BYOD still getting mixed reviews

I keep reading about BYOD and nearly every article contradicts another; it’s cheaper, it’s more expensive, it allows users to choose devices, users must choose a device that works with our MDM platform.

Some articles indicate the users pays the bill, others they expense it, other use corporate provided sim cards. Some mention how they deal with expensive roaming, others neglect that hot topic completely.

Probably the best article I’ve read is this one from, have you seen anything better?

why does the skype generation accept a lower quality of voice?

It’s an interesting paradox; Skype offers a pretty amazing level of call quality, which is the reason why it’s often used in recording Podcasts. An example being the TWiT network, Leo Leporte uses Skype to conference in his guests and the quality is great.

I’ve seen the phrase used a coupe of times now, but most recently to justify lower investment in voice infrastructure. The generation that uses Skype is also the generation that has grown up using mobile phones as their main form of communication. The call quality can be a bit shaky due to a myriad of reasons, but people have accepted the convience in substitution of quality.

Having tried Jajah, Rebtel, Skype, Truphone, services that use the internet as the voice backbone, I can say that about 80% of the time the call quality is really good, but there’s 20% of the time the quality is horrific, delays, calling dropping, strange noises etc. Compare this to traditional voice where you knew when you picked up the phone it was going to work 100% of the time, (even in a power outage).

Today we have lots of different ways of communicating, IM, Facebook, Twitter, SMS, email (through a variety of devices), so if voice doesn’t work a quick SMS, email or Tweet often get’s the message across. So we accept lower quality voice because there are other forms of communication not just voice.

So the Skype generation is in fact very communications savvy, they have lots of communications tools and have lowered the cost to almost free. What we’ve learnt here is that as predicted the IT strategy of anEnterprise is becoming heavily influenced by the users, as they bring with them products and services that work for them.

Also posted at Orange Business Live

The Skills you’ll need to succeed according to Gartner

At the Orange Live 2010 the most covered keynote was Peter Sondergaard, SVP at Gartner’s ‘what’s hot for IT and Consumers’. We’ve covered pretty much most of the content from the event here on this blog. I’m pretty sure a lot of what was said by Sondergaard has already been covered, but I found a small point on the skills that Sondergaard suggested will be the key to success in the workplace, very interesting;

Vendor Management skills; the first skill that Sondergaard stated was the ability to manage you partners and suppliers successfully. With the advent of Cloud computing and virtualization, the ability to perform all the required functions is limited to a few huge organizations, so the need to partner is key to success. To offer blended solutions to consumers requires an ability to manage affectively the partners involved.

Business Intelligence; Sondergaard spoke about how data that is not seen as critical now will be come valuable in the future. Sondergaard didn’t call it ‘meta data’ but I’m guess that’s what he meant, data that is collected or created as a result of another transaction. Sondergaard suggested that traditional business models will therefore become obsolete as the data that has to be managed evolves.

Within the Orange group there are R&D units working on some pretty cool technologies and also working with some of the data that Orange makes available through API’s. The ability to understand the importance of this new data and understand how this data can be built upon can provide new revenue streams.

Relationships skills; these skills can be translated to social skills, the ability to build relationships.  There’s a close relationship to the first skill, Vendor management as it’s all about the relationship between a business and its partners. To develop the business growing a strong relationship is key to the success of that business. Something I’ve mentioned in earlier posts is the importance of trust. Trust plays a huge part in a relationship both with your partners and your customers. You can’t build a relationship without trust. Therefore, in the same way it’s important to build trust as a brand and subsequently with your consumers, it’s important to build trust with your partners as well.

Imagine from Benjamin Ellis’ Flickr

Also post at Orange Business Live

Location becomes fashionable again

The improvement in technology has meant that location is now important. Why, because Location Based services (LBS) are a hot topic at the moment with a huge interest in services such as Foursquare and Gowalla both of which are growing huge user bases, specifically the former, having just passed One million users as reported by Techcrunch.

LBS requires the network to know where you are so that if can tailor information specific to that location i.e. advertising, or allow you to perform a task specific to that location “check in” for example. The benefit of this sharing of your location, is you can see where your friends are, arrange impromptu meetings, coffee maybe as you’re in the same location.

However, less recent developments in technology and in particular high speed wireless data networks allowed us to become nomadic workers not reliant on a single location where work must be performed. As a result of this the importance of location reduced as we can perform pretty much “everything everywhere”.

An office is still the most common place where knowledge based work is performed, but that’s changing as teleworking or mobile working becomes much more common. The late 19th century concept of the offices is analogous to a factory, it’s the place where you must “check in”  between 9am and 5pm to be seen by your superiors to be working.

