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Category: Enterprise

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The Internet of Things Has Arrived — Here’s How Your Company Can Succeed

 For success in a market that’s changing our everyday lives, you have to know how both sides of the Internet of Things must work together for users.

At its annual 2011 developer conference, Google announced it had developed Android@Home. The technology was designed to connect household appliances, making nearly everything in your home controllable by your smartphone. It made news — not because it was a new idea, but because it supported an old one: The Internet of Things was one step closer to becoming reality.

It turned out that Google’s initiative wasn’t quite ready for prime time, but it reinforced a desire people have had since the mid-20th century: smart devices that communicate with one another makes life easier.

This is the essence of the Internet of Things, and it’s quickly becoming reality. Just look at the success of Nest Labs and Amazon’s new shopping gadget, Dash. Some even say the future of machine-to-machine communication (M2M) is past due.

How to Succeed in the Internet of Things

The question then becomes how to ensure your company succeeds in this field. What does it take to become an integral part of a market that has the potential to change the way we live our day-to-day lives?

To even have a chance at success on the bleeding edge of connectivity, you need to know how M2M works and which components make up a successful consumer-facing product. There are essentially two sides to what we know as the Internet of Things: M2M and consumer.

M2M usually refers to the industrial side of machine communication, but it’s still essentially the term for machines — cars, washing machines, and refrigerators — that communicate with one another, usually on a network. The consumer side of the Internet of Things is what the everyday user will see and interact with.

For your product to be successful, these sides need to work together seamlessly to create a frictionless experience that users can adopt in their daily routines. Take Audi, for example. Rather than reinventing the wheel with its infotainment system, the car company chose to enhance the way people already live with technology, making it smarter, faster, and easier to use. As a result, Audi has won numerous awards and eased people into a new way of doing things.

The 5 Components of a Frictionless Connected Experience

To master this seamless experience, focus on these five components of a successful consumer-facing “smart” product.

1. The Hardware: The hardware you create must improve what’s already out there and make people’s lives easier. Before development, consider what type of data you’ll need to collect, how to communicate that data, and how to process it into usable information after it’s received. Whether your device will rely on Wi-Fi, Ethernet, or a cellular network, make sure the hardware will fulfill the requirements.

2. The Software: Once you have a good piece of hardware, the next step is making sure the consumer can use it. It doesn’t matter how great a device is; if it’s hard to use, it’s sure to fail. Consider how your software will integrate with remote devices and how users will interact with the front-end interface.

3. Connectivity: Good connectivity is essential for connecting to the Internet of Things. In the U.S., competing networks and standards can make it more difficult for a product to achieve success if it only supports one network. Creating a single portal with multiple options for connectivity can help ensure a painless and seamless user experience.

For consumer-facing devices, the faster, the better. LTE is winning out in America, but HSPA+ and even WiMAX have support in certain parts of the world. Depending on your needs, different network evolutions like LTE and technologies such as GSM and CDMA can be beneficial, but they aren’t necessarily required. The more you can do to support these various network possibilities, the more effective and accessible your solution can be.

4. Certification: This isn’t the sexiest part of product development, but whether it’s wireless certification from the PTCRB or a security certification, these procedures are essential when it comes to lending credibility to your product and ensuring that it’s standards-friendly.

5. The Business Model: This should be obvious, but developing the right business model is a critical step startups often neglect. Your product may be amazing, but if you can’t reach the price point you need or can’t figure out how to turn a profit, everything else becomes moot.

With each passing year, the Internet of Things inches closer to becoming reality. If you’re looking to break into this field or are struggling to find a profitable foothold, focusing on these key components can help you achieve success and contribute to a movement that could change the world.



Do Small Businesses Have A Need For ERP?

Enterprise Resource Planning, or ERP as it is commonly called, has been an enterprise-level product for several years. This is not very surprising considering that an average ERP deployment costs anywhere between $100,000 to $750,000 – not accounting for the under 50% deployment success rate and the several months it takes to get there.

Given the costs and uncertainties involved, small and medium businesses have traditionally stayed out of ERP adoption. But is that a good idea? Not any more. A recent study conducted by CompTIA found that nearly 75% of businesses with less than 100 employees today have successfully deployed business optimization tools at their workplace.

