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Healthcare’s digital future

4 Aug
Insights from our international survey can help healthcare organizations plan their next moves in the journey toward full digitization.
The adoption of IT in healthcare systems has, in general, followed the same pattern as other industries. In the 1950s, when institutions began using new technology to automate highly standardized and repetitive tasks such as accounting and payroll, healthcare payors and other industry stakeholders also began using IT to process vast amounts of statistical data. Twenty years later, the second wave of IT adoption arrived. It did two things: it helped integrate different parts of core processes (manufacturing and HR, for example) within individual organizations, and it supported B2B processes such as supply-chain management for different institutions within and outside individual industries. As for its effects on the healthcare sector, this second wave of IT adoption helped bring about, for example, the electronic health card in Germany. It was also a catalyst for the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act in the United States—an effort to promote the adoption of health-information technology—and the National Programme for IT in the National Health Service in the United Kingdom. Regardless of their immediate impact, these programs helped create an important and powerful infrastructure that certainly will be useful in the future.

Many institutions in the private and public sector have already moved to the third wave of IT adoption—full digitization of their entire enterprise, including digital products, channels, and processes, as well as advanced analytics that enable entirely new operating models. No longer limited to helping organizations do a certain task better or more efficiently, digital technology has the potential to affect every aspect of business and private life, enabling smarter choices, allowing people to spend more time on tasks they deem valuable, and often fundamentally transforming the way value is created. What will this third wave of IT adoption look like for healthcare?

Players in the healthcare industry were relatively successful at—and benefited from—the first and second waves of IT adoption. But they struggled to successfully manage the myriad stakeholders, regulations, and privacy concerns required to build a fully integrated healthcare IT system. This is partly because the first and second wave of IT adoption focused more on processes and less on patient needs. Still, programs like the N3 communication network in the United Kingdom and the secure telematics platform in Germany have created powerful infrastructures that have the potential to support the third wave of digital services in healthcare—but only if stakeholders take the appropriate next steps.

Now that patients around the world have grown more comfortable using digital networks and services, even for complex and sensitive issues such as healthcare (successful websites DrEd, PatientsLikeMe, and ZocDoc are just three examples of this trend), we believe the time has come for healthcare systems, payors, and providers to go “all in” on their digital strategies. The question is, where should they start?

Nonhealthcare organizations that pioneered the third wave of digitization began by trying to understand what their customers really wanted; they then built their initial digital products and services based on that information and methodically expanded their offerings and customer base from there. We believe this model would work for healthcare as well. Success in the third wave of digital depends very much on first understanding patients’ digital preferences in both channel and service. But many digital healthcare strategies are still driven by myths or information that is no longer true. We interviewed thousands of patients from different age groups, countries, genders, and incomes; respondents had varying levels of digital savvy. Our research revealed surprising and actionable insights about what patients really want, which can in turn inform how healthcare organizations begin their digital patient-enablement journey. Here, we present five of those insights.

Myth 1: People don’t want to use digital services for healthcare

Many healthcare executives believe that, due to the sensitive nature of medical care, patients don’t want to use digital services except in a few specific situations; decision makers often cite data that point to relatively low usage of digital healthcare services. In fact, the results of our survey reveal something quite different. The reason patients are slow to adopt digital healthcare is primarily because existing services don’t meet their needs or because they are of poor quality. Across all the countries in our survey,1 1. The McKinsey Digital Patient Survey was conducted in 2014, in Germany, Singapore, and the United Kingdom, with a sample size greater than 1,000. more than 75 percent of respondents would like to use digital healthcare services, as long as those services meet their needs and provide the level of quality they expect (Exhibit 1). Of course, nondigital channels will continue to be relevant and important, so digital channels will have to be embedded in a well-thought-through multichannel concept.

Exhibit 1


More than 75% of all patients expect to use digital services in the future.



Myth 2: Only young people want to use digital services

One of the more prevalent myths about healthcare is that only younger generations want to use digital services, and therefore digitized healthcare would not reach many of the system’s core stakeholders. Our survey shows, however, that patients from all age groups are more than willing to use digital services for healthcare (Exhibit 2). In fact, older patients (those over 50) want digital healthcare services nearly as much as their younger counterparts. More than 70 percent of all older patients in the United Kingdom and Germany want to use digital healthcare services; in Singapore, that number is even higher. There is a difference between the kinds of digital channels older and younger patients want to use, though. Older patients prefer traditional digital channels such as websites and e-mail, while younger patients are, unsurprisingly, more open to newer channels such as social media. A recent report from the European Union2 2. Fabienne Abadie, Francisco Lupiañez, and Ioannis Maghiros, Citizens and ICT for Health in 14 European Countries: Results from an Online Panel, European Commission Joint Research Centre, 2013, suggests that service type—not just channel—should be segmented by age; younger patients, of course, want access to health-promotion and prevention services, whereas older patients need information about services for acute and chronic conditions. But both groups seek information at the same rates.

