Multimedia Applications On Small Form Factor Devices

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Multimedia Applications
On Small Form Factor Devices

by Nancy Nicolaisen

Docid: 00021321

Publication Date: 1804

Report Type: TUTORIAL


The bar is set high for enterprise mobile solution designers because
enterprise mobility experiences will be judged against mainstream
entertainment content. Mobile business apps will have to consistently
deliver superlative user experience to be successful. In addition, recent
revelations about apps’ illicit data collection and the use of the
Addiction Model Technology to create compelling user experiences pose
serious risks to brands and reputations.  It is a time to look deeply
and carefully into enterprise mobility strategies.

Report Contents:

Executive Summary

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Faulkner Reports
Developing Mobile Applications

In spite of the considerable technical challenges, expect to see
enterprise mobile apps that feature multimedia components, particularly
for communications for business-to-customer engagement initiatives. The
reason: Enterprise business process tools will be judged by customers,
partners, and employees against mainstream, high production value
entertainment content.

Even for desk bound office workers, mobile devices have become a de facto
standard for Web access and communications. The resulting rapid
decentralization of enterprise computing has created an urgent mandate: Maintain
of business process mobility tools, strategies, and assets
. In the
interest of maintaining business process integrity, IT decision makers
should evaluate prospective mobile app development technology within a
holistic framework – one that embraces lifecycle management of business
process apps; structured content distribution, update, and access control;
security and availability of mobile tools and information; and metrics for
evaluating mobility ROI performance.

In addition to manageability and security, other key challenges face
enterprise mobility strategists:

  • Mobile platform diversity.
  • Reuse of existing desktop content.
  • Video compression technology.
  • Changes in content consumption patterns .

Currently, the two best approaches to addressing the inherent challenges
of producing broadly distributable multimedia content for small screen
devices are Responsive Web Design coding techniques, which allow
a Web server to send device-optimized content to users of browser based
apps; and Mobile App Development Platforms, which offer
write-once/run-on-many app publishing models. Because device agnostic
multimedia content is difficult to deploy, manage, and update, expect to
see many companies outsource the highly technical tasks, including
analytics, multimedia app production and cloud-based multimedia content

In addition, expect to see very credible, compelling mobile apps being
fielded by small to medium sized businesses.  A surging population of
high quality/ low cost app creation tools and services are rapidly
leveling the mobility playing field by removing barriers to entry for


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A recent survey by IDC reports that more than two-thirds of enterprise IT
decision makers believe they will become leaders in their industry by
fully adopting innovative mobility solutions. This sets the bar fairly
high for enterprise mobile solution designers because enterprise mobility
experiences will be judged against mainstream entertainment content:
Customers, partners, and employees will expect high performance, high
quality audio and video in addition to clever, engaging interaction. In
short, mobile business apps will have to deliver a superlative user
experience to be successful – not an easy or inexpensive outcome to
achieve, for the reasons outlined below.

  • Mobile Platform Diversity. This is the biggest
    impediment to audience confederation for general content developers and
    for enterprise mobile IT architects. Developers face an audience
    composed of at least a half dozen distinct device types, not including
    legacy devices among those categories. For an enterprise designing
    content intended to broadly target BYOD employees, customers, and
    partners, it will be necessary to adopt app development and management
    infrastructure that can address a very fluid, evolving device
  • Reuse of Existing Content. This has been a
    fundamental enterprise IT value for decades. However, efforts aimed at
    gracefully scaling down desktop/laptop hosted multimedia to play well on
    smart phones and tablets have largely proven unsatisfactory. To achieve
    consistent, positive user experience, different visual design approaches
    and software engineering techniques are necessary, and most existing
    large format content will have to be heavily reworked to provide good
    results on small form factor devices. One of the best options for legacy
    content recycling is Responsive Web Design technology.
  • Discerning Use of Analytics: Delivering tailored,
    targeted content based on “big data” analytics offers competitive
    advantages that cannot be ignored in the current landscape of mobile
    engagement.  But while this is an important tool, it is also
    potentially radioactive for brands and reputations.  Overplaying
    the audience segmentation card can be dangerous, in that it could create
    the impression of  surveillance.  The EU has already
    instituted strict, no nonsense user privacy rules that include serious
    penalties for infringement.  US regulation won’t be long in coming.

Current View

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The Enterprise Mobile App Trifecta

There isn’t an enterprise that won’t be touched by mobile technology, but
at the same time there aren’t many that will win their mobility bets
unless they do three things well:

  • Develop high quality apps that address enough platforms to aggregate
    key audiences.
  • Manage app lifecycles in a fully accountable way, preferably from a
    single console based interface.
  • Secure the apps, the data behind the apps, and the devices they run on
    in a way that is both consistent and auditable.

