Sumit Sharma

Archive for the ‘Enabling the web for our benefit’ Category

My Observations from the GigaOm Mobilize conference 2011

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Proliferation of Mobile Devices:

  • Today, 60% of devices consumed are smartphones – moving into the heart of mainstream adoption.
  • 55% of time on device is on apps. 14% texting, and only 6% on voice. The computer really is shifting to the hand-mobile is here. New paradigm: “Always on, always with you” media consumption.

Emergence of HTML5:

  • Slide Share announced they are moving from Flash to HTML5 platform.
  • Future is going to be a hybrid model of HTML5 and Native applications on mobile phones.
  • With HTML5 and CSS3 you can build a rich app, without native experience and ship much quicker, and test quicker.
  • Combo of CSS3, Javascript and HTML5 is powerful though it’s not there yet – bottom line: Still building native apps
  • If you want apps to be more than read only, then you do need to give them offline capabilities…so that’s a limitation for pure HTML5 usage.
  • There is a difference between the consumers vs. enterprise because enterprise apps need to be disconnected but work at the same time. (Offline operations).


Impact of Tablets on Enterprises:

  • Mobile is quickly becoming a first class citizen in enterprises
  • Today there are 1000s of corporate deployments of iPads.  Enterprises are starting to have “tablet strategies” around user consumers. The tablet affords a whole new kind of workflow that enables greater efficiency. All SFDC sales reps carry iPads, none have PCs.
  • Tablet has impacted how people build web apps – lots of 1 page apps that have micro refreshes within page instead of multi-page apps.
  • It’s not just about BigData, but about real time analysis – everyone is hiring data scientists.
  • Bandwidth is almost unlimited and ubiquitous: so mobile bandwidth is accelerating Cloud adoption. Businesses that have never done connected ecosystems, mobile etc. have opportunity to get into the economics. Cloud is good for everyone.


Mobile Apps and Tablets will cause Disruptions to Telco Provider Business Models:

  • Tug of war happening between mobile apps data consumption and carriers’ bandwidth limitations – (demand/supply mismatch).
  • Some carriers are being punitive on undisciplined applications – so will need some middleware to manage that: Unmet Need. Cloud integration and ecosystem of network and hosting done by carriers- default for most applications is to develop responsibility on application quality so that networks don’t shut them down.
  • Paradigm needs to change from charging for bits and bytes to charging for services and values. This unlocks value for both parties.
  • China Mobile has 650M users. Need to scale, bandwidth constrained right now. Need technology innovation there to manage scale.
  • Trend: Mobile app builders that are bringing development to “citizen developers” – will make 25% of biz apps by 2014.
  • M-Commerce is about So-lo-mo. Very easy to do this incorrectly  (contextual/serendipitous discovery)  –  especially if your customer isn’t ready.
  • “You become what you measure – if you pick the wrong KPIs you can become the wrong company”


Transformation of IT:

  • 2011 saw the birth of mobile and Cloud IT. IT has typically been known as the NO people. Need to be YES AND. Truly need to put business hat on.
  • IT needs to look at this as an opportunity, not as a challenge.
  • BYOD – bring your own device. How will IT perceive this? Does it mean cost reduction, or getting more productivity from every employee? Paradigm shift. Think about policy, security and compliance and then pick tools, support and processes against valid business objectives. IF you don’t set policy, your end users will. Now is the time for IT to seize opportunity.
  • IT spends time on how to secure things, keep lights on and control costs – Mobile/Cloud gives them chance to be thought leaders and empower and untether mobile apps that people can find valuable. Employees will start loving IT – CIOs need to help company leverage new tools.
  • Consumerization of IT or IT’zation of the consumer? Moving from a Parent-child model to a more equal standing (IT and Business/Users). This is beneficial- study shows that helpdesk calls dropped by half. Everybody wins.
  • There are two types of apps used in enterprises today: Prosumer apps or Consumer apps. – Company data and information are inside corporate apps and prosumer apps. Question is how do you enable discovery and distribution of apps, and enable governance of both types of apps. You miss it when you are just focusing on a single type of apps. (corp app vs. prosumer app).
  • Keep data containerized – that’s what’s happening on personal phones today.  Lots of technologies to do this coming up now.
  • Is the organization getting hijacked? No – it’s about the data. CIOs don’t want to manage devices, they want to manage data, policy, security etc.
  • The pressure it is putting on the C-level is extremely high, because they want to build apps that are cool, and not build clunky apps.
  • Mobile and Cloud will turn traditional IT and computing on it’s head. It’s about user experience (U-Ex). IT never focused on U-Ex before. Today Mgmt, security, apps are all intertwined because of U.Ex. Before – it was a specific segment of companies in the industry working on perfecting security, another segment of companies perfecting  management, and another segment of companies working on other applications etc. Now it’s all intertwined and they need to get it and it’s going to create another set of winners and losers. (On subject of intertwined: Apple’s Appstore does that – to preserve U.Ex.)
  • Mainframe àPC re-arranged winners and losers of the industry and PC à Mobile/Cloud will rearrange winners and losers in the industry. If you didn’t grow up solving mobile you’ll lose it.  Inevitable.

