Wednesday, January 21, 2015

National Retail Federation (NRF) Big Show 2015

I returned from the National Retail Federation (NRF) “Big Show” in New York City last week. IBM had one of the largest booths on the expo floor and showcased a wide range of Smarter Retail and Smarter Commerce solutions. A few of the key highlights:

  • IBM keynote session "Unique and Distinct: The New Customer Experience" by Terry Jones
  • Chairman, Wayblazer, Founder, and Founding Chairman, and John Mesberg, IBM General Manager, Smarter Commerce / Smarter Cities.  A summary of the keynote can be found on
  • Demos of the first wave of IBM MobileFirst for iOS apps including sales assist and pick & pack
  • Power of Insight (the retailer perspective) Understand trends and lifestyle changes by securing and using variety of data (IoT, social, images, on-line, transactions) and apply analytics and cognitive computing to identify on-trend categories, product affinities and new areas for growth.  Dynamic consumer segmentation can determine best ways to engage based on individuals’ lifecycle needs, lifetime value. 
  • The New Storefront (the consumer perspective) Bring the excitement, interactivity and engagement of on-line commerce into stores in real-time, in-context, and gather insights from physical and digital worlds to understand and interact seamlessly with customers. Dynamically adjust to consumers’ lifestyle needs, wants and aspirations, and deliver flexible engagement, order and fulfillment options, including co-developing products and producing on demand.
  • Fulfill on Demand (the retailer perspective) Supply chain is the next competitive battlefield, where omni-channel retailers have advantages over pure-plays and other disruptors. Orchestrate operations, marketing and merchandising to grow sales across channels, and how to optimize store and supply chain fulfillment strategy and ensure flexible infrastructure via Cloud Computing.

IBM Solution Demonstration - the ‘How’
  • Customer Intelligence (Business Analytics)
  • Omni-Channel Merchandising (ExperienceOne – DemandTec)
  • Marketing (ExperienceOne - Unica, Xtify, Silverpop)
  • Customer Experience (ExperienceOne - Coremetrics, TeaLeaf)
  • Commerce (WebSphere Commerce)
  • Inventory Optmization (Decision Optimization)
  • Order Management (Sterling)
  • Point of Commerce (Toshiba)

Monday, January 05, 2015

2014 Mobile Technology Year in Review and Looking Ahead to 2015

The most important new mobile device for me in 2014 was the Apple iPhone 6.  The world's best smartphone got bigger and better with the introduction of two larger screen sizes, iOS 8 and integration with Mac via OS/X Yosemite.

Android took a big step forward in 2014 with the release of Lollipop 5.   As usual, Nexus devices, like the excellent Nexus 6 smartphone and Nexus 9 tablet got the upgrade first.  Deployment of Lollipop 5 will continue via mobile carriers in 2015.   There were some excellent Android devices released in 2014 including the Samsung Galaxy Note 4, Samsung Galaxy S5, as well as great handsets from LG and Motorola.

2014 saw the introduction of new Windows Phones from Nokia and HTC in addition to BlackBerry but no major OS releases.  Both platforms are expected to receive major updates in 2015.  Additional perspectives on 2015:
  • Apple diversifies beyond iPhones and iPads and embraces the Internet of Things with the Apple Watch and HomeKit (home automation).   Watch for details at CES
  • Google releases Android 6 which includes fingerprint recognition and Android Work for businesses
  • Microsoft ships Windows 10 for desktops and smartphones.  This is a critical release for Microsoft after a disappointing release of Windows 8.  In addition, Windows Phone remains a  distant third in terms of worldwide adoption behind Google Android and Apple iOS. 

On a personal note, here's a brief summary of my year at IBM:

  • Traveled 121,585 miles to 24 cities and 9 countries meeting with clients, presenting at conferences and meeting with other IBM employees.  My conference presentations were viewed over 16,000 times on SlideShare
  • Published 41 blog posts here on on and 7 posts on IBM Mobile Business Insights blog
  • Twitter followers grew by over 10% to 2,600.  Inside IBM, my social business eminence score is in the top one tenth of one percent of all IBM employees.
  • I left IBM MobileFirst Services in July to return to the IBM Office of the CIO for an exciting new position as manager for mobile and workplace evangelism. 