Given the rapid proliferation of such technology among small businesses, you could be seriously losing your competitive edge by not adopting ERP yourself. But is it really worth spending $100,000 on a tool that may not be offering ROI in the immediate future? A Gartner study conducted last year showed that most of the small and medium businesses adopting ERP are doing it on the cloud.

Unlike traditional ERP systems that are deployed on the client’s servers, cloud ERP is operated over a third party server through an Internet connection. Also, unlike the awfully high capital costs needed for deploying traditional ERP systems, cloud ERP tools may be accessed through extremely nominal monthly subscription costs. These are factors that make cloud ERP extremely attractive. No surprise then that hosted cloud ERP solutions like Oracle JD Edwards or one from Netsuite or its partners have seen terrific proliferation in recent times.

So how exactly does an ERP system help a small business? As the name suggests, ERP helps businesses in the planning and optimization of their resources. This resource could be inventory, manpower, money, or even customer relationship. With an ERP system, it is possible to maintain data consistency within an organization. This way, every time your purchasing manager makes an additional order of supplies, the ERP dashboard immediately reflects the changes in inventory and budget so that other teams such as Finance, Sales, and Manufacturing may immediately be appraised of the updated finance and inventory status.

Another major advantage with ERP is automation of crucial resource replenishment tasks. In a traditional setup, the inventory manager is responsible for keeping track of the various inventory levels and he/she is responsible for sending new purchase orders when the inventory levels fall below a threshold. An ERP system may be configured to integrate your business processes with that of your suppliers so that decisions to send new purchase orders may be automated. This eliminates human error and reduces the turnover time; thus improving operational efficiency.

Given the growing popularity of cloud ERP, small businesses may no longer have the luxury of avoiding its deployment. If you are a bootstrapped business owner, it is highly recommended that you implement cloud ERP systems to not only ensure higher optimization of your resources, but also to bring about better efficiency in your business processes. What are your thoughts on this? Tell us in the comments below.



Improve Your Management Standards and Surpass the Growing Economy

The UK economy is predicted to grow by 2.2% in 2014, and the Service sector looks like it will be the top performer. Good news perhaps, but now is certainly not the time for any business to be complacent. Whatever its market sector, all businesses need to raise their performance levels to ensure they are competitive, both nationally and globally. Of course having a stellar management team is a definite advantage. However, it’s often the basics, such as having efficient, robust systems in place, that are overlooked - a self-imposed barrier to raising your game. You may not even have proper systems; you just do it the way you’ve always done it.

Quality Standards have been around for well over 100 years. The British Standard Mark – the ‘Kitemark’ - was introduced way back in 1903 to reassure buyers that the product they were purchasing was quite simply “up to standard.” Today, it’s not just the quality of products that count but the quality of a business’s management systems. ISO 9001 is now the world’s most recognized standard with more than 1,000,000 organizations having certifications, with China at the top of the leader board.

ISO Standards now cover diverse areas such as environmental management, health and safety, energy performance, quality management specific to the aerospace industry, and the security of sensitive information and data, which certainly wasn’t on the agenda in 1903. Although ISO certification is not mandatory, there does appear to be a compelling business case, not least that many of the new Standards have been developed to ensure that businesses comply with current and new legislation. And complying with legislation is not voluntary.

 So what can an ISO certification bring?


  • Cost Savings by streamlining and optimizing processes and operations, improving profitability.
  • Customer Satisfaction, increased credibility and confidence, and better customer service, which increase sales.
  • A Toolkit to help you proactively manage your business effectively.
  • The Framework for continuous improvement.
  • Opening new markets by having preferred supplier status.
  • More efficient use of resources.
  • Improved risk management.
  • Access to global management expertise and examples of best practice.
  •  Reassurance that you are complying with all necessary legislation.


Unlike previous Standards loathed by many, ISO is simple to manage and maintain. No longer is there the need to destroy a small rainforest with a mountain of paper-based documentation – it can all be handled on a web-based secure interface.

If you’re looking for a significant ROI, ISO certification looks like a pretty safe bet.



