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usdotAs a statewide trade association working with industries and technologies impacting our nation and the world at-large, over the years the Mobile Technology Association of Michigan (MTAM) has formed a number of relationships with national and international associations that help us better service the needs of Michigan, and help us have influence on a national and international level. One of those relationships is with The Alliance for Transportation Innovation (ATI21.org), an organization committed to accelerating the adoption of innovative technologies that will transform the safe and efficient movement of people and goods.

Recently we became aware of an article written by Paul Brubaker, President/CEO of ATI that appeared in The Hill’s Congress Blog which provides an overview of the recently released U.S. DOT series of rules and guidelines for autonomous vehicles. As Paul indicated, this long-awaited guidance was welcomed by the industry, but on closer inspection made obvious the need for a 21st century regulatory approach and the active participation of the tech community in providing input as these regulations continue to evolve. We encourage you to read Paul’s article.

The U.S. DOT has established a 60-day comment period for stakeholders on this issue to voice their concerns. ATI has called upon every stakeholder in the technology and transportation community to take advantage of this opportunity to have input on this matter. We at MTAM, would like to add our voice to ATI’s message. We also encourage everyone involved in the connected transportation eco-system who will in any way be impacted by the final decisions reached on this matter to ensure that your input is heard. Keep in mind the lives that will be saved – and the new jobs we’ll be creating – if we get this right!

Event graphicMichigan is the global center for the automotive industry, and is now tasked with positioning itself as the center for Advanced Mobility and Connected Vehicle Technology, and nowhere is this more evident than at today’s MICHauto Summit 2015.

Over 400 participants gathered at Cobo in Detroit to interact on the challenge to promote, grow and sustain the leadership position of their own firms, and that of the state as well, in the emerging connected culture shaping Michigan’s future.

How we respond and adapt to the challenge, and work thru such obstacles as talent shortages resulting from the need for tech talent in every industry – including automotive – will shape our leadership position for future generations.

This year’s MICHauto Summit was made possible by sponsorship from over 60 organizations including: UMTRI, MDOT, MEDC and more. The Mobile Technology Association of Michigan (MTAM) was a media partner for the event.

Let’s look at some interesting facts that were shared by today’s speakers:

  • Michigan impacts the auto industry by having 23% of the assembly market with its 13 assembly plants, over 600 R&D Design Centers, and serving as the home for 61 of the top industry suppliers.
  • Michigan is leading Testing, Research and Design Services in the global vehicle market at a greater density than anywhere else in the world.
  • Talent is one of the new currencies. Starting with elementary STEM programs, boys and girls need to be made aware of the changes in the automotive industry and the great tech careers that they can have without ever leaving Michigan
  • In America, 12 – 17% of a family’s income is directed to transportation; in many other countries that figure rises to 40 – 60% of a family’s income
  • Looking at job growth on a statewide and national level, the demand is up substantially, but in Michigan the growth is explosive! (see the chart below)

MI auto job growth

MICHauto Summit participants included top executives from transportation, technology and government as well as students from across Michigan.

It was exciting to see the event’s focus on the future and the youth that will be shaping that future. TechStars Mobility’s Ted Serbinski did an excellent job of explaining TechStars’ initiatives in Detroit, including the organization’s purchase of a house in the city where participating company teams actually live together during their time at TechStars while they build their firms.

Panel sessions and speakers covered a wide array of topics along with a wrap message from Governor Snyder. The underlying message – “The future is not a destination but a journey, and in Michigan we have the opportunity to make it great!”

See the MICHauto link to learn more: http://dld.bz/dVq24

Stay tuned to MTAM blogs, podcasts, emails and social media for more useful information and resources!

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This MICHauto event re-cap was submitted by MTAM member and Ambassador, Mike Blicher of MCBNetwrx and Autotalks who was one of the MTAM representatives attending today’s MICHauto Summit 2015. Mike is also a member of MTAM’s statewide ‘Mobile in Transportation’ Advisory Council.

