Thursday, December 08, 2005

Mobile Monday London in december

Its not long to Christmas, but it didnt stop a big turn out for the 2nd Mobile Monday London at Fjord/Flirtomatics exhibition space. This time the focus was on the fragmentation of technology in mobile devices including some coverage of Mobile Java being that it is commonly used for applications on different mobile devices.

Much discussion on the group now seems to be what time to start, when to finish (oo eck its getting complicated now) ... and for some reason change the day sort of changing the whole naming convention we had started off with. No doubt we will find a happy medium in time, we even have people moaning because they have to travel long distances, the hint is in the Mobile Monday London name :-)

Monday, December 05, 2005

VoIP and Interactive Voice Response (IVR)

The IVR market has been around now for quite a long time, pretty much since DTMF (touch tone) based phones hit the market. We are all well aware of phoning a number, and going through a set of menus providing some very simple form of interaction to either purchase something, pay a bill, be put through to somebody from a certain department, talk to an expert and so on.

So in the world of VoIP, how does this change? Well it really comes down to how many people will use VoIP whilst sat at a computer or set top box or whatever. You see VoIP has no inclussion of an interactive medium other than the voice, and voice recognition is not quite as advanced as you might hope.

So, are people likely to use VoIP whilst sat at home to interact rather than use some form of the internet, can they be used together, can one trigger off another? Also if mobile phones end up becoming VoIP based how are they likely to interact ... are we still going to use the nasty old (but simple) DTMF system?

Personally I think it is time to think a little out of the box when it comes to voice interactions about how you make choices and how a call is designed. Currently we are stuck in a 'I am browsing' mode or 'press 1 to do something', 'what station do you want to go to?'. Ideally you would use the capabilities of the mobile phone such as LBS, maybe the joystick, maybe the camera ... who knows. Maybe this an area for discussion for the Mobile Monday London interest group.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Next Mobile Monday London coming up.

Well I am a little more active this time in helping out with the 2nd Mobile Monday London interest group. Its taken us all by shock how big the uptake has been throughout the mobile industry, we have over 400 members to the yahoo group and it looks as though we will again have over 100 people turning up to listen to some presentations on 'Mobile device fragmentation and Java'. We have changed the format a little bit to make sure that there is a little more time for Q&A and announcements, plus it seems one of the popular parts is networking over a glass of wine afterwards. The next 2 are already close to fully organised and it appears people are talking about the one in March already ... yoinks !

Sit back, relax and enjoy the view ... oh hell work to do!

Well at work we have finally moved into the main Telecom Express offices on the Albert Embankment opposite The Houses of Parliment. The picture alongside is an actual shot from my mobile phone out of the office window directly behind my desk. Not bad eh?

The main story is that Telecom Express bought out the media division of Broadsystem (where I was working) along with Greenland Interactive and is now working to merge the whole group into a major player in the interactive media circuit. The company provides services such as IVR, SMS, Web and so on, one of my goals of the Mobile Monday London interest group is to perform a bit of R&D both for myself and the company to find out who is doing what in the industry. There is a lot changing at the moment, with the up and coming .mobi initiative along with the mobile web initiative in the W3C.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Falling down

On my tube ride into Kensigton, sometimes I see a person that reminds me of Michael Douglas' character in the 1993 film Falling Down, mainly because he looks identical and wears the short sleave shirt, glasses and carries a briefcase. The guy doesnt have any real facial expression, not sure he blinks. He has a vacant look about him that is slightly disturbing and he always seems to jostle his way into finding a seat!

I wonder if at any moment he is going to crack and go AWOL because he 'wants to go home and see his family' or whatever Mr Douglas keeps saying in the film.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

TV on your mobile ...

Well now TV on your mobile is becoming a reality, what does this really mean, who is going to use it and are there any implications?

Well first lets think about this, 3G coverage in the UK at the moment is mainly based around major urban areas ... so could you sit on a train and watch TV on your mobile ... perhaps not as we speak.

Who is likely to watch TV this way ... people that like technology and spend lots of time away from home maybe. Why would they go for a device with streaming TV above say a portable DVD/Media player? Typically you only want to fill about an hour with these devices, you arent going to want to watch a whole movie on such a diddy screen are you?

The implications are not very clear at the moment, I have heard that you might be fined for not having a TV license is one. Although if my memory is right I think if you have a TV license for your house, this covers any portable TVs you own that run only on battery ... no doubt a grey area. How much is this all going to cost, if you want TV at a resolution that is watchable for more than 5 minutes this is going to take up bandwidth and use your batteries up like there is no tomorrow.

I believe I need a convincing demo to show me how good this is, or at least will be one day to see if TV to your phone means more than news, sports clips and adverts. Normally I am not sceptical about these things, but sometimes you believe we are trying to cram too much technology into phones too quickly just as everyone was starting to get to grips with SMS and taking the odd picture.

Is the ESB the way forward for integrating delivery channels?

For some time now I have been working in environments where the delivery channel is king, and everyone seems to have ignored how they integrate multiple channels to produce a simple architecture. You hear a lot about seemless experiences, ubiquitous services and moving from one channel to another without really thinking about how this happens.

So, I have decided to take a serious look in the last 2 years at this space, and at the moment the ESB appears to be the first mature solution that could well be the best model for integrating multiple channels.

The picture here shows a business with 2 geo-locations, a set of services written in various languages and even the odd legacy system (hey we all have them).

I havent come across a business yet that doesnt integrate with other partner companies. The app servers in the picture could run anything from J2EE to .Net running an ESB, though most ESBs seem to be Java oriented. there must be at least 10 commercial and about 5 open source ESBs.

The ESB is written so that messages and data flow through the system visiting components/services/endpoints that work together to provide an overall business service. If you integrate your legacy platform into the ESB, the theory is you are open to integrate that legacy platform with anything the ESB is integrated with, opening a large amount of possibilities. Plus you will most likely have fewer integrations and they are all managable through a single platform rather than having integration spagetti.

Now lets think in a multi-channel mode. I am stood outside, I use my mobile to dial into an IVR (Interactive Voice Response) system. I am taken through a simple set of questions either answered by DTMF (pressing buttons) or Voice Recognition. One of these options could be to send to the mobile an SMS that contains a URL that will take you off to a WAP/3G mobile web site. All of this can be built now with the technologies I mention (at Telecom Express we have already done things similar to this).

So, I now have a system that integrates with each channel and can string together a complete multi-channel user experience ... what is missing. Well as things stand at the moment, not a lot. But think down the road a bit where we have TV to mobiles, video calls, streaming audio and so on, I am not sure how interactive these medias are in comparison.

Anyway, to conclude. For the forseeable future I can see the ESB architecture as central to delivering multi channel business. When mobile phones move more towards streaming architectures I am still unsure how this is to work as I have yet to see how these experiences are kicked off.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Mobile Monday London is off the blocks

On Monday 5th November, the first Mobile Monday London meeting was held at Vodafone on The Strand. Over 100 people attended, 3 speeches, some Q&A and naturally some booze to wrap what was a great evening off. There is obviously a huge wish in the industry to get together and talk about the technical issues and challenges to deliver what everyone has been promising for so many years.

I remember a year or two back when a much much smaller group of us (who attended last night) tried to kick off something similar called foneclub. Makes you wonder what has changed in the last couple of years ... or perhaps as Dan Appelquist suggests, its all in the name :-)

Monday, November 07, 2005

Early days at MoMoLo

Well this is my first post to this blog, nothing much to say except tonight is the first Mobile Monday London group, I am helping out a bit with organisation and hope to get a little more involved as time progresses.