Death by PowerPoint: The Advantages of Interactive Presentations

We’ve all been there at some point in our lives. Feeling every ounce of energy slowly being sucked out by listening to somebody drone along to a PowerPoint presentation.

“How many slides are there?”

“Twenty. Wait…let me squint. Oh no, there are forty.”

This is the cue to pull out your phone and refresh Instagram thirty times or make several trips to the bathroom. In fact, a study by Indiana University revealed that the average adult pays attention for about 15 to 20 minutes before their mind begins to wander. This is when your audience starts to sport a glazed look. A study by MCI also showed that 39% of listeners at business presentations admitted to falling asleep at some point.  We’ve all witnessed someone take a quick nap.

The whole point of presenting is to make meaning and it’s true that passion leads to attention, which then leads to action. This cannot be achieved when your audience is severely disconnected because your slides are crammed full of texts and charts or because you are speaking at them. Audience interaction is key to success.

There is technology now available that enables audience interaction. They usually sport great visual aids to enrich what you are talking about. Business presentation software is designed to provide animated and exciting presentations with the aim to capture the audience’s attention. Use visual mind maps and ask questions to turn dull slides into a dynamic user experience.

With interactive presentation software, you can share what’s on your screen with other tablets and platforms which then allow your audience to filter out what they do not want to know and concentrate on what does interest them. You can back-up all your hard work on your cloud server. This not only provides instant security, but also easy access for your audience when they want it.

Why you should forward with interactive presenting

  • You are providing a hands-on approach. In fact, it’s been almost 25 years since PowerPoint was first launched. How much has technology advanced in 25 years? It may be time to move forward from PowerPoint too. You are now able to create real user experiences.
  • You can target other senses. You won’t just be talking at a brick wall. Interactive presentations are going to stimulate a whole bunch of other senses, enabling your audience to really get involved.
  • Time is money and you are going to be saving a lot of both. Interactive presentations will allow your audience to browse to the bits that interest them and come back to them when they need to.
  • You can embed your videos and Flash. Your audience is likely to become a little more attentive with a video. No more of that awkward waiting for your video to load up only to find it crashes and your audience promptly fall back into a slumber.
  • Live data from real-time feeds, you won’t have to lift a finger. Automatic updates will grace your screen. People are interested by the latest news and information.

Interactive presentations are vital. They are used for a range of purposes such as training, marketing, education and entertainment. They have to be great to create lasting impressions with clients and audiences. They are more effective in introducing new ideas, services and subjects. This isn’t to say you should forget the basics about presenting.

The rules you should always apply


Determine your message

Don’t’ spend so much time setting up the presentation so it includes every figure and every feature. Keep it simple but to the point.


 Analyze you audience

Think about whom you are presenting to. Every age group and every career will be made up of different people, so presenting with a focus on what your audience wants is key.


Organize you information

In a way that is going to cause impact. Visuals, multi-platforms, and a range of other features are at your fingertips; utilize them. Create a better experience face-to-face and on the web.


Practice makes perfect

It really does, so recite what you have to some friends or family. See if they fall asleep. If they do, change what you have done. If there’s no one around, then talk to some furniture. It works.


Bad presentations lead to bad communication. Bad communication leads to bad relationships and interaction. All of these then lead to a loss of sales or money or training. Keep your purpose alive by keeping your audience alive and use interactive presentations.



Cables vs. Wireless: Telecommunication Standoff

Telecommunications is the future; it enables millions of people to connect all over the world within seconds. It also offers development, improvement, and relatively inexpensive availability. People are looking out for what is better, what can offer me them the most, and what can offer them the future. Cables vs. wireless, here are the pros and cons of each:


The pros of cables:

  • A quick and ready connection, as it doesn’t require a phone line or dialing up.
  • Allows you to transfer the likes of photos, videos, and music at a greater speed.
  • Cables and hubs are pretty inexpensive as long as a router is not required.
  • They are fairly reliable, with the most common problem being loose cables.
  • Supports data sucking activities such as online gaming.


The cons of cables:

  • Highly depends on how many people are also connected in the area at the same time; this can significantly lower speed.
  • Quitting cable and watching Internet TV can be tricky.
  • Cable TV can incur in high monthly costs.
  • They can pile up and end up looking rather messy and difficult to keep tidy and neat.