Technology Association of Michigan (MTAM) has launched a weekly podcast to explore all things mobile/wireless-related taking place in Michigan and to promote them internationally

podcast1DETROIT, MI – The Mobile Technology Association of Michigan (MTAM) has recently launched a weekly audio broadcast, Michigan Mobile Musings (http://BlogTalkRadio.com/MTAM), hosted on BlogTalkRadio. The interview-format show will be produced and hosted by MTAM Ambassadors, Melissa Birnie and Lisa Kosak of Grand Rapids, and will feature guests from around the state. Segments are currently 30 minutes in length, but are planned to expand to 60 minutes in the future.

As the state’s trade association representing mobile/wireless technologies, those who provide them, and those who use them, MTAM regularly seeks new ways to promote the efforts of its members, as well as to showcase companies throughout the state – in every industry – that are utilizing these technologies to improve the way we conduct business and live our lives.

The purpose of the show is to:

  • Provide a platform to educate MTAM’s statewide, national and international audience about companies in Michigan doing exciting work in the mobile/wireless space
  • Increase awareness about Michigan firms – in all industries – using these technologies to increase their productivity and profitability so they are seen as leaders in their respective fields
  • Provide education about the diverse technologies and the complete mobile/wireless eco-system
  • Promote mobile/wireless-related events, particularly those taking place in Michigan, or national/international events that will feature Michigan companies
  • Educate about current and future career opportunities available – in every industry – because of these technologies
  • Showcase Michigan-based mobile/wireless technologies educational resources that are among the leaders in the nation

Weekly segments of the show will explore the diverse types of mobile/wireless technologies; how they’re being utilized in every industry including automotive, government, healthcare, manufacturing and many others; along with companies who are providing services from apps to infrastructure to hardware and more. Additional topics will include: upcoming events, industry trends, careers, education/training available and much more!

Most in Michigan – and outside the state – have little or no awareness of the national and global leadership role that the state plays in many sectors of the mobile/wireless industry says MTAM’s Executive Director, Linda Daichendt. “Michigan is already a global leader in the Connected Vehicle space, we’re making tremendous advances in the mHealth space, and strong growth in the area of ‘Internet of Things’ is enabling Michigan firms to make significant impact in many other industries as well. It’s MTAM’s job to increase awareness of the exciting work being done here, as well as to showcase the way these technologies are creating jobs and having substantial positive impact on the state’s economy. The work Melissa and Lisa are doing with this show will greatly contribute to MTAM’s ability to put Michigan firms in the spotlight,” says Daichendt.

Listeners can access the show on the BTR site at http://BlogTalkRadio.com/MTAM, or they may access the episodes via a ‘player’ on the ‘Mobile in Michigan’ page of the MTAM website at http://www.gomobilemichigan.org/about/mobile-in-michigan.html.Guests will also be able to add the ‘player’ to their own websites to promote their appearance on the show.

Those interested in appearing as guests on the show should contact MTAM at info@GoMobileMichigan.org.
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About the Mobile Technology Association of Michigan
MTAM is a non-profit trade association for Michigan’s mobile / wireless industry. The organization’s mission is to facilitate conversation/collaboration between varied sectors of the mobile/wireless eco-system and serve as the bridge to enable diverse organizations to understand each other’s perspectives and needs in order to drive new innovation and opportunities involving these technologies; to increase the use of Michigan-based mobile/wireless technology products and services in-state, nationally and globally; to increase the productivity and profitability of every industry vertical in Michigan via the use of these technologies; to create sustainable jobs and increased entrepreneurial opportunities in the state based on the use of these technologies, thereby achieving substantial growth of Michigan’s economy; and to help the communities we serve via the use of these technologies. Information about MTAM can be found at www.GoMobileMichigan.org.

MTAM is also the statewide producer of Mobile Monday Michigan – a mobile / wireless industry networking and education organization which is a branch of the international Mobile Monday organization. Here in Michigan we currently have 4 chapters (Detroit, Ann Arbor, Lansing and Grand Rapids) with over 2800 members state-wide.