We started with the statement; The improvement in technology has meant that Location is now important. However if you look back just 18 months or less, the statement could easily have been just one letter different; The improvement in technology has meant that Location is not important, the office is everywhere. Just goes to show 18 months is a long time in the technology world.

Also posted on the Orange Business Live Blog

Truphone could wipe the floor with Google voice

There’s a lot of buzz on the web right now about Google voice going public. But there’s still a huge problem, text messages.

What people are looking to do is disconnect their number from their sim card. People are keen to have a number that’s theirs but not tied to a specific handset (voip, fixed or mobile) and are looking to Google voice to give them that functionality. The extra benefit being they don’t have to carry or use the same device they are device independent.

Google voice will only give you half of that functionality, the voice portion, the text portion is still left on your handset. So you’re left holding multiple devices again, if you want to receive SMS or MMS.

This is where Truphone trumps Google Voice, Truphone disconnects your number from the device, you can install Truphone onto most mobile devices and then insert any sim, local or roaming and it’ll just adopt that network as the transport, but using your truphone number as the ‘from’ number for both voice and text. So your Truphone number can deal with both Voice and Text. But you’ve spotted the tiny issue, it only works for mobile devices.

A little while back (august 2008) I wrote to the guys at Truphone with the following message, with the relevant one here being point 4 enter the Grand Central space (Grand Central is now Google Voice)

1. Number choice – The ability to choose a number from those available and or buy a ‘gold’ (and silver?) number.
Some carriers used to have the concept of Gold and Silver numbers, where you paid for a more memorable number.  If you don’t want to buy a number, you’re given the ability to select a number from the db. For example, my (GSM) number is XXXX 7887898, but my truphone number is +44XXX8804483, so I’d maybe try for  07978 887898 or 887899 for example.

2. Number portability – port my GSM number to Truphone.
James mentioned this in our short and bad line quality call the other day. I think this would be great as I could port my number to truphone and then use any carrier pre-pay sim card behind it for gsm coverage. Assuming truphone anywhere would still provide my Truphone CLI so it wouldn’t matter which sim you used. This I’m sure could cut my personal phone bill from a grand a year to a few hundred. The ability to disconnect your well known phone number from the carrier and allow you to move around carriers, both national and international would be a great benefit and provide a huge amount of freedom.

3. CLI choice – The ability to select.
I think there’s been some issues in this area with fraud, but the ability to choose either the GSM or Truphone CLI to be presented shouldn’t be a problem. People could put Truphone on their whatever phone and use it where there wasn’t any GSM coverage, but I would want to present my GSM CLI which my contacts can identify. (assuming you haven’t ported your number)

4. Enter the Grand Central space?
We don’t get Grand central in the UK and it’s had problems because it doesn’t do SMS, (no sms forward so resorting to sms to voice!). Could Truphone step into this space, by allowing users to register several numbers which are called in simultaneously or in order. The ability to define when certain numbers can get through or go to voicemail. The SMS capability of Truphone gives you a huge advatange over Grand Central here.

We know Truphone bought Sim4Travel and are working on their own sim for roaming, but I think some work on the back end of the voice routing, which could then allow users to tweak call routing via a portal would allow a much richer functionality to be gained and provide users with what they want, a number that’s not connected to a specific device that handles both voice and text.

Connection Managers for S60

I’ve been playing with the two main connection managers for S60, Psiloc Connect and Birdsteps Connect. The idea of these apps is that they manage the connection your apps use, for example when at home they will prefer the faster wi-fi, but when there’s no wi-fi i.e. when you’re out and about, they switch to 3G.

So they make chosing which connection a set and forget expierence and they also help when you travel as you can remove the GSM access point from the list and only use wi-fi thus reducing the cost.

The Birdstep app is available for free in Downloads on the e-series devices, which is where I first found it. Birdstep’s app let’s your create an access group and uses that to manage your connections, so if you set your home wi-fi as your top access point it’ll allways try that first.

The plus point with the birdstep app, smart connect has an advantage over Psiloc’s app, in that it appears in the access list group as a GSM access point. Psiloc’s app appears as a wi-fi access point in the list, this causes a problem for those apps that only allow GSM access points to be used. The S60 Jaiku app for one, doesn’t work with the Psiloc app as it doesn’t use wi-fi access points. The jaiku S60 app uses the birdstep app just fine.

So with Birdstep you can set all your apps to be managed and use the quiker and less power draining wi-fi whilst at home. Whereas the Psiloc app can only manage those apps that can use any access point.

As regards roaming across access points, I’m not sure if this works for the Psiloc app, but I know it doesn’t with the free birdstep app. I was hoping that it allowed my device to roam seamlessly from wi-fi when I stepped outside and the back to wi-fi when i returned. That doesn’t happed with the free Birdstep app, it just sticks on GSM.