IBM and Apple announced their historic mobile partnership in 2014 and delivered on the commitment to deliver the first wave of MobileFirst iOS apps.   Inside IBM, we're continuing on the journey we began several years ago to become a mobile business.   I've included an infographic below on IBM's progress to date.  While we've made great progress, there is still much work to do in terms of mobile adoption. Watch this blog for more details on IBM's continued journey to leverage mobile, cloud and social technologies in 2015. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

How to enable and use AppleTV peer-to-peer AirPlay discovery and playback

One of the great new features of Apple iOS 8 is the ability to wirelessly connect iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch to Apple TV without first connecting to a wi-fi network. Previously, it was necessary to connect both your AppleTV and your iPhone/iPad to the same wi-fi network. Here are a few examples of where this feature is useful:
  • A sales rep brings their AppleTV with them to a client site and connects it to the client's projector. The sales rep delivers a presentation wirelessly from their iPad 
  • Enterprises equip their conference rooms with AppleTVs. Employees, clients and contractors can display their iOS screens wirelessly without connecting to a wi-fi network 

  • Latest model of Apple TV (REV/A) running the latest 7.x firmware. The model number A1469 is printed in very small type on the bottom of the AppleTV. Note that there are three versions of the black "hockey puck" Apple TV and only the latest model has this capability 
  • iPhone or iPad running iOS 8.x with wifi and Bluetooth enabled 

How to:
  • Tap on AirPlay on your iPhone or iPad, select your AppleTV. Your mobile device will be mirrored to the display. I've created a video below that shows the feature in action

Monday, December 08, 2014

Mobile shopping increases dramatically during Black Friday and Cyber Monday

It was a record five day span for holiday shopping between November 27 (US Thanksgiving) and December 1 (Cyber Monday), and mobile devices played a large part.  A few statistics:

  • Thanksgiving mobile sales were up 25.4% versus 2013, and browsing on smart phones and tablets accounted for 52.1% of all online traffic. 
  • Black Friday mobile sales accounted for 27.9% of total online sales, up 28.2% over 2013.
  • Cyber Monday mobile traffic accounted for 41.2% of all online traffic, up 30.1% over 2013. Mobile sales were also strong at 22% of all online sales, up 27.6% year over year. 
  • iOS devices continued to lead in mobile shopping with traffic more than twice, and sales nearly four times, that of Android devices during Cyber Week.
Unlike past years, I avoided the stores and did all of my shopping online - using my iPhone and iPad of course!  I'm a big fan of shopping sites like DealNews that automatically send me alerts for products that I'm interested in and I picked up some great deals on electronics, sports equipment and home appliances.

For more details, see the IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark Hub


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

New solutions that promise to make e-mail more productive from Google, Microsoft and IBM

Over the last few weeks, Google, Microsoft and IBM have released e-mail solutions that promise to make the flood of e-mail easier to manage.   Here are a few initial impressions:

Google Inbox
Google Inbox beta was launched a few weeks ago and consists of a new web interface and mobile app.   I've been using it with my personal Gmail account which is my primary "personal" e-mail.  I've always liked the "tabs" feature of Gmail which organized my e-mail into groups like Primary, Social, Promotions and Updates.   Inbox has a similar feature to bundle similar e-mails albeit with a radically new user interface that leverages the new Google Material Design language.  I like the ability to mark e-mails "Done" and swiping e-mail from the Inbox on a mobile device like my Nexus 7 tablet running Android 5 Lollipop.

Microsoft Clutter
Microsoft has released a wealth of new products lately as part of its shift from a "devices and services company" to a productivity company.   They include:  New Office for iPhone apps which are now free, even for editing, Delve and Office Graph search and discovery,  Windows 10 tech preview,  Microsoft Band (fitness tracker), Office Mix for Powerpoint, Sway content aggregation and presentation and finally Clutter intelligent e-mail.   Similar to Inbox, Clutter promises to tame the inbox.   It's available now for Office 365 customers and I created this short video to show how to enable it (Clutter is disabled by default).    The Outlook Web Access mobile client also supports Clutter,  I'm looking forward to trying Delve (similar to Flipboard/Zite) when my Office 365 small business premium account is upgraded early next year.

IBM Verse
Announced on November 18, 2014 and shipping in 2015, IBM Verse is delivered via the cloud to both the web and mobile via a native client.   More than email, Verse leverages the power Watson to combine collaboration, social, analytics and e-mail into a single tool.

Link to IBM press release