Women in MobileMany articles have been appearing lately discussing the lack of women available to fill positions utilizing mobile/wireless technologies – in every industry and at every level, as well as the possible reasons for lack of women choosing to go this direction. Given the large number of openings and tremendous shortage of skilled people to fill these openings, the problem is gaining increased attention – here in Michigan, as well as nationally – as employers seek ways to fill their ever-growing list of openings. Our education community is also seeing the challenge in recruiting women for mobile skills training where its available.

Statistics showcase the problem:

  • In middle school, 74% of girls express interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), but only 3% of high school girls select computer science as a potential college major*
  • In 1984, 37% of computer science grads were women. Today, 12% are women*
  • Women make up 50% of the U.S. workforce, but only 25% of jobs in technical or computing fields.*
  • 54% of women in tech leave their employers mid-career; double the turnover rate of men**
  • A study on Silicon Valley startups indicated only 12% of engineers and 20% of software developers are women**

Even Google has admitted that 83% of its tech employees are male. The numbers of women specifically in mobile/wireless tech careers are even lower, and harder to quantify.

As the state’s trade association for mobile/wireless technologies and all who use them, the Mobile Technology Association of Michigan (MTAM) will soon be launching a statewide ‘Women in Mobile Tech’ Advisory Council in an effort to find solutions to this issue. We will be seeking participation from women:

  • working in mobile/wireless tech,
  • working in industries where mobile/wireless tech is increasingly being utilized, or
  • interested in learning more about mobile/wireless tech and the career and business opportunities it can provide.

We will also be seeking participation from companies in every industry who are interested in aiding our efforts to bring more women into the mobile/wireless technologies field.

This Council will be chaired by Janette Phillips, formerly the Executive Director of the Michigan Council of Women in Technology (MCWT), and currently the Director of Business Development for MTAM member firm, Chrysalis Global.

We are currently seeking women who would have interest in being part of the Steering Committee for this Council who will help to define its Mission and Goals. Later announcements will be made when members are being accepted into the Council.

If Steering Committee participation is of interest to you, please contact us ASAP at info@GoMobileMichigan.org(Please note, participation in the Council and the Steering Committee does require MTAM membership. If you are not currently a member of MTAM but want to be involved, information about Business and Individual memberships can be found at http://GoMobileMichigan.org/membership).

We look forward to hearing from you, and to working with you to build a broader array of mobile-related opportunities for women across our State while increasing awareness among women and girls regarding the career and business opportunities to be found in every industry as a result of mobile/wireless technologies.

 

*Statistics from the Christian Science Monitor, ‘Why so Few Women in Tech’.

** Statistics from TechRepublic, ‘The State of Women in Technology’.

Are you a Michigan-based firm that is utilizing mobile/wireless technologies in some way within your firm, and exhibiting at the upcoming Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January? If so, we’d like to speak with you.

As the first state-focused mobile/wireless technologies trade association in the U.S., the Mobile Technology Association of Michigan (MTAM) provides a unique opportunity to help you promote your products/services not only statewide, but also nationally and internationally.

Being a non-profit organization we are focused on increasing the use of these technologies in every industry in order to achieve job and business creation in Michigan which ultimately results in positive economic growth for the State.

We want to help you!

Therefore, if you are a Michigan-based firm, or a non-Michigan-based firm having a Michigan location, we would like to schedule time at CES for our representative to meet with you to learn about your products/services and discuss how we might be able to assist your business.

Appointment space is limited, so if interested in meeting with our representative at CES please contact us at info@GoMobileMichigan.org. We will need:

  • your name
  • job title
  • company name
  • email
  • direct phone number
  • web address

Once we receive your information an MTAM representative will contact you to schedule a meeting at CES as long as slots remain available.

We look forward to hearing from you and learning about the great mobile/wireless-related work you are doing in Michigan!

