Developing apps and other integrations with the UMP REST API

Blog Technology Viewpoint

The Unvired Mobile Platform offers a rich set of REST APIs to build custom integrations easily.  The REST APIs are broadly classified into APIs that deal with:

  • Sessions – Handles persistent login sessions
  • Users – Work with Unvired users (Create, Update, List, Lock etc)
  • Groups – Work with groups of users (Create, Update, List etc)
  • Applications and Libraries – Work with Unvired applications and libraries (Execute functions, Deploy, Undeploy, Configure Properties and Settings etc)
  • Messages and Attachments – Queue messages, attachments, retrieve them etc.

Other APIs include:

  • Companies – Work with Unvired Companies (Departments) (Create, Update, Activate plans, List etc)
  • Status – Get technical status information on the platform for monitoring etc.

Some use cases can be to create a user in the UMP when a user is provisioned in MS Active Directory, or write command line tools that create users/groups based on other Identity Management systems like ADS, LDAP etc, deploy (make available) applications to users belonging to specified ADS groups etc.  The APIs can also be used to for e.g. execute functionality in an enterprise system like a ticketing system from a web site wherein the user can request support.

The APIs are documented in detail and the documentation is made available as Swagger definitions for import into API testing tools, code generation etc.  Additionally if you are a Postman fan (http://getpostman.com) you can directly import the UMP Postman collection to work with the APIs and test/develop.

The detailed documentation can be accessed at the Unvired Developer Portal (http://developer.unvired.com)

Enjoy developing smart integrations.  Let us know what you build here and receive a memento from Unvired 🙂

3 Ideas for Designing for Chatbots

Blog Bots Viewpoint

Chatbots are the rage, but we are in the early days.  We are still not sure about how best to design for bots.  Yes, while conversational interfaces have promise to redefine the User Experience, the challenge facing us is to identify the right Use Cases, and the appropriate design.  After reviewing the nascent literature on this, talking to customer end users, and based on our own experience of building chatbots for enterprise systems, here are 3 ideas for Designing for Chatbots:

  1. Minimize Input: The user experience should be the priority.  Expecting users to enter free text has the potential for failure.  Instead, it may be best to have users give structured input.  For example, our developers at Unvired have designed a Command Infrastructure that eliminates lengthy free text input.  For example, Users can select Approve or Reject a Purchase Order in SAP or View Sales order from Oracle EBS with a Get Order Details simple chat command.
  2. Hybrid Approach: In some cases, the user may want to talk to a human at some point in the conversation with the bot. Good design should enable a human to jump in at any time.  Say, for example, you are ordering flowers on Facebook Messenger using a chatbot, but are frustrated because you cannot find what you are looking for.  There should be a way out to reach out to a human.
  3. Simple: The design for chatbots should be simple. One of the advantages of bots is that the need for say, a 3 screen application is eliminated.  There is no GUI.  Bots interactions should be kept simple and short—the user should give minimal input, and receive the output.

Let me know if you have other ideas for designing for bots.  These are early days, and we can all learn from each other.

This blog was first posted on LinkedIn.

Four Themes from the Best Practices for Chemicals (SAP) Conference

Blog Mobile Use Case Viewpoint

Earlier this week, I attended the Best Practices for Chemicals (SAP) Conference hosted by The Eventful Group in Houston.  It was a great conference attended by several CIOs including from Huntsman, Nova Chemicals, PLZ Aeroscience, and Americas Styrenics among others.  There were many great presentations.  Here are the top themes:

1.Digital: Chemical companies are embracing digital.  Mobile applications, Internet of Things (IoT), Predictive Analytics, and the Cloud is being adopted by this industry.  Agricultural chemical companies are combining sensor data, soil data and weather information to increase crop yield. HANA is beginning to be adopted as a database and SAP S/4 HANA is also making headway as the digital core. Customers, Suppliers, Employees, and Assets are the four pillars of Digitization.

2.Outcome based: Chemical companies are also innovating and defining new business models. For example, instead of selling compressors, they are selling “Compressed Air” as a service. It is all about Outcome based models.

3.Cyber-security: Chemical companies are very concerned about being hacked.  Given the nature of the products they make, a cyber attack can be very dangerous.   There are regular meetings held where Chemical companies discuss how best to implement cyber security.