Exhibit 2


Digital-service use is expected to increase across all age groups.



Myth 3: Mobile health is the game changer

Mobile health—the practice of healthcare supported by mobile devices—is often hailed as the future of digital services in healthcare. Still, our survey shows that demand for mobile healthcare is not universal. It is therefore not the single critical factor in the future of healthcare digitization.

Of course, there is certainly demand for mobile healthcare applications, and it is strongest among younger people. Health systems should therefore create mobile solutions that target this audience—for example, apps that focus on prenatal health or those that could be classified as lifestyle apps. Beware of solutions that could have a lot of impact but are not of interest to the segment in question—digital applications to manage chronic conditions typically found in older people, for example.

Myth 4: Patients want innovative features and apps

Health systems, payors, and providers often think they need to be innovative when designing their digital-service offerings. But the core features patients expect from their health system are surprisingly mundane: efficiency, better access to information, integration with other channels, and the availability of a real person if the digital service doesn’t give them what they need. Highly innovative services, better apps, and more social media are far less important to most patients (Exhibit 3).

Exhibit 3


Awareness and process execution are the core drivers of digital-service adoption for patients.



Myth 5: A comprehensive platform of service offerings is a prerequisite for creating value

When going digital, many institutions—not only those in healthcare—think it is necessary to “go big” before they can achieve anything; they believe they must build a comprehensive platform with offerings along the entire spectrum of customer services. But our survey finds that it can be smarter to start small and act fast (Exhibit 4).

Exhibit 4


The services that Singaporean patients request most show it’s not always necessary to start big.



Surprisingly, across the globe, most people want the same thing: assistance with routine tasks and navigating the often-complex healthcare system. In Germany, Singapore, and the United Kingdom, for example—three very different countries with three very different health systems—patients most often cite “finding and scheduling physician appointments” as the service with which they need assistance. Other commonly cited needs include help selecting the right specialist and support for repetitive administrative tasks such as prescription refills. What most of these services have in common is that they do not require massive IT investments to get started.

The third wave of digitization in healthcare: Getting started

Understanding the myths and realities about what patients want from digital healthcare is vital to capturing its value—but where should healthcare organizations go from there? Three steps can help healthcare companies begin their journey toward the third wave of digitization.

The first step is to understand what it is that patients really want and the best way to give it to them. Surveys and focus groups can help here, as can an assessment of what competitors are offering. Healthcare organizations can combine this information by taking stock of what kinds of services they already have in place or could easily offer—many organizations are surprised to see how much they can do with their existing technological capabilities.

Next, organizations should segment their services according to basic criteria such as the amount of investment required, estimated patient demand, and value created through the service. Companies should also consider the “change need”—does the service fundamentally improve some aspect of healthcare delivery? ZocDoc created a simple application for scheduling appointments and won millions of users in only a few years; clearly, this organization discovered a profound unmet need within the healthcare community. Once an organization has analyzed the basic criteria—as well as the more complex question of change need—it can implement one or two “quick wins” that, ideally, generate patient momentum and build a significant user base.

And finally, just like organizations in other industries, healthcare companies should continually add new services to keep patient attention and build value. Once patients are familiar with the general idea of digital-service provision, organizations can begin offering more complex, high-value services, such as integrated-care companion apps or mobile health records. This follows the model of digital champions such as Google3 3. Jeff Jarvis. What Would Google Do?, first edition, New York, NY: HarperCollins, 2009. and Facebook, which succeeded by using their core service to build a significant user base and then offered more services, thus continuously increasing the familiarity of their users with their services—and in turn the intensity with which they use them.


We believe the healthcare industry is on the cusp of a third wave of IT adoption, and that now is the time for it to go all in on digital strategies. Understanding what patients want—and what is purely myth—can help pave the way.


Essential Resources To Develop a Mobile App using PhoneGap Framework

1 Aug


Starting from tools to developer flow, all you need to get aware of, before you begin with mobile app development using phonegap framework. You need to wrap up with the insights into the work flow for phonegap app development. Sure, you have read starter guides, but to really get underway, first you need to gather information of proper work flow and resources to maintain such. In this post, you will read about resources – essential to develop a mobile app with phonegap.

Coding Environment

First and foremost, you must create a coding environment with the help of basic tools require to get started off. For this, you must understand that for which platform you are going to develop your app. Like whether its iOS, Android or both or anything else. Examine such, help you get a good choice of tools.

Extensive IDEs

IDEs needed when you are going to deploy something locally to devices, that is without phonegap build (a cloud based service built on the top of phonegap framework). There is a different IDE for each platform – Eclipse for Android, Xcode for iOS, Visual Studio for Windows, and so on. Using symlinks, you can easily share your source code across various IDE installations.

Lightweight Editors

Adobe Edge Code is a popular editor for quick editing. And for live editing in the browser Edge Code (an open source HTML/JS editor) is mostly used. Inline editors are also required for CSS styles, it allows you to edit without leaving your current HTML files. All these are lightweight editors as they are easy to use.

