Mobile Future Forward 2019

Sprint, Ericsson, and AT&T discuss #5G, #IoT and Mobile Edge Computing at #Mobile Future Forward.

At the 10th anniversary of Mobile Future Forward, I participated in a panel discussion covering the 5G Roadmap, Economics, and Opportunities with Chetan Sharma, T-Mobile VP Karri Kuoppamaki, Mavenir SVP John Baker, and former NEST CEO Marwan Fawaz.

Edge computing is going to play a big roll in the world of 5G and that ranges from microcontrollers on machines, gateways, and Mobile Edge Computing (MEC) at the edge of the cellular networks to provide low latency and reduce the load on backhaul networks.

Read FierceWireless Editor Monica Alleven’s coverage of the event to learn more.

4IR IRL: The Impending Impact of the 4th Industrial Revolution

At Ericsson’s new D-Fifteen innovation and co-creation center in Silicon Valley, panelists for the #4IR IRL discussion provided an inside look at the strategies and use cases driving innovation. #IoT #IIoT

Moderated by WIRED’s Editor-in-Chief, Nick Thompson, this lively debate across multiple technology disciplines was arguably the best panel I’ve ever served on. There was never a dull moment for the audience as we painted a picture of what the 4th Industrial Revolution will look like.

Watch the video below:


Digital Trends and Predictions for 2018

With software and adjacent technologies continuing to eat the world, we see the pace of #digital transformation accelerating in 2018 as organizations strive to enhance their customer and operational intelligence.

Organizations will grapple with a variety of digital technologies and skillsets this year to become more data-driven in order to improve their agility and decision-making capabilities. As always, they’ll be looking for ways to simplify operations and get more done with less. We predict the concepts and trends listed below will light a path for organizations to show them the way forward:

  • Climbing the Stairway from the Edge to the Cloud

The ongoing journey to move data, apps and other digital assets from private, on-premises data centers to public clouds will continue unabated as organizations look to reduce or eliminate internal ICT functions and responsibilities. Even in the midst of cutting costs, organizations will still struggle with concerns around cloud vendor lock-in via PaaS which will benefit IaaS virtual machines, container technologies like Docker and container orchestration technologies like Kubernetes, Docker Swarm, Mesos and Marathon. Overall, Amazon AWS plus Microsoft Azure and Office365 will continue to be the biggest beneficiaries of the public cloud megatrend. Along the way, one of the stair steps that remains on-premise is something called the Fog or the Edge. If you’re familiar with how content delivery network (CDN) proxy servers around the world cache and speed the delivery of Web content to your browser, Edge gateway devices do something similar. With more and more of an organization’s compute occurring in distant, public clouds, Edge devices residing on the local network can cache, aggregate, analyze and speed up cloud content to give employees inside the office a better experience. Edge devices can also be used with the Internet of Things where they connect to machines and cache, aggregate, and analyze data locally instead of waiting for that data to be transported to a distant cloud. Since neither people nor machines are vary tolerant of too much latency, expect the adoption of Edge gateway devices and associated local storage to surge in 2018.

  • Enhanced Networking Inside and Out

As organizations reduce the number of digital assets and activities that take place in-house, the primary role of ICT departments will be to create and maintain fast, reliable connectivity via wired and wireless technologies. Wired networking will be “more of the same” as we push speeds forward with fiber optics and Gigabit Ethernet to shuttle employees out to the Internet. Wireless is where things get more interesting. Inside the office, organizations will continue rolling out 802.11ac Wi-Fi access points running in the 5 GHz band to deliver data and high-bandwidth content like HD video to any device. Outside, the 3GPP has officially signed off on the first 5G specification which promises to deliver greater bandwidth, lower latency, better coverage, lower battery consumption and a higher number of simultaneously connected devices. As you might imagine, it will take some time to roll out technology based on this spec so we will look to get more mileage out of 4G technologies like LTE Advanced. On the slower side of things, you have Low-Power, Wide-Area Network (LPWAN) technologies that are making great strides for certain Internet of Things use cases. The ability to create a large wireless network in places where no cellular coverage exits is compelling for organizations capable of managing such a system. If you have devices or machines that don’t send much data every day, require years of battery life, or need to send data over long distances, one of the many LPWAN technologies might be a good fit. Whether you’re inside or outside, looking for narrowband or broadband, there’s plenty of wireless choices for organizations in 2018.

