Amazon Echo and its future in healthcare

Image courtesy of the Amazon Media Room

I fell hard for Amazon Echo when I bought the first one for my home office. It kicked off a new hobby for me in tinkering with smart home technologies. Alexa is hooked up to lights around my house. I also have plans for more smart home projects in 2017. Lately, I’ve been doing some practical thinking about how Amazon Echo could influence the future of healthcare.

While I watched my own health insurance rates sky rocket, ObamaCare exchanges implode, and the lack of accountability for it all I’ve come to expect from our politicians, I do see a glimmer of hope in the creative applications of technology in healthcare especially in elder care and telehealth might help fix some of the damage being done by our politicians to the health insurance system in this country.

In particular, I’ve very interested in the potential of Amazon Alexa for medication reminders and other alerts for the elderly. Even Jeff Bezos sees a big future for Alexa in healthcare. There are already some Alexa users coming up with ingenious ways to use Alexa to care for their disabled and aging family members including opening up the family member’s world to audio books and being able to monitor the family member’s interactions with Alexa throughout the day.

On a related note, when QVC first began to sell to Amazon Alexa, I saw it as the device crossing a major adoption hurdle taking the device beyond early adopters, techies, and e-commerce die hards into a whole new audience. When Alexa gets into an even wider customer base, the charm of Alexa skills gives way to practical home applications and opens the door even further into potential healthcare applications.

David E. Williams in Amazon Echo’s Alexa has great potential in healthcare points out it’s a device that patients and doctors can use equally well and that a patient could use the same device at home that was used in the hospital. Alexa is hands free (a bonus for the elderly and injured.

While I did a quick search through the skills available in the Alexa app. I would describe the Health & Fitness category is still growing. However, I think I might have gotten a step ahead of myself. The Alexa Fund and some of the projects its funding or will fund are going to help dictate a lot about the future of Alexa in healthcare.

Final thoughts

What I think will be interesting to see if Amazon Web Services (AWS) and healthcare IT firms begin to build services offering around Amazon Alexa. That’ll be an inflection point when I think Amazon Alexa’s healthcare future will be undeniable. Alexa could join the league of other technologies like wearables to help improve healthcare outcomes.

Do you see a future for Alexa in healthcare? Why? Why not?


Hi! My name is Will Kelly. I’m a technical writer and analyst based in the Washington, DC area. I’ve worked with clients like NetApp, Dell, and NeuStar to develop technical, training, and thought leadership content. My articles have been published by TechBeacon, Projects@Work, CNET TechRepublic, Network World, Toolbox.com, ZDNet.com, and others. Follow me on Twitter:@willkelly.

Mobilizing your corporate content in 2016


As a technical writer, I have a keen interest in mobile content management and how a mobile workforce can best interact with corporate documents anytime, anywhere, from any device. Looking forward, I think 2016 could be a good year for mobilizing corporate content but not without some challenges.

Challenges to mobilizing content in 2016

Here are some challenges that remain in 2016 for mobilizing corporate content:

Security
A top challenge to mobilizing corporate content remains security. The enterprise mobility management (EMM)/mobile device management market (MDM) saw some consolidation in recent years. The end user experience for these platforms varies with end users in some organizations not pleased with secure containers.

SharePoint
Collaboration platforms, in particular Microsoft SharePoint can pose another challenge to mobilizing corporate content. Getting past this challenges starts by having to get your SharePoint house in order as whole.Opening up SharePoint to mobile users means:

  • Opening up your network with virtual private network (VPN) access
  • Reviewing your SharePoint licensing
  • Convincing your user community to try using SharePoint again
  • Moving to Microsoft Office 365 (potentially)

The soon to launch SharePoint 2016 could help move the whole SharePoint and mobility story to a new chapter.

Commoditization of cloud storage and collaboration
While mobile collaboration champions point to issues around SharePoint and mobility, I’m going to go out on a limb and say the commoditization of cloud storage and cloud collaboration of the past few years is another challenge to mobilizing corporate content in 2016. Dropbox and Box amongst some other providers made some strategic moves.

Data governance
Unless there’s a watchful eye of a compliance auditor, it can be easy to ignore data governance for some organizations. I recommend that enterprises review data ownership prior to going to Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and advise the same when mobilizing your corporate content in 2016.

Content fragmentation
Huddle, a startup cloud collaboration platform vendor (and Microsoft SharePoint challenger), created a white paper entitled Content collaboration for the mobile workforce captures another issue that I’ve seen dog enterprise content for years:

Content fragmentation is another issue. The vast majority of enterprise content is locked away in separate, siloed desktops, email, mobile, personal storage, and cloud environments. The problem is set to get worse too: the volume of content being produced is increasing exponentially every day, much of it duplicated and the vast majority of it only viewed once.