This headline is terrifying to me!  It stems from a situation at Rochester Adams High School involving 31 students – all 16 or younger – where several teens took pictures of a female teen – also under 16 – engaged in a sexual act; the photos were taken without her knowledge. That was bad enough – then they shared the photos with all their friends, who also shared them.  You get the picture. See local news coverage HERE.

As the leader of a trade association focused on increasing the use of mobile technologies, you might think that my next statement is an unusual position to take, but I feel it is a necessary one. In my opinion, as an industry, we must help parents come up with some sort of an evaluation tool to help them determine if their teens are utilizing mobile devices responsibly – before they do something which can adversely impact the rest of their lives.

Until that tool has been achieved, to me the next best thing is to work with parent groups (such as PTA’s) to train them to effectively ensure that their teens and young adults are fully aware of the adverse results of inappropriate use of these devices, and then for parents to implement consequences for irresponsible use.

It is imperative that parents stress to their children that mobile devices are not to be used for:

  • bullying
  • sexting
  • texting while driving

or any other irresponsible use. Parents must become educated on the many ways technologies are being used by teens so they can effectively monitor their use and ensure that the devices are being used according the family morals and values that are being taught at home. They must also become aware of the legal implications of those irresponsible actions. I think it unlikely that any of those Rochester Adams High teens – or their parents – ever thought that there was a possibility that they could be looking at 10 years+ in prison because of an action they took with their mobile device.

We all know, teens as a whole don’t tend to think about the long-term implications of the actions they take. Therefore it is up to the adults in their lives to help them understand the potential results of irresponsible actions in an effort to prevent them.

The Mobile Technology Association of Michigan (MTAM) would like to assist in this effort and if any parent groups are interested in hosting a speaker on this topic, please contact us. We will work with you to make a speaker available to provide information that will help parents feel confident that they are doing everything they can to ensure their children are using mobile technologies responsibly. If this is of interest, please reach out to us at info@GoMobileMichigan.org or complete the speaker request form on our website.

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Linda Daichendt is the Executive Director of the Mobile Technology Association of Michigan, a Co-founder of Mobile Monday Michigan, a Co-host/Co-producer of the international mobile marketing podcast series, ‘The Mobile Marketing Review’ and a Co-host of the ‘This Week in Small Business Technology’ podcast series on the Michigan Business Network. She is also a Board Member for the Michigan STEM Partnership.

Linda is an accomplished marketer and award-winning blogger, and one of Michigan’s leading proponents of the use of mobile technologies for businesses of all sizes – and in all verticals. She is a recognized business expert with 20+ years of corporate, small business and franchising experience.

A 14-year resident of her adopted home state of Michigan, Linda’s daily focus is on educating Michigan business, government and education stakeholders about the opportunities that mobile/wireless technologies provide to substantially grow Michigan’s economy, as well as insuring the ability for all Michigan residents to benefit from the jobs and businesses created by mobile/wireless technologies.

Jobs graphicIt seems like everywhere you go these days people are talking about connectivity; connected cars, smart homes, smart watches, etc. But what is not clear in all these conversations is what it all means – for our futures, for jobs, for our communities, etc.

First, it might be helpful to understand that many different terms are being used to talk about just one thing – mobile technologies. Some call it ‘connected’, some call it ‘mobility’, some call it ‘wireless’, some call it ‘smart’ – at the end of the day, it all comes back to the same thing, new ways of doing things driven by many different types of mobile technologies.

