Mobile & IoT

Mobile, Tablets, IoT, Sensors, Wearables and more

Thinking about mobile-enabling your enterprise apps? You better be: you only have three years

We all know that use of mobile has been exploding. What many of us may not realize is exactly how much it is exploding. Cisco’s Virtual Network Index (VNI) is a great tool to explore the growth of network traffic and get the answer to some basic questions…

The age of enterprise mobile computing has begun

mobile-mixed-280pxFor years, we have been dreaming of a world we can get access to any information we need–and do whatever we want with it–from anywhere. One only has to look at old videos of “Get Smart” or even “Star Trek” so that dream depicted in various “business” realities. However, for most of the past 40 years this vision has only been a dream. First, we needed mobile computing devices that we could hold in our hands (and put in our pockets). Next, we needed ones that actually had a battery life that supported more than a few minutes of intense use. Finally, we needed to find a way to send and receive data from these quickly (and without needing a national defense budget to pay for it). Today, we have all of these literally at our finger tips–and, thanks for companies like SalesForce and Apple, we have working models for how people can use these devices to work and play in ways they have desired for nearly half a century.

Does this mean that we will finally see a boom in enterprise mobile computing? Let’s take a look at the forecasting data to find the answer…

Business traffic (mobile and land-line) will be 4x larger in less than four years

Although we are navigating the largest economic recession in 70 years, we are not seeing a slowdown in enterprise traffic. Data usage will continue to grow far faster than our businesses, markets and population:

Yes, land-line traffic will remain the bulk of data usage. However, mobile traffic “looks” like it is growing faster. Let’s take a deeper look to see if this is true…

Mobile traffic for business use will be 25x larger in less than four years

Mobile use for business is indeed growing faster: over 6x faster. While it is only 4% of enterprise traffic now, it will be more than 21% of business traffic in 2013:

This is amazing when you consider the size differential in terms of input and display between mobile and desktop devices. Clearly, the advantage of the ubiquitous device is, in and of itself, a “Killer App.”

The next question is, “What types of data usage are driving this growth?” Let’s take a look…

Mobile data GROWTH is being driven by data sharing: Raw files and multimedia

Looking forward in time, it is clear that use of mobile computing devices as video handsets will be huge. However, upon closer look at the data, you will see that the fastest grower (as a percentage) is data sharing, i.e, file sharing, email, data collection and multimedia broadcast. (It is curious to note that the slowest grower will be simple audio):

It is easy to imagine how this could occur. Look at quickly use of mobile devices to update your “Status” on facebook and Twitter has increased in the past year. This is just the beginning.

In the enterprise, we will be begin to see use of mobile computing devices to capture and exchange richer forms of data. Imagine collecting patient data in a Health 2.0 world. Imagine collecting video for everything from media to insurance claims to security. Imagine combing through your real-time sales and business data from a mobile device in a meeting (you don’t have to imagine this — you are already doing it — if you use Saleforce’s mobile SFA application or are an executive at Walmart).

A final question is whether this growth is the same everywhere world-wide. Let’s take a look…

The United States will NOT be the largest market

For years, the United States has been the largest market for information technology and services. This is ending:

3G investments in Europe are paying huge dividends. The mobile culture of the APAC region will naturally lead to continued explosion of mobile usage. However, what is interesting — but not surprising when you consider how much easier it is to build cell towers than dig fiber optic trenches — is the growth (as a percentage) in the use of mobile in Africa, the Middle East and Central & Eastern Europe. This means two things: 1) you need to think about supporting multibyte character sets and dynamic localization, and 2) you cannot simply rely on WiFi and 3G.

If enterprises do not want to miss out, they need to start planning today

This “future” will be here in three years. That is not a lot of time when you consider the usual three- to five-year enterprise technology development and implementation life cycle:

  • Visioning and Green-lighting
  • Budget Planning and Approval (Already completed for 2010)
  • Project Inception and Execution
  • Roll-out and Adoption
  • Upgrade and Integration

If you do not want to be a follower, you need to start envisioning right now what enterprise functions you should enable via mobile. It also means that you need to consider both the mobile and desktop capabilities of any enterprise platform you are evaluating for purchase. If you don’t do this, the following will happen:

By the time you fully implement and roll out your next big enterprise system, your staff will begin pointing out how their consumer products (best case) and your competitors’ systems (worst case) already enable them to perform so many of their daily activities using a smart phone or mobile device.

You do not want this to happen.

Health 2.0 clinical trial subject alert and reminder service

A few weeks ago, I began a blog series on low-risk, high value applications of social media to improve health care. As I mentioned, in my last post in this series, clinical trial (CT) management is an ideal place to start, as managers of CTs routinely need to reach out to and coordinate with a wide variety of external stakeholders, from Principal Investigators (PIs) and Subjects to Institutional Review Board (IRB) members and Regulators. This post will continue this thread, outlining the use of mobile social networks to reach out to CT Subjects to remind them clinic visits or alert them to special updates of interest.