Written by Sumit

September 27, 2011 at 8:17 pm

The relationship bw the Media Industry and the internet companies

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Metadata definitions of BigData, so that context can be derived, and subsequently enrich the quality of our experience on the internet is a form of a trajectory that companies need to take.
The current trajectory that Google, Facebook, Amazon et al are on is to move on a silo’d path towards owning the internet. O’Reilly’s premise that this should be treated with caution because it may restrict openness on the web is absolutely sport-on.
Opening up APIs isn’t enough to be participants in the internet of openness. In fact, it is self serving as far as these companies are concerned because they are enabling themselves to expand themselves – or – enable their core to expand out. Granted, their cores are very different from what you’ve been calling cores in the enterprise/industrial context, it still is a restricted or limited entity. Your argument that there is always going to be someone smarter outside your organization should be their operating premise. If that were the case, they’d share their data, and spur further oppurtunities for new ideas to come up in the form of analytics, recommendation and serendipity producing engines.
If cable companies were able to take a parallel to this, and open up their APIs and delivery mechanisms so that we could apply our own filters to content, based on metadata analysis, media delivery would be severely disrupted. This would turn the world of scheduled programming upside down, and instead of forcing content down our throats, it would enable us to pick what we want. Going back to the internet companies going down a trajectory of potentially restricting openness, there are two potential scenarios I see happening: I think they’ll prompt a response from the media companies to open up, or the media companies will prompt these internet companies to open up. I say this because, whoever makes that first move will expose the power of applying contextual relevance of data delivery and user experience, and prompt the wave of opening and sharing data. Perhaps, it is an opportunity for a shaping strategy for media companies or internet companies to consider, where the act is to open up data, the asset is the data, the platform is to formulate a federated metadata definition.

Written by Sumit

April 19, 2010 at 11:28 pm

Real time search to a whole new level

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Siri is a new company that can take in your voice command and spit out results to you in the hope that it will be relevant of course to your needs. I’d be curious to know what their sources of data are, and if its just cold directory data and coupling that with location and some other obvious pieces of data…
For starters in contextualizing users’ situations I’d try to create a function that incorporates at least some implications of location, time and micro events
…however if you were to think about it, they are missing a crucial piece of the puzzle, a social graph of some sort. I know I’ve argued about the over-hyping of social graphs before, and I still stick to my guns for that, however think about the importance of integrating popular ratings, what users possessing similar characteristics are doing and so on. Basically, tapping into LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter to access and build some sort of a similarity graph and categorize which bucket a user falls into, and then imbibing APIs from platforms such as Yelp to incorporate ratings as well. So the function would be:
Siri_Recommendation = f(location, micro_events, time, Social_Graph), where Social_Graph= f(social graph, ratings)

Again, its all about sharing, opening up platforms and then getting chomped on by Google, Facebook and the like because all thats unique about Siri in this case is they (better) have a kick ass algorithm (the Siri_Recommendation) or their voice recognition algorithm is so sophisticated that it captures tones, pitch and can incorporate that into the background context of the search – long shot.
Bye bye Siri, if not now, then definately later.