The pros of wireless:

  • Enables communication whilst on the go.
  • No need to be dedicated to a specific computer.
  • Arguably easier and cheaper to install.
  • Constantly developing with offers of new services.


The cons of wireless:

  • Somewhat less reliable than cables, with interference from appliances like microwaves.
  • Performance is limited to distance.
  • Airborne signals can easily be intercepted.
  • Wireless transmission can be slower.


There is no right or wrong answer; it all comes down to preference. If the lack of mobility doesn’t bother you and you are after something more cost effective, then cable would be the way to go. If on the other hand, you like to be at the forefront of developing technology and are constantly on the go, then wireless would be the option to choose.



Is it Time to Say Goodbye to the Enterprise Desktop PC?

The days of the enterprise desktop may be numbered. Traditional desktop deployments, with hundreds or thousands of mid-spec PCs running a usually outdated version of Microsoft Windows, are being displaced by DaaS (Desktop-as-a-Service) solutions that lower the burden of IT management.


We’re all familiar with the benefits of SaaS and IaaS platforms, but the Desktop-as-a-Service paradigm is likely to have just as much of an influence on shaping the way that companies think about IT deployments.


Hosted desktops are exactly what they sound like: Instead of running standard PCs with their own installed apps, companies provide their staff with low-powered thin-client like laptops or tablets. These are used to access cloud desktops, offering an integrated set of cloud apps that can include productivity software, email, communication and collaboration applications, scheduling, and everything else that the average worker needs.


No More Labor-Intensive Software Rollouts


Managing multiple desktop PCs is expensive and time consuming. While enterprises strive to ensure that their hardware portfolio is as consistent as possible, it’s still extremely complex to manage installations and upgrades across a company: That’s why so many large organizations have stuck with legacy operating systems like Windows XP.


Because cloud desktops are managed from a central location, there’s no real need to ever do “installations” and updates can be continuously integrated with the platform, ensuring that workers always have access to the newest features.


Reduced Support Costs


Support generates a significant chunk of the cost of managing large desktop deployments. The vast majority of workers are not technical experts and many have trouble properly managing their own workstations without support. Cloud desktop platforms are both simpler than full-blown desktop systems and more easily managed by IT staff.




Both malware and phishing attacks are a serious problem for enterprise IT departments. Because cloud desktops are always up-to-date and IT staff has a higher level of insight into the system, the attack surface is radically reduced when compared to large-scale physical deployments.


True Mobility


The idea of the cubicle worker tied to a specific desk in a particular office is becoming outmoded. As companies seek to leverage the benefits of remote working and mobile working, workers become used to the idea of BYOD, artificially constraining employees by insisting that they use “their computer” is counter-productive. Cloud-based workspaces are device agnostic and can be accessed from low-powered desktops, laptops, tablets, and phones anywhere in the world, fostering more efficient work patterns and greater collaboration.


Open source Cloud desktop solutions, like ownCloud and eyeOS, are mature platforms in use by some of the largest enterprises, including IBM, NEC, and Unisys, as well as small and medium businesses that want to save costs and increase the efficiency of IT management. In the future we can expect to see many more companies make the move to cloud-based workspace platforms.


The Cloud has Precipitated a Sea-Change in Enterprise Data Management

As a recent article on Wikibon notes, the changes wrought by the cloud, Big Data, and the advent of technologies like MongoDB and Hadoop are hitting traditional database vendors hard.


While Oracle and its competitors are still forces to be reckoned with in the IT world, cloud storage and data processing technologies, with their open APIs, open source development models, and non-existent licensing costs, are a better fit with modern business operations, particularly when it comes to handling the data loads and processing requirements of companies that do most of their business online.


Big Data is big, obviously, but volume is far from the only concern of companies that want to efficiently leverage the data goldmine. For business intelligence and analytics to live up to their potential, data velocity, scalability, and the costs associated with data storage and movement are of equal importance. There’s very little point in storing huge amounts of data if its use isn’t timely and the costs of managing it cut deeply into profit margins, both of which hinder business agility.