To put this another way, it’s not just about the apps. Apps may
be the face of enterprise mobility but the beating heart of the business
process is still information – that which flows outward from
enterprise to customer, partner, and employee facing apps and
that which apps collect and feed back to the enterprise. The true
potential of a mobile business is realized when these bi-directional
information flows are synthesized into actionable business intelligence,
then channeled to someone who can create value with it. It’s not a trivial
undertaking, but the benefits of success are obvious and the competitive
stakes are enormous.

Responsive Web Design vs. Mobile App Development Platforms

Responsive Web Design (RWD) techniques involve the use of program code
that queries user devices about key physical characteristics. If the
requestor is a small form factor device, then the server responds with
content that displays well at small scale and in fluid layouts. One of the
big advantages of this approach is that a single URL can serve all of the
devices used to access it. Users don’t have to go to a different place to
get content formatted appropriately for a mobile device and neither do
they have to equip their device with a specialized app container. RWD
technologies and tools are often open source, which can be a tremendous
advantage, both in terms of lowering barriers to entry and in the size and
character of developer communities of interest.

Enterprise Mobility Platform Solutions Meet a Variety of Needs

For most broad mobility strategies, an enterprise ready mobility platform
(EMP) offers a low risk, comprehensive solution. What makes a platform
‘enterprise ready’? That’s a good question, but also a bit of a moving
target. Here are the general capabilities of an EMP:

Cross-Platform Development Support: Expect to see app
development tools that make it possible to easily produce an app that can
aggregate at least 80 percent of the intended device audience without
parallel development efforts. Some EMPs do this with container
– think in this case of Adobe Flash, which runs on
hundreds of devices, but always looks more or less the same to the user.
Other EMPs use a high-level development language that can be compiled down
to different devices’ native code. Either approach has limitations, but
these are offset by cost savings in app development time and lifecycle

Centralized App Portfolio Management: Even a modest
sized enterprise can expect to accrue a portfolio of hundreds of app
titles and versions. For the apps to achieve business goals, they must be
fresh, properly deployed and configured, and frequently updated. This
rapidly becomes an enormously complex, mission-critical task. In addition,
app management activities must be auditable. EMPs can automate and monitor
this process.

Device Security and Lifecycle Management: Most
consumers replace their mobile devices about every 18 months. Sometimes
devices are lost, stolen, or compromised. Keeping track of a dynamic
population of enterprise devices is challenging even when they are
enterprise property. However, since many workers own the devices they use
to do their jobs, enterprise options may be fairly limited when it comes
to locking down devices or performing remote device wipes. A good EMP can
provide tools to secure the enterprise apps and data on a device without
unreasonably depriving the device owner of its beneficial use. The EMP can
also sunset enterprise data and apps stored on a user-owned device to help
protect back end resources and information.

High Stakes Branding Gamble: Using Analytics to Profile Audience

The expanding revelations regarding Facebook and Cambridge Analytica’s
massive non consensual data acquisition have changed the conversation for
enterprise mobile app developers.  It is plain that users are nearing a
“#MeToo” moment in their perception of device based surveillance. The era of
unquestioning acceptance of wholesale
surrender of user privacy in exchange for “free” services like webmail and
social media is over.

The EU has already articulated regulations which amount to fair,
understandable, common sense protections for internet users.  For the
US to do less will ultimately render US citizens the last soft target in the
western world for abusive data collection and profiling tools.  Of
course, enterprise can ( and probably will ) fight to fend off such
regulation, but at the cost of aligning with nefarious interests that
acquire data by any means, aggregate and profile user information into
offensively defined stereotypes and then sell that product.  This is
not the sort of company any reputable brand could benefit from keeping; and
it has much bigger reputation consequences than data breaches have had up
until now. Those, by definition, are accidental.   Going forward,
being exposed in the use of analytics to “divide and conquer” audience
segments with  tailored  messaging will reveal naked contempt for
consumers, and exposure is very likely.


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Here Comes A Big Pushback On Personal Privacy
Once in a generation, there are moments where the rules on some very
important thing suddenly change.  The the boundary dividing what is
merely shady or disreputable from what is loathsome and unconscionable can
move overnight; that motion never, ever includes a rebound of forgiveness;
and penalties are often retroactive. Being on the wrong side of history at
one of those times is very costly.   Think Harvey Weinstein and
the #MeToo movement.  We are seeing the seeds of shift like that right
now vis-a-vis mobile devices and the Always-On/Always-Connected lifestyle.

