Mobile World Congress 2014 is over, and the last day was as intriguing as the ones that came before. Read more about endpoints and gateways, #bigdataproblems, the profit problem, and the cloudy
Mobile World Congress 2014 is over, and the last day was as intriguing as the ones that came before. Read more about endpoints and gateways, #bigdataproblems, the profit problem, and the cloudy weather ahead.
bound and unbound
Looking at the shiny new toys on display, it’s easy to think that mobile innovation and the
IoT will flower first in the US and Europe. Yeah, maybe not so much. Developed market
consumers are bound by legacy devices and infrastructures. It’s expensive to upgrade
your smartphone, especially when you just dropped the last one in the toilet, not that has
ever happened to us. The cost of upgrading technology (like when that stupid “put it in a
jar of rice” thing didn’t work and you had to buy an out-of-date replacement) might mean
you wait for the next generation of smartphones. Legacy tech isn’t the only problem.
Set data plans and the paucity of network interoperability increases market viscosity.
The emerging markets are free of those issues. But investment in systems without
a consumer population sufficiently wealthy to buy promotes telco worry lines. Brand
partnerships can help make the cost rational. IBM has brought Watson to African nations
because they believe the next decade will see a state-of-the-art Africa.
Endpoints and Gateways
Endpoints and gateways form the architecture taking shape around our mobile phones,
connected devices and smarter living environments. Endpoints are the sensors built into
our connected devices. They collect data but don’t do anything else with it. Your smart
fridge or washing machine can optimize and reorient based on usage, but it’s highly
unlikely that these endpoint sensors will ever talk to the cloud themselves. And the
reason for this is security. Do you really want a device that arrives in your household only
to start streaming data? Instead, we’ll rely on gateways within our homes or personal
ecosystems. These bridges are small servers that will collect the stream of data, do a
fair amount of local processing, and then securely transfer it to the cloud. We’ll depend
on gateways to bring the benefits of an interconnected ecosystem to us, and so will those
brands and partners who want to have a role in shaping what our environment will be.
#Big data problems
Those gateways can’t come soon enough. Sensors produce torrents of data, but so far
we have only our mobile phones to make sense of our connected devices. 3G, LTE, and,
one day, 5G mean better speed and a concomitant increase in data consumption. This
is not all great news. The same kind of big data challenges facing brands will soon hit
consumers, too. If a trained statistician is poleaxed by the amount of data following at
him, just imagine the paralysis that will overtake consumers. They’ll just stop caring. Raw
data is like raw meat—it can make you sick. The participants in the data ecosystem—
gateways, networks, brands, and device manufacturers—need to cook up bandwidthefficient solutions for consumers. Processed information—not raw data—will get shot
up to the cloud where rational experience and can be fused into the process. Consumers
get utility while brands and other ecosystem members get insights, actions and ongoing
cloudy with a chance of engagement
The clouds are rolling in, and they’re bringing confusion with them. Here are the three
things to keep in mind. What’s the right cloud architecture? Hybrid cloud—part public and part
private. In the cloud world, a stand-alone silo isn’t a safe place to store things; it’s a pipe
bomb for your business. You’ll want to be ready when inevitable changes occur and need
to access another platform or service. How do you manage data? You need to manage it as if
it were on-site. Keep security at the top of your mind since consumer trust is paramount.
And if your data is global, be prepared for the many different local rules and regulations
governing personal data collection and use. Can cloud help me reinvent my business?
Absolutely. The cloud isn’t just a new type of software. It is the platform on which an API
economy will be built. Cloud will give you the ability to make any offering into a service
that can be tapped into from anywhere.
cool, but don’t forget profit
Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg said that the purchase of Whatsapp was a good deal—even
at close to $20 billion. “Few services in the world can reach one billion, and they are all
valuable.” But can they become profitable, too? That’s still undecided when it comes to
mobile messaging applications. According to Juniper Research, instant messaging apps
account for 75% of mobile messaging traffic (63 trillion messages) but only 2% of the
revenue—around $3 billion. Still, it may be that mobile messaging apps are such effective
trojan horses for more profitable services, that their own contribution is irrelevant. Should
we look more broadly still? Digital reach is crucial not just for an individual company
but for the entire global economy. The World Bank noted that the economies of low- and
middle-income countries grows by a little over 1% for every 10% increase in broadband
reach. People without digital access fall behind, and when they do, we all do as well.
Maybe anything that can increase digital reach is a bargain, no matter what it costs.