  • Mobility for People and IoT for Machines

While the mobile device revolution has been the biggest megatrend of this new century, the torch has now been passed to the Internet of Things. When you think about it, they’re not terribly different from each other except for the endpoints. Mobile device endpoints are proxies for people and Thing endpoints refer to machines (intelligent or otherwise). They’re both sending data about themselves and other topics of interest over a network. Both interact with apps, analytics and other on-prem or cloud data sources to derive value and business intelligence. In order to regain a level of simplicity and perhaps sanity, organizations will push back against the use of multiple enterprise platforms for Mobile people and IoT machines. Additionally, many organizations will wring their hands of having to understand an alphabet soup of protocols and myriad IoT standards and revert to using the same Web and Internet standards they already understand. Just like they currently do with Mobile and the Web, organizations will insist that IoT sends and receives JSON data to and from URLs over HTTP/REST while being displayed via HTML5, secured with TLS and brought to life with JavaScript. This use of familiar, widely-used, “good enough” Web technologies will win the day over the more advanced but esoteric technologies currently employed by IoT platforms. This move to simplicity and familiarity will reduce friction and help the Internet of Things deliver value and fulfill its promise the way the Mobile, Web and the Cloud have. Expect big changes in IoT for 2018 along with a big shakeout of the hundreds of Internet of Things platform companies.

  • Digital Twins make Everything Digital

The rise of Digital Twins will give every organization the starting point they’re looking for to begin their Digital Transformation. A Digital Twin is essentially a digital representation of a physical object. It can be a machine, a person, a complex mechanical subsystem, a collection of machines working together on an assembly line, or even a process. These twins have attributes or properties that describe them like a person’s heart rate or a motor’s temperature or current revolutions per minute (RPM). Organizations can assign key performance indicators (KPIs) to the current values of these properties. A red heart rate KPI might be 200 whereas a green motor temperature KPI might be 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Digital Twins can exhibit behavior by executing programming language and/or analytics code against the combination of their current property values and associated KPIs. Not only does this bring everything in an organization to life, it also facilitates the running of simulations to see how things will behave when different types of data points are fed to these Digital Twins. This is definitely the most promising and exciting technology for 2018.

  • Security, Privacy and GDPR cause Organizations to Stumble

Unrelenting cyberattacks keep organizations in a defensive posture rather than moving forward with important digital initiatives and deployments. While we won’t cover the myriad security steps every organization must follow in order to stay ahead of individual and state-sponsored hackers, this is one of the most important functions of an ICT department. Organizational leaders who don’t take this seriously by not funding the appropriate security technology or staffing the appropriate security employee headcount do so at their own peril. Needless to say, organizations must prioritize the privacy and protection of data, people (employees and customers), and systems if they want to remain viable. To turn up the heat a bit, the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) becomes enforceable on May, 25 2018. This regulation gives control back to EU citizens and residents over their personal data by strengthening data protections for all individuals within the  European Union as well as the export of personal data outside the EU. Quite a few companies operating in countries across the globe play it fast-and-loose with the security and privacy of individual data without user consent. This comes to an end in May when companies can be fined  up to €20 million or 4% of their global annual revenue, whichever is greater, for violating this regulation. Any company operating in the EU must obtain explicit consent for all data collected from an individual as well as reason/purpose of using and processing that data. Additionally, that user consent may be withdrawn. Many companies around the world haven’t made the necessary changes to their digital systems to be compliant with GDPR and will be in for a rude awakening in 2018. Data privacy and security matters in a big way.

  • Making Sense of an Avalanche of Data with Advanced Analytics

While data and analytics systems have been around for decades, the amount of data collected for analysis by organizations has increased exponentially. With a 50x growth rate from machines alone, the Internet of Things has become the newest data source for organizations to analyze. Lots of little data integrated from people, machines and business systems adds up to an overwhelming amount of Big Data to make sense of. Luckily, there are an increasing number of streaming and batch analytics systems and tools to tackle this job. Making this trend better is that most of these technologies are open source and free which helps level the playing field between small, mid-sized and large organizations with varying amounts of money to spend. Head over to Another interesting trend in data science is how Python has surpassed R as the most popular language for Machine Learning. An increase on online courseware, an abundance of scientific libraries, and the fact that Python is one of the easiest programming languages to learn, means you don’t always have to be a PhD in Statistics to get the job done. Virtually every organization in the world is looking for Machine Learning/Deep Learning expertise, so this trend should help the supply side of this equation. The last analytics trend that is coming on strong in 2018 has to do with where data is analyzed. It will no longer be the exclusive domain of the cloud or large clusters of servers. The need to answer questions and make decisions more quickly is driving analytics of all types out to the Edge. Thanks to Moore’s Law and the need to eliminate latency, more and more edge gateway devices will be performing IFTTT and even Machine Learning predictions (with models trained in the cloud). There’s no shortage of important trends that are simplifying advanced analytics for organizations in 2018.

