Category Archives: Mobile

ICYMI – Enterprise Mobility for Dummies – Part II

In case you missed the live broadcast yesterday of Game Changers on the Voice America Business Channel, I had the honor of speaking on a distinguished mobile panel of experts that included Maribel Lopez of Lopez Research, Carolyn Coad of SAP, and Michael O’Farrel of the Mobile Institute, hosted by Bonnie Graham. It was a great (and entertaining) discussion on the current and future state of mobility – click below to listen!

 

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Filed under IoT, Mobile

What’s Up Whatsapp?

News of Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp prompted me to visit WhatsApp‘s website to get their perspective. What surprised me most was that, rather than featuring an announcement about the acquisition, it had a blog post that boldly proclaimed: “We don’t sell ads.”

This post, written by co-founder Jan Koam, rides high on a self-congratulatory victory lap of a company fighting against the evils of personal information collection and unwanted advertising. However, this is in stark contrast to the fact that they just sold themselves to one of the biggest advertising engines since Google in the digital age. So one has to ask: “What’s up WhatsApp?” Is your supposed raison d’etre as empty and untenable as Google’s “Don’t be evil”?

Koam writes: “At every company that sells ads, a significant portion of their engineering team spends their day tuning data mining, writing better code to collect all your personal data, upgrading the servers that hold all the data and making sure it’s all being logged and collected and sliced and packaged and shipped out … And at the end of the day the result of it all is a slightly different advertising banner in your browser or on your mobile screen … Our engineers spend all their time fixing bugs, adding new features and ironing out all the intricacies in our task of bringing rich, affordable, reliable messaging to every phone in the world. That’s our product and that’s our passion. Your data isn’t even in the picture. We are simply not interested in any of it.”

Well, that is going to change quickly once they are part of one of the biggest aggregators of personal information on the planet. This post and pending acquisition raises two points worthy of addressing.

First, as much as the high ideals of the technocracy would love to shun advertising for ever, it is one of the primary models of business around the globe. It also works. That’s not to say it isn’t without problems, but, if it didn’t work, it wouldn’t attract the money and attention it does. It creates a cycle that connects businesses and buyers. It also allows for the subsidisation of many of the free and great services that have sprung up in the digital age. It is infantile to think otherwise. There is no such thing as a free lunch.

Second, the post supposes an advertising model akin to the dotcom days of advertising. That of banner ads that take up precious screen real estate with limited targeting capabilities. The world has moved on technically and so should our thinking. It conveniently doesn’t address the ability to deliver a contextual experience based on the capability of connected devices. Mobile devices provide a first layer, the internet of things will take this even further.

My issue with Koam’s post isn’t that he wanted to get away from banner advertising, it’s that all he could imagine is a world of dumb, static, barely targeted ads. In fact, his post only further perpetuates this very outdated form of digital engagement. What would be more helpful would be to provide a vision of a company that changes the advertising experience altogether. He would do better to demonstrate a service that matches product and person with such alignment that it isn’t an inconvience or irritant.

This vision for the future of advertising would be for something that wasn’t a constant visual nuisance. These ads, better termed as offers, would appear at the right time and in the right place. Mobile and other connected devices of the internet of things can easily allow for delivery during the correct connected experience.

Your personal data is the new digital currency. It is true, as Koam writes, that “when advertising is involved you the user are the product”. In lieu of paying directly for our services, we are offering our personal information and usage patterns as currency. These services do collect this information and use it to advertise to you. But you should use this currency wisely and give it only to companies and services that offer not only superior functionality but also superior offers.

What we need isn’t more high ideals or more blatant boring broadcasted advertising, but a healthy mix that demands a more intelligent blending of the two. If companies such as Google, Facebook and many others continue to collect more and more information about our every movement then how, when and what they present to us as ads should be more intelligent as well.

Benjamin Robbins is a co-founder of Palador, a mobile strategy and solutions consultancy in Seattle. Follow him on Twitter @PaladorBenjamin. He is a speaker at this year’s Changing Media Summit 2014.

(Originally posted on The Guardian)

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Filed under Apps, IoT, Mobile

The app headache you can’t afford to ignore

It’s Tuesday at 9:13 a.m.—do you know how many cloud apps and services are being used within your organization? I’ll give you a hint: it’s way more than you think. A recent survey by cloud service monitor company Skyhigh found that it is significantly higher than most suspect. As Nancy Gohring explained the findings, “On average [Skyhigh] customers use 545 cloud services. That’s a far cry from the 40 or 50 apps that most CIOs…think their employees use.”

These cloud services with their native apps represent the frontier of the consumerization of IT where employees, emboldened by their ability to dispatch apps and services at will, are en masse changing the landscape of enterprise technology. However, this shift in acquisition of technology by the end user has not let IT off the hook for managing and securing the corporate network and its associative data.

Progressive organizations that want to encourage, rather than hinder, the spirit of consumerization need to cover certain bases to make sure that users are enabled in a secure and managed fashion without limiting the user experience. One aspect of security that should remain firmly in the domain of IT management is user authentication and authorization.

