March 23, 2006



Posted: 07.29.05

Welcome back to mobile knowledge.

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By Lubna Dajani

Today let’s talk about converting hindsight into foresight.

Have you thought about the difference between static data and applied knowledge? Let me give you an example of how I see it. When I sit at home and the invoice from my mobile service provider arrives in the mail, I am the end of a business process driven by static data; little to no personalization, simple usage calculations and cost functions processing. When I step off a plane in a foreign country and my mobile receives a welcome text from an associated mobile operator, hooking me up seamlessly to their network, then I start to sense some intelligence in the system. Not a lot, just a little.

For so long the knowledge of organizations was locked in accountancy type data, not really knowledge; just simple facts boxed in tables in the depths of files tucked away in folders. Then along came data warehousing, data mining, data exploitation and CRM—all looking inwards to the enterprise, all focusing on dissecting the data and reassembling it into coherent facts and hopefully food for forecasting. All spins on the all important quest for knowledge management. All good. All after-the-fact hindsight. All very 20th century!

So what is different in the 21st Century? For one, mobility.

The onset of the Internet brought about the notion of digital existence. A few short years ago the net was reserved for the military and the nerds, with the enterprise left to struggle on its own to answer the billion dollar, age old question “where is the ROI?” Today, it’s hard to fathom how we lived without it. To not be connected; to not be able to search the net.

Bottom line, socially you are weird if you are not plugged in. And what enterprise does not have a Web presence? It was just a few years ago that mobile phones were a status symbol reserved for the elite, and if you saw a person talking into the air while walking down the street you certainly would have thought the person had coexisting personalities.

Today, it’s hard to walk down the street without seeing someone texting or talking on their mobile phone. Equally notable, the daily paper seems to mention mobility in one form or the other—from common people reporting events as they happen using their video-enabled camera phones, to mobile marketing or, as I like to call it, integrated or converged marketing with sensitivities to time and place. Perhaps you’ve read about ICANN’s recent approval of a new sTLD, .mobi, that is incidentally expected to begin usage in early 2006. Needless to say, research firms are now telling us that if an enterprise lacks a wireless strategy, it has no IT strategy at all.

We are indeed an increasingly mobile society. Allow me, if I may, to share a personal story with you…

Earlier today, as has happened for the past few months, my eight-year-old daughter came into my office clearly ready for her daily negotiation session. “Mommy,” she says, “I have another reason why I should have my own cell phone….” Did I mention she is eight years old?

The interesting thing is that her reasons have gradually shifted from safety and voice communications like “in case of an emergency” and “you can reach me any time you want” or “I wouldn’t have to borrow your phone”, to “Mommy, I can download cool ring tones that I see on MTV, I can get a funny joke every day, and vote for the next INXS lead singer!” Did I mention she is eight years old? The fact is, she will likely soon have a mobile phone of her own, and in a future column we’ll talk about what will make parents want to give their kids mobile phones.

Mobile (I mean mobile data) un-tethers the Internet, bringing it into the palms and pockets of individuals of all demographics at all times. For the enterprise, mobility pushes business intelligence to the edge of its reach, providing its workforce and customers with applicable knowledge at the point of contact. Perhaps more importantly, mobility provides the “brand” or enterprise with relevant and timely knowledge about their customers and their behavioral patterns that, when appropriately applied, will replace hindsight with foresight.

So don’t be surprised in the not-so-distant future if the person standing next to you on the subway holds her mobile to a movie poster then starts watching a trailer and perhaps even buys tickets to the movie—all between stations.

So as I bid you farewell for now, I once more welcome you to our new world of hybrid existence and freedom of thought and expression. Please do share your thoughts and reflections with me and remember what I always say, life is a matter of perception and response to a certain set of circumstances.

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