In a recent piece for VentureBeat, PGi’s CEO Boland Jones wrote that “…business apps still aren’t smart enough—or, more appropriately, they are ’smart‘ in all the wrong ways.” The heart of making smarter apps comes with context; bringing relevant information to users at relevant times, rather than just bombarding them with features and data or forcing them to do the legwork. I believe that context is the next major frontier of application and software development. The big technology trends forecasted for 2014—wearable technology, big data, the internet of things—all converge on the idea of providing more contextual intelligence for users.
So what do I really mean by “context?” For the majority of apps today, the information they provide is there for you as a user to actively go get. If you need that email from last week regarding your meeting today, you have to go find it. If you want to track a package or check traffic conditions for your drive home from work, you have to actively seek that information out.
As applications becoming more contextually intelligent, a step or two gets removed from this equation and the information is automatically brought to you at an appropriate time. For example, your traffic app will utilize your location and the time of day to automatically alert you of road conditions around the time you normally commute home from work. In other words, apps start working for us, instead of waiting for us to come to them.
Evolving Intelligence – The Meetings Example
PGi’s latest award-winning app and the first release from our Innovation Lab, Agenday, seeks to bring an increased level of contextual intelligence to business users as well as providing a more frictionless collaboration experience. Collaboration is our sole focus here at PGi, and Agenday represents an important aspect of the collaboration experience: the “before” and “after” moments that often be just as complicated and challenging as the meeting itself.
In addition to aggregating all of your calendars together, preventing you from constantly checking into multiple applications to stay up to date, the real magic of a contextually intelligent application like Agenday comes from how we can use your calendar data to provide you with relevant information prior to your meetings. By leveraging this data in a meaningful and productive way, we can do things that a regular calendar application can’t, such as:
- Present you with the LinkedIn profiles of people you’re meeting with that day;
- Analyze the types and number of meetings you’re having and present contextually relevant tips, tricks and best practices to make you a better meeter; and
- Automatically scrape connection information for your conferences and provide one-touch entry to audio, web and video conferences directly from your smartphone’s notifications.
All of this rich intelligence is the tip of the iceberg for the power of context as a whole. These practices will soon permeate all of our apps and devices, ultimately providing better, smarter and more effortless user experiences.