4.Global Compliance: Chemical companies have to ensure that their products comply with various regulations. Also, they have to register each product in the country where they plan to sell. Regulations change frequently, and it is critical to stay on top.

This blog first appeared on LinkedIn

The Digital Enterprise: Transform your Employee Engagement

Blog Viewpoint

Background

Enterprises are transforming themselves into the Digital Enterprise.  The drivers behind the move to Digital are enhanced customer experience, operational excellence, new business models, innovations in business processes, and greater employee engagement.  Technologies such as Social, Mobile, Analytics/Big Data, Wearables, and Cloud are the enablers behind going Digital.  The Digital Experience varies for the Customer, Supplier, and Employee.  This blog focuses on that for the employee.

While it is true that enterprises already have digital data due to ERP, CRM and other such systems, there is still an enormous amount of data on paper, especially generated by the mobile worker who till now, has not had ready access to mobile devices and systems while in the Field.  Mobile devices were limited to certain roles like in warehouses or sales.  The proliferation of mobile devices has now created the opportunity to create a true Digital Enterprise.

I have also included some real world customer examples to add context to the discussion.

The “Disconnected” Employee

Today, employees at a company are still struggling to connect with each other and are unable to share information seamlessly, despite all the advances in technology.  Communication is still via emails for the most part, and over phone calls.  Information is not shared with all team members who have a need to know.   Collaboration suffers leading to sub-optimal decision making that can delay a product launch in a CPG company or endanger patient safety in a healthcare setting.  This in turn also leads to a lost opportunity in providing employees with a lifelong learning experience.  The “Disconnected Employee” is thus a Less Productive and less Engaged Employee.  Let us examine below some of the steps one can take to overcome these limitations.

Communication

As the “Consumerization of IT” takes hold, employees expect to be able to use the same tools that they use in their personal lives to use in the workplace.  Email only does not cut it anymore. So, texting including leaving voice notes becomes an important tool to communicate as does the ability to easily make video calls.   Employees expect to receive alerts or notifications not just via emails—they want notifications sent to their mobile devices when an important event occurs or they need to take action.

Chat/Messaging like communication channels are becoming increasingly popular, which will have subscribers based on levels of interest.   Thus, for example, employees at a manufacturing plant could subscribe to an Asset Management Channel where they could share information related to suppliers, parts failing, and  tips for preventive maintenance.

In all cases, communication between employees has to be highly secure.  Data that resides on mobile devices needs to be encrypted, and in some industries like healthcare, communication needs to be HIPAA compliant, and protect patient health information.

Collaboration

Employees are demanding that they be able to collaborate across channels—be it over their desktops, Web, tablets, smartphones, or Wearables like Apple Watch. The Mobile web and mobile applications allow for the exchange of information anytime anywhere.   A Field Service Worker repairing a piece of equipment on an oilfield can make a video call to an expert back at Headquarters, share images of the damage, and seek advice, so as to perform the optimal repairs.   Similarly, a physician in a hospital can share lab results over a HIPAA compliant texting application using their tablets, leading to enhanced patient safety.

Mobile Dashboards are an important element of collaboration.  The ability of executives to access data at their fingertips anytime enables them to make better and real time decisions.  Trending of data, and predicting possible outcomes be it in the areas of Sales or Plant Operations adds immense value and moves enterprises from a reactive to a proactive mode.

Lifelong Learning

Employees add new skills and gain training throughout their careers.  In many industries, they need to pass tests on a regular basis, and keep certificates on record for compliance purposes.  Mobile applications are a great way to ensure lifelong learning.  Employees can access content from their smartphones or tablets anytime anywhere, and are not tied to their desktops.  Data captured about the tasks performed by an employee can be analyzed, and recommendations be made about what training is best suited for that particular employee.  As an example, an electrician performing asset/equipment repairs in a Chemicals plant can be evaluated on the quality of work based on the re-work performed within 30 days.  Also, the data recorded about the procedures performed by a specific worker can be used to dispatch the best workers for a particular job based on their experience.

Benefits of the Digital Experience for Employees

We present below some tangible business benefits reported publicly by two of our customers.