Designer-centric Editors

You must search for editors that are designer-friendly, they must contain all essential features for designing. One of such editor is Dreamweaver. It delivers an incredible programming environment along with WYSIWYG editor for HTML. Additionally, it featured with integrated PhoneGap Build. Many phonegap developers continue to use Dreamweaver for better web experience.

Debugging Tools

Of course, Phonegap is of cross-platform nature that leverage native web views for each and every platform. To maintain a good quality of your PhoneGap based mobile app, you need run debugging tools in a tricky way. Among the PhoneGap community, PhoneGap Emulator is a primary debugging tool for all types of PhoneGap apps. Built on top of Chrome, it allows you to utilize developer tools by Chrome.

On-Device Debugging

For a successful cross-platform mobile app, on-device testing is crucial. You must be sure that your app is performing well on all those devices and platforms – you have targeted while creating a mobile app. Platforms like iOS and Blackberry offers you developer tools to remotely debug live content on the device.


Apart from the above resources, lots and lots more are there to work with. These resources differ on the basis of platform – iOS, Android, Windows, etc. – for which you want to create your app. Availing such resources help you create a path of least resistance towards your aim of creating a successful mobile application using phonegap.



Could mobile operators become the prime real estate landlords for the digital economy?

27 Jan

Finally it is here: The mobile data equivalent of toll-free numbers. Last week AT&T unveiled a “Sponsored Data service”, meaning that their customers are able to use participating services without eating in to their data allowance. AT&T will treat Sponsored Data traffic no differently to regular data traffic, thus providing digital retailers and OTT service providers with an efficient way to communicate and trade with their customers.

Coleago has long argued that with the growth in the digital economy, sellers of physical and digital goods and services are looking for the mobile data equivalent of a toll-free number. In the past many businesses encouraged consumers to trade with them over the phone by publishing toll-free numbers. The growth of online shopping with mobile devices provides impetus for extending the concept to mobile data. The message from retailers to consumers is “it does not cost you anything to visit our digital store”.

The good news for mobile operators is that this provides an additional revenue stream. But the concept could be taken further. In Europe, North America and other markets where most people purchase their smartphone from mobile operators, these operators can control what consumers see on the screen of their new smartphone when they take it out of the box and switch it on. A smartphone screen provides the digital real estate for sponsored apps.  Apps placed on the home screen would be the most valuable, and the giants of ecommerce such as Amazon may have the scale to pay to have their app on the home screen. EBay, travel and financial sites and many other e-tailers may also be interested in sponsoring apps placed on subsequent screens.

Of course users can delete and move smartphone apps. However, judging by how many people do not bother or do not understand how to change their browser home page, it is likely that many of the preloaded apps will stay where they were first placed. This effectively means that mobile operators become landlords in the digital economy.



5 easy security enhancements for your ASP .NET application

27 Jan

Protecting web applications against unauthorised access is somewhat of a dark art, but there are simple steps you can take to ensure that you are protected against the most common security risks.

Cross Site Request Forgery (CSRF / XSRF)

Problem: Cross site request forgery (CSRF / XSRF) is the process of tricking a legitimate user of your website into posting data to the web server without their knowledge.  This type of attack is typically executed using a malicious link in an email, or by social engineering.

Typically, an attacker will craft a web page that has a form with fields named that match the properties that an ASP .NET MVC controller action method is expecting.  The form is then submitted (perhaps tucked away in an invisible iframe) and as long as the user has an active session open, the form will be processed as normal.  Such an attack could be as simple as posting a comment to a website without the users knowledge, or, say, in the case of a banking application, transfer money to the attacker.

Solution: To resolve the problem in ASP .NET MVC, you need to make use of  Anti-Forgery Tokens.  An anti-forgery token is a hidden field with a unique id that is placed on the form.  When the form is posted, the anti-forgery token is also passed along with the request and validated.  If the token is invalid, or missing, an exception is thrown.  Due to the random nature of the token, its impossible for an attacker to guess, meaning the only way to post to the server is via a page that originated from it.


In all your views that have forms that will be posted back to the server, simply use the AntiForgeryToken method on the HtmlHelper;

@using (Html.BeginForm("Login", "Account", new { ReturnUrl = ViewBag.ReturnUrl }, FormMethod.Post))

Then add the ValidateAntiForgeryToken attribute to your action method;

public async Tas<ActionResult> Login(LoginViewModel model, string returnUrl)

Open Redirection

Problem: Open redirection is a form of phishing that, when a specific website is targeted, can be used to steal information, such as email address and password from a legitimate user.  The problem occurs when redirecting a user to a page based on information stored in the query string.  A malicious user could craft a URL to include a redirect to a website that looks identical to the original, which requests log-in credentials, then redirects the user back to the original website.