Mobility as a game changer

I wrote about mobile apps from Colligo and harmon.ie when I was freelancing for CNET TechRepublic. Both company’s mobile offerings along with Microsoft Office 365 are bright spots amongst the challenges facing enterprises wanting to mobilize their content. While I’m a fan of the SharePoint mobile client apps from both, there might be some need for end user training depending on the SharePoint culture in your organization prior to you mobilizing your corporate content.

My 2016 predictions about mobilizing corporate content

Here are my predictions for mobilizing content in 2016:

  1. Blackberry’s assimilation of the Good Technology platform stalls in 2016 as leadership and senior developers on the Good Technology side leave the company.
  2. More powerful tablets including the iPad Pro open up more opportunities for mobilizing corporate content in 2016, but the adoption of these new tablets won’t be enough to help mobilize corporate content in the new year.
  3. Consolidation in the MDM marketplace continues at an even quicker pace through 2016.
  4. A third party mobile SharePoint client developer becomes an acquisition target for Microsoft.
  5. Another EMM/MDM vendor pulls a Globo PLC winnowing that market down even further.
  6. Application programming interfaces (APIs) play an increasingly important role in mobilizing corporate content in 2016.
  7. An identity management provider suffers a security breach catastrophic to their client’s data in 2016 leading to sweeping changes in that market.

Final thoughts

I’ve had the pleasure to see the mobile and collaboration technologies up close in the past few years. What I hope to see in 2016 are more corporations find the right balance between technology, mobility, and data governance to mobilize their content securely.

Are you mobilizing your corporate content in 2016?

Will Kelly is a technical writer and analyst based in the Washington, DC area. He has worked with commercial, federal, higher education, and publishing clients to develop technical and thought leadership content. His technology articles have been published by CNET TechRepublic, Government Computer News, Federal Computer Week, Toolbox.com, ZDNet.com and others. Follow Will on Twitter:@willkelly.

Image by William Iven via Unsplash.com

Disruptive mobile technologies enter the future


I recently spoke with Fay Arjomandi, global lead of Vodafone xone, a business unit that focuses on finding and cultivating startups that produce disruptive mobile solutions in Vodafone Europe, Middle East, Asia (EMEA) markets. She foresees some disruptive (and quite interesting) mobile technologies in our business and personal futures.

Welcome to the “Internet of Me”
When it comes to disruptive mobile technologies for the consumer, Arjomandi opens with, “Everybody is trying to define their role in the next wave.” She also credits cellular communications as personalizing telephony for consumers as the number of subscribers has exploded. (There are 6.8 billion mobile customers worldwide, and there is one smartphone for every five people, according to some recent numbers she came across.)

One disruptive mobile consumer technology she sees in the future is the “Internet of Me.” She explains it as a system responding to a mobile user’s needs in a very dynamic and autonomic way.

“It’s about getting my music when I need it, content when I need it,” Arjomandi explains. The “Internet of Me” transcends content and device ecosystems as it pushes content to a mobile user. It provides freedom of access to anything the users need.

She also sees self-optimized networks (SON) — she uses the term self-optimized system (SOS) — in the future. SOS is a system that is so intelligent, and in which everything is interconnected so thoroughly, that it knows the user well enough to evolve with the user through the day. Arjomandi gave the example of the technology knowing that after a full day of work you are tired, so it sends your calls to voice mail, except those from people you specify. The SOS even starts the dinner you placed in the microwave that morning.

Run your business and your personal life from one device “The border between consumer and enterprise is getting blurrier every day,” says Arjomandi. She predicts the further rise of “prosumer” mobile technologies as mobile workers continue to shift between personal and business tasks on their mobile device throughout the business day.

In her predicted rise of “prosumer” technologies, Arjomandi sees more mobile solutions in 2014 and beyond that enable users to run and manage business tasks, whether one is discovering sales results, website engagement statistics, IT system performance, or staff attendance and time tracking.

Signs of this prediction are already appearing as startups and major enterprise app vendors alike are adopting mobile first strategies and as more intelligent mobile and cloud technologies launch, offering more highly mobile options for business users to interact with backend systems.

Toward a future of mobile disruption Arjomandi points to a future where enterprise mobile users will have even greater convergence over personal and business tasks on their mobile devices. There are consumer, smart home, and even enterprise mobile technologies taking shape that are feeding into Arjomandi’s predictions about the future of disruptive mobile technologies.

What disruptive mobile technologies do you predict in your professional and personal future?

Image by nokhoog_buchachon courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Will Kelly is a technical writer and analyst based in the Washington, DC area. His writing experience also includes writing technology articles for CNET TechRepublic and other sites. Will’s technology interests include collaboration platforms, enterprise mobility, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), project management applications, and big data. Follow him on Twitter: @willkelly.