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Café Innovation – Smartphones on the battlefield?

Last week I was in our nation’s capital as a tourist (yes, again). Museums, monuments, and meditation were on offer. While I did do quite a bit with the first two, I was not quite ready for the third and hence did not attend the sessions being given by The Dalai Lama, who was in the city during this time. I had made a promise to not watch/read too much of the news or to check email as often as I have in the past. However, when you are in a hotel room the ubiquity of USA Today cannot be easily ignored.

On July 13, I detected a front page article that made me take notice – “Army experiments with off-the-shelf smartphones,” by Tom Vanden Brook. This article ( reported that the US Army “is experimenting with off-the-shelf smartphones that would allow soldiers in combat to receive real-time images of insurgent movements and friendly troops.” One of the chief expected benefits of using these devices is that “they could be keeping soldiers from accidentally killing each other.” As a nation that has experienced a lot of military combat the last few years, friendly fire casualties have been a painful fact for us, and it is exciting to consider that innovative thinking and application of mobile technology could make a difference in this matter.

In my post last month I had cited a mobility example in Healthcare that could potentially save lives. And now, here was another application of mobile technology that could potentially help save lives in a very different way! I was fascinated that the armed forces, often viewed by the public as an organization that would not be rushing to adopt technology coming from the outside, were looking at repurposing such mainstream capabilities.

This is a point that should be noted even by organizations outside the Defense arena, because they have potentially fewer reasons to be circumspect. If you have not yet formulated a mobility strategy, then now is the time to do it! If you have a mobility strategy and need to execute on it, then now is the time to make a platform decision. If you have made a platform decision, then it is time to enable and empower your people through building and/or buying applications for your selected platform. You should be moving along this chain of steps because even traditionally conservative organizations are embracing the new “business as usual” – the “mobile” way of doing business!

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