A user receives an email asking them to check out a page on a website, which they click.  The page requires the user to log in.  Rather than linking directly to the actual page, the link would point to the log in page, with a return Url;

Notice a very subtle difference between the source domain ( and the destination domain (  Easy to miss.  The user is prompted to enter their credentials, and they are then redirected to the returnUrl.  The user is actually shown an identical log in page which says that they have entered their credentials incorrectly, please try again.  The user re-enters the credentials and they are redirected back to the original site (which works because their credentials were correct in the first place).

This was a bigger problem in earlier versions of ASP .NET MVC because the vulnerability was present out-of-the-box.  The problem still exists when using the Redirect method in conjunction with the query string;


There are two solutions;

  • Don’t use the Redirect method at all.  Instead use RedirectToLocal or even better, useRedirectToRoute or RedirectToAction.
  • Only ever use hard coded return Urls when calling the Redirect method.

Cross Site Scripting (XSS)

Problem: Cross site scripting (XSS) is when an attacker uses a form on your website to inject script onto a page.  The script can be literally anything, from annoying popups/banner advertisements, to more sinister code designed to steal confidential information from a legitimate user.

By default in the current version of Razor (the ASP .NET MVC default view engine) all data originating from properties on your model is encoded.  Also, if a user tries to submit HTML / JavaScript using any forms on your website, an exception will be thrown and the data will be rejected.  The developer has to explicitly allow Html (using the aptly named AllowHtmlattribute) or turn off validation (using the ValidateInput(false)) attribute.

If you absolutely have to accept Html on your website, make sure you implement a white list of allowed tags, rather than a blacklist of disallowed tags.

There is a lot of information available regarding this type of attack (as it is very common).  A good video I would suggest watching is The HaaHa Show: Microsoft ASP .NET MVC Security with Haack and Hanselman.

Over-posting (A.K.A. Mass Assignment)

Problem: It is possible to post additional data to the server along with a request, even for fields for which the developer never intended to be accessible by the client.  The problem is due to the fact that the model binder in ASP .NET MVC matches up all the post data to all problems on your entities/models without discrimination.

You have a Customer object, which contains details about a customer (Name, Address etc.).  You create a view for the user to edit their details, passing the Customer object to the view so that fields can be pre-populated.  When the user updates their details, and submits the form, the entity/model is saved back to the database.  However, your Customer object also has a navigation property called Orders, which contains all the orders that the customer has placed.  An attacker could submit a new order, which would be bound to the Orders property by the model binder, which may result in the customer receiving products that they haven’t actually paid for.


  1. Use the Bind attribute to either blacklist or whitelist properties on your entity/model.  The model binder will see the attribute, and either ignore or only bind the properties you have stated.
public void Save([Bind(Exclude = "Orders")]Entity entity)
{     //Logic
  1. Create a view model for each specific view, and only include the properties that you want exposed to the client (i.e. omit the Orders navigation property).

SSL for the login / registration process

Problem: SSL is required to ensure that confidential information, such as user credentials or credit card information is transferred from the clients web browser to your server in a secure manner.  Failure to do so will result in this information being susceptible to interception by a third party.

It is easy to see this information being posted to the server using a debugging proxy (such asFiddler).

Example message sent from the browser (Google Chrome in this case) to a web server when attempting to log in to a website;

POST http://localhost:64429/Account/Login HTTP/1.1
Host: localhost:64429
Connection: keep-alive
Content-Length: 183
Cache-Control: max-age=0
Accept: text/html,application/xhtml+xml,application/xml;q=0.9,image/webp,*/*;q=0.8
Origin: http://localhost:64429
User-Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 6.3; WOW64) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/32.0.1700.76 Safari/537.36
Content-Type: application/x-www-form-urlencoded
Referer: http://localhost:64429/Account/Login
Accept-Encoding: gzip,deflate,sdch
Accept-Language: en-GB,en-US;q=0.8,en;q=0.6
Cookie: __RequestVerificationToken=dAaXZYTCsNTKUZT7cxKqTEVOXjii9Md-VzxfY9-XxcSW1C_3mEV7OK2Wrp_bbOsEB555GNWv7RK6p9soYpKljwtTsXL7zldikJB4aK-NYog1


Look closely, and you will see that the Request Verification Token includes the raw username/password;


Solution: You should purchase an SSL certificate and apply it to your website.  Doing so will encrypt the traffic so that it cannot be easily viewed between the source and destination.

If your website is hosted using Internet Information Services (IIS);

  • Open the IIS Manager (inetmgr.exe)
  • Select the root level node under “Connections”
  • Double click “Server Certificates”
  • Import the certificate using the links on the “Actions” pane
  • Click on your website
  • Add a new https binding and select the SSL certificate you just imported.


Expectations for 2014: The Application of Things

6 Jan

Not that we needed the reminder, but Adobe recently confirmed that app users are a lot more engaged than mobile web visitors.

The app’s dominance over the mobile website, at least as it stands today, looks to me like the digital equivalent of early Homo Sapiens’ advantage over other branches of our evolutionary tree. While both may continue to coexist for a long time, the app, with its power and performance lead over most mobile sites, enjoys a dominance that I expect will grow over time.

