Monthly Archives: February 2012

Speed up Your Mobile App Dev Productivity with tiggzi

I got a chance to catch up with Max Katz, Developer Relations, of tiggzi this morning at Mobile World Congress. tiggzi is a mobile application development platform that is hosted in the cloud (Amazon Web Services). tiggzi started off as a prototyping tool. What the team quickly realized is that this cool drag and drop prototyping tool could be extended to actually wire up the controls to RESTful web services as well. This, coupled with a very clean and efficient UI, has evolved into a very powerful productivity tool for mobile app developers. Katz related that their target user is the “citizen developer”.  Though the tool is primarily a drag and drop experience developers can still add custom java script to their application. tiggzi can leverage publicly published RESTful web services or those created through back-end services such as Parse. What is most intriguing to those of us who create mobile apps is the speed at which apps can be up and running. Below are a few shots of the UI to give you a sense of how cleanly it is laid out. tiggzi has a free version for a single app – definitely worth checking out.

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VMware Assembling a Complete Picture for Enterprise Mobility Management – MWC12

imageI want to give you a sneak peek into my conversation with Ben Goodman, Lead Evangelist for VMware horizon. VMWare has some exciting stuff going on in the area of MDM (Mobile Device Management), MAM (Mobile Application Management), and MIM (Mobile Information Management). This is a topic that I know many of you are very interested in, so I will devote some longer pieces to it – post Mobile World Congress 2012 – because it is worth going into detail on. So here is a taste. Goodman, working in conjunction with his team at VMware, is approaching the issue of Enterprise Mobility Management with a broad and visionary approach. It is visionary in the sense that they understand that the end game for managing enterprise mobility, from and IT perspective, requires not only device and app management, but also people/information management. Goodman relayed how VMware’s Horizon application provides users a seamless experience on different platforms (mobile, pc, laptops, etc.). Users are able have one log in and one place to go on any platform for all business application access and content. Couple this with VMware’s products that provide the ability to perform device and app management and you have a very complete enterprise mobility management platform. Look for lots more on this in the weeks to come. (Thanks for Brian Katz for the introduction!)

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appMobi For the Enterprise MWC12

I had a great conversation with Joe Monastiero,  VP of Business Development at appMobi. Many of you may already be familiar with appMobi – the cloud platform for app development. Their platform delivers an integrated development, deployment, and payment solution to all the major app markets and devices. One thing you probably don’t know is that this platform can be leveraged for your enterprise app needs as well. appMobi is beginning to provide a model for larger enterprises to white label their solution to a separate private cloud environment. Hosted on Amazon Web Services appMobi will keep these one-off deployments up to the latest version as well. Regardless if you negotiate a enterprise license or not you can always use their public version for you app dev needs.

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TouchPal Improves Typing Speed and Productivity – MWC12

I caught up with the folks from TouchPal at Mobile World Congress. This free keyboard app for iPhone and Android has a pretty slick predictive engine that improves upon standard typing and Swype style typing. For example with Swype you have to complete the entire pattern for the word to show up. This is a pain for long words. With TouchPal it will predict the word a few characters in. Another example of improved speed is TouchPal also predicts the most common words that follow the one you just typed. Give it a try and let me know if you see productivity gains.

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Mobile Productivity from MWC12 with the Samsung Galaxy Beam

Got a chance to test out the new Samsung Galaxy Beam this AM. Not only is it a phone, but it also has a built-in 15 lumens projector. This device is slick. Not to mention that it is totally in-line with my penchant for mobile-only.

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Samsung also includes a slide display app that would allow you to use the device to show your PowerPoint slides in a meeting. The app allows for on screen annotations as well.

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remotelyMOBILE Live at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona – Sneak Peek

Just to whet your whistle – Look for lots more all this week!


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Mobile Application Management – Enabling the Enterprise

Cimarron BuserThis is the second half of my interview with Cimarron Buser, VP of Business Development at Apperian. In the first post we looked at how Buser views the user experience as central to Apperian’s approach to BYOD. Today we’ll focus on how Buser and Apperian are turning that user-centric focus into a whole new level of enterprise engagement.

