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Figure 1 - Smartphones as
Internet of Things Hubs
How many advertisements for automobiles today promote the fact their cars are horseless carriages?  None! Why?  It is an assumption that your automobile will be horseless.  The same is happening today with mobile apps.  Who would develop a work order management or scheduling system today that does not support mobile?  Who would create business intelligence dashboards for executives that were not mobile?

Today it is a mobile first world.  Our first considerations for software app designs are:
  • What mobile devices will be used?
  • How do I integrate wirelessly with my back-end data sources and systems?
  • What onboard and remote sensors can I integrate into the app?
  • How do I secure it?
If all software apps are soon to be mobile, where will we find the next wave of innovation beyond traditional mobile apps and enterprise mobility platforms?  I believe it will come from sensors and integrating the physical world with the digital.

I have been working in the field of enterprise mobility for the past 13 years.  Early on there were very few sensors in mobile devices.  The sensors were the humans users, bluetooth add-ons, and barcode and RFID scanners.  Today, however, there are many built-in sensors in each of our smartphones and thousands of different kinds of data collection sensors available through the Internet of Things.

Let's ponder how our mobile apps are going to start interacting more with the physical world.  Sensors in parking lots can already notify us of available parking spaces.  Buildings can quickly report their own needs and status with embedded structural sensors that monitor vibration levels, energy consumption, security and more.  Your cars can wirelessly report their location, status and maintenance needs directly to your smartphone.  In urban areas sound sensors can lead you to quiet areas or noisy areas.  Traffic sensors can help you find the least congested routes.  Opt-in GPS tracking can help you navigate and meet up with friends and family members.  Weather sensors report the exact conditions at millions of locations.  Integrated with predictive analytics, you can anticipate weather conditions for the next week.  Using mobile banking apps, NFC, ATM sensors and POS sensors, you can be notified any and every time there is a transaction on your account - what was purchased, where and for how much.

Your smartphone is changing from a simple communication device, media center and personal digital assistance, to a hub between the physical and digital world.  That development opens up all kinds of interesting opportunities to ponder.  It is on the very edge of digital transformation where the integration between the physical and the digital happens where the next wave of innovation lies (see figure 1).

In the future software developers will become more and more like geographers and intelligence analyst as they increasingly work with real-world data.  They will be blending geospatial data, live remote sensor data and process data to create and understand relationships about where things are, how they are connected and what that data means to the success of the mission or plan.  This information will all be available on a smartphone and tablet near you.
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Kevin Benedict, Head Analyst for Social, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud (SMAC) Cognizant
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Read the whitepaper on mobile, social, analytics and cloud strategies Don't Get SMACked
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Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I am a mobility and SMAC analyst, consultant and writer. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.

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More Stories By Kevin Benedict

Kevin Benedict is an opinionated futurist, Principal Analyst at the Center for Digital Intelligence™, C4DIGI.com, emerging technologies analyst, and digital transformation and business strategy consultant. In the past 8 years he has taught workshops for large enterprises and government agencies in 18 different countries, and is a keynote speaker at conferences worldwide. He spent nearly 5 years working as a Senior Analyst at Cognizant (CTSH), and 2 years serving in Cognizant's Center for the Future of Work where he wrote many reports, hundreds of articles, interviewed technology experts, and produced videos on the future of digital technologies and their impact on industries. He has written articles published in The Guardian, wrote the Forward to SAP Press' book titled "Mobilizing Your Enterprise with SAP", published over 3,000 articles and was featured as thought leader and digital strategist in the Department of Defense's IQT intelligence journal. Kevin lectures and leads workshops, teaches and consults with companies and government agencies around the world to help develop digital transformation and business strategies. Visit his website at C4DIGI.com.