What does that mean for the future? Since ’tis the season for making predictions, and since I can safely guarantee, as Gregg Easterbrook does regularly, that my predictions will be wrong or your money back, let me suggest this future for an increasingly apps-dominated world.

I believe we are headed for what I’ll call the Appification of Things.

Just as touch screens led a generation of toddlers to try to change the channel by touching their TV screens, apps are poised to change our expectations of the non-apps universe. That means that the very things that make apps so appealing will spill their mobile banks and begin to influence content and services we experience beyond the app world.

In particular, I now expect that any company with which I willingly share personal information should use that information to give me a more customized and efficient experience. I don’t think of that as creepy or invasive. I see it as a fair exchange of value.

Here are some examples of the expectations we now have apps and how that expectation could (and should) spread to other, non-mobile domains:

  • App feature: Regular, transparent feature and content updates.
  • Appification effect: The beginning of the end of one-off purchases of all serial content. If I buy a digital copy of a movie, I want that movie to update itself to give me new features, such as cast commentary and extended versions. I bought a book on marketing metrics last year for my Kindle Fire; the publisher should offer me new chapters that include the latest insights on social media and mobile marketing analytics. I don’t object to paying for these new updates, but I don’t want to have to buy an all-new version of the book or movie just to acquire what may amount to marginal but important content.
  • App feature: Built for “snackable” moments, typically bursts of five to 15 minutes at a time, apps use customer information to personalize their content and refine the user interface to grab you right away. That means knowing what to deprecate or to push deeper into the app, because with such little time with a user, a publisher can’t push everything.
  • Appification effect:  The expectation that more companies will get smarter about prioritizing the most important parts of their offering and deliver it accordingly. At my bank, I still get mostly the same ATM interface I’ve had for years. It always gives me the same options, including ones I’ve never used. In the app world and real world alike, that’s a bad setup. The bank knows my preferences. Why not improve my experience with them?
  • App feature: Able to make connections to other services that complement the experience. When I buy something with an app, it knows my credit card information. When I post an update using my WordPress app for Windows Phone, it knows to share that update via my Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook accounts.
  • Appification effect: Brick and mortar stores that know who you are and make shopping easier as a result. My family and I just returned from Disney World, where we wore MagicBands all over the park. These interactive bracelets became the keys to our hotel room, our tickets to each park, and our currency for buying everything. In the non-Disney universe, loyalty programs are ideally positioned to do many of these things, too. If I have a loyalty card to a grocery store, I shouldn’t have to swipe my credit card with every purchase. I should be able to see more than just my total aggregate savings for the shopping trip and year, which leads me to my final point.
  • App feature: Capturing a user’s known preferences to predict and expose new things they would like. When I listen to Pandora, not only do I get a steady diet of my favorite tracks; I also hear new stuff, some of which I’ve actually bought because Pandora rightly predicted I’d really like it.
  • Appification effect: Algorithms that extend intelligent recommendations to brick and mortar stores. I’d love food and recipe suggestions based on the preferences of shoppers like me, as well as ways to get more value from my grocery visits. Do that, and I’d become a more loyal shopper.

These are just a few of the ways I’d like to see my non-mobile life adopt aspects of the app world I now live in. If you could impose a New Year’s resolution on non-mobile businesses to change in mobile-like ways, what would you prescribe?


The app-ortunity for innovation is endless

2 Sep

Since 1985, we’ve used the word ‘app’ to describe any software program that runs your laptop, smartphone, tablet or smart device. Back then, apps simply focused on things like email, calendars and the weather. Powering into the future, apps are catering to a diverse range of tasks from shopping and banking to social networking. It’s easy to see why we’ve already downloaded over 40 billion apps – a number that’s going to grow astronomically by 2020.

As broadband-enabled opportunities emerge, we are set for a proliferation of devices and a change in the way we interact through apps. In fact, Cisco predicts that by 2020 the average person will own six different smart devices connecting us to over 37 billion ‘things’, from cows in the field to our car or our fridge door through the Internet. Because of the transformation and disruption this ‘Internet of Everything‘ will create, Australians need to start planning for a world where more people, information and things will be connected than ever before. It will make networked connections more relevant and valuable – creating new capabilities, richer experiences and unprecedented economic opportunity for businesses, individuals and countries. As devices evolve and become embedded with sensors, they will gain the ability to communicate. The resulting information networks that form between devices promise to create new business models, improve business processes and open up a whole new world of services.

To help us better understand how these new services will work in our future homes, we’ve released the ‘App-treneur’s Guide to Broadband Connected Services’. It features a variety of perspectives from a number industry experts from organizations including Intel,iiNetFoxtelNBN CoPottinger and NICTA. As well as showcasing industry trends in the future of broadband-enabled applications and services, the report also outlines some of the innovative application ideas being developed today. Over the next month, we will be posting some of the key trends from the report which bring to life examples of the apps we are going to see in entertainment, media, energy and health.