To understand how Buser views client engagements you must first understand Apperian’s history as a company. Apperian was founded in 2009 by Chuck Goldman, who was at the time an executive working at Apple. Goldman was part of the in-house group that built apps for iOS. With the blessing of Apple, Goldman initially started Apperian as a professional services company that took their app building experience and leveraged it to create business to consumer apps. This B2C mobile development experience lead to building in-house apps for companies as well. This close proximity to internal processes provided Apperian key insights into the challenges companies were experiencing managing the app life-cycle. In an effort to solve this problem Apperian created EASE, their platform that allows businesses to create, deploy, and manage mobile apps. All that time in the trenches of in-house app development created not only an app management platform for Apperian but a holistic model for Mobile Application Management (MAM).

I asked Buser if he views Apperian as a MAM vendor. “Yes, we are in the Mobile Application Management space, but we really like to think of it as Enterprise Application Enablement.” For Buser, apps aren’t just an end-product to be managed, but rather a value proposition that needs to be understood from start to finish.  Buser relayed that Enterprise Application Enablement includes “how you enable companies to build and produce apps easily”. This focus on enabling enterprise coupled with the user-centric perspective (discussed in the first post) allows Apperian to deliver long-term value for their clients

MAM Insight – Enabling users and enterprises is a winning combo.

So what does Enterprise Application Enablement look like in practice? For Buser this means working with companies to answer key questions such as “how do companies decide what apps to build and who is going to need access?” Apperian’s practical experience lends itself very nicely to this sort of discovery. “We are able to offer assistance and guidance on app development as well as share pain points,” Buser noted.

MAM Insight – Besides key functionality, can your partners offer strategic guidance?

We ended our conversation discussing Buser’s thoughts on how companies should evaluate and distinguish between MAM platforms. Buser stated “you have to just try the product out.”  He explained how easy to use their platform is. “Everyone says their platform is easy to use, but easy to use is more than a checkbox.”  Buser wisely pointed out that app feature checklists have some real shortcomings in product evaluations. “It isn’t what you can do, it is the way you can do it,” he exclaimed, “our platform is known for its ease of use.” Apperian’s history and perspective certainly give them the foundation required to deliver upon that claim.

MAM Insight – Look beyond the feature checklist – ask yourself, how easy is it to use this platform?

 

ApperianApperian is a mobile application management (MAM) company. The Apperian EASE platform delivers enterprise mobility services that today enable many of the world’s largest corporations to securely deploy and manage mobile apps for iOS and Android. Apperian is empowering the liberated enterprise to support the BYOD revolution.To learn more visit http://www.apperian.com/   

Benjamin Robbins is one of the founders of AdminBridge – providing IT Administration from mobile devices. For more information visit http://adminbridge.com

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BYOD – Say Yes to Users!

Today starts another series on BYOD insights from industry leaders and influencers. My goal is to combine industry details with key takeaways that can be consumed quickly. I have no personal or financial affiliation with any of the parties involved with these interviews.

 

BYOD – Say Yes to Users!

Cimarron BuserYesterday I had the pleasure of speaking with Cimarron Buser, VP of Business Development, at Apperian. Buser is definitely a user’s advocate. It was very clear from our discussion that Buser’s 25 years of technical background and business management is a perfect fit for BYOD as his experience has led him to an emphasis on the end-user. Every aspect of our discussion revolved around how the user experience needs to be the primary concern and central justification. This perspective, a driving force behind BYOD, is a competitive strength for Buser and Apperian.

The focus on the user experience of BYOD and app management is not only Buser’s modis operandi, but also permeates Apperien’s raison d’etre as well. Apperian’s solution helps a full spectrum of apps, from those in the marketplaces, to custom native apps, to HTML 5 apps, become visible to employees.  Buser sees this leading to increased user satisfaction and usage.  He noted that “if companies can get users enthusiastic about what they are doing, they’ll find that all of a sudden employees are using the apps and they’ll see an ROI”. Buser pragmatically pointed out that this is good for the company as well because if employees aren’t “using the apps that organizations have built then all that effort is for not.” He is quick to state that this drive for app usage shouldn’t be at the expense of security though. Organizations “have to resolve security issues and management, that is a given. But a primary goal is to have users feel like they are in charge of the device they are carrying around.”

BYOD insight- Enthusiastic users equals enterprise ROI

As a mobile user’s advocate, Buser also extols the value of open platforms and policies over that of tightly managed ones that provide a limited experience. In regards to a company’s mobile policy he reason to “make them more open and permissive rather than shut down browsers or not allow Angry Birds. That is just anti-BYOD.”  Instead, Buser thinks that companies should focus on creating great apps and educational resources.  Then they will find they have better adoption by users. Buser believes that “if theCIOsays no, then security is actually going to get worse, not better, because users will just go around them.”

