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HCI Employee Engagement Conference Recap

I am sitting on an Alaska Air flight from Seattle to San Francisco having just completed our first conference where we exhibited theEMPLOYEEapp. The event we attended was Human Capital Institute’s Employee Engagement Conference. I can’t help but reflect on the déjà vu experience we had.

It was a little more than two years ago that we launched our first mobile product, theIRapp, at the National Investor Relations Institute’s annual conference in . . . Seattle Washington. When we launched theIRapp in 2012, our take-away from the conference was that it was an “a-ha moment” for many investor relations professionals who stopped by our booth for a demonstration of our turn-key native app Platform as a Service walked away saying, “That’s cool. Oh-yeah! Mobile is a great way to connect with our investors . . .” Fast forward to today and more than 100 public companies worldwide have embraced our platform to push information to their investors; 60,000 individuals/investors from around the globe have downloaded our apps to their iPhones, iPads and Android mobile devices.

The reaction this time around at HCI was the same as at NIRI. The internal and corporate communications as well as human resource professionals who stopped by to speak with us totally understood the value that mobile employee communications can play in communicating with a workforce that in many instances is traveling around the world and not tied to a desk. Through our discussions, we learned that up until now, many organizations had a very difficult time communicating simultaneously and instantaneously with their employees. However, they all recognized that one thing has changed in just a couple of years – and that is that almost everyone now has a mobile device. They realized that an opportunity exists to use 21st Century technology – smartphones and mobile apps – to help them solve a problem in their work that seemed impossible. The question was how.

As the communications professionals left our booth at the HCI conference, we heard a reaction similar to the investor relations professionals two years earlier: “Oh-yeah! All my employees have mobile devices. This is a solution that can allow me to communicate with all of them at the same time . . . a-ha.”

Seattle is a great city and I can’t wait to visit again . . . next time exhibiting a different communications mobile app product.

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IBM and Apple Usher in New Era for Mobile Adoption

Last week, two companies once known to be arch enemies – Apple and IBM – announced they were partnering to deliver business-to-business (B2B) apps called IBM MobileFirst for iOS. While there is a lot of speculation about what this means and the type of mobile applications they will actually develop together, there is one thing that is 100% clear. Enterprise mobile apps have arrived and they are being backed by two of the largest technology companies in the world.

From my perspective as the CEO of a company that provides B2B mobile apps for the communications industry, this means several important things:

1) First, it validates what I have been saying for the past few months – the PC is dying and the mobile device, particularly the tablet, will become the primary method of computing the future. To the extent individuals are increasingly using mobile for their work, developers will eventually have to create solutions that allow for an excellent user experience on the operating systems of the mobile device (which is different than the OS of the PC). This is why Apple and IBM will start to develop B2B apps for the mobile device.

2) Apple products are increasingly becoming a business tool, as opposed to just a consumer device for fun and games. For slightly more than a year now, Apple has been subtly putting stakes in the ground in the B2B space (i.e. its VPP Store for Business). Partnering with IBM will help ensure that iPhones and iPads become more engrained in the corporate world. Earlier this year, a Forrester Report indicated that, “Apple won about 8% of global business and government spending on computers and tablets in 2012.” At that time, it was looking like Apple would have 11% of the market in just a few years. The partnership with IBM will likely accelerate this.

3) BYOD or “Bring Your Own Device” will continue to permeate the business landscape and IT professionals will soon have more resources at their disposal through the IBM and Apple partnership. “The cloud” will continue to change the dynamic of technology within organizations as it becomes more efficient and cost effective to host data off-premise and issues of security become less of a concern. Business units within companies will increasingly look to IT for ways to take advantage of the changing technological landscape. IBM and Apple are furthering the opportunity that is presenting itself whereby IT will be viewed in a more consultative and less tactical way.

It’s important to put the IBM/Apple partnership into context. For decades, Oracle has preached the virtues of the cloud and the fact that the PC was nothing more than a mechanism to deliver the Internet. Amazon is now focusing on the cloud (i.e. Amazon Web Services); Apple is about mobile; Google is about Mobile; Microsoft is now preaching mobile and the cloud (i.e. Office 365/Surface tablets). And all of this leads to a prediction. In less than 5 years, PCs will be like cassette tapes and CDs. You won’t see them very much. Everyone will have a tablet and when they go to work, they will place them into a docking station. IT rooms that used to store dozens of black box servers will become offices. The writing is on the wall and the technology behemoths are all suggesting the same thing – developing a mobile strategy is no longer an option for businesses, it is a necessity.

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Microsoft CEO: Mobile-first, Cloud-first World

Last week, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella sent a company-wide email outlining the future of Microsoft’s vision and strategy. The message explains that Microsoft is moving away from being a “devices and services” company to focus more heavily on being a “productivity and platform company for the mobile-first, cloud first world.”

As the CEO of theCOMMSapp that has developed a native app technology platform for the mobile-first user, Nadella’s words echoed inspiration to everyone at our company.  His message showed courage and demonstrated that his vision for the future of Microsoft is moving beyond traditional PCs, their bread and butter for the past few decades.

Below are a few of my favorite excerpts from his letter.  In our planning and development, we at theCOMMSapp emulate this thinking.  To read the full letter to Microsoft employees, click here.

We are moving from a world where computing power was scarce to a place where it now is almost limitless, and where the true scarce commodity is increasingly human attention.

In this new world, there will soon be more than 3 billion people with Internet-connected devices – from a farmer in a remote part of the world with a smartphone, to a professional power user with multiple devices powered by cloud service-based apps spanning work and life.

We will reinvent productivity for people who are swimming in a growing sea of devices, apps, data and social networks. We will build the solutions that address the productivity needs of groups and entire organizations, as well as individuals, by putting them at the center of their computing experiences.

We will be keeping a close eye on Microsoft in the years to come. Given the penetration already achieved by Apple and Google, is this legendary technology company too late to the cloud game? Or will the power of this great company’s brand be enough to allow them to achieve a respectable share of the market?  I welcome your thoughts on Nadella’s mobile first, cloud first strategy and hope you will share with me @jcorbinIR.

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