I’m going to try out the full birdstep app, smartroam on my phone in the next day or so see how that deals with roaming. The web site indicates it roams seamlessly and doesn’t require any intervention interms of network selection.

So if you’re always switching networks and want an app to manage the connection selection for you give either one of these apps a try.

Who should manage privacy in the age of Ubiquitous Computing?

It’s clear that privacy is a concern in today’s web 2.0 world; the postDoes Google’s flu-tracker raise privacy issues?’ talks about Google’s ability to mine data and its potential impact on privacy. This is a valid concern, but may appear insignificant  in the future, when simply walking across an airport, or even an office floor, could confirm your identify, highlight your political sympathies and provide your state of health to the management via an imperceptible event.

Ubiquitous Computing , described by Mark Weiser almost 20 years ago in the article entitled ‘Ubiquitous Computing #1‘ , sets out this new age of imperceptible computing. One major premise of Ubiquitous Computing , or Ubicomp, is that  the computing process will become almost invisible- this is because the falling cost of the micro-processors means that they can be inserted into the built environment at almost no cost. The insertion of these computers into the fabric of the built environment in which we live would allow computation to flourish away from the PC- a huge  development considering the extent to which we depend on the PC today .

So how could the computational power of Ubicomp be utilised? Imagine you are walking across your office lobby. Firstly the smart floor identifies who you are, and thus determines where you work -for example office 12, floor 48. The express lift door would open as you approach and whisk you off to floor 48 without so much as a button press. Of course, in the meantime, your office heating has come on, your coffee machine has powered up and the status of your inbox is being presented to you as you walk along the corridor in the scenery of the pictures on the wall– lots of bonfires and you’ll get the hint as to what you’re about to walk into.

The Ubicomp world is enormously interesting and many commentators believe that it’s already on its way. However, it presents a challenge to the level of control that individuals have over their own privacy. What should happen if, for instance, your combined data presents a picture to your employer that he deems to be damaging? Think Virgin Atlantic’s Facebook fiasco without the need for Facebook.

It appears that Ubicomp is going to happen, but this raises questions about who will manage the data, and who will control privacy and the rights of individuals. Given that TELCOs provide the network backbone, would they be a better choice to manage the data than the Government, or  a non-elected organisation ?

TELCOs have the capability to filter data travelling across interconnected networks, could they provide the answer and control the data and execute the privacy levels set by the users in the same way they manage firewall policies? Could you choose to allow all data flow and benefit from that, or would you want only a subset of your data to flow and put up with having to swipe your ID badge and press the button for floor 48.

also posted to Orange Business Live

My Dad gets a Dongle

My Dad lives in Spain, he’s been there a few years now and we’ve managed to keep in touch using BT, and then I changed that to first jajah and most recently to Rebtel.

However,  recently Dad had a visitor who brought a laptop when they came to stay. Dad’s lucky there a open wireless nearby it’s a bit flaky at times but from his sun deck its OK for grabbing your mail.

However, Dad’s visitor fired up Skype and called home for free, I’m not sure if they fired up video or not but my Dad did comment on the call quality. As a result my Dad was hooked and was keen to get a laptop of his own get on Skype.

So a few months back on a trip to the UK he picked up a Fujitsu-Siemens laptop and gave Telefonica a call and requested DSL. This is where he hit a stumblling block, as he doesn’t have a landline in his farmhouse, the DSL requested caused Telefonica a problem. Telefonica  said they could provide data over his phone but it’d take a while to sort out, but this dragged on and on, if you’ve ever worked with Telefonica you’ll know what I mean.

So I was a tad surprised when I got a call saying let’s try Skype we’ve bought a Vodafone dongle.

I had to remind him he should have bought an Orange one but nevermind, I’m pleased he’s got one. It offers a lot more flexibility for him rather than being tied to a DSL line at home, but all in it’s good, we’ve given Skype a go and it works fine.

Another new role at Orange!

It’s only been a few months since the last time I mentioned that I’d got a new role within Orange Business, but it’s all change again, I’ve moved Managers and become the Manager of a new group, Telecoms Integrated Operators.

The Sourcing department of Orange Business Services (OBS) has created a new Telecom Integrated Operators Group for Europe or TIO as it’s known. It’s role is to look after telecoms sourcing within the countries where there’s both a Orange Business Network and an Orange Mobile Network, so countries like, UK, Spain, Belgium, Switzerland, Ukraine, Poland etc. I’ve got a team of  managers across Europe reporting to me, which is great, so I’ll be polishing up my management skills again as well as learning the ins and outs of various new telecoms markets such as Poland which is very exciting and a great challenge.

So I’ve been with OBS now for 1 year and this is my 3rd role, so things move fast here!