Monthly Archives: April 2012

Quickoffice 5.5 Update Brings Integrated Spell Check to Android

Quickoffice just released an update, version 5.5 for Pro and HD, that has spell check as an integrated feature! This is a huge productivity gain for those of us who use a Bluetooth keyboard with our mobile devices. The spell check feature is very intuitive to use and already comes in English, French, Italian, German, and Spanish. Now I can stop complaining about spell check and move on to getting track changes in a mobile office suite. Here are a few screen captures:

The 5.5 update of Quickoffice also allows users to easily create tables in word documents:


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Filed under Apps, Mobile, Productivity

FINALLY – A Visio Alternative on Android!

As many of you know I am on a Mobile-Only adventure. Yet, one of the biggest reasons I still have to access a PC via RDP is because I need to use Microsoft Visio. Well, that may be coming to an end. This past week I stumbled across DroidDia. DroidDia is a diagramming app for Android that allow users to create flowcharts, org charts, venn diagrams, network diagrams, etc  – many of the same functions that are available in Microsoft Visio.  This is fantastic news for mobile productivity.

As in Visio, shapes are key to being able to represent your information. DroidDia comes stock with many of the essential shapes – flowchart, computers, people, places, etc. If you don’t like the ones provided, or have custom ones that you want to use, it is possible to select them from images on the phone. Here are a few screenshots of the shapes:

Computer Shapes

People Shapes

Flowchart Shapes

To add a shape to the page you just long-hold on a square on the sheet, then select the type of shape you need. You can quickly add and move shapes around on the page. To take additional actions on the shape, you only need to long-hold on the shape which will bring up the shape context menu. You can then perform functions such as copy, resize, change properties, etc.

Shape Context Menu

To draw a line from one shape to the next you click the line button and then long-hold the desired connecting shape. Once the line is drawn you can bring up the properties screen of the line to change end-points, size, color, etc.

You can easily add text to the page as well:

Diagrams can even be exported as a PNG for sharing with others. DroidDia looks fantasic when my smartphone is connected to a monitor. DroidDia is currently in alpha but it already shows some great promise as an alternative for Visio on Android. This has the potential to be a fantastic productivity app – allowing users of mobile devices to create content and not just consume it.  Be sure to check it out!
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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Filed under Mobile, Productivity

User Identity in a Mobile Ecosystem

For many of us in the enterprise our network identity is currently very limited in scope. Our userID is most likely comprised of just a user name and a password. This is all that is required and used to authenticate us to access the company network and information. But this concept of identity, which reaches back many years into a different era of computing, is too simple for the complexities of a mature enterprise mobile ecosystem. It is functional, but there are many aspects of security and services that are limited due to its relative lack of information. The use of identity in a mobile ecosystem needs to evolve beyond simply who (username/password) to an ecosystem identity of who, what, when, where, and how.

As enterprises move more towards a mobile enabled workforce, many of an organization’s resources, such as devices, data, and applications are not located solely on-premise. They may not even be connected via the corporate network and are therefore, not even behind the firewall.  As well, users are able to sync directly to cloud services to access vital corporate information. This exposure increases security risks that can be mitigated by leveraging solutions such as MDM, Single-Sign-On Services, Application Management, etc. Unfortunately, the notion of username/password is just one factor in this new reality of a mobile ecosystem. So, how can enterprises be assured that information is safe?

A mature mobile ecosystem will require that identity be able to address not only username and password, but attributes such as location, user devices, apps, and time zones. These additional attributes allow advanced systems further capabilities to ensure ‘network’, i.e. ecosystem, security.  For example, a highly-evolved mobile ecosystem shouldn’t allow a ‘user’ to login if they are not doing so using an expected device or from an unusual location. The additional information can also be tied into application functionality. For example, a company with a globally distributed workforce could leverage time-zone information for productivity and collaboration apps.

