate the service needs of the machines before an incident happens that brings it off line, that could be very powerful -- if you could find the data.

The trouble is that when you have 100,000 machines yacking at your database, figuring out the key information you need to know from the noise might not always be easy to do.

Jurgen Hase, vice president at M2MCC at Deutsche Telecom told me at the CeBIT Conference in Hannover, Germany last week that he he sees machine to machine communication as a growing trend in the coming years.

He says these types of scenarios in the enterprise could be complicated by the fact that IT might not let machines from another company tie into the IT infrastructure to communicate the information back to the mothership. That means you have to build in ways for the sensors to communicate independently and Hase expected we will see this more and more.

The copy machine will transmit billing codes, usage numbers, maintenance needs and so forth. He sees the service implications of this kind of data going back and forth to be huge. You can start out small with a couple of metrics and add new ones over time building a bigger and bigger database of information.

He says the idea is to use this data to learn about other services you can offer, ones you might not have thought of prior to collecting all this data.

Hase says the analytics layer is the next step and building up a global view to generate neutral information.

He believes this ability to monitor, collect an understand data could lead to whole new industries and whole new ways of doing business, because when machines talk, big data happens, and if you can process that data and understand your customers needs before something breaks, it could be a powerful differentiator in the future.

Photo Credit: CanStockPhoto

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5 Links for Developer and IT Pros 4-6-12

5 4 6 12It's Friday and that means it's time for our weekly feature where we search the Web looking for 5 interesting, funny and poignant links for developers and IT Pros.

If you missed our other post this week, O'Reilly: The future is about data, not software algorithms, please have a look. O'Reilly believes that we are entering a period where controlling important databases will be more important than developing software algorithms.

Please consider subscribing if you like what you see here, and if you have something to say, please feel free to leave a comment and let us know what you think.

And without further delay, here we go with this week's links:

Cloudburst: Unexplored Risks of the Cloud | Business Agility

We all know the advantages of moving to the cloud, but of course there are plenty of risks associated with having your data on someone else's servers as well. This post focuses some new territory looking at stability, availability and preservation.

Five reasons you should build your mobile website with HTML5 - devworx> Blog.

If you haven't started exploring HTML5 for mobile, it's high time you did. This post looks at 5 features you might have overlooked and why you could be offering a better mobile experience for your users by switching to HTML5.

BYOD, The Secret Sauce | A Screw Loose Blog.

The Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend is all the rage in the enterprise, but there are issues you need to take into consideration when your users are carrying company data and personal information on the same mobile device. One crucial element is an Acceptable Use Policy which you create by gathering all of the key stakeholders including end users to develop a clear, simple set of rules.

Philippe Kahn: The Future of Mobile is Motion | Input Output.

If the name Philippe Kahn sounds familiar, it probably should. Kahn founded Borland, one of the early successful software companies, but today Kahn is working on the idea of mobile motion, using sensors to detect motion through the world, and what he is doing could transform our mobile interactions from pure location to a much more sophisticated interaction between human, sensors and device -- and the world around us.

Google Will Abandon Android | cek.log.

While the title is somewhat provacative, the post discusses some real issues around Android fragmentation and Google's overall goals for the Android platform, asking a crucial question: Is Google more concerned with the integrity of the Android brand or the technical purity of the platform? It's a question worth exploring, especially as Google once again tries to launch its own Google branded Android product -- in this case the upcoming tablet.

Photo by Tomma Henckel Used under Creative Commons Share Alike/Attribution License.

O'Reilly: Future is about data, not software algorithms


In a fascinating interview with Forbes Editor Jon Bruner, publisher and thinker Tim O'Reilly waxed eloquently about the increasing importance of data as we move forward.

O'Reilly was talking in the context of maps and mobile devices, but his overall hypothesis, that data is increasingly what's going to matter is what came shining through.

And his ultimate conclusion: "The guy with the most data wins."

To illustrate this, O'Reilly spoke about Google's autonomous autos and how good they have become at accurate driving. He stressed that, it's not that the artificial intelligence that operates the car has gotten better over the last several years, it's that the cars have more data. And that data came from Google Street View.