Clearly, 2018 is going to be a transformational year where properly-equipped decision-makers and leaders can shift their organization into the next gear to accelerate their digital transformation. Hold on tight.

VendLink Brought the Internet of Things to Life in the 1990s

The Internet of Things was launched in the early 1990s at a company called Real Time Data. #IoT

This was my first startup after getting out of the military. We brought vending machines to life with embedded software and hardware, early wireless data technology, and graphical software running on Windows.

Our IoT technology allowed operators to know the current state of their vending machines from across town or even across the country. This revolutionary service reduced costs, increased sales and enhanced customer satisfaction.

With VendLink up and running, route drivers only had to visit their vending machines when they needed restocking or mechanical service. Yes, we accurately predicted machine failures without Machine Learning technology. Furthermore, we learned customer preferences to deliver more of the products that people wanted which made each vending machine more profitable.

Mobile Apps Must Work Offline Because Wireless Connectivity isn’t Ubiquitous

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Intermittent #wireless connectivity requires #mobile apps to follow sync patterns using pre-fetched #data via APIs and offline local storage.

If the network isn’t available, it’s pretty hard for your native app to call web APIs or for your web app to load new web pages. On the Ethernet connected desktops of the past, developers didn’t concern themselves with this issue. In our wireless connected mobile society, ignoring this issue leads to a poor user experience. Most of the time, devices are connected via 2G/3G/4G wireless data networks whose reliability is driven by cell tower density, the number of devices connected to a given tower, wireless frequencies, bandwidth and the number of buildings in the area.

Rather than assuming everything will “just work,” developers of successful apps assume “nothing works.” For starters, mobile apps must take advantage of platform APIs that detect the existence of network connectivity. Once this is established, an app must not only download the data it needs at that given moment but enough data to get through the day. Depending on the amount and complexity of this data, it should be stored locally on the device in a mobile database or as serialized files. From then on, the app should only use the local data to perform its tasks rather than reaching out to servers. Changes made by the user to this local data should be tracked so that only deltas are sent to backend systems when it’s time to upload. Extensive error handling and “sync retries” are needed to ensure reliability. Employees can work in airplane mode or when roaming internationally without using data.

Increase revenue and improve user productivity by using sync to create apps that keep working whether the Internet is available or not. App downtime on a sales call in front of a customer is not an option. Has your company made the move to apps that work offline?

Learn how to digitally transform your company in my newest book, “Mobile Strategies for Business: 50 Actionable Insights to Digitally Transform your Business.”

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Click here to purchase a copy of my book today and start transforming your business!

Delivering Apps to Mobile Devices via Remote Pixel Projection is a Terrible Idea

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The use of remote pixel projection technology to view Win32 apps on #mobile devices should be considered nothing more than an interim workaround.

What’s the fastest way to move Win32 desktop apps to mobile devices? Don’t feel bad if you chose a remote desktop or screen sharing technology to project PC desktops to smartphones or tablets. This happened decades earlier when companies migrated from 3270 terminal emulation to PC apps. Lots of screen scraping took place to avoid large rewrites.

If you’ve tried various remote desktop technologies on smartphones, you found yourself doing a lot of pinching, zooming, panning and scrolling to accomplish simple tasks. The intermittent nature of wireless data networks results in a frustrating experience. A lack of offline capabilities leads to application errors and possible data loss. Nonexistent integration with essential smartphone sensors leaves employees without the contextual experiences they expect. Obviously, tablets fare much better due to larger screen sizes that more closely match the desktops they’re trying to render. When paired with corporate Wi-Fi, this delivers the least-bad remote experience. The tablet + Wi-Fi scenario is the best compromise for large apps that are difficult to migrate or third-party apps that are out of your control. In limited scenarios where sensitive corporate data is not allowed on a device, remote desktop technologies keep your device free of data. For everything else, remote pixel projection should be a short pause on the road to complete mobile migration.

Reduce risk to your business by using remote pixel technologies in situations where sensitive data cannot be securely moved to a mobile device. Is your company taking a pass on employee productivity by not migrating legacy desktop applications to mobile apps?

Learn how to digitally transform your company in my newest book, “Mobile Strategies for Business: 50 Actionable Insights to Digitally Transform your Business.”

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Click here to purchase a copy of my book today and start transforming your business!

The Cloud is Dead, Long Live the Edge


We interrupt your regularly scheduled migration to the #cloud to bring you a much more important megatrend called the Internet of Things. #IoT

The Internet of Things demands a low-latency, distributed, peer-to-peer environment that can only be found in the fog layer via edge computing.