In order to evolve identity for an enterprise mobile ecosystem, standard identity attributes need to expand beyond the norms of just username/password. This mostly likely will be driven by pressure from management platforms, such as MDM solutions, as they are a natural location to want to leverage this data. These platforms also intrinsically understand the notion of a mobile ecosystem and can therefore, put this information to better use than directory services. This will differ from current thinking about identity. Presently, the idea of network and identity, form a corporate perspective, is very directory and on-premise based. In a mobile ecosystem, Active Directory will continue to play a central role, but management of that ecosystem, will place pressure to expand its boundaries. The advantages are too great to ignore.

Management of this ecosystem identity doesn’t need to be a chore either. There is no reason that it can’t be part of a self-service portal, or part of the on-boarding process with the enrollment of new mobile devices on your network. This co-ownership of your identity increases accuracy as well lessens the management load on IT staff.

In much how Microsoft SharePoint helped enterprises realize the limitations of the attributes available to use with files stored on a network share, mobile ecosystems are pushing enterprise to see limitations with simple user identity.  SharePoint demonstrated that organizations can collect information beyond just file name and date and use it powerfully in company processes. An expanded notion of identity will provide additional functionality and enhanced security options. It will also allow enterprises to effectively secure and manage a mobile ecosystem. What challenges do you see with the current notion of identity? How would you envision its evolution? Post a comment and let me know!

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Filed under Ecosystem, Management, Mobile, Productivity, Strategy

AirWatch – The View from the Front

Alan DabbiereIt would be hard to argue that AirWatch isn’t a definitive leader in the MDM space. To begin they are in the Leaders Quadrant of Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for MDM, their revenue is up 10 fold from a year ago, they are twice the size of their nearest competitor when it comes to employees, and they were the only MDM product that Forrester Research named as “innovator” for both On-Premise and Cloud-Hosted solutions. As well, they believe that any deployment worldwide of more than 20,000 mobile devices is managed by AirWatch. If that wasn’t impressive enough, when I got the chance chat with, Alan Dabbiere, Chairman of AirWarch, he put the icing on the cake by asserting “we’re doing this without any outside capital.”

With all this momentum, I was curious to find out how AirWatch plans to leverage it. I asked Dabbiere what they are doing to stay ahead.  “Scale is important in software. It gives you more money for R&D, more money for building partnerships, for marketing, for a broader product. It’s a pretty virtuous cycle in every way.” The economies of scale create a snowball effect that allow for efficiencies to be passed on to customers. Dabbiere continued, “Software wants leaders to emerge. It is so much cheaper to write software for a hundred million devices than for a million devices. I am amortizing development costs over more devices.” This translates into a more robust platform for clients.

I wanted to know what Dabbiere thinks sets AirWatch apart from competitors. He stated that the differentiator is the “breadth of capabilities. We are the only place you can go to get fully-integrated classic device management, secure mobile browser, secure content locker, and developer toolkit for jailbreak detection, Single Sign On, etc.” He noted that many MDM vendors claim that they provide the same breadth but that upon further digging it becomes apparent they do not. “When you are flying at 35,000 feet, Boston and Bombay look a lot alike.” Dabbiere also noted that their leadership position and size gives them an edge with staying current in the fast-paced realm of mobility. “We were the only product that had every iOS 5 feature built into our product the day iOS 5 was released.” Their large customer base makes them relevant to manufacturers and in-turn able to keep abreast of platform changes.

Being in the front of the pack comes with its challenges though – specifically growing pains. Dabbiere sees the key to avoiding some of the pitfalls he’s seen in the past, lies in the management team. “We’ve got a management team that is going to take us to the next level; that has seen this kind of growth.  We all can finish each other’s sentences and we know exactly what needs to be done.” He also looks to other success stories on how to grow smartly. “We are learning from great companies like Salesforce.com. We absolutely are looking at industry best practices and modeling off those and try to make improvements where it fits our business.”

In discussing the increasing trend of mobility in the enterprise, Dabbiere has a very positive outlook for its viability.  “Mobility can be used safely and responsibly. But it’s like water, you’ve got to channel it; make good decisions. Because if you just try to stop up water you are going to have a flood – you’re going to have a mess.” When it comes to enterprise mobility he believes that companies “are much better off creating policies, creating DLP, deciding what can and can’t go on devices, through good management.”  Dabbiere thinks that AirWatch will continue to have a strong central role as this trend continues. “We see device management, application management, security, content distribution -all of that as one footprint. We view that for the core of it – our space [MDM] is the one to deliver it.” Given that assertion,Dabbiere is definitely correct that when it comes to enterprise mobility AirWatch is “doing something that every device in the world needs.”