So understanding the terminology is one thing – but what does all this ‘connectivity’ translate into in terms of jobs? Well, let’s look at some of the projections:

  • Today there are 10 Billion+ connected objects; by 2020 there will be at least 50 Billion and some studies are predicting in excess of 70 Billion
  • As a result of connected technologies:
    • 220,000 new engineers will be required every year between 2014 and 2022
    • 600,000 more manufacturing jobs in the U.S. driven by automation and supply-chain data
    • 300,000 new data analysts to bring intelligent decisions to ‘Big Data’
    • $202 Billion in increased automotive revenue
    • $69 Billion in increased healthcare revenue
    • $445 Billion in increased consumer products revenue
    • $36 Billion in increased utilities revenue
    • Wireless broadband investment will create as many as 205,000 U.S. jobs by 2015
    • The worldwide smart grid market will grow from $20 Billion in 2010 to $100 billion by 2030
    • Wireless economic contributions have grown faster (16%) than the rest of the economy (3%)
    • Wireless jobs pay greater than 50% more than the average of other production workers
    • U.S. 4G wireless network investments will be up to $53 Billion by 2016; resulting in up to $151 Billion in GDP growth and up to 771,000 jobs being created.

So what’s the bottom line on all this? JOBS!  Lots of jobs, in every industry – tremendous numbers of currently available jobs going unfilled because we don’t have people qualified to fill them – and many future jobs you’ve never yet heard of because they don’t yet exist!

And if connected technologies are creating all these jobs, obviously its in our best interest to make certain we have the people to fill them. This is an endeavor that the Mobile Technology Association of Michigan (MTAM) is committed to, and we’re happy to see that other organizations in our community are just as committed to this effort.

We believe it to be very important to share the thoughts of other organizations involved in this work to help broaden awareness of what is being done, therefore below is a re-print of a recent article from Lisa Katz, Executive Director of the Workforce Intelligence Network (WIN) that first appeared in Crain’s Detroit. This article is re-published here with Lisa’s permission.

We encourage readers to pay close attention to her message and to take it to heart. The sooner you, your firm, your educational institution, your government, etc. become involved in adapting to our new future, the sooner we all will reap its rewards!

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In a connected world, shift happens

by Lisa Katz, Workforce Intelligence Network (WIN)

In just a five-year time period in Southeast Michigan, the number of online job postings for information technology jobs climbed 55 percent.  This was just after the recession and leading into an economic future that, while arguably more stable, certainly has not been a boom time in our region.

These new jobs did not come primarily from a core of NASDAQ-listed IT companies.   In this region, IT job demand comes from numerous industry clusters: automotive, banking and finance, health care, and logistics, just to name a few.  This is because information technology is being infused into nearly every facet of business and has become almost completely integrated into our daily lives.

For example, this year it was announced that Roush would be assembling self-driving Google cars in Allen Park.  WIN has participated in several meetings in the last year that explore how the region can capitalize on job growth. There are many new economic opportunities that come with the emerging (and possibly inevitable) connected automotive industry. Some experts forecast that by 2024, a driverless car will be optional for all new vehicle purchasers, and by 2044 they will be mandatory.

That sounds like a long way off, but we are approaching these benchmarks incrementally.  Recently, while driving to dinner in a new Ford Escape, my husband began to parallel park on the streets of downtown Rochester.  He hit a button and announced:  “Kids, mark the date: Oct. 21, 2014.  Today is the first day you rode in a car that parked itself.  Someday you’ll laugh while you tell your kids how people used to have to drive their own cars.”

Indeed, connectivity is changing the way we think about cars, but also life in general.  Connected toothbrushes can tell us how long we should brush and whether we have missed a spot.  Connected refrigerators can tell us whether it is time to buy new milk or whether the chicken is about to go bad.  And the technology exists that would allow a refrigerator to transmit an inventory of needs to a grocery store, which then could have the necessary items delivered direct-to-home.

Gregg Garrett, head of the local innovation-consulting firm, CGS Advisors, is fond of reminding me that, today, only about 1 percent of items that could be connected actually are.  Of course, this will rapidly change.

Technology has been shifting exponentially for years.  According to one of my favorite videos, Did You Know?, in the year 1900, human knowledge doubled every 100 years, in 1945 every 25 years, and in 2014 every 13 months.

By 2020, human knowledge will double every 12 hours, and by 2017, a supercomputer will be built that exceeds the computational capabilities of the human brain.