He explained that the AI algorithms let the car know things like collision detection, but when it comes to where to go -- it's using data that came from the Street View project to very specifically understand location.

O'Reilly said when Google developed Street View it was cool, but only moderately useful to most of us. Most people didn't switch to Street View, but what it was doing ultimately was gathering intricate data, -- what O'Reilly called a "treasure trove."

And O'Reilly says that as you gather that kind of data you can begin to find new uses for it. In this case, it's making an autonomous vehicle operate better, but it could be any number of things.

And as we build sensors into more items and in the surrounding world, that ability to interact and build new services based on a machine-level understanding of where we are in the world will lead to more sophisticated services.

What we're seeing today is companies like Google collecting as much data as they can to be in control of what O'Reilly calls "superstar databases." These folks who control the big important databases are going to have tremendous leverage when it comes to business, to the extent that O'Reilly sees a future where data could be the source of monopoly power.

It also goes to this notion that data will be the source of lock-ins in the future, and it will no longer be software algorithms as it tends to be today. That means that in the not-to-distant future, the Google search algorithm is no longer going to be the big money producer for the company, but the databases will be -- assuming his vision is accurate.

That said, there are other independent sources of data developing outside of commercial circles. In the mapping game, there is the OpenStreetMap project, which O'Reilly says is "doing a pretty damn good job of building a useful alternative."

In a somewhat different view, Tim Berners-Lee wants data to be free. In a TED talk in 2009 he discussed is vision for a data-driven web. He wants the web to move away from being just document-driven to a web of inter-locked data which enables machine to machine communications. As Berners-Lee pointed out, when he built the web, he had no idea whatsoever it would become. It developed in ways he never imagined.

And he wants data to move as freely as information does now on the web. O'Reilly described a future of data ownership, but touched upon free data alternatives. Berners-Lee wants a world of where data isn't owned in silos, but is open and available.

This clash of ideas will be fought on the web in the coming years. As O'Reilly alluded to, the decisions about how we use data and commercialize it moving forward will have a profound impact on the future of the web -- and on businesses that make use of it and make money from it.

See the Forbes interview with Tim O'Reilly in its entirety below:

See the Tim Berners-Lee TED talk below:

Judging the Best Mobile Travel Apps


by Glenn Gruber
AVP for mobile solutions 

iStock 000017831525XSmallLast week EyeforTravel held its inaugural Mobile conference alongside the 5th annual Social Media conference, with over 300 people in attendance, including myself. This was my first EyeforTravel event and I was lucky enough to have been selected as one of the judges of the Mobile Innovation in Travel awards (Disclosure: EyeforTravel paid for my conference registration). 

So what were the key takeaways from the event?:

  • First a quick shout out to American Express’ Susan Black and John Peters from Rand-McNally for emceeing the event and moderating the individual sessions. They both did an outstanding job of keeping the program moving, ensuring that salient points were raised and that presenters didn’t skate on tough questions. They made sure it was informative and entertaining for all who attended.
  • I’m a sucker for stats. In setting up the impact that both mobile and social can have in the travel sector, ComScore’s Philip Grote gave a great presentation.
  • Geo-fencing might be the next big trend? There was quite a bit of talk about this at the conference. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, geo-fencing refers to creating virtual perimeters or boundaries based upon distance from a fixed point. In this context, it means understanding where a traveler is and proactively sending out relevant alerts, offers or content. The tracking of the traveler’s location is determined by their mobile device. 
  • AT&T’s Ricky Heath provided several examples, such as, if I was heading to the airport as soon as I was 10 minutes out from the airport, the airline would sense (track) my location and perhaps automatically send a mobile boarding pass, offer me an upgrade or if I was running late, automatically re-book me on the next available flight. There is a slight creepy factor of brands (and the carriers) tracking your location at all times, but it’s just another version of location sharing – although this is passive and automatic, versus check-ins where the person makes an affirmative decision to share their location. I’ll let others argue about the level of creepiness, privacy concerns (I have them), but social geo-fencing companies like Highlight and Glancee were the toast of SXSW recently. So apparently the Technorati have determined this kind of sharing is fine.
  • Next Gen mobile development showing big strides: A few companies demonstrated version 2.0 of their mobile initiatives and I’d say with great success. So many companies are so focused on getting out a mobile app or optimized mobile web site that design and usability of these first generation attempts aren’t where they need to be. The evolution and refinements that were demonstrated by Orbitz and Liftopia are major upgrades. While the UX/UI improvements in Orbitz’s hotel-only app haven’t reached the main Orbitz app, the direction they’ve taken is a gargantuan improvement. I hope that they extend this to the other Orbitz apps and beyond iOS soon.
  • Sabre shared a nice video regarding the future mobile traveler but I’m not holding my breath for that to arrive anytime soon. They do know how to hire a very good production company. But while the Sabre Red desktop isn’t bad, the UX team can learn a thing or two from the interface in the video.
  • Hipmunk’s Adam Goldstein has his UX pitch down pat, but I knew that from the other 4 times I’ve seen him speak.
  • Simplicity and focus create great mobile experiences. OK we already knew that, and if you weren’t sure, Adam told you again. But Orbitz’s hotel only app was really slick and the stats shared by Hotel Tonight CEO Sam Shank on the efficiency of their mobile app (4 clicks and 7 seconds from start to booked) was awfully impressive and demonstrates why GigaOM called it one of their favorite apps of 2011.
  • Lastly…Congrats to our Winners!: I had a lot of fun at judges table. The presentations from the contenders were good and they nobody wilted in the face of (mostly) tough questions from the panel. The envelope please:
    • Best App: Worldmate
    • Best Mobile Web Site: Hotwire
    • Best Mobile Strategy: InterContinental Hotels Group