Check out our video on some of the broadband applications we might see in the future:


Why Vine is a killer app but it might have hit the LTE wave too early

11 Jun

Immersive Media surfing
SUMMARY:Vine is probably the best we’ve seen in mobile video-sharing so far. But as good as Vine is, the technological limits of mobile networking still haven’t quite caught up yet, and creating a consistent user experience for video is shaky.

About two weeks ago, I was sitting in the Castro Theater in downtown San Francisco listening to Google Ventures’ Kevin Rose interview Instagram co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger. As someone who posts on average more than an Instagram photo per day, my first instinct was natural: I picked up my phone, snapped a few photos, and opened the app to filter and share the best ones.

But alas, the Castro Theater, while beautiful, is somewhat of an internet-less cave. I couldn’t connect to the internet via my wireless hotspot, or through the phone’s LTE. I tried repeatedly to upload the photo over the course of an hour (there’s something about having it fail that makes you want to upload it even more), but no luck. I kept getting the circular “fail” arrow of death. I couldn’t even get Twitter to load very reliably. It was indeed a tragic, first-world-problem, kind of evening.

Yet there was a greater reminder from my upload problems than just my inability to share a not-so-great photo. The moment served as a reminder that even as some of us get access to fast network speeds from technology like LTE on mobile or Google Fiber’s gigabit internet, there are still many moments in life where fast internet is hard to come by. Yes, even in the middle of tech hotspot San Francisco. And in these moments, when it’s impossible to upload or download even a single photo, video is still unthinkable.

Why Vine is the best we have so far

Vine screenshotAs I’ve written before, and continue to believe, Twitter’s Vine is the best app we’ve seen for mobile, social video-sharing. It’s not perfect, but the app that just launched in January and came to Android just this month gets the most important things right: it adds a crucial limitation — a six second clip, max — that forces you to be creative with your post, and makes it fun to watch (just think of all the times you’ve sat through a YouTube video looking for the funniest part). The interface is intuitive (just tap to record.) And the addition of looping the videos once recorded make them more like animated GIFs than long narratives. Everyone loves GIFs.

These advantages to Vine have only become more clear in the five months since the launch of the app. Twitter has not released precise usage stats for Vine, but it has 13 million downloads — more than Path’s 10 million announced in April, orFacebook’s paltry 1 million for Home. Anecdotally, I’ve seen many people download the app, and while not many of them post videos, the ones who do get pretty into it.

But technological limitations of mobile networking make it harder for Vine’s makers to deliver a consistent user experience, making immediate success much harder. This isn’t to say that Vine can’t overcome this hurdle, but it’s obvious why the Vine team has a tougher road ahead than Systrom and Krieger ever did.

Why Instagram isn’t doing video just yet

As we sat in the Castro Theater, the Instagram co-founders talked about how they built the product from a basic app (spun out of a failed attempt called Burbn) into something Mark Zuckerberg wanted to buy for $1 billion. It’s not a new story at this point, and has been chronicled extensively, but it’s still remarkable to consider that in the early days, it was just the two of them keeping Instagram running. (You can listen to the full conversation from the Commonwealth Club here.) Even now, the team that powers an app with over 100 million users is just 35 people. The two said they missed countless birthdays and time with girlfriends, just to keep Instagram online.

Mobilize 2011: Om Malik – Founder, GigaOM; Kevin Systrom – CEO, Instagram

Mobilize 2011: Om Malik – Founder, GigaOM; Kevin Systrom – CEO, Instagram

So when Rose asked the inevitable question — What about Vine? When will we see video on Instagram? — Systrom was diplomatic but clear in his response as to why video isn’t something they were previously or currently ready to tackle.

“We’ve always been really interested in video, and I think Vine does that well,” he said. But serving up video is the equivalent of serving “30 pictures per second to a given person, and that’s a really difficult experience to do on mobile.”

Systrom has talked about this concept before at our Roadmap event last November: that serving up photos quickly was the most important thing in making sure users kept coming back to Instagram. There’s no point in adding bells and whistles if the basic function — loading a photo — doesn’t work.

“No one wants to sit outside at a ballpark waiting for a video to load while there are 100,000 people around you wandering and you’re trying to get network signal. It’s hard enough for us to push an image down to you, I can only imagine a moving image,” Systrom said last November. Videos “are just innately harder to produce and consume.”

Systrom has said before that part of the reason Instagram took off was that it hit the technology wave just right — by October 2010, the iPhone camera had improved dramatically and smartphones with access to internet were become widespread enough to make a difference. It might be that Vine has hit the wave of widespread LTE and Google Fiber a little too early — the question is, can it catch up?