By 2049, a $1,000 computer will have more computational power than the entire human species.  Several other theorists, like Ray Kurzwell, who produced a great visual of this phenomenon, agree.

So what does all of this mean for Southeast Michigan?  First, while we cannot ignore issues like math and reading literacy, we certainly cannot ignore digital literacy. The very way we work will change as a result of technology, and if we do not embrace the idea that everyone can and should learn to be at least good users and navigators of technology (if not developers and creators), we do a disservice to our whole community.

Efforts like the planning that will shape Mayor Duggan’s Detroit Innovation District can and should explore how to maximize opportunities for companies and workers in a new economy increasingly dependent on technology.

Second, everyone must re-think attitudes and mindsets related to learning.  Once again, according to the video Did You Know?:

  • 65 percent of today’s grade schoolers will hold jobs that do not yet exist.  “We are currently preparing students for jobs that don’t exist using technologies that haven’t been invented in order to solve problems that we don’t even know are problems yet.”
  • 90 percent of the world’s data has been generated in the past two years.  The amount of new technical information is doubling every 2 years.    “For students starting a 4 year technical degree, this means that half of what they learn in their first year of study will be outdated by their third year of study.”

Employers will need to make new investments in their workers. For example many companies spend more on coffee than on important training for their employees. Of course, workers will need to shift and commit to the idea of lifelong learning as being a given. Likewise, education and training institutions will need to shift the strategies and resources that help both of these groups adapt to ever-changing talent needs. We will have to teach our young people how to think creatively and flexibly, dealing with problems that have not even been defined.  Schools, like Oakland University, already are teaching engineers and business leaders what the connected world will mean for the future of engineering and work in general: more people should be having this conversation.

These ideas may sound like a tall order, but it is highly unlikely that the pace of technological change will slow. Without acknowledging that shift happens, Michigan’s lost decade could become a lost century for those who cannot or will not adapt.

This conversation is happening now, and we must begin the conversation, set a vision, and pursue a plan that will secure Southeast Michigan’s place in a more connected future.

wifiAs the use of smartphones continues to increase among the residents of Michigan, so too increases the demand for Wi-Fi access to enable anytime, anywhere access without having to impact the data plan maximums that are part of most mobile subscriber’s packages. Surprising to many, Michigan is among the leading states nationally with regard to Wi-FI access, and in a recent article submitted to MTAM (Mobile Technology Association of Michigan) by Felicity Dryer, the author details the progress our state has been making in enabling Wi-Fi access to meet consumer demand.

by Felicity Dryer

Connect Michigan has spent the past few years conducting annual surveys of Michigan businesses. These surveys focused on how businesses in the state use technology and the Internet. The data clearly show Michigan businesses are continuing to increase their internet usage, while also showing a need for faster speeds.

Some of the 2014 Connect Michigan survey’s data includes:

  • Broadband usage. About 80% of Michigan businesses use high-speed Internet on a daily basis, up from 69% three years earlier.
  • More demand. About 40% of businesses would like to have access to faster Internet speeds than they can achieve currently.
  • Cloud services. About 25% of Michigan businesses make use of cloud computing services.
  • Online presence. About 65% of businesses have a Web site currently, up from 50% from four years ago.
  • Big sales. Businesses in the state recorded $71.7 billion in online sales in 2013.

The survey also showed about 51% of businesses in the state with 50 or more employees allow their workers to telecommute, a number that’s doubled from four years ago. This shows the growing need for members of the public in the state to also have access to a reliable, high-speed Internet service. Many times this service will involve a Wi-Fi network.

Public Wi-Fi Options

Michigan is one of the leading states in America when it comes to offering large-scale public Wi-Fi access areas, trailing behind only California, as you can see from the infographic attached here. The University of Michigan’s engineering department has even spent time exploring the possibility of creating a public Wi-Fi network that expands across the entire United States.

