Category Archives: Productivity

Stop Wasting Your Time with Mobile

I hate receipts. Not just hate them, I loathe them. They are nothing more than pocket clutter—an anachronistic holdover from an analog age that I can’t wait to disappear. I can envision myriad ways that mobility can improve upon the lowly paper receipt. Electronic payment seems like the obvious answer. Simply walk up to the register, tap/scan, sign, and you are done. No fuss, no muss, and most importantly, no receipt. But, as much as I detest receipts, the current experience of electronic payment is massively underutilizing the platform’s potential. It is akin to using a tower crane to pick up a penny. Mobility must drastically alter the experience or it risks being a waste of time and resources.

I live in Seattle, home of the famed coffee juggernaut Starbucks. Here you can find a Starbucks coffee shop on every corner in downtown, and sometimes two or three. So I was pleased when I learned that Starbucks was partnering with Square Wallet to accept mobile payments. I thought my afternoon coffee experience was going to leap into the future. After the much-publicized bumps in deployment were worked out, I was disappointed to find that there wasn’t much difference in the payment experience. Instead of pulling cash or card out of my pocket I had to pull out my phone. I didn’t have to sign anything but I did have to select the location and slide to pay. Yes, it was a mobile experience, but it had not really made a difference in my life.

Simply replacing the existing process with same process done via a mobile device usually yields no benefit. Yeah, it’s slick and sexy, but it’s only managed to change which piece of plastic we pull out of our pocket. Instead of grabbing a debit card, I grab my phone. In terms of the steps, the experience is basically the same. It lacks innovation, is tied to the way it has been always done, and only puts a fresh coat of paint on an old outhouse.

Besides the fact that you are not improving the approach, you are missing an opportunity to alter the experience, to find efficiencies in the overall process that only a mobile platform could afford. I pick on this aspect of consumer tech to make a point. However, enterprises are no better off. They are making the same mistakes, or worse, in their approach to mobility. In fact, many enterprises aren’t even making it sexy, it’s just the same bad process displayed in a much smaller window. They mistakenly think they are “going mobile” by offering a mobile interface when all they’ve really done is gone small.

You can see where the enterprise would get it wrong. It is too easy a trap for an engineer or analyst collecting business requirements to just ask how the end user is currently doing such and such a task. From that point it just gets coded that way. This is how processes become entrenched. Along with that, many end users worry that efficiency and improvement mean elimination. They are concerned that their job might be cut and don’t realize they might get to work on higher-order problems.

Luckily, the current Starbucks mobile payment experience isn’t the final word. In fact, their mobile payment partner, Square, actually has further functionality that is not yet implemented at Starbucks. Square allows users to set frequented merchants for Hands-Free Checkout. This means you can walk into the store, select what you want, simply say, “Put it on John Smith,” and walk out. Your purchase is then applied to your credit card. Now that is a change in experience. I don’t have to pull anything out of my pocket, I don’t have to sign anything, I don’t have to bother with a receipt. I get what I need and am on my way in a much more efficient manner.

Enterprises should take their cue from this approach to a change in the experience and efficiency. Some enterprises get it and leverage mobility as an opportunity and excuse for a business process re-do. Others only use mobility as a facade. The trick is to stop spending time looking at how we work and start looking at what we are working on. It is easy to get stuck in the “how” rut. This narrows the field of vision to intermediate steps. It restricts our approach to the tactical. But enterprises need to think like Square and look for strategic changes that re-imagine the work experience based on the capabilities of the platform rather than the way the process currently works.

Enterprises must take the time to look at what the end objective is. The resultant change may be bigger in scope than imagined. It may involve business process, it may involve new infrastructure, it may even involve an org change. But to wholesale just swap out the current process to fit on the screen of a mobile device is a waste of resources and, most importantly, opportunity. Those that get it will soar; those that don’t will sink. You will gain very little through porting the same tired process from the PC over to mobile. Stop wasting your time with mobile. If you can’t do it right, don’t bother. You are better off with your existing processes. Like a paper receipt, at least people will know how to ignore it and toss it aside.

Benjamin Robbins is a co-founder at Palador, a mobile strategy and application consultancy located in Seattle, WA. He can be followed on Twitter @PaladorBenjamin.


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Adoption is Not the New ROI

Recently I have attended several conferences that have focused on mobile and consumerization. A recurring theme has come up, either onstage or in conversation, that when it comes to mobility, “adoption is the new ROI.” There is this sense that if we can just get people to use a particular app or service, it will be good for the business, and a return will just invariably follow. It is also often claimed that, in the case of mobility, measuring success or return is too difficult or not possible. Therefore, it is believed, we should focus our efforts instead on just getting people to use the technology and not concern ourselves with establishing a return. However, using adoption as the measuring stick of enterprise mobility spend and success is nothing short of fiduciary recklessness buoyed by sheer laziness.

