Looking for the Next Killer App?
BY MICHAEL DURANCE
Everyone is looking for the next killer app.
They wonder if it will be something wireless, something better than e-mail,
and if it will change the way we use computers in the future. The reality is
the next big killer app will be none of those things. In fact, the next big
thing isnï¿½t a killer app at all. Itï¿½s the killer ï¿½enabler.ï¿½
A killer enabler focuses on the individual user
by allowing technology to be customized to create a unique killer app to
each userï¿½s unique needs and preferences. The next big killer enabler is
likely to be an always-connected wireless/wireline solution that allows
workers to be productive wherever they go. Whether itï¿½s mobility at the
campus level or all over the world, the infrastructure is there for complete
mobility of voice and data applications that can roam network to subnet and
LAN to WAN, (private to public), keeping the user connected the entire time,
without even a hiccup.
For instance, you will be able to have a conversation using your laptop,
PDA, tablet PC, or whatever device you want to use via a softphone (software
that lets you have all the functionality of your desktop telephone on your
mobile device). You might use an earpiece just like you do with your cell
phone, and this device can replace your cell phone. If you choose to, you
can have a single device that does it all, the footprint of which will
With the development and availability of these wireless communication
enablers, it might even be considered just a habit to utilize a wired phone
today, especially within the corporate world. There are no obvious reasons
why companies have not yet switched over to wireless phones. Doing away with
cables and wires saves money and enables users to have more flexibility.
Whether you think you need it or not, technologies that support mobility
will change the way we live and work.
Integrating devices and applications just makes sense. You will be able to
talk on this softphone and access data on your device, whether you are at
your desk or in the conference room at your companyï¿½s campus location.
Without disconnecting, re-authenticating, and reconnecting, you will be able
to go out to your car, drive to a client meeting, first stopping off at
Starbucks for a caffeine fix, and then arrive at your clientï¿½s office, while
staying connected the whole time. Hopefully, you wonï¿½t be reading e-mail
while youï¿½re driving.
You will be able to check inventory or access data while you are at your
clientï¿½s office and actually perform transactions. Being always connected
lets users transact business, not just get information. Adoption will be
driven by the almighty dollar, not some elusive desire to use technology for
technologyï¿½s sake, so the ROI is essential to the emergence of the killer
app. Companies developing the ingredients to the always-connected model are
founded in the reality that providing customer service and getting your job
done requires mobility with connectivity, not one or the other, but both at
the same time. They know the killer enabler must drive ROI, fit business
practice needs, and give third-party developers the ability to support,
expand, and customize applications. The real value is giving users the
ability to create their own ï¿½killer appï¿½ empowering users to use technology
how, where, and when they want to use it.
Many vertical markets are strong candidates for deployment. Industries like
retail and education are poised to drive the always-connected model. They
already use PDAs in many cases and are comfortable with being mobile. And
new verticals will jump on the bandwagon. A good example is the medical
industry. Doctors are inherently mobile. A doctor makes rounds, sees
patients, eats at the hospital cafeteria, but spends very little time at his
desk. Using a PDA that is always connected would allow a doctor to access
patient information, send e-mail to pharmacies for prescriptions, and would
also allow others to stay in contact with him or her.
For virtually any type of business, there is value to being able to extend
the enterprise to the road. With the always-connected model, most of the
data can reside at the office and be accessed by the person using the PDA or
laptop when itï¿½s needed. There is no reason to have all that data jam-packed
onto a mobile device. Bandwidth ï¿½ for the purpose of staying connected ï¿½ is
another barrier, but it is one that is being resolved in the public network,
partially driven by the entertainment industry. If they can successfully
download feature-length movies, then other data files are a cinch.
While it will start with vertical markets, most, if not all consumers will
love this technology as well. As costs come down, we can expect horizontal
acceptance. It will become very cost effective to have a single device that
is unified on the LAN and WAN. In addition to helping to consolidate
portable devices, you might also do away with your wired phone as well,
because your softphone will go everywhere with you. From one device, users
will be able to talk on the phone, access data, check e-mail, surf the Web,
and even use GPS systems to get directions or figure out why they are lost.
The only question is, are we really ready for the 24/7 electronic leash? If
only we can learn to turn it off now and then.
Michael Durance is the vice
president/general manager for Toshibaï¿½s telecommunication systems division.
For more information, please visit the company online at
To The August 2004 Table Of Contents ]