And when it comes to gaining Wi-Fi connectivity at your favorite Michigan sports arena, whether it’s in Ann Arbor, East Lansing, or Detroit, things are improving. Consider these recent announcement and improvements regarding Wi-Fi at Michigan’s largest pro and college sports arenas:

  • Detroit Lions. Ford Field saw installation of a new wireless access service a couple of years ago, giving fans more reliable Wi-Fi options. Ford Field was among the earliest installers of wireless connectivity among NFL stadiums.
  • Detroit Pistons. The NBA’s Palace at Auburn Hills may have the most extensive wireless network in a Michigan sports stadium or arena after a summer 2014 upgrade.
  • Detroit Red Wings. Joe Lewis Arena’s setup provides basic Wi-Fi service, although the NHL team is looking at options for a new arena that would have extensive wireless connectivity services.
  • Detroit Tigers. No Wi-Fi service currently exists at baseball’s Comerica Park, but new services are in the works.
  • Michigan State University. The Michigan State athletic department has plans on the board for a $2 million Wi-Fi upgrade service at Spartan Stadium for football.
  • University of Michigan. Michigan Stadium experienced an extensive upgrade of its in-stadium Wi-Fi system over summer 2014, hoping to better serve the 100,000-plus-seat football stadium and the surrounding tailgate areas.

The infographic below contains more information on WiFi in the U.S. and abroad. You may learn something new!

Cities with the Best Wi-Fi Coverage
Cities with the Best Wi-Fi Coverage Created by: ForRent.com

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Felicity Dryer is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles, California. Originally a health writer, she has begun to branch out into writing about technology, which has been a passion of hers since she was young. In her free time, she enjoys hosting game nights with her friends and spending her warm days on the beach.

This article was originally published in the newsletter of our MTAM member firm, Logic Solutions of Ann Arbor, and was written by a member of their Marketing team, Louie Davis. The article is reprinted here with the firm’s permission.

The Mobile Technology Association of Michigan (MTAM) is a strong advocate for the use of mobile / wireless technologies in every business vertical. This article does an excellent job of helping to increase awareness of the capabilities of those technologies in the business environment.

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Mobile Business Apps and the Mobile Tipping Point

mobile in manufacturing 3At the turn of the decade, technology analysts and investors bet that enterprise mobile applications would revolutionize business activity akin to the way they changed social and consumer behavior.

It’s clear that their gamble has paid off:

In the past two years, enterprise mobile applications have gone viral. iOS and Android device adoption is growing 10 times faster than PC adoption did in the 1980s. 88% of organizations surveyed by IBM currently offer, or are expected to adopt, mobile versions of websites AND mobile apps in 2013. According to Forbes, 94% of Fortune 500 companies are testing or deploying iPads. By 2015, mobile app development projects will outnumber PC projects by a 4-to-1 ratio.

Mobile business apps for smart devices are a permanent and increasingly large piece of the business IT puzzle, not a transient fad.

Executives from every corner of the economy recognize a powerful upside to mobile technology, and they’re investing accordingly. Whether you work in a hospital, a factory, a classroom, or a retail store, employee-facing mobile apps are workforce productivity engines, making every day responsibilities and processes more efficient.

Mobile business apps can increase a company’s overall productivity and reduce labor, materials, and operating costs. Early adopters of internal-facing mobile business apps are already enjoying increased productivity, reduced paperwork and increased revenue thanks to streamlined workflow and communications.

Similarly, with nearly 120 million Americans owning a Smartphone and 22% of adults owning tablets, customer-facing mobile apps are equally gainful. This channel offers exciting long-term opportunities for companies to extend their brand, deepen B2C and B2B/B2R engagement, and generate revenue.

But before your company can realize ROI from employee- or customer-facing mobile app, you need a well-mapped mobile strategy.

Custom Mobile Business App Strategy

The ash heap of failed mobile apps is littered with ambitious, creative ideas but poor strategy. Here are some questions your company should flush out when designing a mobile strategy:

Why?

