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Category: Mobile Commerce World

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Traditional Industries Are Being Upended by Apps

It isn’t news to anyone that we live in a mobile world now. Over half of adult Americans own smartphones, and the desktop business has been steadily declining as tablets and phones continue their ascent. As consumers, we have spoken: Our world is on the go, and we want technology that can keep up with us.

But it’s more than just the size and convenience of these products that make them so revolutionary; they mark a shift in how we interact with our devices and through them, with products and services in the outside world. The app economy doesn’t exist to simply occupy people’s time with games and to-do lists — it’s a way to disrupt traditional ways of doing business.


3 Traditional Industries that Apps Have Disrupted


Whole volumes can be written on the various businesses and services that have benefited, and suffered from, the smartphone revolution, but here are three key examples of how apps have managed to revolutionize whole industries.


1. Travel: While the traditional travel agent’s way of doing things was on the decline before smartphones, thanks to websites like Expedia and Travelocity, we still printed our boarding passes, booked hotels and flights way in advance, and manually kept track of our travel itineraries.

With mobile phones, this changed almost completely. Most airline apps allow us to check in and present our tickets from within the app and, more importantly, they continuously update us with current flight ETAs and gate change information that can make the difference between a successful trip and a disastrous one.

Furthermore, a whole industry of mobile apps has arisen around the concept of last-minute deals when it comes to hotel reservations and other travel accommodations. With their phones, users have the ability to make last-minute vacation plans that are often cheaper than ones made months in advance. This practice has become much more widespread in the days of mobile.


2. Transportation: You’ve most likely heard of new car services like Uber and Lyft. These companies have made names for themselves by creating an experience that allows you to order and pay for a car service with a few simple taps on your phone. The key thing to remember about these services is that mobile is not their business — it’s the tool through which people access their service. Mobile is the facilitator, not the endgame.


3. GPS: Remember when everyone had a TomTom or Garmin hooked to their dashboards? When was the last time you had one hooked to yours? Built-in apps, such as Google and Apple Maps, have all but replaced this once-burgeoning product category, offering the same features without the need for another clunky device.

Furthermore, smartphones have surpassed traditional GPS devices, with apps like Waze, which provides crowd sourced alerts about traffic, accidents, police information, and even red-light cameras. By providing points and rewards for adding information, Waze turned maps into a game and created something wholly new in the GPS industry. Its no wonder Google spent $1 billion to acquire it.


What to Keep in Mind When Designing Your App

These aren’t the only industries that have been disrupted by mobile, and they won’t be the last. With the widespread adoption of wearable tech just around the corner, we’re going to be presented with new and exciting ways to change how we do business. There are a few key things to keep in mind when looking to change the world with mobile.


  • Count the steps. How many steps does it take to provide your service? If you can find ways to cut down on the number of steps or make them easier with mobile, then you have a good start when developing an app.
  • Put the user experience first. Making your app a pleasure to use can make the difference between success and failure. Learn about the psychology and motivations behind people’s interactions, and design your app around that.
  • Capture feedback. Make it easy for users to provide feedback — and for you to track it. Seeing how people actually use your app and knowing what they’re looking for can give you a better picture of the place mobile has in your business.
  • Partner up. You don’t need to do everything. Look for ways to connect what you have to offer with other products and services so your users get a full experience. That means you won’t get bogged down in details irrelevant to your core business.


A key thing to keep in mind when looking toward the next wave of disruptive apps is how mobile fits into the way people live. Does your app empower people to do things they already want to do? Is it strategically positioned to be useful at certain crucial times (like when they need to find a hotel room at the last minute?)


The major reason apps have been so game changing is that they have improved upon the ways people go about already doing things by not forcing people to change their lives. As long as app makers continue to keep that in mind, we are only at the beginning of the app revolution.


Five Tips For Successful DIY Tablet Solutions

Tablet applications are now the new normal for the office. A recent survey of FileMaker Pro users, conducted by FileMaker, Inc., revealed that businesses are using custom database solutions to automate all kinds of business processes across all departments.

Furthermore, businesses are using tablet applications to “mobilize” workers inside the building or across the company campus as often as they are mobilizing field sales forces and technicians.


Early adopters of tablet applications are achieving tremendous productivity advantages, including reducing paper, saving steps for employees, cutting processing costs, and improving customer service.


