What I Saw at WES 2010
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BlackBerry 6 OS was the big news; the sessions gave invaluable insight
WES 2010, the biggest BlackBerry® user event of the year, kicked off on April 27 in Orlando, Florida. I was lucky enough to attend the show, along with thousands of customers, BlackBerry Alliance members, carriers, business leaders, and other mobile professionals. We were all eager to talk about BlackBerry solutions for three days. The BlackBerry® 6™ OS sneak peak, the sessions, the keynotes, the party—it all made for an exciting show.
Note that WES is a big conference with too many sessions, meetings, and announcements for one article, so stay tuned for more coverage in upcoming editions.
- Scott Plamondon, Editor-in-Chief of the BlackBerry Connection newsletter
- BlackBerry® 6 OS sneak peek
- Sessions: Key takeaways
- Mobility is a big topic for 2010
- Next generation users panel
- My top 5 favorite apps and accessories
BLACKBERRY 6 OS SNEAK PEEK
The show's most talked about news was the preview of the upcoming BlackBerry 6 OS, announced at Research In Motion® (RIM) President and Co-CEO Mike Lazaridis' Tuesday keynote. Lazaridis said that the development team's marching orders were to create an OS that was fresh yet familiar; easy to use, yet incredibly powerful; and fun and approachable.
He went on to preview new features in BlackBerry 6 OS, which will include:
- Crisper visuals, including new graphics, animations, and transitions
- A new WebKit Internet browser, complete with support for multiple-session tabbed browsing
- Advanced touch-screen functions including multi-touch support (for example, pinch to zoom)
- Redesigned core apps, including Messages, Calendar, and Contacts, including a new media player user interface
- A redesigned Home screen, including universal search
When: BlackBerry 6 OS is expected in the third quarter 2010.
- Mike Lazaridis, President and Co-CEO of RIM
SESSIONS: KEY TAKEAWAYS
What's Hot in Enterprise Voice Mobility
This session's popularity reflected the announcement that the upcoming BlackBerry® Mobile Voice System v5 (MVS) will include Voice Over Wi-Fi Calling and other new features.
The panel discussed topics ranging from Voice Over Wi-Fi Calling, PBX’s and network vendors, and high-definition voice. Here are the panel's main points:
- Large enterprises with international travelers can see significant cost savings and productivity gains from Voice Over Wi-Fi Calling, but you need to think beyond saving money and also focus on improving people's ability to perform.
- To succeed, organizations who wish to implement enterprise voice mobility must: (1) understand how the solution will be better than what they currently have and (2) know what your user base wants and needs. Otherwise you are just implementing a solution that is looking for a problem.
- Few organizations will be able to use their existing Wi-Fi infrastructure for enterprise voice mobility as-is. To make seamless phone call handoffs possible you should ask a qualified Wi-Fi vendor to analyze your network and recommend any changes.
- Hi-definition voice is coming soon to a smartphone near you. But some panelists questioned whether it offered a real benefit.
Mobilizing Enterprise Applications: Keys to Success
I also attended this session to get the latest thinking on mobilizing the enterprise. The panel offered advice for organizations looking to add mobile apps to their deployment. Here are the highlights:
- The panel recommended that most organizations should ask third-party app developers to help build their apps, rather than build them entirely in-house. Why? First, the app developer has long and deep experience not likely found in-house. Second, enterprise apps are far more complex than most people think. The complexities quickly become overwhelming. Third, even if you are able to build your own app, you then need to manage support issues, upgrades, BlackBerry® software and hardware updates, bugs, etc. Finally, the panel agreed that most organizations should focus on what they do well. Editor's take: The panelists offer good advice, but many organizations have successfully built terrific apps in-house. For example, two out of three 2010 Wireless Leadership Award Winners—RIDGID and the State of Florida Department of Children and Families—both built their winning apps with in-house talent. So consider the pros and cons, and then decide for yourself what will work best for your organization.
- Before giving an app project the green light, the panel recommended that you find a senior executive who is willing to be its champion. Otherwise you risk losing momentum and focus.
- A broad imagination is critical when planning mobile apps for the enterprise. You do not want to just replicate your current paper-based process, for example. Instead think bigger to get the most out of mobility.
- End-user acceptance is a real problem for many mobile apps. One panelist said that CRM apps are used by only 30% of sales people. To increase adoption focus on an intuitive workflow and features end-users find important. Leave out unimportant features.
MOBILITY IS A BIG TOPIC FOR 2010
I spoke to a number of professionals from the healthcare industry. They all wanted solutions for making their organizations more productive using BlackBerry® mobility. The security issue is important—a big reason they said they picked the BlackBerry solution.
Employee-owned phones are also an important topic. Vicki Bitter, Application Specialist at the Cincinnati Children's Hospital, said that she allows her organization's doctors to purchase their own BlackBerry smartphones, but they must agree to the hospital's IT policies. She also said that her doctors want a certain amount of lifestyle apps, which she allows with some restrictions. That sounds familiar no matter what industry you are in!
NEXT GENERATION USERS PANEL
What does the mobile future hold for the next generation? That was the question posed to an all-star panel at Wednesday's General session. The panelists were:
- will.i.am, futurist and Black Eyed Peas member
- Ben Silverman, TV producer and CEO and Founder of Electus
- Steven Berlin Johnson, author of Everything Bad is Good for You and his new book, the Invention of Air, as well as creator of outside.in
- The millennial generation is really the “now” generation, said will.i.am. They expect to be able to get information and do things whenever and wherever they wish. They will also tell you what they want and do not accept overt marketing pitches.
- We are too quick to condemn this generation as “impatient” said Johnson. Example: It takes patience to track a complex, multilayered TV show like Lost or to make it through a 15-hour video game. He said that in the old days we would watch TV shows alone or with our family. Now we're watching while connected with total strangers. Social collaboration is happening on the edges of the shows. And TV shows can become so much more complex because the audience can get deeper information from blogs and wiki pages.
- Speaking of video games, for this generation of boys video games are the “dominate form of culture,” said Johnson. He went on to say that the way our brains work while playing video games mimics the skills needed in today's business world. “You are collaborating with people all over the world, you are thinking about goals, thinking about what resources you need, then going out and executing those goals.”
- Johnson also said that we should expect this generation to transform technologies for their own purposes. Users tweeting at live events, for example, unexpectedly transformed Twitter®.
MY TOP 5 FAVORITE APPS AND ACCESSORIES
Between sessions on Tuesday I dropped by the Solutions Showcase to check out the newest and greatest apps. Here are my top 5—let me know if you agree with these picks:
- Tether, lets you connect your laptop computer to the Internet through your BlackBerry® smartphone. (Solves a huge problem for a one-time price.)
- WorldMate, a feature-rich personal travel assistant app. (Does far more than I thought at first glance.)
- Case-Mate's I Make My Case website for designing your own case for either the BlackBerry® Bold™ 9700 smartphone or BlackBerry® Curve™ 8520 smartphone based on the art of talented graphic designers. (Check out the website, it will blow your mind.)
- iHeart Radio, lets you listen to live radio streams from more than 750 stations. (Keeps me in touch with my hometown scene.)
- Gwabbit, which automatically grabs contact information from your inbox. (Where have you been all