Archive for April, 2006

A (Sales)force to be reckoned with

Friday, April 21st, 2006

(Posted by Kathi Vosevich)

When Salesforce.com acquired Sendia on April 11, it created a small spate of speculation about what this might portend. “Reckless enthusiasm” or “huge confidence” in a mobile strategy? Good question!

To put this question in better context, let’s dive a little deeper. Although most news releases and blogs noted that all 79 of Sendia’s customers are also Salesforce customers, few mentioned that Salesforce has 20,500 customers and counting or that Sendia has zero customers in common with its other partners (Oracle and its acquisition, Siebel). So is there a demand for on-demand mobile-enabled business applications? What was Salesforce thinking?

I like to think that, to mesh a couple of quotations together, Salesforce has “huge enthusiasm” about mobility. Moreover, I suggest that they are right to be enthused. They recognize the power of mobility.

Just put this acquisition in terms of the Law of Mobility. If the value of any product or service increases exponentially with mobility, as the Law asserts, then Salesforce may have effectively ensured some impressive future growth. After all, as President Bush has said, he has found that “expectations rise above that which is expected.” (A more profound statement than he may have gotten credit for.) And impressive, consistent growth in revenue, customers, and customer satisfaction scores is a hard act to follow – unless the Law of Mobility takes over.

Salesforce is not #79 on the list of the top 100 most innovative businesses by accident. With AppExchange Mobile, a product introduced in the acquisition announcements, applications can be delivered to mobile devices without developers having to write different code for different platforms. This is huge. Now Salesforce can hype a “write once, run anywhere” message. Up to this point, it is arguable that mobile applications have over-promised and under-delivered. But as Kendall Collins, VP of product marketing at Salesforce points out in an article by Hannah Smalltree, “People have been able to e-mail … but until now, they haven’t been able to run business applications.” This may be the key differentiator.

So does Salesforce know something competitors don’t? Are they ahead of the marketplace or is the time ripe? Maybe “the readiness is all” (to quote a great source), and they are signaling both their readiness and that of the market. In fact, they are helping to create and enable mobile business.

One thing is clear: Salesforce has thrown down the mobile gauntlet and we’ll just have to wait and see if anyone picks it up. After all (with apologies to Robert Browning), a company’s reach should exceed its grasp or what’s a Fortune 500 for?

Converged Products: Week of 4/16/06

Friday, April 21st, 2006

The most convenient way that mobility is getting built into products is through the convergence of capabilities that previously existed as standalone products into the cellphone. That way, those products are now with you and available for your use whenever you need them wherever you go.

New Article on CIO Magazine’s Website

Wednesday, April 19th, 2006

A new article about the Law of Mobility and it’s impact on businesses has just been published by CIO magazine.  It can be read online here:

Additional External References to the Law

Tuesday, April 18th, 2006

The Law of Mobility continues to be recognized as a key trend impacting business and society.  Here are some links to external references to the Law:

 

Enabling Technology: Week of 4/9/06

Monday, April 17th, 2006

The Law of Mobility talks about value increasing with mobility. The impact of this law is being felt because the cost of adding mobility into products is falling, making it a no-brainer for mobility to be built into everything. Here are examples of technology advances enabling this to happen:

Managing the Danger: Week of 4/9/06

Sunday, April 16th, 2006

In order to be winners in the new mobile era, businesses will not only need to capture the power of mobility, but also manage the danger. Highlighted below are recent examples of the danger of mobiliity and how some firms are beginning to manage it:

Capturing the Power: Week of 4/9/06

Saturday, April 15th, 2006

Mobility is a wonderful thing. As mobility gets built into all products and services, businesses need to learn how to both capture the power of mobility and manage the dangers introduced through mobility. Here are some examples of how the power of mobility is being applied to create competitive advantage:

Converged Products: Week of 4/9/06

Friday, April 14th, 2006

The most convenient way that mobility is getting built into products is through the convergence of capabilities that previously existed as standalone products into the cellphone. That way, those products are now with you and available for your use whenever you need them wherever you go.