It’s hardly surprising that the dinosaurs of the data management industry are taking a hit; they value correctness over velocity and contractual and technological lock-in over openness and portability. There will always be applications where a data management model optimized for predictable structured data is absolutely necessary. The businesses with the expertise and technology meet those requirements aren’t going anywhere.


However, at least 80 percent of a modern corporation’s data assets are unstructured. Much of that data is ephemeral, and its major usefulness lies in the insights that can be gleaned from it in the short, and medium, term rather than for its long-term record keeping potential.


Cloud platforms and Big Data are intimately connected. The cloud empowers modern businesses to store vast amounts of data at relatively low costs, scale their storage in response to requirements, process and analyze data for actionable insights. They also integrate the results of analyses with ongoing business operations through SaaS applications that can tie Big Data insights into collaborative tools for handling logistics, enterprise resource management, customer relationship management, human resources, sales and marketing, and most other areas of modern business.


All of that would be difficult and expensive if companies were limited to fixed infrastructure costs, slow scaling cycles, long-term lock-in with vendors, a lack of vertical integration, and an inability to extract value from unstructured data.


The giants of old IT have not been slain and they will continue to grow, but as businesses accelerate their exploitation of Big Data’s benefits, cloud platforms will continue to dominate the landscape.


How Desktop Virtualization Enhances IT Capabilities

Virtualization of desktop computing capabilities is helping to make IT more of an asset for businesses and in many cases, enhances the capacities of individual employees within an enterprise context.


Let’s take a look at how and why these advantages are important.




Desktop virtualization solutions from companies like Dell make it easier for IT departments to deliver access to a full range of corporate resources to large numbers of people on short notice. Because data management is centralized in a virtualized system, traditional desktop hardware is not relied upon to provide the kind of computing capabilities that employees require.


Additionally, the systems being used by a team of employees within a virtualized network can be upgraded in one fell swoop rather than on a piecemeal or case-by-case basis. Software upgrades, therefore, can be introduced more regularly as virtualization makes IT departments more flexible and responsive.




At the current level of enterprise strategy and IT capabilities, virtualization offers what can be very valuable flexibility. A company can expand the scope of their IT applications quickly and across their entire workforce in direct response to market demands or increased competition.


Utilizing a virtualized desktop infrastructure means that IT ambitions and ideas can be acted upon much more rapidly than with traditional technologies, and in a much more comprehensive fashion. Even crucially, these kinds of fresh IT deployments can also be scaled back just as quickly, which means associated costs can be closely controlled and kept as low as possible.




Virtualizing desktops and the associated centralization of corporate data has the added benefit of making IT issues easier to troubleshoot as they arise. The enhanced visibility of an entire infrastructure means that even a single IT expert can resolve problems that might emerge and present problems for corporate users.


Where once a desktop failure would require an expert to be dispatched and scrutinize the hardware, virtualization provides the convenience of having network problems being resolved remotely and precisely.




Shifting desktop functions from traditional hardware and networks to virtualized alternatives also means that businesses are automatically ready to alter the number of people using their IT systems. With a virtualized setup, taking on and empowering new employees needn’t be a cause for concern in terms of IT expenditure as costs can be very closely managed and solutions very easily deployed.


Dell has a host of desktop virtualization solutions available. To find out more about these or any other Dell products, head to the website at


So You Think You Can Dance in the Enterprise: Part Two

You have successfully crossed the chasm (if you don’t know what that means, stop reading and go buy this book immediately) by building an awesome product, choosing a target market, positioning the product, building a marketing strategy, and choosing the most appropriate distribution channel and pricing. Your scrappy, generalist business development team got you the early adopters, and there is tangible interest from the early majority. Next billion dollar IPO, right?


Not quite. Interest and attention from the early majority is one thing, but capturing them, let alone capturing the late majority and laggards, takes something few startups know how to build, a professional sales org. But whenever I say the word “sales,” entrepreneurs have a violent and negative reaction, invoking Alec Baldwin’s Blake character in Glengarry Glen Ross (best sales movie ever, by the way), laughing at his brass balls, and frowning upon his exclusionary coffee practices.