Measuring return of a technology project isn’t just the practice dictated by the outdated IT department. It is the natural output of a well-thought-out project. It is simply the quantitative correlation to the qualitative question of why. Any technology project needs to be able to answer the question of why. Why is this a viable project for the business? What is the desired outcome? How is this going to make end users more productive? If you can answer why, it can be measured. The technology that follows consumerization cannot be used as an excuse to abandon asking why.

The sole purpose of an enterprise is to make money. Consumerization has not changed that. It has made great strides in altering how we go about supporting that purpose, but it has not, and never will, replace it. Getting people to use technology is not enough. It has to be the right technology. It has to support the overall business goals and objectives. A lot of people performing a particular action is not the same as the right people performing the right action. Technology has to advance the underlying business objective. No amount of adoption will overcome misdirection.

Using adoption as a measure of return is an indication of piss-poor planning. Projects should include your end users from the start. If you are wondering whether your users will adopt what you’ve built then you’ve already failed. There should be no question in your mind what you are building will be adopted because the decision to do so wasn’t done in a vacuum. This fact alone should make adoption a silly measure of return. If you have thought through the why, then adoption will be a no-brainer.

Also, just because the reason for return is difficult to measure doesn’t mean we should abandon it altogether or offer up a poor substitute. In the end, mobility, or any consumer tech, is technology just like any other. Enterprises have a responsibility and a right to demand an accounting of how budgets were spent and how it affects the bottom line. Your project may not have a direct impact on the bottom line, but it can’t just be technology for technology’s sake. It has to support a business process or users that do. It should make a difference and improve how users get their job done.

Measuring ROI is going to take a partnership between business units and IT. This is because the lines of business seldom have the technical expertise, analytical skills, or monitoring capabilities to measure a return on a technology project. Even adoption itself can rarely be measured by an individual business group with any more accuracy than a show of hands or gut feel of how many people are using the new solution.

As much as BYOD and the consumerization of IT have meant a new frontier for businesses, it can’t mean a mobile and technology free-for-all. In the end, consumerization is not about relinquishing all sense of technical and financial responsibly to the end users, but about partnering with those in the know to build the right solutions. The lines of business end users know what they need and IT should (hopefully) know how to support and measure it.

Consumerization shouldn’t drive organizations to fall into the average consumer’s irresponsible spending and tracking habits. Instead it should demand an ease of use of technology in the enterprise that aligns with the goals of the business. It should encourage a partnership between those with the business need and knowledge and those who have the technical competency. Both IT and the line of business should, without hesitation, be able to answer the “why.” Most importantly, when a business spends a dollar it should understand the return.


Benjamin Robbins is a co-founder at Palador, a mobile consultancy located in Seattle, WA. He can be followed on Twitter @PaladorBenjamin.



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Filed under Apps, Ecosystem, Mobile, Mobile-Only, Productivity, Strategy

ICYMI – Mobile Trends Through 2014

MobileTrends2014If you were not able to attend the webinar this past week on Mobile Trends Through 2014 with Bzur Haun and myself don’t worry – it was recorded for your convenience! We had a great time, turn-out, and content. We even through in a crazy prediction or two.

Watch it here and let me know what you think!

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Microsoft Office on iOS and Android – Missing the Mobile Mark?

The Verge this past week released a story that disclosed details of the upcoming 2013 release of Microsoft Office. These details leave lots to ponder around the upcoming debut of the dominant office productivity suite on iOS and android. Read this weeks’ Mobile-Only post, Mobile Productivity – A Room With (Just) a View, and see if Office will meet all of you mobile needs.

Benjamin Robbins is a Principal at Palador, a consulting firm that focuses on providing strategic guidance to enterprises in the areas of mobile strategy, policy, apps, and data. You can follow him on Twitter or connect on LinkedIn.

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SAP EPM Unwired Announcements from SAPTechED in Las Vegas

SAP today had a couple exciting announcements around the Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) Unwired mobile app. The first announcement is that the EPM Unwired mobile app is now available on iTunes. The EPM Unwired mobile app currently consists of three apps:

Capital Project Planning
Real-Time P & L
Expense Insight

The apps are on demand, run on Hana, and are in the cloud. Customers who currently own any of the EPM Unwired apps can download the mobile app wrapper and will have the rights to access their data via the mobile device immediately.

The announcement today also included  that SAP will add Planning and Consolidation 10.0 as the next app that will become available in the EPM Unwired app. Planning and Consolidation will be available in the December 2012 timeframe.

Below is the full press release.

SAP to Up Ante in Mobile Analytics With Planning and Consolidation App

SAP to Continue to Deliver on Mobile Analytics Road Map With SAP® Business Planning and Consolidation Application on SAP® EPM Unwired Mobile App.