With the push to get tablet applications to market as quickly and cost-effectively as possible, many smaller businesses and entrepreneurs are going the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) route-ditto to workgroups within larger businesses. They’re taking advantage of low-cost or no-cost software and DIY application development tools that help them build professional-quality, highly customized business solutions for tablets and have their solutions ready to go in a matter of weeks, not months.


Case in point, entrepreneur George Page runs Sea Breeze Farm, a grass-based animal farm on Washington’s Vashon Island that boasts a dairy, butcher shop, winery, cheese business and popular restaurant. He was able to use FileMaker to create several custom solutions that run on iPads and integrate his various business operations even though he had no software development skills.  Page estimates that the new solutions have made his business three to four times more productive.


Similarly, West Paw Design of Bozeman, Montana, a manufacturer of eco-friendly toys, beds and apparel for four-legged friends, developed a custom manufacturing and inventory automation solution that runs on iPads.  The solution has saved hundreds of thousands of dollars annually.


Based on what we learned from our customer survey, here are five tips to keep in mind when taking on a DIY tablet application project.


It’s All about the Data: For the most part, solutions for tablets mobilize data for businesses whether it’s on your manufacturing floor, in the barn, in the showroom, or in the field.  So, make sure you pick a tool that enables you to create your mobile database quickly and to connect easily to all your data sources-ideally without programming.  In addition, you shouldn’t require a dedicated database administrator to manage your application once it’s up and running.


Think Good Design First:  Plan to take full advantage of tablets and their operating systems, particularly iPads and iOS, when designing applications for the devices. Don’t just duplicate desktop solutions and assume they’ll look and run well on mobile devices.  In fact, employees simply won’t use your tablet application if it isn’t as attractive or functional as their consumer apps. Nor will they use your application if it doesn’t make their lives easier by simplifying or replacing the tasks that they perform daily.


Don’t Forget Security:  Security of data on mobile devices is an ongoing challenge. A good, simple starting point is to use a tool that includes a server-based database with a separate application that feeds your data to the tablets.  Your data is protected at the server level and, more importantly, it isn’t left on the mobile devices for scrutiny by unauthorized viewers.  You also want to be able to take advantage of the built-in security features of whatever operating system your tablet uses.


Build. Rinse. Repeat:  By definition, a great tablet application is never finished.  You’ll want to be able to update it, refine it with suggestions from employees, add new data sources, and so on; all quickly–and without having to call in a programmer.


Why Reinvent the Wheel?  You can learn a lot from what other businesses have done.  If you choose a tool that a lot of people are already using, you can often pick up ideas from them or even solutions that they’ve shared in the public domain (see examples at Made for FileMaker). In addition, well-established tools usually have acquired third-party-developer communities. Professional developers can provide extra help if you decide you need it–and some even have specific expertise in building solutions for your problem or industry (or, you can pick up free tips by reading their blogs). There are a lot of great ideas out there.  You’ll never be alone if you pick a popular tool.

So, what are you waiting for?  Go for it!


Five Forces Driving Business Networks To The Breaking Point

Today, IP-based devices are rapidly proliferating inside and outside the four walls of businesses—making networks increasingly difficult to scale, manage, secure and adapt.

It makes sense that this would happen eventually. The era of modern business networking began over twenty years ago, with the introduction of public packet-mode networks as an alternative to private leased line-based wide-area networks (WANs). By the end of the 90’s, Microsoft-powered PCs and LANs were pervasive across businesses—pushing out other proprietary networks. At the same time, the Internet was flourishing and TCP/IP became the dominant way to connect branch, campus and datacenter LANs together.


Without further ado, here are five major societal and technological trends changing the way businesses network:


1. Mobile Workstyles

Earlier this year, for the first time ever, the installed base of smartphones and tablets surpassed that of desktop and notebook PCs.  As our lifestyles become increasingly connected, so do our workstyles. Business networks need to provide the ability to work when, where and on whatever device of choice.


2. Partly Cloudy Forecast

 According to a recent Voice of IT report from the Spiceworks IT community, over 60% of SMBs are using cloud-based services. However, unless a company is building a new business from the ground up, they remain “partly cloudy” for a long time—using IT applications, storage, compute workloads, and operational systems with both on-premise and cloud-based deployments.


3. Shrinking Planet

 Not so long ago, only large enterprises had the ability to conduct business on a global scale and to build and support the business networks that enabled it. Today, even a small manufacturer can source parts from China and sell products in Europe. As the planet shrinks, the demand for global WAN connectivity will grow for businesses of all sizes.


