TIL: Microsoft Azure offers Mobile Backend as a Service

Guess who quietly entered the mBaaS arena? Microsoft! I say quietly because I had no idea and well…my RSS feed is subscribed to every technical blog known to mankind. Also, just to clarify the Azure mBaaS isn’t just for Windows, but for all the major platforms.

Who woulda thunk it?

Crazy couple of days for MSFT. Ben Affleck becomes the new CEO of MSFT, Steve Ballmer becomes the new Batman, and Azure offers mBaaS for iOS, Android, and Windows.


Placebo Buttons

Holy Cow! Buttons really are a hack!

You Are Not So Smart

The Misconception: All buttons placed around you do your bidding.

The Truth: Many public buttons are only there to comfort you.

Placebo Button

You press the doorbell button, you hear the doorbell ring. You press the elevator button, it lights up. You press the button on the vending machine, a soft drink comes rattling down the chute.

Your whole life, you’ve pressed buttons and been rewarded. It’s conditioning at its simplest – just like a rat pressing a lever to get a pellet of food.

The thing about buttons, though, is there seems to be some invisible magic taking place between the moment you press them down and when you get the expected result. You can never really be sure you caused the soft drink to appear without opening up the vending machine to see how it works.

Maybe there’s a man inside who pulls out the can of soda and puts…

View original post 1,032 more words

Free Coffee and Enterprise Apps


It’s 8:45pm on a Wednesday night, and I’ve triumphantly returned to the office with an order of 2 large pizzas, fried mushrooms, beer, and chocolate whoopee pies — all paid for by the company. After dinner the team and I retreat back to our custom-made steel desks, recline in our Harmon Kardon chairs, and power up a vast array of electronic devices to the backdrop of classic rock playing over the speakers via AirPlay:

  • 24 inch monitors – Check
  • Mac Book Pro – Check
  • iPhone – Check
  • iPad – Check
  • Nexus 4 – Check
  • and freshly brewed coffee. – Check

If you don’t already know, these are the staples of the 21st century knowledge worker and free coffee is no longer a job perk. It’s a requirement.

The workplace is evolving rapidly, and with it, so are the tools necessary to keep employees happy, engaged, and productive. And by the way, the toolset now includes smartphones and mobile apps. We take it for granted but it’s amazing to think that four years ago the iPhone was just an iPod you could make a phone call on and “browse” the web. Today, the vast majority of knowledge workers now use their personal smartphones (BYOD) to check email, make business calls, edit documents, perform knowledge work, and of course play candy crush saga. The smartphone and the apps installed upon them have become enormous productivity enhancers. So much that according to SAP, companies with a mature mobile strategy have:

Almost 2x employee productivity
Almost 4x higher margins
Over 20% lower customer churn

So if mobile is so critical to a company’s success, where are all of the enterprise app stores?

Despite the fact that:

94% of CTOs believe that mobility will be important. (Altimiter 2013)
65% of CTOs believe mobile support for employees is a critical priority. (Forrester 2012)

Enterprises have been dreadfully slow in meeting the needs of the mobile workforce. To be fair, mobile is still in its infancy but ponder this:

Next year’s graduating class from colleges and universities was born in 1992. These digital natives have spent their entire lives using mobile phones and the internet. They will inevitably expect and demand better work tools (read: enterprise mobile apps) and better coffee.

Food for thought: Why UX Matters

As a mobile app consultant one of the things I struggle with is how to articulate the value of good User Experience (UX). Why should we do it? Why should clients pay for it? Etc. UX is hard to draw a box around. It’s difficult to quantify much less express in terms of ROI. Nonetheless, I think we can all agree that good UX is important. But why is it important?

The other day my colleague Jason and I were discussing my frustration with the customer service at the local McDonalds. Jason laughed at me and remarked: “No matter how bad the service gets, you’re still gonna go buy a Quarter Pounder”. Unfortunately, Jason’s right. I do love a Quarter Pounder w/Cheese. But what if there was another McDonald’s that was equidistant (or even further out) from our office with better service? Wouldn’t I go there instead? The answer is absolutely yes! Buy why?

If all I really care about is the Quarter Pounder w/Cheese, then why would my experience matter? To quote my 5-year-old nephew: “Because it does!”


Ponder this: How much would you pay for a great meal? How much more would you pay for a great experience?

We all want and deeply desire a good UX…in everything. Whether you’re purchasing a happy meal, an app, or a service, good UX is part of what we’re paying for.

In product development terms, the UX is part of what people are buying from you (even if your app or mobile site is free). No matter how compelling the vision, no matter how many great features you’ve built into the app, poor UX will send the user packing down the road — probably to your closest competitor.

So here’s my advice. Spend the time (and money) on the UX design of your apps. Think critically about how the UI and features will impact the UX of your users. I promise it will be well worth the effort and yield long-lasting returns.

Now if anyone needs me, I’m really in the mood for McDonalds!

Thought of the Day: Facebook has a business model. Why you should care.

I’m not sure how it happened but I’ve become a mini-financial advisor for several of my Phamily members. As a result, I’ve been thinking a lot about Facebook’s latest stock surge which is more or less a direct result of their latest earnings report.

I won’t bore you with the stats but here’s my key takeaway:

41% of Facebook’s revenue came from mobile…and that number is climbing. Despite the fact that I routinely get dating ads for “Biker Chicks”, the ad model appears to be working. More importantly, the business model appears to be working.

I’ve come to realize that this has major implications, not just from an investor’s point of view, but also from a business,consumer, and advertiser’s point of view. Between Google and Facebook, they account for 70% of all mobile ad revenues. Estimates are that in 2013, Google will rake in $8B (double that of 2011) and Facebook will take in $2B in mobile ad revenue.

Two years ago FB had ZERO mobile ad revenue.

Businesses need to start planning their mobile strategy immediately…or not. I guess if you’re lucky you can always sell your dying business to Jeff Bezos.