The drop of water that burst the dam of tolerant suppressed awareness on
user privacy: Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony before Congress in connection with
Cambridge Analytica’s Hat Trick of Facebook exploits. Here is a recap of the
work Cambridge Analytica did, and it gives a clear picture the company’s
repulsive disdain for democracy and wholesale disrespect for the right to

  • Cambridge Analytica scraped tens of millions of peoples’ personally
    identifiable data.  The vast majority of them never consented in
    any fashion;
  • They segregated people into stereotypic “profile groups” using
    race,  gender, socio-economics and inferred views.  And to be
    clear, the profiles were based on what Cambridge Analytica defined as
    “character flaws”  that made individuals susceptible to 
    targeted messaging designed to provoke anger, inflame hatred and stoke
  • They created tailoered messaging  and flooded the profiled users
    with advertizing and hyperbolic content to steer their political

This produced a considerable profit to both Cambridge Analytica and
Facebook.  This is not a pretty picture for democracy or civil
society. More to the point, this is not difficult to for an ordinary
person to understand and it creates massive distrust around the issue of
device based

From a purely business standpoint, there is a two part take-away. 
1) Facebook and its peers are in the business of creating ever more
aggressive surveillance machines.  They have been permitted to vacuum
up and permanently store information to which they have no moral
right.  2) People hate being spied on, and they passionately hate
those who do the spying.  It is more than a footnote here that two of
the original investors in Cambridge Analytica were Steve Bannon and Robert
Mercer.  Reckless (or even merely clumsy) use of profiling analytics
places a brand reputation solidly in that club.

Going forward, recognize that targeted consumer engagement
conversations will no longer be private.
There are open source tools
and third party services that can reverse engineer  surveillance
campaigns and profiling of user data like those used by  Cambridge
Analytica.  It would be extremely naive to fail to foresee the
emergence of  a powerful generation of transparency tools,
technologies and platforms that will broadly expose corporate surveillance
of customers and use of profiles based on stereotypes.


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Take Care to Avoid The Minefield of Addictive App Technology

There is a lot of discussion in a lot of places about the dangers of phones
taking over our lives, and this isn’t a small or underappreciated problem
anywhere in the world: Recently France banned mobile phones from all
schools. The tricky thing about addressing this issue is that it expresses
itself as a matter of degree.  For example, it is inconsiderate for a
person to have a loud phone conversation in a restaurant or on a plane; it
is rude to be immersed in a  twitter storm at grandma’s  birthday
party; and it is unthinkable to sit at the bedside of a dying relative
while  obliviously immersed in the detritus of other peoples lives
being served up by an infinite scrolling app. Fundamentally, the character
of mobile device use comes down to this: Where is the line between a bad
habit and full blown addiction?

It turns out that this exact, specific question has been at the heart of
work at Stanford’s Persuasive Technology Lab for close to 10 years. 
For about that same length of time, using this research, people with good
intentions– and people without them — have been engaged in something of an
arms race to discover how to write addictive code.  This is
not hyperbole.  The objective was to create code so compelling that
people actually need technology– need it like food, like oxygen,
or more specifically, like crack.  And once again, this is not
hyperbole.  There is a great deal of very high dollar science behind
this effort.  The research builds on work of psychologist B.F. Skinner,
who famously used an experimental device called the Skinner Box to show that
he could
induce compulsive behavior patterns in rats. All rats.

And, startlingly, Skinner’s methods transfer almost seamlessly to humans.
The reason we know this to be the case is that has been applied.  All
second generation slot machines ( the ones that don’t have mechanical levers
you have to pull ) are refinements of the Skinner box.  This has been,
depending on your point of view, either disastrously or spectacularly

  •  But what do slot machines in Vegas have to do with social media
    apps on phones? That part is easy, and everyone currently involved is up
    front about that : Both aim for inescapable domination of a user’s
    attention and exploit a scientifically proven technique to go about
    achieving that.  Skinner’s methods are  literally the key
    that unlocks the door to creating compulsive and obsessive behavior in
    humans on demand. 

Of the two kinds of things, however, the app is much more powerful and
effective at this task because it has the capacity to know vastly more about
the user, to continuously expand its knowledge and it is always in physical
proximity to the user.

An addictive app is structured to collect and correlate behavior, speech
and  eye movements, and to mine all data associated with the user,
including their social graph. If it loses the user’s focus, it can push out
cues that demand response until the user capitulates.

Author and Columbia Law School Professor Tim Wu was the first to describe
Facebook and other addictively structured apps as surveillance
Wu is a key figure in a movement
currently advocating for open source Public Interest APIs on Facebook and
other platforms. These will
accelerate the creation of services and tools to expose the use of
addictive  technology, user profiling and other malevolent technology
behaviors designed to surreptitiously manipulate people.  He has a lot
of very influential thought leaders in his corner on this.  Expect to
see the beginning of the user rights reckoning in the near future. 

No reputable brand can afford to be caught up in this. Exploitation of
addictive technology will come to light and there will be
consequences for brands and for reputations.

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Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab:
Surveillance Capitalism:

About the Author

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Nancy Nicolaisen is an author, researcher, and former
computer science professor. She specializes in solution architectures
using small mobile devices.

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