AirWatch is the global leader and innovator of enterprise-grade smartphone security and mobile device management solutions. An award-winning company, AirWatch has more than 1,700 customers in the retail, financial services, healthcare, government, distribution, education, hospitality, manufacturing, telecommunications and transportation industries. For more information, visit http://www.air-watch.com

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Filed under Management, Mobile

Box – A Model for Enterprise 2.0 Town Centers

For those of you who missed the announcement last week, Cloud content store Box announced OneCloud, a suite of 30 productivity applications that will allow users to securely access, edit, and share content from their mobile devices. There are four premier Box OneCloud integration partners which include Quickoffice, Adobe EchoSign, Nuance PaperPort Notes, and PDF Expert. These premier partners will support the new round-trip workflow functionality which allows content updates to be instantly stored and secured on the Box platform. Box also announced integration with Enterproid, a mobility management solution that can leverage Box to extend its dual personal container in order to secure content. These announcements are in addition to Box’s existing capabilities to integrate with other apps, management, and security platforms such as MobileIron, AirWatch, Good Technology, Okta, VMWare, OneLogin, Citrix, etc.

Why should this be of interest to you outside of the immediate functionality it provides? What does this promote for enterprise mobility? To see this more clearly, let’s take a step back and enumerate all the advantages mobility brings to end-users.

  • The ability to chose the exact functionality you need (aka – there’s an app for that)
  • The ability to work anytime, anywhere
  • Constant Internet connection – sans wires
  • Multiple forms of communication on a single device – voice, text, email, web, etc.
  • Video conferencing
  • Portability – all the power of your PC but the ability to fit in your pocket
  • Location aware
  • Ability to instantly digitize the physical world via camera
  • Media player

It is really amazing what you can accomplish with a single device. However, this functionality needs to extend beyond your immediate device.

Mobile functionality cannot be a silo – connected and useful unto itself. This is true for devices, apps, services, and data. This seems obvious and simple to say, but there are lots of apps available that perform a single task or function, but don’t fit into a larger context. While the functionality a single app or service provides might be of interest to the immediate user, it has limited value in the enterprise. Data and capabilities must be frictionless and inter-connected to achieve maximum value. Being able to manipulate data in an application is great, but if it takes jumping through a lot of hoops to get the relevant pieces on to the next process or person, then its value is diminished. The advantages of mobility can work against it just as easily as for it. All these little pieces that are lying around are great in amongst themselves, but you need to be able to draw them together into a cohesive whole. This need is even more pronounced when it comes to enterprise mobility.

So why are announcements, like the ones from Box, so important? They represent the seeds of a mobile enterprise ecosystem. More importantly they encourage ecosystem thinking, both in partners and competitors; partners want in, competitors don’t want to be left behind. It also creates the opportunity for good functionally of apps to become great, by being able to extend security and management capabilities. In order to fulfill the dreams the advantages of enterprise mobility suggest, it will take many apps, services, and management suites working in concert.

In this highly fractured environment of apps and services, no one single player is going to dominate functionality and capabilities. To reach a state of mature enterprise mobility, it is going to take a concerted effort of collaboration and integration between those who develop apps and services. For developers and services providers, it will mean looking at your app or service with an eye toward the end-user and the enterprise, and not solely at one’s own functional capabilities. Box seems to be one of those companies that gets this. They continue to evolve and improve not only their own services, but they push to develop integration capabilities and partnerships. This is great news for the enterprise as it creates the opportunity for an ecosystem to emerge. These types of ecosystems retain the flexibility and choice while at the same time, have a place in a larger framework of services and management capabilities.

If it takes a village to raise a child, then in terms of mobility, productivity apps are the villagers and Box is trying to be the town center.  This is exactly the type village that needs to be created in order for enterprise mobility to flourish.

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Filed under Apps, Ecosystem, Future, Mobile, Productivity, Strategy