I argue that if you don’t build a professional sales organization that is equipped to go after enterprise clients, you might as well turn off the lights and go do something else. The fallacy from Field of Dreams (worst sales movie ever, by the way) that “if you build it, they will come” makes me want to tear out my few remaining hairs. The pernicious idea that you can “grow hack” your way to revenue by developing “enterprise virality” features and just see the money roll in could not be more damaging to companies. Growth hacking in the enterprise is one thing, and one thing only: sales.


The good news is that building a competent enterprise sales organization is not a black art, but a well-defined and documented practice. The org basically boils down to this:


Specialize Your Four Core Sales Roles[1]


Let’s start with a few definitions:

  • Inbound sales: Reactive responses to inbound interest in your product, usually from marketing activities such as PR campaigns or word-of-mouth.
  • Outbound sales: Proactive identification of sales opportunities via cold-calling a purchased list, or warm-calling referrals from existing customers. Also called Sales Development.
  • Qualification: The process of determining whether a sales lead represents a real business opportunity. Usually involves figuring out if the customer has a pain point that your product can solve (otherwise it’s just a science project), whether there is a budget, if it is a sizable opportunity etc.
  • Account execs: The core sale reps that engage the customer, find champions for your product, identify veto holders, influencers, and decision makers, flexibly pitch to various constituencies, and close the deal.
  • Sales engineers: A hybrid role with sales and engineering characteristics, SE’s support account execs through the more technical phases of the sales process.
  • Customer success: The role in charge of managing your customer relationships after the purchase, driving adoption of the product. Successful customer success reps will reduce churn and create new upselling and cross-selling opportunities.


Each one of these categories is a profession in and of itself, and building such an organization is the core difference between pre-chasm business development and post-chasm sales.


However, don’t fool yourself that this is easy. There are countless ways for the inexperienced to fail at building sales orgs. Here are a couple of the most common ones, and what you can do to avoid the missteps:


Hire the right people: I know, easier said than done, but as with any team, the wrong person will hurt everyone’s performance and job satisfaction. Here are my four hiring guidelines:


  • Does she know the industry I’m in? Do you think that an Ethan Allen sales person can effectively sell a payment system to mobile games? A person who successfully sells in my industry and brings a rolodex loaded with potential customers, will hit the ground running and generate immediate revenue.
  • Can he pitch my product to me? As part of the interview process, I ask candidates to prepare to pitch my product to a group of 3-5 people. Of course some of the details will be off, but if he got the gist of what we’re about, if he did his research ahead of time, and if he can think on his feet and be flexible, I want him on my team.
  • Did I check the right references? Not just the ones she provided, but also some from people on LinkedIn we’re both connected to. If I can find an actual customer that she sold to, even better. Give me someone that worked with her, and I will learn more in 5 minute than I will from hours of interviews.
  • Do I want to have a beer with him after work? If the answer is no, I won’t hire. At the end of the day, if a rep can’t master the art of making people feel comfortable, and build a relationship that goes beyond the workplace, he won’t be effective.


Compensation: Sales people are notoriously aggressive (as you want them to be!), and are world-class champions at gaming any system you throw at them. If the comp plan produces a misalignment of incentives between the rep and the company, you are in trouble. For example:


  • Base vs. variable pay: Try to avoid situations like low base-high variable that starves the rep during a lean quarter (don’t forget that enterprise deals can take anywhere between 6-18 months), and high base-low variable that discourages aggressive selling. The best reps will argue for a low base and an outrageous variable compensation.
  • Channel conflict mitigation: If part of your go-to-market strategy is relying on value-added resellers and strategic partners to sell your product and extend your sales reach, you need to take into account situations when a partner a rep go after the same customer. To minimize conflicts, develop a well-documented process that explains who gets credit, what price discounts are allowed, and when you double comp.


Building a top-notch sales org is in many ways antithesis to the nature and DNA of startups, and is the real source of the instinctive objection to professional sales. However, if you don’t take the plunge, especially when selling to enterprises, your company will likely never move past the fun experiment phase to become a self-sustaining, profitable business.


If you do this well, you are already way ahead of most of the competition, and your enterprise prospects will feel more comfortable betting on a product from an unknown startup.