Why is the app being developed? Define the pain points your app will be designed to alleviate. Detail your expected return on investment, whether that be in cost savings from streamlined processes, increased sales from reaching more consumers, creating brand awareness and engaging a larger audience, improving communications, etc. Understand at the outset what makes your investment worth it to you, then build from there.

Who?

Who will use the app? Employees? The general public? Account holders? Partners? Independent Reps? Retailers and distributors? Fans and subscribers? All of the above?

It is imperative for businesses to understand their target audiences through careful analysis and measurement. By understanding these connections, the mobile app’s strategic focus will sharpen.

Which?

Choosing a mobile development approach is highly contingent on your audiences’ device tendencies. Reaching the broadest audience is obviously best, but sometimes budget can be a limiting factor in deploying on multiple platforms.

Do your users prefer iOS, Android, or both? Smartphones and/or tablets? If you are creating an app for internal use, does your company have a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy, or does it plan on issuing common-platform work-only devices for employees?

What and How?

Knowing what your app will do might be the easy part, and you’ve probably had that idea in your head from the beginning. Fleshing out how it will do it can get trickier.

Will your app require and/or function best on a smartphone or tablet? Will your app require internet access? Do you need to retain the information that is being transmitted? Do you need the app to talk to other IT systems? Are there security issues?

One of the biggest questions is this: mobile web or native app?

Mobile Web or Native App

Mobile websites are traditional websites that have been optimized for the small screens sizes of smartphones and tablets. They look like apps, but are accessed through the device’s browser, using your existing URL.

Mobile web’s strengths lie in its cross-platform nature, its searchability, its relative ease-of-construction, and content delivery: it simplifies navigation by highlighting the most critical information to your visitors and customers.

Native apps are more appropriate for workforce productivity solutions and deeper marketing and customer engagement possibilities. They provide a “stickier” engagement experience and can also draw on native device capabilities and other options for increasing productivity, loyalty and monetization. Some of these features include data integration, GPS location functions, image manipulation, forms and surveys, event planning, content management, VOIP, and much more. Additionally, they may not require a constant Internet connection to operate.

Native apps are usually a more substantial investment than mobile websites. Programming is more sophisticated, and may need to be done in separate languages for different platforms. However, new tools are making cross-platform development less expensive than ever before.

Conclusion

Challenging financial times prevented many companies from investing in new technologies, but that is changing in a big way. One technology paper writes that, “If 2012 was a year of ‘wait and see,’ for business technology, 2013 will be a year to ‘go for it.'”

The mobile tipping point is here: thousands of companies—big and small—are already capitalizing on the ability of mobile business applications to increase workforce productivity and to reduce their labor, materials, and operating costs. Thousands more are using them to deepen customer engagement, brand loyalty, and to generate revenue.

In order to capitalize on this potential, understanding your full range of business software options is important.

Founded in 1995, Logic Solutions, Inc. is a privately held minority-owned corporation with headquarters in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and offices in California and China. Logic Solutions provides technology solutions and services including mobile strategy consultation and application development, custom web applications, and comprehensive websites for businesses across the United States.  Website:  http://logicsolutions.com

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About the Mobile Technology Association of Michigan:

The Mobile Technology Association of Michigan (MTAM) is a Michigan-based non-profit trade association for the mobile / wireless industry. Our mission is to grow the industry within the state by increasing demand for Michigan-based mobile / wireless technology products and services, thereby generating increased entrepreneurial and enterprise-level opportunities and creating sustainable jobs for Michigan residents.

MTAM sponsors Michigan-based growth of the Mobile Monday organization which to-date boasts 2300+ members in chapters located in Ann Arbor, Detroit, Grand Rapids and Lansing; performs research for members and other interested parties; facilitates idea sharing, entrepreneurial programs, training programs and jobs creation; acts as a liaison with the mobile / wireless technology community inside and outside of Michigan; and serves as a resource for all things related to the mobile / wireless industry. MTAM’s website can be found at http://GoMobileMichigan.org.