BYOD insight – When the CIO says no, your mobile security can go to zero

Apperian is in the business of managing apps and not devices.  Buser believes that Mobile Application Management (MAM) can allow for greater employee device choice over Mobile Device Management (MDM). Buser tied this back to the history of BYOD in the enterprise.  Buser mentioned that iOS was the first consumer device in the enterprise. The BYOD trend accelerated as employees started purchasing iPhones, iPads and Android devices from carriers and bringing them to work. Businesses showed some resistance to this addition because “many of these companies didn’t have the MDM solutions for it and they didn’t want the responsibility of management”.  He continued by saying that what companies began to realize is that “if apps are secure, then MDM is less of an issue.” Buser believes that for many companies much of the functionality of MDM, such as remote wipe and device lock requirements, can be handled by policies in Microsoft Exchange and managed by Active Sync, or with free MDM-like solutions from Apple and Google.

BYOD Insight – MAM can provide more opportunity for BYOD to flourish.

Next up: How Buser and Apperian’s take Mobile Application Management to the next level

Apperian Apperian is a mobile application management (MAM) company. The Apperian EASE platform delivers enterprise mobility services that today enable many of the world’s largest corporations to securely deploy and manage mobile apps for iOS and Android. Apperian is empowering the liberated enterprise to support the BYOD revolution.To learn more visit http://www.apperian.com/

Benjamin Robbins is one of the founders of AdminBridge – providing IT Administration from mobile devices. For more information visit http://adminbridge.com

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How BYOD will Trim Enterprise Techno-Fat

Forget about devices for the moment.  I want you to first imagine you just moved to New York City. It’s big, it’s bustling, it’s happening. Yet, as one of the pricier places to live in the United States, space is at a premium. Finding a place to live is a challenge and when you do it is never cheap. People learn to make do with less space. So it will come as no surprise that New York has some of the smallest apartments in the US. The smallest one happens to be 78 square feet. Yes – you read that right, 78 square feet (at $800 a month for the curious). That’s about the size of a walk-in closet. Luke Clark Tyler lives and works out of his tiny abode.  From an efficiency standpoint the apartment is on another level, the couch becomes a bed, the printer sitting atop the microwave sits in the cupboard, and he even has the ubiquitous “junk drawer” (Is there anyone you know who doesn’t?). This kind of living isn’t for everyone but you can’t help but be impressed with his use of space. There is a fantastic take-away from Luke’s approach to his midtown mansion. As he states:

“The smaller the space you have the more critical it is to be efficient how you use it…an inch can make a difference.”

Luke has learned to maximize the space, create suitable structures, and retain only retain essential stuff. On a similar note there is a popular movement called the 100 Thing Challenge.  The idea is that you identify and keep only 100 items in your life and get rid of the rest. This forces people to identify that which it truly important and needed versus that which is unnecessary and just taking up space.

So what does this have to do with mobility in the enterprise? In my day-time gig as a consultant I have the opportunity to intimately come to know the technology in different enterprises. I frequently come across ‘techno- glut’, the excessive use of technology. This comes is the form of data, applications, processes, hardware, etc. Usually this is the result of the misappropriation of technology as the savior of bad practices. The idea being that by throwing technology at broken processes the problem will be magically resolved. As a result it usually just compounds the problem.

Then, all of a sudden, in comes a large influx of employees wanting to connect their tablets, smartphones, etc to the corporate network. This presents many challenges. But, here is what I love about BYOD. The devices, because of their form factor, create the opportunity to re-imagine how we work. We get to throw the PC-mindset out the window and start fresh with all that we now know.  The best part is that, though there are larger devices such as tablets, this re-imagining has to incorporate the perspective of a tiny little window, our consumer turned enterprise telephony devices. In order to make it all work from this tiny glass window applications and processes will have to think in terms of the 78 square foot apartment and the 100 item challenge. These devices just don’t have the space to allow for it all. We’ll ask, how can screen space best be utilized? What data elements do we really need? Is this a nice to have or does it really get used? As a result, enterprises will find that non-essentials are cut away out of necessity. This might not even be an intentional aspect of the enterprise mobile strategy. But it will happen. Employees want to use their devices in the enterprise and in doing so organizations will move into the digital equivalent of a 78 square foot apartment. Take a BI dashboard for example. If you want to display the elements BI dashboard on a smartphone, the loss of screen real-estate forces companies to focus on selecting which data points are the most important. Therefore, if organizations want to capitalize on the influx of consumer devices in the enterprise they will have to get rid of the non-essential bits as the platform just doesn’t have the space. As Luke says, “An inch can make a difference”.