Kaneka: Kaneka is a chemicals manufacturing company based in the Houston, Texas area.  They have deployed the “Digital Plant” incorporating mobile applications on iPads for Equipment Inspections, Work Orders, and Warehouse/Inventory Management.  Below, we list the benefits they have realized in addition to getting rid of paper:

Asset Management/Plant Operations

  • Automated the complete process –standardized process across Kaneka
  • Increased compliance
  • Increased safety
  • Increased Rounds productivity
  • Estimated to Reduce Maintenance costs
  • Increase in Safety and Compliance
  • Time savings/Increase in productivity

Warehouse/Inventory Management

  • Reduced time and effort in Physical Inventory counting
  • Reduced data admin costs due to On demand stock information and easy and accurate material movements
  • Reduced time and effort in Physical Inventory counting
  • Material Issues and Returns more accurate leading to savings in time

 

WEL Networks: WEL is an electric utility based in New Zealand, and they provided a digital experience for their employees by deploying mobile apps for Windows 8 tablets to perform Field Service on their equipment located across the country.  Benefits reported by WEL in addition to getting rid of paper are as follows:

  • Efficiency gain in inspections : more inspections done
  • Lower administrative effort : more time for other tasks
  • Field technicians doing the job employed for : staff retention
  • Timely data capture : better information available sooner

 

Conclusion

Actual customer feedback points to the fact that the Digital Experience for the Employee increases communication, collaboration, and automation of business processes. This reduces costs and increases employee retention.  Employees feel more empowered, and happier employees stay longer. In many cases, it also enhances the Digital Experience for the Customer.  For example, a paper-less office that may be viewed as a Digital Experience for Employees initiative can equally impact the Customer Service process.  The digital data captured and analyzed can lead to tailor made learning opportunities for an employee over their lifetime. Employees can make better and real time decisions that bestow a competitive advantage to their employers.

Note: This post is also on LinkedIn

Is the IAAS cloud really low cost?

Blog Technology Viewpoint

Host on the cloud, get a dedicated server or build your own? This is a common question that most entrepreneurs who are launching a service ask themselves. Seeking answers via the web probably leaves more questions than answers.

The reasons are simple, there are a plethora of articles that sing the praises (for many right reasons) of Infrastructure As A Service (IAAS) such as AWS, Google and other similar services. The ease with which you can launch servers on these clouds make it even more appealing. The fact that Netflix and other companies are using it gives the added assurance. Now head over to the wonderful calculator that all these services provide and crunch some numbers. You may either buy into it so completely that you are ready to launch your service or taken aback by actually how much it can cost. Lets face it, its not as cheap as its made out to be.

To better understand this problem, lets crunch some numbers with an example server. Suppose the server we need is equivalent to 4 Cores (or more), 32 GB RAM and about 200 GB hard disk space (Note that in most cases RAM is the overarching choice and CPU cores are not really configurable, notable new exception is Google). For simplicity I’am also not considering prepayment as no startup probaly wants to commit for more than a few months.

Cloud Servers (Instances):

AWS – Consider the m4.2xlarge at 32GB RAM and 8 cores. Linux instance is at $0.504 per hour or ~375$ per month. Add charges for storage and data transfer and approximate it to 400$ per month.
Google – Consider the n1-standard-8 at 30GB RAM and 8 cores. Linux instance is at $0.280 per hour lowest price with 100% usage or ~208$. Add charges for storage and data transfer and approximate to 230$ per month.

As you can notice there is already a significant difference between the two services. If you check other providers the price range will be similar.

Dedicated Servers:

Typically dedicated servers have always set you back by a significant sum and hence may not have been a choice. But a host of new providers has meant that hybrid offerings are available which has already reduced prices. Significantly Managed dedicated servers are way more expensive than unmanaged servers. The significant difference being in unmanged only the hardware is supported by the provider, every other responsibility us yours (software, backup etc).

Rackspace – A 24GB prepackaged dedicated server with 6 cores will set you back by ~ 674$ per month. This is backed by Rackspace Fanatical Support of course.

Packet.net – Packet offers dedicated baremetal hardware in a cloud like fashion. Type 1 server with 4 Cores and 32GB RAM (with 2x120GB SSD drives) is at $0.4 per hour or 297.6$ per month. There are no other charges as everything is included in this.

