The internet, smart phones and email have all turned the normal work hours of 9AM to 5PM, Monday through Friday into a thing of the past. Workers are connected all the time every day of the week. These communication tools have also made operating in a global market place significantly easier. When workers in the US are sleeping, workers in Asia are busy sending emails. Time to respond and working in a global environment has become a very precious commodity.
With limited time available people are looking to become as efficient as possible while at the workplace. Each day a person’s schedule is probably filled with email, phone calls, and a number of face to face meetings. It is with a new app called Twist that serial investor Bill Lee is looking to ensure that no one is wasting any time prior to the start of these face to face meetings. Twist identifies which people are going to attend a meeting and notifies them via text message if you are going to be late. Bill came up with the idea last year after holding 200 meetings at a San Francisco hotel. A number of participants were late causing meeting attendees to spend time tracking down participants. Now with notification meeting attendees can use the extra time in their prior meetings or for other tasks.
Twist works by combining real time traffic data with the traveling tendencies of each individual app user. It was important to capture the speed of the user, whether lead footed or not, in order to provide an accurate time of arrival. The app will automatically send a message if it determines that you will likely be late to your next meeting. The text message will provide an estimated time of arrival and also a map where participants can see your current location. A final text will arrive when the person is within one minute of arriving.
For CEO Bill Lee this is the first step in his vision for Twist. He wants to be able to further develop the app so that each meeting can provide you with the exact time needed to arrive since 20 percent of the U.S. population is late to meetings. He has pointed out that 38 percent of late arrivals can be attributed to underestimating the travel time needed and 53 percent is due to traffic.
This app is an important step forward in using technology to make the work day more efficient. All workers try to manage their time, but this helps to pull in outside information like traffic data to make Twist notifications as informed as possible. This way when we do still need to meet face to face these meetings happen on time.
In 1999 RIM released the first Blackberry and overnight this new type of smart phone became a hit. They quickly got the nickname “crackberry” as people were now responding to emails at all hours of the day and night. However, over the last couple years RIM has struggled to execute and adapt to the changing smart phone market. The iPhone just recently celebrated its five year anniversary. It was also in 2007 that Google announced their Android operating system. By the first quarter of this year Android has captured 59% of the world smart phone market.
Sales at RIM have been declining for a couple years now due to outdated capabilities. In the last quarter RIM announced a $518 million loss which has created doubts amount analysts about RIMs future. Sales of smart phones have decreased significantly from 11.2 million units in the first quarter last year to 7.8 million units in the first quarter this year. The biggest change is in product mix with RIM selling more lower-priced phones than in the past and also paying incentives to carriers for selling their product.
RIM has pegged its turnaround efforts to its new Blackberry 10 platform. Unfortunately they just announced that this new line of phones and software will be delayed into next year. This surprised many analysts since RIM’s CEO, Thorsten Heins, had spoken publically at many recent events that they development was on schedule and would be available for the important holiday shopping season. This time of year is the most critical for handset manufacturers. This is supported by the fact that Apple has also moved its annual iPhone release date to early in the fourth quarter.
Blackberry is currently having to compete against the likes of Android and the iPhone using an outdated operating system. Blackberry 10 was supposed to be a platform upgrade that would make these phones relevant competitors again in the market place. During a call with analysts Mr. Heins said the delay was a result of RIM being “overwhelmed by the sheer amount of software code that it was now handling”. In large company-wide developments like this project management is extremely critical so that the entire organization has visibility to progress. Delays in committed ship dates not only reflect poorly upon management, but can have large financial impacts. Right after the announcement RIM’s stock price dropped 14.5%. This delay will probably end up costing Blackberry billions of dollars in lost revenue.