However, honorable mention goes out to Orbitz for a well-executed, focused app and to TripAdvisor who not only has a good city guide app (via the EveryTrail acquisition), but a very well thought out technology strategy supporting their mobile activities.

Finally, thanks to Tim Gunstone and Gina Baillie of EyeforTravel for inviting me to participate.

5 Links for Developer and IT Pros 3-16-12

5 3 16 12It's Friday and that means it's time for our weekly feature where we search the Web looking for 5 interesting, funny and poignant links for developers and IT Pros.

If you missed our other post this week, Getting Beyond the Big Data Hype Cycle, please check it out. It discusses the true potential of big data and how get beyond the hype to the reality of how to manage, analyze and share it.

We also published an infographic this week, Time is of the Essence on the Web, which looks at the short attention spans of web visitors and why you need to take this into consideration when you design web sites and apps.

Please consider subscribing if you like what you see here, and if you have something to say, please feel free to leave a comment and let us know what you think.

And without further delay, here we go with this week's links:

Why the new iPad 3 might be just right for your business - FierceMobileIT

The new iPad 3 hits the streets today and you may be wondering what it offers IT from business perspective. Well, it turns out that the new iPad may provide some interesting use cases you hadn't considered, as this post points out.

What's the best Linux server for you? - ITworld

The Linux server you choose for your business depends a lot on what you do and the size of your business. This post looks at how to choose the best one based on size criteria.

Big backlash is building against Windows 8. Will Microsoft listen? - Computerworld Blogs

The Windows 8 consumer preview has been out for a while now, and it's looking like people are giving the big thumbs down on the dual Metro - traditional desktop interface. Even experienced user are finding it confusing. Microsoft needs to address this now before the release, but will it?

Lead Leaders: Why Loose Leadership Matters Most in the Coming Years - HP I/O

Social media expert (and he is one of the few who wears that title legitimately) Chris Brogan discusses why IT management will need to establish a looser form of leadership in the coming years. That may require leaving your old-school management techniques behind for a calmer one with different expectations and success metrics. It doesn't mean you don't manage, just that you do it in a different fashion than you might have in the past.

Is DevOps Killing the Operations Team? - Javalobby

It may seem like the push to automate of many task previously done by IT is an attempt to kill jobs, but this author suggests appearances might be deceptive. But as with Brogan's advice that IT managers have to learn new way to manage, IT ops pros may have to freshen up their skills to stay relevant in a shifting job landscape.

Photo by Tomma Henckel Used under Creative Commons License.

HP and Oracle Hope to Make Sense of Big Data

iStock 000016740032XSmallBig data is a term that's been bandied about with relative ease recently, but if you want proof that it's more than marketing hype, just look at the recent purchases by HP and Oracle.