Rob Tiffany Named a Top 100 M2M Influencer

M2M Influencer

In Onalytica’s 2016 analysis and ranking of individuals and brands in the Machine to Machine space, Rob was ranked a top 100 #M2M influencer. #IoT

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, Machine to Machine (M2M) refers to the direct communication between devices using a variety of communications channels, including wired and wireless. Many of you will think this is the same or similar to the Internet of Things and you wouldn’t necessarily be wrong. I started my career in the M2M space connecting unintelligent vending machines to primitive wireless networks to derive value from remotely monitoring them. Needless to say, a lot has changed since then.

Analytic M2M

In modern terms, traditional M2M is often expressed as the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) or Industrie 4.0. Imagine the value to be derived from connecting, analyzing and acting on data from industries such as healthcare, automotive, oil and gas, agriculture, government, smart cities, manufacturing, and public utilities. It’s an exciting space to be in and it’s rapidly transforming our world.

Check it out at

Improve User Experience by Extending Wireless to Customers and Employees

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Use #Femtocells + #mobile broadband routers to extend #wireless to mobile customers & employees without coverage in buildings or at remote work sites.

It goes without saying that not all organizations are the same. They don’t all reside in offices in downtown skyscrapers or on corporate campuses. The way employees work and how customers are served varies greatly. It’s important your mobile strategy reflects these differences.

Let’s talk about employees that don’t work in your Wi-Fi saturated office. Just because your workforce has corporate-liable or personally-liable mobile devices, doesn’t mean they have the wireless coverage to make them work. In the construction business, you have a group of employees performing tasks outside at a work site. To ensure this team can connect to corporate resources, you may need to deploy a Femtocell and a mobile broadband router. This is a mobile hot spot on steroids that allows you to extend cellular coverage to areas where you need it.

Oftentimes you have to extend wireless coverage to your customers. If you own a sports stadium you have to enhance coverage while supporting a higher density of connected devices. If you own a casino or convention center, it’s imperative you provide pervasive indoor cellular coverage so your guests can keep using their phones. These cases require you to deploy microcells as well as additional data backhaul capacity. As always, apply pressure on mobile operators to provide network coverage if they want to keep your business.

Improve customer experience and user productivity by extending wireless coverage to employees and customers alike. What is your organization doing to bring wireless to its important stakeholders?

Learn how to digitally transform your company in my newest book, “Mobile Strategies for Business: 50 Actionable Insights to Digitally Transform your Business.”

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Click to purchase a copy of my book today and start transforming your business!

Seize the Opportunity of the Internet of Things


There are a lot of newcomers to the Internet of Things and Machine to Machine space lately. Many of them love to speak authoritatively and often use vending machines as their favorite example use case to illustrate the value of #IoT.

When you see me use vending machines in a similar fashion, it’s not because of an article I read, a slide deck I copied, or a bandwagon I jumped on. It’s because I actually built this stuff twenty years ago with a group of visionaries and the best engineers I’ve ever worked with in my career.

We didn’t wait until vending machines became intelligent and wireless technologies became pervasive. We took the overwhelming population of unintelligent, fully mechanical vending machines and made them intelligent with our embedded technologies to unlock their insights. Wireless data coverage was a nightmare and the cost per byte would seem insane by today’s standards, but we weren’t going to force route drivers to visit and plugin to vending machines to find out what was going on. We created tiny, bit-encoded data packets on null-modem cables that we brought to a multitude of wireless technologies in order to create cost-effective coverage in the markets we served. Oftentimes, we created our own modems to bounce packets off business radio towers. Yes, we realized that giving each machine an antenna in a bank of vending machines was inefficient so we created gateway technology. As our software analyzed the telemetry we streamed from thousands of vending machines, we brought to life the game-changing insights I see companies “discovering” today. Our company was called Real Time Data and we brought things like real time inventory management, dynamic routing, predictive failure analysis, intelligent merchandising, revenue forecasting, theft alerts and many other insights to an industry run on quarters and dimes. We didn’t have the Internet to connect our “things” to. We either used or created our own private data networks.

These days when I meet around a camp fire with the wireless telemetry pioneers I worked with all those years ago, we often laugh about how easy it would be to recreate these solutions today. Machines and sensors are now intelligent, wireless data networks are cheap and pervasive, IPv6 means we can connect almost anything, off the shelf analytics tools abound, machine learning is here, and cloud computing power is almost limitless. We used to call some of this stuff SCADA, but you can call this combination of streaming telemetry plus command and control the Internet of Things. Now is the time to seize the opportunity right there in front of you to revolutionize your business. It’s all about reducing expenses, boosting customer satisfaction and increasing revenue.