LAS VEGAS —Oct. 16, 2012 — SAP AG (NYSE: SAP) today announced upcoming availability of SAP® Business Planning and Consolidation 10.0 application on the SAP® EPM Unwired mobile app. SAP Business Planning and Consolidation is one of the latest planned additions to the library of apps available on SAP EPM Unwired. The application aims to provide access to decision-critical information through next-generation user experiences on mobile devices. The availability of financial planning and analysis data enables managers to go beyond simply accessing information to inputting information. This offering is part of a series of mobile innovations announced over the last year in business intelligence (BI), cloud-based enterprise performance management (EPM), governance, risk and compliance (GRC) and applied analytics. The announcement was made at SAP® TechEd 2012, being held October 16-19 in Las Vegas.

SAP EPM Unwired, available now on iTunes, is the mobile entry point into the SAP® EPM OnDemand solution. Applications like SAP EPM Unwired provide users a mobile front-end as part of the EPM suite on the device of their choice. This gives users the ability to plan, budget, forecast and consolidate anywhere, on demand.

On-the Go Information from the Nordics to Nepal Network access and telecommunication services provider TeliaSonera is using SAP BusinessObjects Mobile to help executives, sales teams and line-of-business managers keep track of their sales pipeline.

“TeliaSonera is committed to mobilizing our workforce in the same way we help mobilize our customers,” said Tito Toivola, head of Large Enterprises and Public Sector, TeliaSonera. “We want our employees to have the same experience at work as they have in their personal lives. This means we have to give our employees access to the tools needed to do their jobs on mobile devices. With mobile analytics from SAP, people across our lines of business can make more informed decisions in real time.”

Helping Users Keep a Finger on the Pulse of Their Business SAP intends to continue momentum and product innovations with planned quarterly releases of mobile analytic apps. Some examples of innovations to mobile analytics announced over the last 12 months include:

SAP BusinessObjects Mobile: The mobile entry point for BI content, including SAP® Crystal Reports® and SAP® BusinessObjects ™ Web Intelligence® software. Users can easily understand business impact, collaborate with stakeholders and take action directly from the software. The most recent 4.3 release has extended visualization capabilities and language support for French, German, Japanese, Simplified Chinese, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Polish.

SAP BusinessObjects Explorer® mobile app: “Big data” can be searched and explored through dynamic exploration views that feature Google maps integration, augmented reality and the ability to personalize visualizations.

SAP® TechEd 2012 in Las Vegas, Madrid, Bangalore, and Shanghai

SAP customers, partners, and technical experts are expected to convene at SAP® TechEd 2012, the company’s premier technical conference. Hands-on workshops, demo-driven lectures, and Q&A sessions on the latest developments in analytics, mobile, cloud, database, and in-memory computing enable SAP TechEd attendees to enhance their skills while making valuable connections with peers and IT experts from the SAP community. SAP TechEd is being held in Las Vegas, Nevada, from October 15-19, and will be held in Madrid, Spain, from November 13-16; Bangalore, India, from November 28-30; and Shanghai, China, from December 4-5. Follow SAP TechEd on Twitter at @SAPTechEd and join the conversation at #SAPTechEd.

About SAP As market leader in enterprise application software, SAP (NYSE: SAP) helps companies of all sizes and industries run better. From back office to boardroom, warehouse to storefront, desktop to mobile device – SAP empowers people and organizations to work together more efficiently and use business insight more effectively to stay ahead of the competition. SAP applications and services enable more than 195,000 customers (includes customers from the acquisition of SuccessFactors) to operate profitably, adapt continuously, and grow sustainably. For more information, visit

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Mobile Man/Woman, Show Thyself!

Imagine a mobile conference that was dominated by people working on PCs? What does that say about mobility? About us? This week’s mobile-only post takes a hard look at how we say one thing but do another when it comes to mobility. Check out The Myth of the Mobile Worker on The Enterprise Mobility Forum and let me know if you agree.

Benjamin Robbins is a Principal at Palador, a consulting firm that focuses on providing strategic guidance to enterprises in the areas of mobile strategy, policy, apps, and data. You can follow him on Twitter or connect on LinkedIn.

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When Android, Apps, and iOS Collide

Mobile apps and operating systems have come a tremendous way in the last several years. However, we are still a ways off from a consistent and seamless ecosystem as we move from device to device and app to app. For my mobile-only post for this week I discuss the challenges I face when moving large files between Android and iOS and how we need to arrive at an ecosystem where getting the task done shouldn’t  be hindered by OS or apps. Check out The Square Peg Round Hole Mobile Ecosystem here on the Enterprise Mobility Forum.

Benjamin Robbins is a Principal at Palador, a consulting firm that focuses on providing strategic guidance to enterprises in the areas of mobile strategy, policy, apps, and data. You can follow him on Twitter or connect on LinkedIn.

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Filed under Apps, Ecosystem, Mobile, Mobile-Only, Productivity