Data is exploding in the enterprise and on the Internet. When you have 800 million people or so on Facebook sharing content, it illustrates clearly just how content is exploding all around us whether you realize it or not.

With this data explosion, it becomes increasingly important to be able to pull information from this mass of information and find ways to make sense of it all. The bigger your data pile, the more difficult it is to find the nuggets that could be most important to your business.

It's a problem that the federal government faces all the time on so many levels, whether it's finding terrorists threats or making sense of the latest economic information, and it's just as important for you inside your organization to make sense of your information.

HP must think so because big data was really what Leo Apotheker must have been thinking about when he spent $10 billion to purchase Autonomy, a company that is probably best known for search, but also has a host of tools for managing and understanding data. Apotheker won't be around to see that vision come to fruition, having been fired and replaced by former eBay CEO Meg Whitman, but it was clearly what he had in mind when he decided to abandon the PC business and move in this direction.

Meanwhile, just this week Oracle bought enterprise search platform vendor Endeca, which has created a search platform on which you can build applications to help make sense of all that unstructured data.

As Lee Dallas points out on the Big Men on Content blog, it's easy to conclude that this deal was a direct response to the HP purchase, but it's probably due more to overall trends in the marketplace that both companies are smart enough to have observed and want to take advantage of.

The fact that two large enterprise vendors went after the same type of company is certainly interesting, and it proves just how important it is to to be able to search your vast stores of content and data to find the information that matters.

As somebody on the outside watching all of this, you may be intrigued by the ideas too, but have no clear idea what it means for your organization. Don't be afraid to seek out third parties to help you make sense of the trends and what they mean to your organization.

Whether we're talking data analytics, business intelligence, data visualization or enterprise search; there's a lot going on and it's not always easy to make sense of it all.

One thing is clear though, your unstructured data pile is growing and you need to find ways to get at that data and put it to work for your company, regardless of the vendor you choose to help you do that.

5 Links for Developers and IT Pros 10/14/11


5 10 14 11It's Friday and that means it's time for our weekly feature where we search the Web looking for 5 interesting, funny and poignant links for developers and IT Pros.

If you missed our other post this week, How Steve Jobs Unwittingly Changed Mobile Development, please check it now. When Jobs created the App Store concept, he changed everything.

If you like what you see here, please consider subscribing and if you have something to say, please feel free to leave a comment and let us know what you think.

And here we go with this week's links:

It's not the coding that's hard, it's the people - Computerworld

With research showing so many projects failing, is it time for a softer, gentler Agile programming approach?

Beyond the Buzz: Actual Global IT Adoption Trends -- CIO Update

What's hot in IT? Hint it's not really the cloud and mobile, at least if you can believe the results of a recent survey of technology trends.

Will cloud security ever be sufficient? - ZDNet

One veteran technology writer, who gets flack every time he writes about the cloud, wonders if cloud security will ever be good enough for the doubters, nay sayers and general cloud haters.

Should Your Company Adopt a Standard Browser? - Input Output

Here's an interesting question; should your company have one browser to rule them all, and would your users even stand for that? Of course, standardization is an easier path, but it bucks the IT consumerization trend where users are picking their own tools.

Moneyball for Software Engineering - O'Reilly Radar

The recent release of Moneyball, the movie based on the book about how Oakland As' General Manager Billy Beane introduced statistical analysis to baseball, has more than a few people wondering if this could apply to other fields, like say, software development? What's next? Fantasy software leagues?

Photo by Tomma Henckel Used under Creative Commons License.

5 Links for Developers and IT Pros 9/30/11

5  9 30 11It's Friday and that means it's time for our weekly feature where we search the Web looking for 5 interesting, funny and poignant links for developers and IT Pros.

If you missed our other post this week, Study Finds Freemium Model Generates Big App Store Revenue, please have a look. We look at how giving away your app, then charging for additional functionality may make you more money than simply charging more for an app up front.

If you like what you see here, please consider subscribing and if you have something to say, please feel free to leave a comment and let us know what you think.