OVH – A major European provider with a NA presence in Canada and data center. A 32GB / 4 Core dedicated server (unmanaged) costs 79$ a month (no setup fee)

Hetzner.de – German data center, 32GB 4 Cores is priced at 39 Euros or ~43$ per month with a 79 Euro / ~87$ setup fee (one time)

As can be seen the range is again wide not considering a huge number of smaller providers. Depending on whether some of the administrative tasks can be managed in house or not, choice of provider can be made. Point to note though is that dedicated servers can actually be cheaper than cloud.

Conclusion:
So before deciding, its important to decide based on these (There could be many more significant ones I’am missing, add to the comments)

1. Elastic Scaling – Are your users going to grow that dramatically that you need elastic capabiloty of that nature? Less than 1% of all web apps need this kind of scaling, rest are happy with more deterministic scaling. (Cloud v/s dedicated)
2. Redundancy – Sometimes cost of 2 dedicated servers is still cheaper than 1 cloud instance. So even HA is not an issue with dedicated, but multi region availability etc can also determine the choice.
3. Time – The longer you are willing to commit the cheaper some of the cloud services will be.
4. Legal or Security related – If customers dont prefer shared multi tenant instances, then you may have to go dedicated.

Net-net: Cloud services such as AWS are not the only choice. Even dedicated servers can be bought month on month with significant cost and performance gain. You actually have more choice than what is sometimes made out to be!

Note: This post originally appeared on LinkedIN: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/iaas-cloud-really-low-cost-srinivasan-subramanian

The UMP 3.2 travelogue

Blog Technology Viewpoint

The Unvired Mobile Platform (UMP) 3.2 includes a number of innovations that enable faster digitization and mobility.  Whether your company wants to mobilize enterprise backends like SAP or databases or legacy systems, UMP has made that easy, fast and cost effective with a plethora of adapters that enable out of the box integrations.  UMP 3.2 now includes a powerful REST API that allows you to leverage the same functionality to also develop web apps.  So whether you want to go digital via web or mobile or both, UMP is your platform of choice.

In a series of blog posts starting today I will explore the new features and the transformations in the platform.  This post will focus on the high level features and some under the hood changes that have been made to UMP to make it faster and better.

Features of note in UMP 3.2:

  1. Single infrastructure that runs within your datacenter or on cloud IAAS like Amazon Web Services (AWS).  Absolutely identical, even the binaries are the same!  This gives you enormous flexibility to go on premise and switch to cloud later or vice versa
  2. Fully load balanced, High Availability setup supported both within your datacenter and on cloud infrastructures
  3. Improved performance and scalability (see under the hood section below for more details)
  4. Enhanced REST API to easily build applications for web and mobile, supports both XML and JSON
  5. New enterprise adapters for OData and SAP HANA.  SharePoint, REST and all other adapters have been further enhanced
  6. Enhanced push notifications for APNS and GCM (including follow up actions), support for browser push to notify web applications
  7. Error console to help administrators process data errors, backend submission errors etc.  Your users will never need to see errors any more, just save and forget!
  8. Conflict management on submission, handle concurrent submissions, and multi-channel updates without breaking a sweat
  9. Enterprise App Store to distribute your enterprise applications, applications can also auto update without admin intervention
  10. A brand new dashboard that helps administrators know the pulse of the mobile deployments
  11. Isolate your deployments and administration control for subsidiaries, locations, departments with a single central instance
  12. Transport configurations and code across Development, Quality and Production landscapes of UMP.  No more manual administration tasks
  13. Time zone (user or company) based distributed scheduler to periodically refresh mobile data, no need to run battery hogging threads on devices checking for updates
  14. And …

Under the hood: UMP 3.2 core has undergone significant reengineering.  The new UMP is now based on Spring backed by Level 2 distributed caching of data.  This allows lightning fast reads and writes. UMP uses async servlets for maximum scalability with  configurable thread pools to optimize resource needs based on your individual needs.

UMP supports deployment on any enterprise operating system such as Unix, Linux, Windows etc. with a MySQL, Oracle or MS SQL Server backend.  For test and demo purpose,UMP can also be run with a H2 embedded database.

The UI has been spruced up with keyboard shortcuts to simplify administration and management.  For those Unix/Linux administrators who love the command line, a command window allows you to quickly enter commands.  The new UMP runs on JBoss 7.2 EAP and open source editions and deploys in seconds.  UMP is also certified by SAP for NetWeaver deployment and is deployable on SAP NetWeaver 7.x all the way up to 7.4.