If you don’t believe me that Vine is pretty awesome, here’s a round-up of some of my favorite posts. My colleague Adam Kazwell has also created a great list over on Quora. Some of them are from famous people (Jack Dorsey, Ryan Gosling), my friends (normal people), Twitter employees (a group of comitted Viners if there ever was one), parents of toddlers (some of the best-equipped Viners out there) and crazy committed Vine experts (who have clearly put hours into perfecting the art.) But they give you a taste of the possibilities:

(Tap the middle of the square to play.)



Five easy ways to make it easier for customers to find your APP

26 May

So it is with mobile. Customers increasingly download and use apps to perform both existing tasks that once required a lot more effort to complete – finding a new restaurant you can trust, for example – and all-new jobs, such as taking photos and videos and sharing them with friends via Facebook, YouTube, and Vimeo. Time spent with mobile devices is rapidly increasing. In turn, advertisers now see mobile as an essential marketing channel. It’s therefore not a surprise that mobile has emerged as the next phase of our digital evolution.

Going mobile is not for the risk averse, however. As a result of its relative youth, it confronts users, developers, and publishers with all sorts of potholes and speed bumps. For example, just as a VHS tape wouldn’t work in a Betamax machine, and a video game for PlayStation won’t operate if you put it in an Xbox, most apps built for one phone won’t work on any other phone without substantial rework. Similarly, if you happen to own an Android-based smartphone and want an app that happens to be available only for Windows Phone, you won’t be able to download it because your phone won’t have access to Microsoft’s app store.

We can see the results of these obstacles in how infrequently most apps get downloaded and used. While we in the mobile industry must and will continue to improve the ways customers find, pay for, download and use apps, here are some things you can do today to make it easier for people to find your apps.

  1. Ensure search engines have found your app: If you have published an app, try finding it with all the major search engines. Make sure you complete this experiment on mobile devices and computers alike. Do you see your app on the first page of results? If not, ensure your website includes content about your app and has been properly optimized for search. Search engine optimization, or SEO, has many professional practitioners, but you may not need an agency. Do-it-yourself types can accomplish a lot on their own with a little homework and creativity.
  2. Increase the number of access points to your app: Go back to the web page that features your app and make sure it includes a link to the app’s location in the relevant app store. This is called deep linking. Since most app stores now enable web users to trigger a download from the stores’ websites directly to a user’s phone, deep linking can make it easier for a customer who might not otherwise know you even have an app to get it in just a few simple steps.
  3. Go social: Chances are that your company’s marketing budgets focuses largely on persuading people who don’t yet have your product to become your customers. Social communities have exactly the opposite dynamic; they tend to be comprised mostly of loyal users. Since getting existing customers to buy more is easier than acquiring a new customer, enrich your social presence with content about your app. Since most people in your social community have already bought into your marketing, switch your tactics away from anything that could be construed as advertising toward story telling. For example, show how actual users are benefiting from your app by inviting them to share their experiences. Offer tips, including screenshots and videos that show how customers can benefit from using your app. Gather customer feedback and ensure that you have a plan to incorporate that feedback into future releases.
  4. Mention your app in all your marketing: These days, many customers expect your company to have a mobile app just as instinctively as they would expect you to have a website. Including a mention of your app(s) in your marketing, therefore, can let prospective buyers know that you will be there when and where they need you.
  5. Try new technologies: Some of you may have noticed quick response, or QR, codes that accompany some print stories and advertisemnts.Smartphone owners can use QR code scanners, many of which are available for free from the major app stores, to hover their phone’s camera over the code. The scanner then recognizes the image as a link to anything on the web, including your app’s place in a store. To show you what a QR code looks like, I’ve attached one that links to my blog. Getting your own QR code is easy; many websites offer to build them for free. You also may have heard of a technology called “NFC,” which stands for near-field communication. It works by sending electronic signals over very short distances. For example, a user with an NFC-enabled smartphone can place the backside of his phone against the backside of another NFC-enabled phone to share a photo or video. Some companies are using this technology to promote and distribute their apps by posting NFC-enabled stickers in places customers are likely to be and inviting them to tap the sticker with their phones to get an app. QR codes and NFC stickers produce data marketers can use to optimize performance, too.

Mattcollinsblog QR code

While none of these tips represents a silver bullet, they each represent relatively future-proof ways to make it easier for customers to find your app even as the mobile industry continues to evolve.


Are Today’s App Companies Amusing Us to Death or Building the Future?

26 May

 The national conversation of late has revolved around a trio of Washington scandals, a weather disaster, and the seesaw views in financial markets about whether crisis looms. Yet for all their prominence, none are as tied to trends that will shape our collective future as the myriad events that took place this week in New York City under the banner of “Internet Week.”
Now in its sixth year, Internet Week is a loosely coordinated series of gatherings ranging from daylong symposiums to open houses of tech companies large and small to the Webby Awards, which is the online version of the Oscars. Topics cover the gamut from health care in the digital age to marketing your startup to crowdfunding. The attendees are young and at times terminally hip. The whole thing is, quite frankly, fun.

The events are filled with strivers and startups.