The Value of Building Mobility into Processes

Friday, April 14th, 2006

The Law refers to the value of products increasing with mobility. If your job doesn’t have anything to do with a product, you may wonder if the Law applies to you.

In short, the answer is yes.

To help demonstrate the value of mobility in everything, think about these simple examples of how companies have mobilized processes and by doing so have created competitive advantage that others in their industry have been forced to follow.

Think about car rental. These days we take for granted that when we return our car, a return agent will come to us at our car and will complete our transaction while we collect our luggage. We simply take our receipt from them and leave. But it wasn’t always that way. It used to be that when you returned your car, you had to write down the mileage, go into the company’s office building, stand in line, and eventually pay for your rental. (Does anyone remember this?) At some point in time (my memory thinks it was about 10 years ago), one of the rental car firms (Avis? – they always try harder…) realized that they could clearly differentiate themselves if they took something in their business that was fixed (the car return process) and mobilized it – brought it where you are instead of making you come to where they are. Today, I wouldn’t even consider using a rental car firm that didn’t have this process mobilized!

Think about package delivery. We’re not at all surprised today when we’re asked to sign on a mobile computer when we receive a package from UPS or FedEx or any of their competitors. But there was a time when we’d actually sign a piece of paper on a clipboard. In this case, the interaction hasn’t moved any closer to us, but the collection of data has been mobilized. Because of that, we take for granted that we can track the very precise, very detailed, and very timely progress of our package from origin to destination. When we wonder why our package hasn’t yet arrived, we can check online and see that it was actually delivered to our neighbor during that 15 minutes when we stepped away (we can actually see their signature if it was required!) I now get frustrated when I’m anxiously awaiting something and it’s been shipped using a method without this precise tracking. Whoever first mobilized this process undoubtedly created tremendous competitive advantage that forced their competitors to follow.

This week I spent some time with a company called Agilis Systems. Agilis makes software to capture the power of mobility in field service processes. The example they gave was another with which I could really relate.

One of the modules in their product suite is called SmartRoute. It creates a list of customers that the field service tech needs to visit each day and then it updates that list throughout the day.

For example, let’s say you sign up for new local telephone service and the Bell tech needs to visit your house to turn up the service. You might be told that he’ll arrive between 7am and noon. So you take half a day off work. In reality, he runs into some complexities at one of his stops and doesn’t really arrive until 1:30pm. Your whole day is shot and you aren’t too pleased when he finally arrives. Sound familiar?

Agilis’ solution includes the ability to call you when you’re the next one on the tech’s list. You’ll be asked “Press 1 if you can meet the technician in 15 minutes, press 2 if you want to be pushed to later in the day, or press 3 if you want to reschedule for another day.” Based on your response, the technician will either proceed to your house, or his route will be recalculated with you either removed from that day’s list or pushed to later in the day.

Imagine how much happier this would make you as a customer than having to hang around all day waiting for the tech to arrive. Now also realize how this allows the service provider to more efficiently manage their resources and thus save money and/or increase revenues.

So, are you starting to get the picture? You may not be in the rental car, package delivery, or telephone installation business, but I’m sure there are ways you can think of to build mobility into your processes to improve customer satisfaction, reduce costs, and increase revenues. And who can’t afford to do any of those?

Off-blog Law of Mobility materials

Wednesday, April 12th, 2006

Last week, an article on the Law of Mobility was published in Wireless Week’s CTIA show daily.  To read it, go here and then click on the Day 1 issue image.  The article is on page 78 (you can type in 78 in the field between the two arrows at the top).

If you haven’t already seen it, there’s also a whitepaper on the Law of Mobility available from the Sprint website here.

The Law of Mobility concept was originally introduced in a Business Reform article which is linked here.

Danny Briere also talked about the Law in his column in Network World.

 Other articles are in progress.  I’ll provide links to them as they are published.