Do you agree – do you think device form factor will force a more efficient solution? How do you see enterprises benefiting from this spatial consolidation? Post a comment and let me know!

Benjamin Robbins is a Principal at Palador, a consulting firm that focuses on providing strategic guidance to enterprises in the areas of mobile strategy, policy, apps, and data. You can follow him on Twitter or connect on LinkedIn.

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Gaps in the Apps – Where Enterprise Mobility Falters

If you have read even a small sampling of my posts you know that I am a big believer of the capabilities the future of mobility will bring to the enterprise. I believe this will be brought about through a combination of factors such as BYOD, the Consumerizaiton of IT, ever-present connectivity, economies of scale, etc. However, to temper my excitement is the present nascent state that we find enterprise app functionality. Currently, the enterprise experience on mobile devices exhibits limited capability – meaning – apps unto themselves are feature-rich but fall quite short on integration with cloud and on-premise functionality.

To me, the current state of enterprise ecosystems is a byproduct of the very factor that makes mobility valuable – apps. In a way, the value proposition works against itself. Apps provide users with a specific slice of functionality that meets their exact need at a volume discount price. Yet, when the marketplaces push singular app functionality, integrated enterprise capability is overwhelmed and outflanked. In the long-run isolated app singularity is an enterprise dead-end. However, mobile apps with a singular purpose currently dominate the landscape. What we need is a sort of enterprise app alliances in the form of architecture, functionality, and infrastructure that leverages the value proposition of mobility and marries it to a unified enterprise experience.  Apps that are part of this alliance will prevail in the end. Not because they have more functionality (For great posts on why just adding functionality gets you nowhere see Brian Katz’s series on Applications and Crapplications) but because they extend enterprise capability beyond just a specific piece of functionality. They integrate seamlessly with other apps in the enterprise ecosystem thus creating move value for the enterprise.

How does this get translated into app reality? What steps need to be taken? This added value can be achieved with just a slight shift in app development. App developers need to design apps that take into account ecosystem use-cases. If a use-case is a possible functional scenario in an application than an ecosystem use-case is a functional scenario that takes potential ecosystems into perspective. Ecosystem use-cases consider how app functionality fits into functional circles outside of itself. In order to win in the enterprise, companies that develop mobile apps must consider ecosystem use-cases.  I can’t stress this enough. In fact, I’ll say it again. Companies that hope to develop enterprise mobile apps MUST think of use-cases beyond their specific app functionality. Those who do so will find that they will have a long and prosperous tenure in the enterprise, those who do not will be relegated to the realm novelty – tossed to the side once their limited value is exposed. Why? Because as apps and users become more sophisticated the added value of ecosystem use-cases will set the standard. Once users in the enterprise get a taste of the capability and efficiency of an app than connects to their ecosystem there’ll be no going back, users will just expect it. By the way – an ecosystem use-case means more than integration with the “share this” functionality of your mobile platform.

I want to be clear that there is a subtle, yet very important, distinction in what I am advocating. I am NOT saying that we need to move away from distinct app functionality toward monolithic apps. The ability to select the exact bit of app functionality is highly important and one of the great value proposition of mobility. Great apps will continue to provide targeted functionality at a decent value. As well though, great enterprise apps will need to extend out into the right ecosystems and present a unified experience to the user.

When it comes to apps in the enterprise space we are currently living those lanky years where we are growing really fast, our feet are too big, pants too short, and our voice can’t decide if it is a tenor or an alto. Some of us will grow into our bodies and be able to work together in harmony. Those that still trip over their feet will falter and fail. What gaps in apps for enterprise do you see needing to be filled? Do you use any apps that you feel do a good job of integrating with your ecosystem? What do you envision possible for enterprise ecosystems? Post a comment and let me know!

Benjamin Robbins is one of the founders of AdminBridge – providing IT Administration from mobile devices. For more information visit http://adminbridge.com

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