Written by Sumit

April 10, 2010 at 11:26 pm

Check-In apps are over-rated…

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Check-In apps are over-rated, let me explain…
After SXSW this year, Check-In apps have really been gaining some momentum-click here for an awesome visual – and many people, including myself, are using Foursquare and GoWalla more than ever. Right now, they’re fun, even unleashing a little bit competitiveness by inducing check-in envy or by feeding our need to be a mayor of our local café. Now lets fast forward to a year, maybe two from now when location presence becomes quite mainstream in that there will be much more users than there is today, what will be special about these check-in apps then? In my mind, the question is what will they have to offer and what will make them stand out?

I believe a key value-add for these check-in apps will be the ability to make inferences from our check-in data, and provide some insight, or recommendations. How can this be made possible? By pursuing at least the following 3 steps at a minimum:

1. Federate data: It would be very interesting to see the analysis one could come up with if you combined data from various sources – Imagine the scenario where Blippy shares its API with both Foursquare and Facebook and vice versa, the product of this could provide some interesting insight into our behavior through insights gained by analyzing the layers of data about our purchasing behavior, social characteristics and where we hang out, thereby providing a richer context. It could influence serendipitous interactions with people, products, locations, ideas and God knows what else. It would make life exciting, and add value to our life. This democratization of data is something that not only will help alleviate the information asymmetry issues that still exist today, but it will spur further innovation through the various insights and conclusions that can be made possible when data is combined.

2. Enhance the mobile advertising platform: The impacts this will have on mobile advertising will be huge. We’re already seeing location centric advertising taking off, but if you add further layers of context to location centric advertising that will be even more valuable. Imagine a platform where advertising is provided by an algorithm that has layers and layers of contextual data, incorporating elements from various different plains.

3. Making us do a double take: We will all stop and think about what we’re doing, where and why. This can be a good thing. With this influx of data being produced by us comes a sense of responsibility in what we produce. This time, the responsibility has a direct impact on ourselves, because the data we create is what defines us. Every single data point becomes a part of our persona. Think about that for a minute. Data and time will become almost similar, in that they are what define us. Only difference is, with data you can turn back the clock so to speak – if you don’t like a piece of data the defines you, you can simply delete it. Eventually, we’re going to get tired of producing data and deleting it over and over again, and soon this will lead us towards not putting ourselves in a position where we will need to delete the data in the first place. This will fruition in the form of where we choose to be physically, who we hang out with, what websites we hit, books we read, products we buy etc. Its basically an extension of, “you are what you eat”.

So, long to short, Check-In apps are a medium to solving a part of the solution – that solution is comprised of several inputs as I’ve written about here. They are an input to what aggregators will need to make as the web a more valuable experience for us. An aggregator such as Facebook is in prime position for using check-in apps because through Facebook Connect, they are actually gathering data from many external sources as their external ecosystem continues to expand. Facebook already owns masses of data, however they are now getting the ability to contextualize their data in what were once unimaginable ways. They can add layers of our spending patterns, location distribution and restaurant menu choices to our data. In a way, I think making your app, such as blippy or foursquare available on Facebook is a short term gain, but a long term suicide. They gain by being on a platform that everyone is already a part off, thereby reducing the pains of adoption but my argument has always been, see a previous post about this, that at the end of the day, its not who owns the data, but what is done with the data – thats where the advantage will lie. Check-in is already getting commoditized – just look at GoWalla and Foursquare competing head to head, they’re already sharing APIs with Facebook and the like, and before we know it, it won’t be which app you’re using to check-in, or who is seeing you check-in, but what value is there in your check-in…and the check-in app will be a vehicle, a part of the puzzle, not the sexy app as it is treated today.

Written by Sumit

April 1, 2010 at 4:24 pm

Democratization of Data ahoy!

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I just came across a start-up, Anchor Free, whose main product is a Hotspot Shield. I think there is some serious disruptive potential here, and the big boys (FB, Google, Yahoo, MSN and other content, networking sites) had better keep an eye on what these guys are up to.
Anchor Free has the ability to track user activity across all websites, facebook, google, youtube, yahoo, msn etc. – this is exactly what I’ve been advocating in a previous post and they read my mind, ok whatever they startd before me but hey, great minds think alike. 🙂
What’s the “so-what” factor in all this? It is very subtle, and extremely pertinent: They have that knowledge that none of these individual websites have: that is, they know what users have been up to across the web, so basically taking all the silo’d website data, combining it into a huge apple crumble pie and voila, you have a full dessert, not just an individual slice. This gives one a much more accurate and all-round picture of who a user is and what their characterisitcs are. On top of all this heap of data from this cross website – aggregation, Anchor Free also knows their users and so they can cross referenc activity with user profiles and this becomes even more powerful. Venture Capitalist, Raj Kapoor, has written about the value of having informaiton about user activity and how much money can be made from selling/licensing this data.