The events are filled with strivers and startups. Some may be bought in a few short years, at massive multiples, as Tumblr just was by Yahoo; some may soar higher and become the next Yahoo or Facebook; many will fail. But the collective outcome points resoundingly toward creativity, innovation and continually morphing modes of commerce and connectivity. Half of it may be frivolous, but what matters more is that half of it is serious about changing the world. 

The 133 companies that open their doors to visitors during the week — known as OpenCo —- make the point. OpenCo describes itself as “a mix between a business conference and artist’s open studio with the vibe of a music festival.” The idea was hatched in part by John Battelle, who helped launch Wired and The Industry Standard in the 1990s and Federated Media in the 2000s. The companies that participated in New York’s first OpenCo ranged from hot companies like eyeglass purveyor Warby Parker and high-end retailer Gilt to powerhouses such as TED and Ideo to nonprofits like tech-in-schools Some names might be familiar, but most, given the bias towards startups, are not. They are the germoplasm of New York’s social media and tech ecosystem of Silicon Alley, a rough geography stretching amorphously from Chelsea to Tribeca.

Many have only minimal revenue; listening to various chief executives of these admittedly green ventures, revenue does not even come high on the list of priorities. In fact, for ventures that are so unequivocally commercial, given how many of them connect users to products and companies to customers, revenue and profit take a backseat to vision and community. Some of this is a familiar tech-industry conceit: We’re not here to make money, we’re here to make the world a better place — though if someone wants to value us at $1 billion, all the better.

Part of the reluctance to focus on revenue is pragmatic. These companies didn’t exist a decade ago. Much of the current focus is on mobile applications, for smartphones and tablets, which couldn’t have been used the way these companies imagine until about five years ago. The tech world is strewn with companies that only later found ways to “monetize” their user base. Google, Yahoo and Facebook all began as quirky ideas, created by twenty-somethings with a vision for connecting people. Then they found a way to generate massive income.

So for now, given that no one knows the ultimate ratio between goofy ideas and transformational ones, the focus on user experience, on content, on gathering reams of data about users and their likes and dislikes — all of that makes a certain sense. Every large company in the world is hungry for more information about the commercial habits of younger people, ranging from the mania for products and experiences linked to cult TV shows like The Walking Dead to foodies finding the next obscure ramen joint using GPS location services and a food app on their iPhone. Most of us gravitate towards services and apps that connect us to our needs and wants. There is clearly gold in these hills, but only with a lot of prospecting, many empty pans, substantial failure and some broken dreams.

And the scene is moving fast, even more than it was in the first go-round in the 1990s. Said one CEO on my tour of offices, “I’m trying to stay focused on the long game, what’s going to happen six or nine months from now.” I chuckled, and I was the only one finding it funny.

It’s easy to dismiss these Internet ecosystems as froth, whether in New York or Silicon Valley. The new app that lets you look like a character in Game of Thrones and then tweet your image to your friends may have taken half a dozen techies a few months to perfect, but it’s not clear what the ultimate value is. Many of these companies do not answer the question of whether we are improving daily life or, as Neil Postman said years ago, just “amusing ourselves to death.”

Yet optimism and ambition are not just heady. They are essential for constructive change.

Yet optimism and ambition are not just heady. They are essential for constructive change. One of the older companies on the slate this week is Mouse, a nonprofit founded 15 years ago to bring technology to public schools in troubled districts. Today, the organization is bringing 3D printing to inner-city classrooms, providing computer literacy and problem-solving. Many of the social media companies exist now at the intersection of marketing, entertainment, commerce and community. Much of human history was consumed with staying alive; now, in the more affluent parts of the world, people are consumed with finding meaning, community and economic security. At best, these new ventures are intent on developing tools that allow individuals and organizations to tap the power of information to meet those needs. 

If the above sounds boosterish, it is. The dismissive cynicism of the past decade is corrosive and self-fulfilling. It’s alive and well, all around us, and a collective future fueled by that is grim. The swirl of Internet Week is exactly the right mix of ambition and dreams. The silliness of some of it doesn’t matter nearly as much as the animating spirit, which is key to our future. The belief that tomorrow is an open book and can be better than today is a powerful force, and it courses through American history. For a week at least, it was, thankfully, flowing still.


Features of Mobile Application Management

3 Jan

Kochartech: Mobile Device Managment

Plethora of mobile devices along with theacceptance and usage of mobile applications has added muscle to the enterprise. All the applications from CRM to Human Resources allow the workforce to engage with the company resources. Earlier there were few mobile apps but now there is large collection of apps spread across a wide range of business. Multiple applications are installed on the mobile devices of the employees for accessing work-related information. To monitor and control these applications Mobile Application Management (MAM) solution is deployed within the enterprise.

The key features of a Mobile Application Management (MAM) Solution include-

Unified App Management Control: With the deployment of Mobile Application Management, all the applications are updated, tracked and integrated through a unified control. There is central control that helps to put up the security policy and monitor the application usage.

Enterprise App Store: When mobile application management is implemented…

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