Mobiles as Social Computers

Om Malik writes: “Looking at mobile phones through PC eyes is simply myopic. Mobile phones have a different behavioral relationship with their users. People love their phones, they hate their computers. Mobile phones are fun, computers are work. But mostly – phones are not computers – they are terminals on the edge of the network, they lack the complexity of a PC, and are managed. They are devices that help people communicate, not compute. They let you consume bits some of the time, not all the time. Phone is being forced to become a computer to fit an old vision – and that’s simply loco!”

Jeff Nolan has a counter-point.

Rules and BPM

[via Sadagopan] Barry Briggs writes:

What is often missing in current business process deployments is approachability by the business user, by the one constituency that is accountable for the operation of the business. To make these sorts of changes to running business systems too frequently requires the analyst to request IT assistance code changes, regressions, and redeployments.

This problem, however, is solved by the tight integration of business rules technology with business process technology. Business rules are simple and intuitive: if platinum customer, offer 20% discount. Indeed, years of research have concluded that the if-then structure of rules is central to the cognitive structure and operation of the human brain.

This being the case, rules offer a safe business-user-focused window into the often highly technical business process. While an IT architect would shudder to think of a business analyst changing an applications security model or communications protocol, changing the value of a condition in a rule is exceptionally powerful and doesnt risk the integrity of the underlying applications. If we want to offer the discount to platinum customers today, and gold and platinum customers tomorrow, that may have interesting implications for the business, but none for the underlying applications.

Certainly, business rules engines have existed for some time, and a number of vendors sell standalone engines. However, the true value of business rules appear when the rules engine is integrated as a fundamental building block of the business process.

Citizen Journalism

The Economic Times on Sunday featured quotes by me in an article on do-it-yourself journalism:

New technology has always had a deep impact on the way information has been transmitted. However, now with blogging and the advent of podcasting these changes have been most prominent in the speed of transmission. Reporters cant be everywhere, all the time. In such cases, especially in disasters, citizens are mobilising and uploading information instantly, says Rajesh Jain, CEO Netcore Solutions, and author of Emergic, a blog on emerging technologies.

If I witness something, I can take a picture from my cell phone, or even make a video and blog it instantly on the internet. Now, I can even upload an audio in the form of a podcast. Its out there in a matter of minutes, before the news is even out. This is bound to drive journalism to the hyperlocal level, not just local, explains Jain.

Future of Online Classifieds

Charlene Li writes:

Look for the emergence of what I call “social classifieds”, where the ability to connect people to each other will be the hallmark of success. In a world where listings are a commodity and easily crawled, the true differentiation will be the quality of the experience. It is for this reason that Jobster’s model will ring true, and why Yahoo! 360 and MSN Spaces will be core to the success of their respective classified strategies. Google may have the best technology around, but it’s Achilles heel will be its lack of a robust social network.

TECH TALK: Next-Generation Networks: Building It Out

by Ninad Mehta

Now that we understand some of the new services enabled by NGN-IMS, lets see what are the other approaches for building the next generation networks.

For VoIP, the 2 major vendor approaches are SoftSwitch based point solutions versus IMS based approach. The major benefit of IMS is that it provides for much more than just voice applications. As we covered during the TechTalk on Monday, given that both Applications and Endpoints are converging, IMS delivers much higher benefits for deploying VoIP compared to Softswitch based point solutions. The main benefit of IMS is that network resources are shared across a wide array of applications. In fact, many Softswitch vendors in the market are trying to reposition their products within the IMS framework.

So what are some of the killer applications that absolutely require IMS? First of all, there arent too many applications that cant be built using Softswitch based point solutions today. A LightReading article on Killer Apps for IMS (from Supercomm 2005) puts this very nicely:

There is no single killer application for carriers wanting to roll out converged services using IMS.

In fact, what is becoming clear here in Chicago is that in order to justify the cost of rolling out IP multimedia subsystems (IMS) carriers will likely want to see several applications that can improve their average revenue per user (ARPU).
IMS, you may recall, is envisaged as a unified architecture that can support a range of IP-based services for both packet- and circuit-switched networks and employ a range of different wireless and fixed access mechanisms. The big question is: which services and why?

“It’s very hard to find a single application that you can roll out using IMS that you couldn’t implement without it,” says Alan Stoddard, general manager of converged networks at Nortel Networks Ltd. “It only makes… [financial] sense when you get to the third or fourth application; it doesn’t make any sense for just one.”

So, what are the applications that will encourage carriers to adopt IMS?

For next generation services, another major competitor to IMS might be Microsofts Connected Services Framework. In a June 05 story, LightReading reported:

AT&T and Microsoft Corp. today announced a groundbreaking strategic alliance that is expected to revolutionize the development, deployment and delivery of next-generation Internet Protocol (IP)-based communications services.

The alliance leverages the far-reaching AT&T global IP network, which can be accessed from 149 countries, and Microsoft Connected Services Framework, an integrated software solution that enables the rapid delivery of converged communications services across multiple networks and end-user devices. Using Connected Services Framework, AT&T will be able to dynamically create new network-based IP services and applications that can be deployed when and where they are needed.

So what can Microsofts CSF do? According to the same article:

Microsoft Connected Services Framework is an integrated software solution for building and managing complex services using a service-oriented architecture (SOA) and Web service interfaces. Microsoft Connected Services Framework allows telecommunications operators to aggregate, provision and manage converged communications services for their subscribers, regardless of network or device.

Back in February 2005, LightReading had reported BT, Bell Canada and Celcom Malaysia are deploying the Microsoft Connected Services Framework to facilitate the delivery of services to their customers.

Tomorrow, we will revisit some of the new business models that will emerge in the coming years once carriers start deploying IMS.

Tomorrow: IMS Impact

[Ninad Mehta works at Lucent in New Jersey. The views expressed in this column are his own.]

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