UMP 3.2 is also supported on Docker containers and the official images will be available on the Docker Hub shortly.

Related tools: A brand new Unvired Modeler works hand in glove with the UMP infrastructure to enable development of applications easily.  The modeler is installed as an Eclipse plugin with auto discovery of UMP development landscapes.  Model, Design, Develop, Debug and Deploy from a single place.

There is much more to talk about the new UMP.  Watch this space for a series of blog posts that will expand on each of the features and how exactly you can benefit from it.

UI Toolkit on the wall, who is the prettiest of them all?

Blog Technology Viewpoint

Today most enterprises want to build and deploy awesome mobile apps on multiple devices for their employees and customers. But when it comes to UI technology most are stumped. If I were to pick the most common question that we encounter in discussions with customers it would be, How do I build apps for all devices? (this is typically iOS and Android). Follow ups to that are: What UI should I choose? How can I build once and run anywhere? What skills should we ramp up on? The list is endless.

First up the UI choice needs to lend itself to your need and not the other way round. At Unvired our normal approach is to find out what that need is and then recommend the technology solution.

I want to deploy native apps with fantastic user experience, fast performance, hardware integration and so on.

If your need falls in this category you are typically looking to build native applications using the vendor’s prescribed technology. These are:

  • iOS – Objective C (more recently Swift) using the XCode IDE from Apple
  • Android – Java using the Eclipse IDE or the Android Studio
  • Windows – C#/.Net using the Visual Studio IDE

All platforms come with their own set of challenges based on the OS version to support. This is more under control with Apple where you are usaully covered if you support the latest version and the one lower (for e.g. iOS 8.x and 7.x). Its more complicated with Android given the disparate devices and OS distribution and you should opt for the OS version with the most installed base for e.g Kitkat or 4.4. You are also well served if you use the standard APIs and do not depend on any vendor/device dependent APIs from Samsung, Sony etc.

I want to build apps once and deploy them on multiple devices. 

This is the trickier questions as there are a few choices. This usually needs further qualification on what skills the company has or alternatively what they would prefer in addition to the end application’s requirements.

Web technology, hybrid apps that do not require any major hardware integration etc.

The most obvious choice in this case is to build hybrid HTML5/JavaScript apps using the Apache Cordova/Phonegap (http://cordova.apache.org/) plugin. This allows to build, host and deploy hybrid (native like) apps that render the UI in a webview with standard HTML5 look and feel. The advantage is that the technologies used are typical web technologies like HTML5, JavaScript and CSS and web developers will be able to code them. Some understanding of the mobile paradigm is definitely necessary. The plethora of CSS/JavaScript frameworks can be utilized to build some real cool apps. However performance can be an issue with lag on some devices, transitions not being smooth, low touch sensitivity etc. This technology is evolving and will only improve further.

Native apps that can be deployed on any device

Xamarin (http://xamarin.com) is your best choice here (at least for now, more on that later). Mobile applications can be developed in C#/.Net and deployed on iOS, Android and Windows tablets. The code compiles into native applications and hence offer a native user experience. The User interface can be developed once for multiple devices using Xamarin Forms or alternatively separate UI for Android and iOS devices can be developed with common business logic.

A new kid on the block here is Telerik NativeScript (http://www.telerik.com/nativescript) with an imminent release in April/May 2015. Telerik is positioning NativeScript as a JavaScript framework that can be used to develop mobile applications that are finally packaged as native applications. So these applications will not render in a webview on the device but will render as native applications. This is new technology under development and needs validation / adoption.

So now that you know them all, what’s your choice?

What do iPhone 6, iPhone 6+ and Apple Watch mean for the enterprise?

Blog Technology Viewpoint

Apple announced iPhone 6, iPhone 6+ and Apple Watch yesterday. The build up to the event (as always), the event itself and the products announced have all been exciting. Already enough digital space has been used to report the event and review the products. So in this blog I will try to analyze what these announcements mean for the enterprise – end users, IT departments and developers?

iPhone 6 and iPhone 6+

iPhones_3

Enterprise / End Users

iPhone 6 and iPhone 6+ come with  4.7″ and 5.5″ screens. Difference for an enterprise between 6/6+ and 5S/5C is mainly the cost. But when you compare 6+ with an iPad mini then you see other differences emerging. Enterprises enable employees with iPads so that users can see more information on the screen without having to navigate across multiple screens or scroll in a screen. For ex:

  • Read word documents with graphics and tables
  • Service technician viewing a work order and details on the iPad
  • Executives viewing sales and other charts

iPhone (till 5S) with its 4″ screen is not suitable to see large amount of information in a meaningful way on a single screen. Many apps or scenarios are just not suitable for an iPhone 5S. So an iPad is necessary. Take Apple’s own email app. Apple shows the e-mail app differently in an iPhone compared to an iPad. In the iPhone there is a mail list and on clicking a mail you see the mail in a full screen. In the iPad the main mail view is split into 2 parts. The smaller list on the left shows the list of mails and the wider part on the right shows the selected mail.

Now iPhone 6+ can possibly push both users and enterprises towards a single device per user. A single device reduces the cost for an enterprise (if the enterprise is providing 2 devices per user) and can be very convenient for users. (Does this mean that one Apple device is competing another Apple device? This is a topic for another day!)

IT Departments

IT departments should love iPhone 6+ if both the enterprise and users agree to move to a single device from 2 devices per user. Benefits for the IT departments are:

  • Lesser number of devices to deploy and take care in an MDM
  • In many cases the app development cost can also be lower when building for a single device compared to multiple devices

But how do existing apps and devices (iPads and iPhone 5S/5C) work with iPhone 6/6+? This is a cause of concern for the IT departments even though from a software point of view there is no difference between 5c/5S and 6.

  • More categories of devices mean more work in managing the devices in the enterprise network
  • 6+ has an impact on apps too. The larger screen size and double tap on the home button in the iPhone 6+ require some adaptation in the existing apps though not necessary. But once the users start using the old apps on 6+ they might complain if double tap on home is not supported in the app.

Developers

With more screen sizes, developers need to be both creative and judicious while designing the user interface for the applications that have to work on multiple devices. Designing apps that have to work on iPads, iPhone 6+ and iPhone 6 (5s/C) is more challenging. Though designing apps for Apple is is not as challenging as in the Android environment where one does not know when a phone ends and when the tablet begins it is still a challenge that needs to be taken into account.

Apple also announced a new programming language Swift in the last WWDC event. Swift is supported from iOS8. Though Swift is backward compatible with Objective C, once all the Apple devices move to iOS8 it does not make any sense to stick to Objective C. Newer capabilities of Swift cannot be used if one sticks to Objective C. Eventually everyone will have to move to Swift. So delaying Swift adoption does not make sense. The real impact for developers is when devices start running iOS8. Add to that iPhone 6+!

Apple Watch

watches

 

I just love the Apple Watch. This is some challenge for Switzerland! The best review of the Apple Watch I have read is from Benjamin Clymer. There is nothing left to write about the Watch design beyond what Mr. Clymer has already written. So lets move on.

Moving away from the buzz around the Watch, what does the Apple Watch really mean for the enterprise? Before discussing the impact of Watch on the enterprise we have to understand some of the software features of the Watch.

  • Watch connects to an iPhone. So the Watch gets connected to the internet via an iPhone. Will the Watch also connect to an iPad? Not clear currently.
  • Will the Watch be able to connect to the WIFI network directly? No.
  • What version of iOS will the Watch run? Not answered currently. But it will be iOS8+ as the Watch is still sometime coming.
  • So from what we know the primary requirement to own an Apple Watch is to own an iPhone.

Enterprise / End Users

Enterprises can start buying Apple Watches as gifts for their employees! Apart from that enterprises are not going to be proactive in finding use cases to make watches productive tools at work. Just the way enterprise adoption of iPhones and iPads started with users, adoption of Watches has to start with users. Once the Apple Watches start appearing on corporate users’ wrists’ enterprises will start thinking of extending apps to Watches.

For end users Apple Watches are great convenience tools to see (feel) notifications, maps (especially while walking without having to open the phone), calendar events (see the alert and call a contact on the iPhone by tapping on the Watch) and monitor health.

Classic enterprise uses cases include getting alerts (sales targets, project status, work assignments, etc.), approving workflow documents, filling time sheets for projects, applying leave, filling digital check lists, etc.

IT Departments

The real challenges are for the IT departments.