And here we go with this week's links:

The Great Web Hope: HTML5 On Mobile Still A Work In Progress - paidContent

At a conference recently, developers batted around the  idea of an open, standards-based, HTML5-driven mobile web. Such an approach has to be pretty attractive to a developer, but there are limitations and we are probably not going to be abandoning stand-alone apps just yet.

What's With all the Cloud Paranoia - ZDNet

One writer is confused by the rabid response he gets every time he writes about the cloud and he's wondering where all this fear is coming from.

It Takes Open Source to Raise a Village - Network World

Much of the same philosophy that drives the open source community is also driving ecologists who are trying to develop an open platform on which they can build eco-friendly industrial machines.

Identifying Passionate Developers - Musings of the Bare Bones Coder

It takes more than pure coding skill to get hired at this company. It takes some passion and the desire to help your fellow developers. This article looks at ways you might be able to find people with those traits as you go through the interview process.

The Future Desktop - ReadWriteWeb

What might the future PC look like? Think holograms, molecular computing or quantum computing. Whatever comes next it's probably not going to involve silicon which could reach the end of its capacity to scale up in the next 10 years. This article explores some possible silicon chip replacements.
Photo by Tomma Henckel Used under Creative Commons License.

5 Links for Developers and IT Pros 7/22/11



It's Friday and that means it's time for our weekly feature where we search the Web looking for 5 interesting, funny and poignant links for developers and IT Pros.

If you like what you see here, please consider subscribing and if you have something to say, please feel free to leave a comment and let us know what you think.

C  Documents and Settings P5101676 Desktop Number5G

And here we go with this week's links:

What is the Best Comment in Source Code You Have Ever Encountered - Stack Overflow

This post invites readers to contribute the best comments they've ever found buried in source code, and as you can imagine there are some very funny contributions. Must read.

Top Five Linux: Microsoft - ZDNet

When you think about contributors to Linux, Microsoft probably isn't one that jumps to top of mind, but you might be surprised to learn that Microsoft is in fact one of the Top 5 contributors to the Linux code base.

Responsible Bug Reporting and Triage - Software Quality Connection

It's one thing to get your QA staff to report bugs. It's another altogether to get them to do it in a way so that programmers can actually understand and fix the problem. This article takes a look at how to train QA staff to report bugs in a way that enables developers to fix them quickly.

Crash Proof Code - HP Input Output

As programmable sensors that run the infrastructure around us proliferate in the world, it becomes increasingly important to program these devices with rock-solid, crash-proof code. This article explores how.

Another Look at IT Staffing - Part 1 - Uncharted Waters - TechTarget

This article takes a fresh look at what to expect when it comes to IT staffing trends, exploring where we've been as an industry and where we could expect to be going moving forward.

Photo by Tomma Henckel. Used under Creative Commons License.

5 Links for Developers and IT Pros 7/8/11

5 smallIt's Friday and that means it's time for our weekly feature where we search the Web looking for 5 interesting, funny and poignant links for developers and IT Pros.

If you like what you see here, please consider subscribing and if you have something to say, please feel free to leave a comment and let us know what you think.

And her we go with this week's links:

The Natural Way to Cutting Energy Use - Input Output

If you're running a data center, it costs money to keep the lights on and it costs money to keep the system cool. This article offers some practical advice on cutting your energy costs.

The Great Browser Support Problem - Technique

When it comes to Internet Explorer 6 and other older browsers, should you support them or not? It's not an easy decision, but this article looks at the pros and cons of different approaches to this vexing problem.

Dancing with Pigs - The Scrum Alliance

OK, so maybe it's not the best image of how to keep a Scrum moving smoothly through the development process, but it is a dance of sorts and this post explains how to keep the music playing, pigs and all.

BlackBerry PlayBook vs. HP TouchPad: A tale of two failures - ZDNet

RIM and HP were supposed to develop tablets for the enterprise, but when it came to delivery they choked. What happened? Both devices have great designs, but what killed them was poor delivery and marketing execution.

7 Self-Inflicted Wounds Of Cloud Computing -- InformationWeek

Is cloud computing hurting itself? This author thinks so and offers 7 areas he believes that cloud marketers missed the mark.

Photo by Tomma Henckel. Used under Creative Commons License.
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