[1] Ross, Aaron, and Marylou Tyler. “Specialize Your Four Core Sales Roles.” Predictable Revenue: Turn Your Business into a Sales Machine with the $100 Million Best Practices of West Hollywood, CA: PebbleStorm, 2012. N. pag. Print.


Consider the Clouds in 2014

As the dust settles into 2014 and we’re in the midst of our Q1 roadmap, we thought we’d share some thoughts of where we think cloud and mobile are heading, as they may influence how you think about your product, customer needs, or simply the future of the industry.


Smartphone penetration plateaus


2014 is the year smartphone growth will plateau, as we start to see saturation in the market. Apple recently released a more affordable Apple 5C that’s meant for the mass market and Google’s open Android OS has been making it easy for manufacturers to build cheap smartphones for years. The result: feature phone extinction.


Saturation should create opportunities in mobile device peripherals, including wearables. These devices will drive engagement with mobile devices as well as provide a way for companies to differentiate themselves. For example, the Samsung Galaxy Gear smartwatch enables users to pick up notifications, control music playback, take pictures, or shoot short 720p movies with its 1.9-megapixel camera. With the smartphone and tablet as the feeders of information (the watch grabs information from Galaxy mobile devices via Bluetooth), Samsung has a hub on which to build useful peripherals.


Other wearables like the Pebble watch or Google Glass are rapidly gaining popularity in Silicon Valley. How quickly they can adapt to gain broad acceptance will determine the difference between being a long term success or the next Segway. Since wearables have been mostly familiar day-to-day accessories (glasses, watches, etc.), we think they’ll have greater success than something that requires greater change of behavior like the Segway.


Cloud and mobile become increasingly integrated


Mobile users need the cloud. You remember that when you lost your LTE connection and how frustrated you were as you waved your phone around looking for better signal? Yeah, that’s why the cloud is important. While apps have become smarter to support some off-line usage, they need that internet connection to be useful to you.


So why not just build apps that can run on the phone without internet? The cloud provides the convenience of off-device data processing and storage. While smartphones and other mobile devices have come a long way in terms of battery life, processing power, and storage space, the cloud does a lot of heavy lifting that makes apps work like magic.


Mobile and cloud means we’re connected wherever, whenever. Mobile empowers the cloud, and in return, the cloud powers mobile. For example, location data gathered from your phone is sent to the cloud where it’s processed and returned to your device in the form of useful contextual information about your surroundings. Big data will finally become useful to consumers as mobile and cloud work more closely together.


Enterprise fills the Black(Berry) hole


BlackBerry will be an interesting vendor to watch. 2013 was a rough year for them and with consumer favorites, iOS and Android, flying high from the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend, companies will hedge their bets and consider sunsetting support for BlackBerry in favor of other solutions. The question becomes - who will fill the void left by BlackBerry?


More conservative clients who may be in highly regulated industries, like finance, may be hesitant to move to the cloud, though consumer adoption is influencing IT policy. If BlackBerry goes away, that opens up an opportunity for another big player to fill in the enterprise mobile gap.


Part of what’s driving this shift is the consumerization of IT. Consumer influence on IT is a trend that is here to stay. People want to use the same tools at work, that they also use at home. Mobility enables the lines between work life and home life to blur more than ever before. The pressure on IT to adopt more end-user friendly technologies will continue to mount.


Enterprises move to the cloud despite security concerns


Security in 2014 is not just for IT. Popular internet services like Snapchat and large companies like Target are just the latest in a long list of brand name organizations getting hacked. Consumers are going to think twice about the information they share and this habit will spill over into the workplace as well.


Cloud service adoption within enterprises is going to continue to grow and perhaps hit an inflection point, as companies realize that the benefits of the cloud outweigh the negatives. With privacy and security conversations hitting mainstream media, workers are being educated at home and in the workplace.


We’re seeing a lot of companies adopting Google Apps, Box, Dropbox, Salesforce, and many other cloud services. Some are even deploying multiple solutions that solve similar problems (e.g. Dropbox and Box) to meet the wants and needs of various functional groups. With all these services being adopted, IT will need to find a way to integrate them and fully manage everything within its security policies and parameters.


As a result, API platforms and cross-platform services are going to be huge this year. Secure management of this infrastructure will be a big question that will influence adoption.