A view of a CT from the outside: The subject’s perspective

Participation by a Subject (a.k.a. Patient) in a CT (clinical trial) requires many interactions:

  • After applying to participate in a CT, Subjects first need to visit a clinician for review of their vitals and medical history to determine if they meet the criteria for participation in the Study (as per the CT Protocol).
  • If they meet the Study criteria, they need to commit to participation in the Study for its entire duration. The first step of this is review and signature of an Informed Consent Form (ICF), indicating acceptance of the medical risks associated with the trial.
  • The next is scheduling and participation of many Patient Visits to the clinic. These visits must follow a schedule—in alignment of the CT Protocol, from First Visit (FV) to Last (LV). Some visits will be to receive care, others to check on progress on vital signs.
  • In addition, Subjects often will have to perform actions on their own, outside of the clinic (e.g., taking pills at regular intervals).

However, these are just the basic set of interactions. Extenuating situations may occur that require additional interactions:

  • If preliminary results of the Study may require amendment of the CT Protocol and/or ICF, requiring the Subject to return to the clinic for review and signature.
  • In addition the Study sponsor or manager may discover Adverse Events (AEs) that they must immediately communicate to Subjects (usually requiring additional clinic visits).

These interactions can take place over months or years throughout the Conduct of a Clinical Trial Study


The business case for this service

The logistics required to manage all the interactions between Study Sponsors, PIs and Subjects are complex and time-intensive—especially given that Subjects and Study Sites (Clinics) can routinely be spread across hundreds of locations and a dozen time zones. As a result—

  • Clinical Trial Sponsors routinely pay Study Managers tens of thousands of dollars per Subject to coordinate all of these interactions
  • Clinical Trial Sponsors can spend up to several million dollars (USD) to manage the update (amendment and re-signing) of an ICF by all CT Subjects
  • Subjects routinely drop out of studies because it is simply too much work (and too hard) to remember to do everything required. (This requires initial enrollment of higher numbers of Subjects, a costly endeavor.)

Clinics routinely manage coordination of these interactions through classic communications channels: the telephone, facsimile and direct mail. These are costly, work-intensive channels with low response rates.

Any service that could make this coordination simpler and more convenient would save billions of dollars of cost (ultimately making healthcare more cost effective for us all). For a typical 1,000-Subject CT Study:

Each 3% reduction in either the cost to manage Subject coordination or the Subject dropout rate would save as much as USD $1 million per individual Study

Multiply these benefits by dozens of studies across hundreds of organizations and you will get some very large savings.

Why use mobile social networks for this

As of 2009, the mobile telephone is now the most ubiquitous communication device in the world. People who own them rarely go anywhere without them.

In addition, many CT Subjects are located in hard-to-reach places. The most cost effective way to communicate with remote places is through use of mobile networks (avoiding cost of hard-line infrastructure and power-hungry devices like PCs).

These two factors make use of a Mobile Social Network (MSN) to communicate and coordinate with CT Subjects an ideal, cost-effective and low-risk choice.

How this service would work

This service would leverage approaches already proven in marketing campaign-based Mobile Social Network management:

  1. Subjects enrolling in a CT Study provide their mobile telephone numbers. These numbers are registered into a closed MSN. The MSN sends a Double Opt-in Message to each Subject both to confirm correctness of the contact number and confirm with Mobile Marketing Association guidelines
  2. Each CT subject is entered into a messaging campaign based on First Visit Cohorts. This enables the CT Manager to send text alerts to the subjects based on time- (and protocol-) based milestones: such as reminders to take medication or arrive for a clinic appointment. This makes if far easier for Subjects to remember what they have to do (and when they have to do it.)
  3. Each text message is part of a campaign requiring the subject to confirm receipt (but not action, as this would create a clinical trial data point). Using MSN reporting results, the Clinic or Study Manager can follow-up through other channels (e.g., direct mobile phone call) to Subjects who do not confirm receipt. This approach provides easy, less-invasive reminders to Subject without violating regulations for control of CT data.
  4. In the event of a special circumstance, e.g., need to sign a new ICF or visit a clinic in response to a newly-discovered AE, the CT Manager will send a text message to all recipients asking them to immediately call their clinic. (In smart phone this can be performed conveniently from the message itself.) Using MSN reporting results, the Clinic or Study Manager can directly call Subjects who do not acknowledge the text message and/or call back in a specified period of time.

This is easy to execute (at low risk)

This use of mobile social networks does not replace normal, accepted CT communications—it simply makes performing them more efficient and convenient for all. In addition, because this network does not communicate patient or safety data (or capture electronic signature) it provides cost and time savings at very low risk.