Category Archives: mobile

Insights on the future of tech from Qualcomm’s Dr Paul E Jacobs

Funny this week that driving home from a startup event at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View I should stumble on to an NPR broadcast from the very same location, but this time featuring an interview with the very smart, very well-spoken Dr Paul E Jacobs from Qualcomm.

On the subject of being well-spoken, Dr Jacobs points out that he is essentially an engineer at heart and being confident on large stages or in front of TV cameras didn’t exactly come naturally: it’s something he’s worked at. Now isn’t that heartening?

Talking through his history, Dr Jacobs offers a clear direction on how exactly he became so prescient in understanding that the telecom industry would require mobile computing chips that would support a lot more than just speach. He explains how in the early 90’s (ie. around the time where the internet was just a networking experiment linking a bunch of colleges) he was working on speech optimization and speech compression algorithms. This planted the fundamental idea that speech was just one potential form of data that can flow through the pipes of a telecom network. It took the better part of 20 years for the smartphone to arrive and finally relegate speech to just another app on the phone we keep in our pocket. Dr Jacobs’ vision has helped ensure that the Qualcomm is a major provider of the chips needed to support this revolution.

So, what happens when you ask someone this prescient about the future?

Interesting Dr Jacobs concentrates a lot on healthcare. For instance, he talks about a sensor so small it can sit in your bloodstream and notice the indicators for a heart attack which typically show up two weeks before the event. Then what does it do? Give you a call on your smartphone and tell you to watch out!

He talks about advances in artificial intelligence and cognitive computing (with a fleeting reference to IBM Watson). Robots that learn by being physically guided rather than being programmed. He talks about just how close we are to producing computer systems that can mirror and reproduce human thought and potentially finally conquer the Turing Machine.

I’d strongly encourage you to take the time to listen to the whole fascinating interview:

More info on KQED

What exactly is going on in enterprise mobility right now?

That’s a question I’m hoping to have answered at IBM Impact which kicks off today. There’ll be some smart folks around who have been chipping away at the mobile coalface, meeting customers and designing solutions, well-placed to describe what’s happening in the mobile enterprise space.

One of these folks is Chris Pepin who recently wrote about a Forrester study showing that there is real business value generated on the back of the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) phenomenon. This does make me wonder whether and how companies should incentivize this practice.

Speaking personally, I did hold out on this for some time on BYOD, mainly because of the increased security my employer imposed on my device, something which I knew would interrupt my personal usage of my phone. But I first dipped my toe in at a conference and from there on in found it hard to sever ties. If nothing else, I have the opportunity to clear out my junk mail whilst waiting to pay for groceries (or indeed whilst I’m clearing out my own junk on the porcelain throne, something I probably shouldn’t share, although I know I’m not alone). To be honest, the biggest incentive I could see my employer providing is the design of apps to the same beautiful levels we see in the consumer space. If I could have an intranet experience that came anywhere close to aping Google Now, hell, I’d suggest recruiters should highlight this as a company perk.

Meanwhile, IBM Champion Scott Francis will be showing off mobile BPM solutions. Here we’re talking about enterprise software to manage automated processes which can be accessed from any device from desktop down through tablet to smartphone.

Hopefully more enterprise application developers will follow suit and consider the loosening of the desktop hegemony.  It’s becoming increasingly difficult to make a case why any enterprise application shouldn’t be mobile enabled.

About 90 days ago, IBM Executive Ed Brill switched roles and moved out of the collaboration business and into mobile (perhaps testament to the large overlap between these two topics). Thankfully Ed documents much of his business life on his blog, and recently discussed the major mobile trends top of mind for him right now. I don’t want to steal all his thunder, but I was particularly interested to see mobile analytics make his list, and more particularly the kind of analytics that can monitor your every tap and swipe and feed that back to thr app developers.

I’ve spent some time in the past working with web analytics but think mobile analytics has the potential to go much further. I say this because with a reduced viewport area it’s that much easier for users to experience usage frustration. This makes design a more compelling differentiator. A reduced viewport also reduces the number of elements per page, so the number of testing permutations are reduced, simplifying the analysis and design phases. These factors should help mobile analytics prove its worth.

This will actually be my fourth outing to IBM Impact and my own use of mobile technology at the event has changed quite dramatically. Roll back to 2009 and you’ll see me sporting a basic Samsung feature phone with slide-out keyboard which at the time was great for tweeting (via SMS of course). If I really wanted to connect, I’d be searching around for a power plug my laptop could sip from whilst I fought with the conference wifi. This year I’ll have a smartphone and tablet, and am just taking a laptop as backup (I doubt it will leave my hotel room). I’m expecting my mobile devices to keep me connected and manage my schedule.

How times have changed and will continue to do so as our journey into enterprise mobility continues.

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