4. Shifting Threatscape

Advances in cloud computing and open-source software are not just benefiting the righteous—nefarious groups are embracing these technologies to radically alter the volume, velocity, and virality of their cyber attacks on business assets. Over 70,000 new malware variants that defy traditional signature-based detection are created every day. With the newfound power and proficiency of the cloud, hackers are shifting their sights towards smaller businesses that lack the staff and sophistication to thwart them.


5. Crushing Complexity

The overall construct of IP networks has changed very little in the last decade; rather, a conga line of boxes have emerged at the WAN edge in an attempt to make networks more secure, mobile-oriented, application-intelligent and optimized.


These add-on boxes have made WANs more complex, expensive and inadaptable. They have also put enterprise-class networks outside the reach of most SMB organizations.


So what are you to make of all this? Times are a-changin’ and networking’s time has come. One only needs to look to the cloud to see what the future of networking has in store.


By Steve Campbell

Steve Campbell is an investor and board director at Pertino, a Silicon Valley cloud networking startup. He is also co-founder and former CEO of StrataCom, the frame relay pioneer that ushered in the era of modern, packet-mode networks.


Top Tech and Startup News: 7 Things You Missed

Below is today’s top technology and startup news.


1. $6200 Bitcoin Heist Threatens Android Operating System

Hold onto your digital wallet. As expected, flaws in operating systems are being exploited to “pilfer” bitcoin. Google developers confirmed the cryptographic vulnerability, claiming there is a serious threat to “hundreds of thousands” of Android apps.

Undoubtedly, this is bad press for Bitcoin. Yet, this is even worse news for Android, with over 90% of mobile malware being detected on this mobile operating system.

Update: Today, it was reported Google is distributing patches through the Openhandset Alliance.

Here’s a quote from Alex Klyubin, a Google security engineer who first reported the situation:

“We have now determined that applications which use the Java Cryptography Architecture (JCA) for key generation, signing, or random number generation may not receive cryptographically strong values on Android devices due to improper initialization of the underlying PRNG.”


2. Google Blocks Microsoft’s YouTube app

Just days after announcing the release of the YouTube app on Windows Phone, Google has officially blocked the app.

This action was in response to errors which started to pop up this week. Google stated the full YouTube experience could not be enjoyed with the current browser.

Here’s a quote from a Google spokesperson:  “It has been disabled. We value our broad developer community and therefore ask everyone to adhere to the same guidelines.”

3. Washington Post has been Hacked by Syrian Electronic Army

It’s been a big week for the Post. After Jeff Bezos announcement to buy the Post for an estimated $250 Million, the website is now being hacked. Reportedly, readers of some articles are being redirected to the Syrian Electronic Army website.

4. “Julian Asssange with a Hypodermic Needle” - The Silk Road drug peddling website to be featured in magazine

He’s the Al Capone of the internet, known more commonly as Dread Pirates Roberts, and has been carefully building a website to meddle drugs over the last two years. And, these are not just your typical over-the-counter drugs. We’re talking heroine, meth, crack, LSD and ecstasy - all mailed through our local, friendly post office.

Forbes plans to run a full-feature article on Roberts.

5. Paypal freezes IndieGoGo campaign worth over $100,000 - then reverses the decision

With 9 days to go in the campaign, a Google Glass competitor ‘GlassUp’ was told they will only receive “a tiny amount of the funds.” The Italian hardware manufacturer would have been greatly hampered by this decision. But, after receiving mainstream press, Paypal reversed their decision stating:

“We looked into what was happening with GlassUp and corrected the situation earlier today. GlassUp now has access to all of the funds that they’ve raised on Indiegogo through PayPal. We think they are developing a fascinating product and don’t want to impede their innovation in any way.”


6. Awesome Fashion Designer Fights Government Surveillance

Here’s one way to speak out against Government surveillance. An activist and designer has created an anti-drone garment, resembling a burqa to demonstrate the seriousness of our situation. The garment reflects heat, masking the wearer’s thermal signature while reducing visibility to infrared sensors. You can check it out here:

Adam Harvey /


Fashion designer fights against surveillance

Fashion designer fights against surveillance



7. Design Your Heart Out: Getty Releases 4600 Amazing Images to the Public

In a world of stock photos and vector art, the newest announcement by Getty is a pleasure to hear. Perhaps one of the World’s finest collections of artwork is now open to the public, free of use. The iniative, which sets a precedent for other art collections, is called the Open Content Program and is free to use.

You can browse the collection here:


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