As the number of apps and services increases for the average user, managing app access represents a significant security and convenience issue. There are two major issues caused by this overwhelming use and reliance upon apps that access the plethora of available cloud services. First, it is a pain for users to have to constantly re-enter user credentials. This inconvenience will wear on the users and they will look for less than secure shortcuts to avoid this. Second, and most importantly, it is a governance and security issue for not only IT, but organizations as a whole. Organizations need to maintain a full picture of what is being accessed by who and when.

Many users approach cloud applications in one-off manner. They are often forced to create a user name and password for each service. Oftentimes these usernames and passwords are too simple, get lost, and are forgotten. They are also not centrally managed. Organizations with little awareness of the vast number of services being used by their employees have no idea what data is coming and going. They are also unable to mitigate any security threats for a given service. Lastly, when a user departs an organization it becomes a challenge to revoke access to the myriad services they had access to.

It is precisely these issues that a group of experts in the security industry has come together to attempt to solve. I had the chance to speak with one of these leaders, Paul Madsen of Ping Identity, who will participate in the working group that has formed within the OpenID Foundation. Called the NativeApps Group, or NApps for short, the group is working on developing a Native Single Sign On (SSO) protocol for mobile apps.

As Madsen related, the end goal of NApps is a standardized protocol that would allow a Token Agent on a mobile device to seamlessly manage authentication and authorization across all applications on that device. What Native SSO will mean to organizations is that there will be an interoperable ecosystem of different apps and back-end services, all built by different vendors, that will be able to communicate and leverage the same security protocol for authorization and authentication.

A mobile app that wanted to leverage the NApps Native SSO standard would be designed to interact with the Token Agent on the device and routinely check for the appropriate token to approve or deny access to app functionality. If no agent is present, the app would automatically switch back to the service’s current proprietary capability.

What would the Native SSO user experience be like? The example that Madsen used was that upon accessing your first enterprise app each day, the Native SSO Token, branded with your enterprise look and feel, would open. Users would log in to the Token Agent with their Active Directory credentials. This authentication will happen at the enterprise and not some other third party. The credentials would follow the same strength and expiration policy as set up by the IT department. After users entered their username and password they would be passed securely to the enterprise identity server. After validation the identity server would pass back security tokens to the TA; these would be valid for a given period of time, say twenty-four hours. Once in possession of these tokens, the TA would use them to obtain the necessary security tokens for the business applications, and provide the user seamless access to mobile application services such as Box, Dropbox, Concur, Evernote, or on-prem applications.

This experience differs from current Single Sign On (SSO) standards or deployments in two regards. First, the apps for which SSO is enabled are native applications rather than browser-based. Second, NApps is looking to define an open standard and resultant ecosystem of interoperable implementation. This has a huge advantage in that it doesn’t lock an organization into a single vendor’s paradigm.

So, how soon before something like this is available for enterprise consumption? Madsen told me that NApps is currently kicking off in the OpenID Foundation. They hope to have a draft specification late this year, which a variety of vendors will likely implement against. Madsen hopes to see a ratified standard to follow six to nine months later.

Some of the biggest hurdles that face the emergence of this much-needed service in the enterprise are competing interests by vendors and app developers. Without the availability of a native SSO service, mobile app vendors have little incentive to integrate into this model. This will change, however, as NApps is currently supported by such cloud leaders as Salesforce and Box. Enterprises, with greater control over their own apps, will be able to implement this sort of solution on a much faster basis once it becomes available.

The proliferation of apps and services within any single organization is a security issue that should not be taken lightly. Organizations that have a holistic understanding of information access and flow will be in a position to avoid opportunistic and careless data breaches. Those who fail to position themselves in the modern world of consumerized services in the enterprise will continue to have their risk profile increase.

Benjamin Robbins is a co-founder at Palador, a mobile strategy and application consultancy located in Seattle, WA. He can be followed on Twitter @PaladorBenjamin.

 

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Filed under Apps, Mobile

SAP SMP 3.0 – A fresh approach to mobile development and open standards

I spoke with Carolyn Fitton, SAP mobile marketing,  about how SMP 3.0 isn’t just about bringing together its various mobile platforms and assets, but how the platform is designed with developers and the latest open standards in mind. 

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October 23, 2013 · 10:11 am

What’s so special about app wrapping?

Got a chance to catch up with Milja Gillespie today at SAP TechEd in Las Vegas to discuss app wrapping and it’s advantages in the enterprise.

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October 22, 2013 · 4:58 pm

Photos from the Opening Keynote at Mastering Mobility in Melbourne

Just a few shots from the Mastering Mobility conference in Melbourne Australia. It was a lot of fun to have the opportunity to deliver the opening keynote on mobile strategy. Big thanks to the folks at the Eventful Group for putting on such a great event!

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Filed under Mobile, Strategy

25 Things Influential People Do Better Than Anyone Else

I was honored to find that I was named as part of  the Forbes article 25 Things Influential People Do Better Than Anyone Else. Check out the article and see if you agree!

Forbes_25Things

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Filed under Mobile, Mobile-Only