  • Should Watches used for corporate work be controlled via an MDM? Will users agree to allow the enterprise control a personal device?
  • Is the enterprise scenario or use case compelling enough to support on a Watch?
  • Cost and effort involved in developing apps for a different device with a different user interface paradigm. What is the ROI? Employee happiness or productivity improvement?
  • Security considerations

Developers

Developers have to be highly creative and innovative to design enterprise apps for Watches. Traditional user interface and engagement is not going to work on Watches. Multiple questions arise when we talk of apps on Watches.

Can the same iPhone app with a different user interface be used on the Watch or is a new design ground up from the data model required for the Watch app? Is the app optimized enough not to drain the battery? Is optimization from developers required at all or will Apple take care of it via restrictions?

End Note

Irrespective of the challenges these are exciting times. Every advancement in technology is opening up new frontiers. Apple’s designs are making these advancements personal and beautiful.

Enjoy Apple. Enjoy Design.

Upcoming Days in the Life of an Internet of Things “Connected Sensor”

Blog Internet Of Things Mobile Use Case Technology Viewpoint

I am a sensor, a device that senses the environment. Humans first made me to enhance their industrial operations, and now I gather, my species can help them monitor their health too. My host is a machine called a turbine, and my particular DNA enables me to detect vibrations in my host. I was born in Taiwan and shipped to Houston, Texas as an infant. Maintenance folks every so often visit me, inspect my readings, and record them on a paper form. Or at least that is how they used to. Nowadays, they whip out their iPads with a flourish, and use mobile applications leveraging Mobile Application Development Platforms. But, I hear from analysts that all that is about to change. Technicians will not visit me to inspect my host-instead, I will send data to them. For, we have arrived at a momentous event—the Internet of Things (IoT) is here. I am told that the IoT will connect Machines to Machines (M2M) and things to humans, and everything to everything.

I for one, am confused. For decades, I led a lonely life isolated on the shop floor with only the occasional visit from the Maintenance technician. Now, in one fell swoop, I am going to be connected to what they call the Internet. Others say that I am going to talk to the cloud. I will be sending vibration data about my host—not plain old data but Big Data. This Big Data will be analyzed in real time using frameworks like Hadoop. All this vibration data analytics will actually help keep my host healthier, and enable humans to run their industries better. But, I feel like Brutus, in that I have betrayed my turbine host, by sending data every minute without permission. Is there no data privacy for machines?

The other day, some reputed consultants had come over to “Connect” me. They were repeating a mantra incessantly—what I could decipher was Social, Mobile, Analytics, and Cloud (SMAC). I felt like “smac(k)ing” them on their faces. “Bluetooth Low Energy” will make it feasible for me and my brethren to be connected in droves of billions—in fact over 50 Billion things will be connected within 6 years. I am anti-social, and do not want to be connected. Just because humans have replaced reading with Facebook, doesn’t give them the right to impose this state of “always on” on me. I like my quiet time.

In any case, my turbine host will also not be spared. Augmented Reality will be used to perform better maintenance on her. Our technician visitors will come armed with Wearables when they come to repair us—novel looking Google Glasses and fashionable smart watches powered by Android Wear. Beacons may be deployed on the manufacturing floor, I hear to deliver contextual data.

I guess I am being a spoilt sport. Rooted in the past. Isn’t progress the purpose of life—even for a lowly sensor and a turbine? Are Cars not being connected too? Are Homes not being Nested? So, I am going to embrace this brave new world. I say, usher in the era of the Internet of Things.

As posted on LinkedIn

Unvired Primer on Google Glass

Unvired Primer on Google Glass

Blog Mobile Use Case Technology Viewpoint

Unvired started innovating with Google Glass very early and has developed multiple applications on Google Glass. We have had many enquiries on how Google Glass can be used in the enterprise and if Glass can be used in the enterprise at all. Our answer is a resounding YES based on early results.

Early trends show Google Glass use cases in the enterprise as:

  • Collaborate with Remote expert helping the Glass user solve problems
  • Just in time training or training content creation
  • Hands free Digital checklists / surveys enhancing compliance
  • Remote data access from ERP and other systems
  • Capturing images and videos, and sharing them with colleagues

Unvired is working with early adopter companies to develop applications on Glass. Watch this space for more updates and demos on Google Glass apps (integrated with SAP ERP and other systems). For a full primer on Google Glass click here.