If I was the CEO of Anchor Free, I would spin off an advertising/marketing business where they make use of all this data which if they continue to procure, they’d be HAUTE!!!!

Written by Sumit

March 19, 2010 at 10:21 am

How to use Semantic data to make discoverability easier…

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One of the elements Rob Glaser, former CEO of RealNetworks, mentioned as a top trend, at a recent Mobile Broadband meeting, was:
“The industry needs to make discovery easy, which means once people have access to digital content, they need to be able to find their stuff and new stuff they will like using semantic data.”
I’ve written about this in an earlier post, but I do feel that we may be getting to complacent in this effort. Just because we have sophisticated analytics, and Google, Facebook etc making strides in getting to be omnipresent on the internet, doesn’t mean that we’re making discoverability easier.
I have a message for such companies which I’ve written about in an earlier post: There needs to be a systematic effort for all to begin collaborating with each other, sharing APIs and data (most importantly) because this notion of trying to be the best aggregator of information won’t work unless you collaborate with each other.

Written by Sumit

March 10, 2010 at 7:21 pm

I missed out on a Serendipitous encounter yesterday

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Lets take this idea of influencing serendipity to a whole new level…to the physical plain enabled by physical location awareness and entities having the ability to have a DNA that qualifies whatever the representation is into a discrete set of values…and in doing so we’d be able to influence serendipity to a whole new level.

Here is an example of what I mean:
Yesterday, I was walking down 3rd street in San Francisco, and came across an advertisement on a moving bus for a Kathak + Tap dancing duet. I’d have loved to have known about that – but I didn’t. So then the question that arose was, perhaps I’m not plugged in enough? Perhaps I need to subscribe to certain newsletters or organizations? But then, I was thinking, how many do I subscribe to? Who, when, what and where do I go to, look towards and sign up for? Perhaps the answer lies in the premise of enabling serendipity on the physical plain(using location awareness etc), using my virtual (i.e. Facebook profile, Ticketmaster activity etc) and physical past activities (concerts attended etc) – so think about this scenario:

The ad on the bus has the following characteristics:
1. It has a well categorized description, using standardized descriptors (I’ve already written about the need for standardized metadata – this is where the semantic web comes in)
2. Its got a geo-sensor enabling it to be discovered if it slips my eye.

Here are my characteristics:
1. I have a user profile, be it on FB, Google, Amazon, Yahoo or all the above meshed into one. From this, the aggregator knows my interests…
2. I am on my mobile phone which is also location aware

Here is the role of the aggregator, or the serendipity producing engine (I’ve already written about aggregators and their importance and click here for that):
A bus comes near me and just by chance, it happens to have an ad, which according to the aggregator, I’d be interested in seeing. So, after recognizing I’m in the vicinity, it sends me a non intrusive email, text or whatever I specify in my preferences, and notifies me of this event. This eliminates the need for me to always worry about self selecting myself into a segment of customers that want to know the latest and greatest of something specific. Sometimes I like to be surprised…And, this reduces the work for aggregators to a certain extent because instead of always being on the look out for ads, content and information for passing on to me (in the background that is), it only needs to do real time serendipity..not online matching, but real time matching. Speed Dating.

More…this provides a great platform for people to get themselves out there, advertise products and services and infuence chance encounters with potential un-suspecting customers. Taking this even further, because there is no end to the potential of this stuff…but what if it hooked us up news/content based on certain similarities with other people, not necessary in our social graph, but people who frequent the same places as us, or those that share our bus route or drive a similar road everyday, or perhaps happen to download the same songs we do…this would all be invisible to everyone so privacy wouldn’t be an issue. The aggregator is merely a broker of information and how it does it is a black box. The list goes on. How cool would that be?

Written by Sumit

February 21, 2010 at 11:57 pm