Friday, November 16, 2012

Continuous Clients - Holy Grail of Mobility and Cloud Computing!

Recently came across an interesting article by Gartner – differentiating apps Vs applications.  Most of the organizations are simply taking the ‘appification’ route by creating the miniature versions of their corporate applications to support Mobility.  Is it the right thing to do? Of course, NOT.

What is the fun in accessing online banking from mobile when you can comfortably access account details online. You wouldn’t want to heavy-lifting usages from your mobile, not just from security point, but also from usability perspective.

Some other companies prefer to deploy bare minimal, marketing apps onto the customers’ mobile devices.   Is that the right thing to do?  May be. But, it’s certainly underutilizing the potential of mobile devices.

Then, what’s the right thing to do?  Per Gartner, it is best to create ‘apps’ that are personalized and provide proactive services to the customer. In short, ‘apps’ should function like ‘virtual assistants’/’agents’ installed on their mobile devices which act as customer advocates to the organization. The traditional ‘applications’ provide ‘reactive and canned’ services to the generic customer base. And that’s the difference. How many ‘apps’ have you seen or used in your mobile devices, which truly understand your needs and wants?

In my view, Banking and Retail were the first few verticals to embrace multi-channel strategies. They were the ones started servicing customers by providing multiple delivery channels. Customers felt empowered and they could choose the channel based on the transaction/service needs or their personality/convenience levels.  People who were not comfortable interacting with technology can walk-into the branch and perform the transaction.

Few years before, when I worked in Banking IT, one of the key dream use case that was prevalent in Multi-channel was to provide the ‘continuity’ feature – continuity across channels.  For example, a person who starts an ‘Account Opening’ transaction in Branch should be able to continue in online banking and complete by Phone Banking. Isn’t that amazing?  Yes, it was a dream.  I have not personally come across any bank that claims to provide that kind of continuity across channels. 

The dream that the industry had in last decade has the potential to be realized NOW. I spoke about the reality of multi-screen customer experience in InformationWeek few weeks ago.  One of the key tenets of multi-screen user experience is to provide continuity across channels/ screens. 

I sometime think our daily lives are nothing but sifting through multiple screens during the course of the day – mobile in morning, PC/Laptop all through the day, TV or Tablet in the evening and mobile late night. Isn’t it true?

Now, all  through this day, you are shifting from one device to another. But, you wouldn’t want to explain your preferences to each device individually. Or you wouldn’t want to stop and restart your work on every single device that you use…including TV.  Nowadays, TVs are coming with processors.

And that’s exactly called as – Continuous Clients.  In my view, Continuous clients is the Holy Grail of Mobility and Cloud Computing. Why Cloud? – Because the continuity can actually be provisioned by managing the user state in the Cloud. And mobility in this case, applies to all kinds of devices that we use throughout the day.

The term Continuous client was coined by Engadget Blogger – Joshua Topolsky – and it’s widely referred in several implementations.  

More than this underlying concept, the scenarios and applications that can benefit from this capability would be more interesting.

How many times you have felt – you are watching a movie in your TV and you want to continue later in your tablet later in the day in different location?.  All this needs to be done without major plumbing!. And that is the wonder delivered by Continuous Clients.  Continuous clients need not span just devices. They can span across locations and platforms and media as well. All that matters is the user's state continuity across these transits.
Continuous Clients are the way to build Boundaryless Experiences!.

No comments: