Sunday, May 19, 2013

An Enterprise Mobility Journey

Enterprise Mobility is more than just software or hardware it's a journey undertaken by business to realise the benefits of a mobile workforce. There is a beginning to the journey but more often than not no end. As with the introduction of other initiatives this journey tends to be circular. If you start from identifying a need, work through realisation, and move into support eventually new needs will arise. Of course that's why it's important to underpin all of this with a view to ongoing change management. Here is one way of categorising the key aspects of an Enterprise Mobility Journey:
  • Business Case
  • Product Selection
  • Realisation
  • Support
Enterprise Mobile Business Case
To stay in business it’s important to consider how funds are spent. Organisations of different sizes and types go through a business case process with more or less rigour. Some organisations may be capital heavy and invest in large equipment or plants. In these cases IT spending may be seen as a small insignificant part of the overall investment plan. For others money spent on IT is core to their DNA. Regardless of the company type there are always competing initiatives for funds. As well as getting a place in the investment hierarchy a business case has a number of benefits:
  • Socialises concepts and aligns vision (Needs)
  • Sets scope and boundaries (Requirements)
  • Defines the costs and benefits (ROI)
  • Acts as a reference for future stages of the mobile journey
While a business case for a mobility project can be treated in a similar fashion to any other business case. Here are a few tricks and traps to look out for:
  • New technology is not well understood
  • Replacing paper processes may have greater benefits than replacing an existing system
  • A mobile application could form part of marketing / advertising spend
  • Mobility investments often establish the basis of multiple projects
For further reading refer to these articles:

Enterprise Mobile Product Selection
At the outset it's worth mentioning that no one has a working crystal ball and it's clear to most that mobility is an area of rapid change. Often people ask me how can they trust product Z when last week product X was the leader. This is the same argument many people have when they are looking to buy a new personal mobile device or other technology. "Should I buy model X now knowing that in a few months perhaps a new model will be better?" My response is to harp back to the business case and requirements. If you know that the delivered features will enable you to achieve your business goals then you can feel comfortable. Consider when NASA built the Mars rovers they didn't look for the most recent or powerful mobile device, they used a clear list of requirements.

Of course there are a number of technical solutions to mobilising an enterprise so if the technology is new to you consider some of the following:
  • Industry events (get some insight, network, and talk to experts)
  • Similar non-competitive companies (perhaps another geography)
  • Web & Social (plenty of people willing to help)
  • Existing partner network (your solutions partners may have expertise)
  • Research firms (such as Gartner or the newer crowd sourcing alternatives)
  • Back end connectivity (ensure your technology integrates)
  • In house talents (mobility is an exciting area for many people)
  • Platform or point solution (does your case allow for future expansion)
For further reading refer to these articles:

Enterprise Mobile Realisation
The realisation phase of a mobile journey is where the rubber hits the road. The scope of this phase can vary widely depending on the business case, the product selected, and the implementation approach. Ensure that before too much rubber has hit the road all involved parties agree on the way forward. There maybe a big difference between leveraging an existing cloud solution and a more traditional waterfall driven software project. Regardless of how agile (or not) the project is each will (or should) have a a degree of:
  • Design/Confirmation
  • Build/Implement
  • Test/Train
  • Pilot/Deploy

During realisation is of course a key time to be referring back to that business case and most specifically the requirements. Oh and if you're looking for a great result never forget the importance of business and IT change management.
For further reading refer to these articles:

Enterprise Mobile Support
One of the easiest traps to fall into is to leave support to the end of the journey. It's important that support and supportability requirements are baked into the business case. Supporting mobile applications and hardware has a couple of added complexities that traditional desktop support may not have to contend with:
  • Unreliable communications
  • Bleeding edge technology
  • Frequent change
  • BYOD
  • Many layered fault determination
If you have considered support up front then hopefully you have a solution that includes tools to empower your users and the support team. Finally a couple of points on the importance of baking Change Management into the entire journey. From an IT sense consider how to handle software/hardware updates and the impact of change to other systems. From a business perspective consider the people, the process, and how mobility changes the game.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Enterprise Mobility Challenges

I wish I could tell you that mobilising an Enterprise was always easy. Like with most things worth doing there are challenges to success. Now I don't want to put you off mobility in any way! I did however want to group the tricks and traps into some sensible categories. Here is what I have come up with as the Challenges to Enterprise Mobility:
  • Hype
  • Justification
  • New Technology
  • Rapid Change

There are a lot of statistics around about mobility. It wouldn't surprise me to hear that there was a large increase in the number of statistics about mobility while you are reading this sentence. That's not to say that the statistics are untrue. Just that often they can be taken out of context. No doubt the % of people employed in an organisation that use smart phones has increased.  This usage is nearing saturation in a lot of the developed world. What I'd encourage people to think about is "What does this mean for business?"

The art form of benefits calculations and business value. It's easy to be swayed by stories of large cost savings or increases in throughput. As an advocate of mobility I believe you can get good business value from mobile initiatives. With tough economic times there is always more pressure to have a solid business case. So while soft benefits are great for gathering momentum you may need hard facts to win over the bean counters. Also when the rubber hits the road it's often important to be able match functionality to the benefits that you need to achieve. "What is the Return on Investment?" For more on specific benefits refer to this article on The Benefits of Enterprise Mobility.

New Technology
Mobile technology can require learning a new language with a whole set of its own acronyms and terminology. HTML5, MEAP, MDM, MDAP, etc, etc. Adding to the confusion an acronym can mean one thing in the mobile arena and something completely different to another audience. I remember having a conversation with someone awhile back about MDM. They thought I was discussing Master Data Management while I was happily refering to Mobile Device Management. The challenge here is of course: "What's the right solution?"
For specific thoughts on how to chose some aspects of mobile technology please refer to this article on HTML5 vs Native.

Rapid Change
There is plenty of evidence of rapid change in software and hardware in the mobile arena. Not long ago everyone was using a Nokia, then a Blackberry, now maybe an iPhone or Android device. In a few years who can say Google Glasses or Fujitsu Slates? Change of course is not limited to hardware and software but is most relevant to business process and the way mobile technologies are used.
I've put some thoughts on how mobile computing is changing in The Future of Enterprise Mobility.

I'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences on the challenges of Enterprise Mobility....

Monday, May 6, 2013

Apps Tech News

A quick blog to mention the team over at As well as publishing some of my blogs they post a variety of news and articles from much better authors. Topics include:
  • Analytics
  • BYOD
  • Cloud
  • Data
  • Enterprise
  • MDM
  • Development
  • App Stores
  • Device
Not just a syndicating service, Apps Tech News also formulate opinion pieces and collate information into great articles on current topics. For example the "Is Blackberry CEO right to question long term tablet future" piece by James Bourne included quotes from Jim Hemmer (along with yours truly!) as well as analysing and reporting on industry sentiment.

I'd recommend adding App Tech News to your bookmarks (along with this blog of course). Keep up the good work !

Saturday, May 4, 2013

The MAP to BYOD?

Recently I had the pleasure of talking with Sara, Brad, and Rob at Mocana. A team with a strong security & data loss prevention (DLP) background that are now utilising their underlying technology to provide mobile application security. I had a great discussion about their Mobile App Protection product MAP. The tool looks feature rich, is easy to use, and is maybe just the 'map' you need to find your way through the BYOD maze.
Essentially the MAP solution allows applications to be "wrapped" with a range of policies to enable secure access and provide DLP. This means in a BYOD situation a wrapped corporate application with specific restrictions (such as communications, firewall settings, copy and paste restriction) can sit beside personal applications that enjoy their usual settings.

I was treated to a demo of the solution and got to see a walkthrough of the different options and settings. From a user-friendly dashboard an administrator is able to upload a finished mobile application (that's apk for Android and ipa for Apple), select policies and associated settings, wrap the application, and finally download the application for distribution. There are a bunch of policies including:
  • Expiry
  • VPN
  • Passcode
  • Firewall
  • Geofencing
  • And more!
As well as individually wrapping applications a Federation concept enables multiple applications to share policies simplifying maintenance and communications. The application was wrapped very quickly well under 10 seconds and the file size increased by a few hundred kb.
A couple of points for consideration: Core Apple iOS applications cannot be wrapped, however typically there is an alternative software offering (email clients, browsers) that can be protected. In some cases this may help with the separation of personal/corporate activities. As an application is wrapped and then distributed the policies and settings cannot be updated without repacking and distributing the application. While this is not particularly different to the way most applications work on the Apple App store and Google Play it was just one of the areas that Mocana has for consideration in the R&D path.

Talking with Mocana I got a sense that they were customer driven. The product settings and features have been built over time based on actual customer needs and specific requests. I also got some insights into their product roadmap which includes additional policies, further federation features, and single sign on. This is a company that provides security solutions to OEMs, government and military applications. So I was pleasantly surprised by the user interface and little features like the protection indicator on the wrapped application. If you want to know a bit more checkout their website or this video.