Tag Archives: Mobile Ecosystem

MobileDay – The Mobile Experience Made Easy

In my year-long experiment with working mobile-only, I have, on many occasions, run into the challenge of needing to join a conference call. While one wouldn’t normally label joining a conference call as challenging, doing so solely from the phone can prove tedious. The difficulty is that the information and pin code for the conference call is either in a meeting invite or an email, while dialing the phone usually occurs in a separate app. I usually have two unsatisfactory options. I can repeat the conference number and pin code to myself over and over like a half – crazed person in an attempt to commit it to short term memory. Alternatively, I can write down the information on a piece of paper beforehand. Fail and fail again – so much for simplicity. That is, until I connected with MobileDay Co-Founder Brad Dupee.

“The whole premise of MobileDay is the notion that it’s very convenient to be on a mobile phone, it’s not necessarily easy,” said Dupee. MobileDay is piecing together the little steps that make a huge difference in the interoperability of apps and services. MobileDay’s initial product offering is a business app that provides one-touch access to any conference call on any service provider from an iPhone or Android smartphone. MobileDay will dial your conference call, PIN and all, with a single touch. “We are tackling one particular problem to launch the company with, which is, one-touch joining of any conference call whether you are a host or a guest of the call,” Dupee said.

There are also a couple additional one-touch features around conference calls and meetings that MobileDay has identified and implemented. The first is one-touch meeting status updates. This feature allows you to quickly update all meeting attendees of your status. For example, if you are running late, one-click will update everyone via email or text. “Rather than searching for you or memorizing your email address, I can just quickly send you an update. I already have your contact information relative to the event right there,” Dupee explained. MobileDay also has a one-touch feature to pull up address in a map app. Best of all MobileDay and its conference solution is free.

While there is some overlap between MobileDay and existing native functionality, Mobile Day provides the ability to do this directly in one-touch from an alert that is displayed 30 seconds before a call. As Dupee explained, “To us, that is our primary feature, when you have a call and you have to get on. Oftentimes it is at that 30 second mark. People realize they have to wrap up one meeting and join the call. And even though you have had a reminder, it is that critical time period right before the call that you realize you don’t have the conference id. Then you have to go hunting for it. It is painful.”

MobileDay has created an experience that is advantageous to all involved in the conference call. “There are independent conference providers that have their app where it works if you are the host of the meeting. But you are out of luck if you are a guest of the meeting,” Dupee stated. “There is an average of 4.5 people per conference call, if only the host can use an app, then there are 3.5 other people who aren’t getting the benefit of the app. With MobileDay it doesn’t matter what you use, it doesn’t matter the service provider, and it doesn’t matter if you are the host or guest. If you are the host you set up your profile information one time in the app. If you want to host a meeting, you can either schedule it from MobileDay or form your regular calendar and it will show up, putting the same details you would normally put in there into the meeting. We can recognize when you are the host based on your identifiers,” he explained.

MobileDay, founded last year in Boulder Colorado, has been in soft launch since that time. However, Mobile Day is kicking things into high gear this week with the official launch of the company. MobileDay is also a finalist in the MobileBeat 2012 Innovation Competition put on by VentureBeat. MobileDay is backed financially by some pretty hefty financial partners such as Google Ventures, Foundry Group, SoftBank Capital, DH Capital, and others.

One-touch features around conference calling are just the beginning for MobileDay. If there is one thing that was abundantly clear in my discussions with Dupee is that MobileDay gets the concept of interoperability and the mobile ecosystem. The amount of effort that went into building the current app, which functions across many different platforms, carriers, and OS variations is a testament to MobileDay’s commitment to building an ecosystem. Dupee and the team at MobileDay are looking at several other services, both mobile and cloud-based, where business users would greatly benefit from one-touch integration. Dupee envisions MobileDay tying together other mission critical business functions with the same seamless simplicity. If the convenience, interoperability, and simplicity that MobileDay offers with one-touch conferencing is any indication of things to come, expect to see many exciting announcements from MobileDay in the near future.

One-Touch into any conference call with MobileDay™.  No matter where you are or what you’re doing, eliminate the hassle of dialing, remembering codes, and writing down conference details.

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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Best Practices for a Secure Mobile App Ecosystem

If you missed it earlier you can catch the presentation I did today for BrightTALK on Best Practices for a Secure Mobile App Ecosystem

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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SAP Mobile – Winning Developers through the Ecosystem

As more and more enterprises realize the value of creating a mobile ecosystem, those systems which fit into a larger framework, stand to succeed. This ecosystem is driven by the apps that developers create to integrate with the system capabilities. If you have a mobile platform, attracting developers is job one. Nick Brown, SVP of Mobile Solutions Management and Strategy at SAP, is leading the charge to do just that. “We have a strong desire to say that 80% of the mobile app innovation that is happening around our platform is coming from partners.” From my conversation with Brown at SAPPHIRE NOW, he is clearly focused on winning over new development partners by being part of a larger mobile development community.

Brown didn’t hesitate to engage my candid question – Why would I want to be an SAP developer partner?  “From the partners I’ve talked to, they are very excited. With the Jump-Start program, you have a quick way to get going, get licenses for users, and we make it low cost. We’ve also made our mobile infrastructure application capabilities available in the cloud. You can download our tools; you can try them, and start to build apps.”  Brown mentioned that SAP  has been actively working on simplifying the on-boarding process to attract new partners.

Bringing on new partners is just the first step. To hold the attention of developer partners, SAP wants to assure them that they will be compensated for their work.  Historically, SAP has not charged for mobile apps. But that is changing. As Brown stated, “How do you feed an ecosystem with partners if you are not charging for apps?” Brown relayed that SAP is also looking at innovative programs to successfully monetize developers efforts. “What I think is interesting is what happens after you build the app. The top apps will get marketing and we have a services team to help you implement this app on SAP. Our services team will have the ability to implement your application along with a suite of other apps.” For smaller development shops this support will be welcomed news. As Brown put it, “Now I can go to a vendor and say ‘You’ll have access to fifty thousand customers and we’ll help you market your app.’ We want to get that rolling.”

Part of getting things rolling quickly, is being able to leverage existing development environments.  SAP has made their intentions very clear that they are team players in this area. Brown was very excited about this front. “Another thing that is happening with our platform is we made announcements with Sencha, Apppcelerator and PhoneGap that go beyond our SKD to native integration into iOS, eclipse, visual studio, etc.” For Brown, the goal in minds is “to make sure that you can leverage these development environments for beautiful application functionality and UI.”  SAP wants to help developers take advantages of the rich toolsets that are out there. As well, “there are millions of developers that know how to use Sencha, Apppcelerator, etc. There are probably not millions of developers who know how to use some proprietary closed system. We want to open up and leverage these new opportunities. There will probably be more to come.” That should excite developers who are looking for ways to tie systems together to enable enterprise mobility.

One challenge SAP faces in attracting new development partners, is the sheer size of the platform. I asked Brown how they plan to effectively communicate what all the components and capabilities are. “This is a big push for us on the developer experience. When you look at the whole landscape of SAP it looks like a thousand boxes.” However, Brown sees opportunity to drive out confusion. “The focus we have to simplify things is around our NetWeaver Gateway.” This allows developers to produce OData as the content provided by SAP backend systems. “If you generate OData, then you have something that is usable by non-SAP developers. Now they can consume this. It looks like data they expect. It doesn’t have any SAP intrinsics in it.” What we are working on now, is providing those hooks into those design environments so they look like native objects that you can start to manipulate your applications against.”

Brown also discussed how SAP fits into a broader ecosystem. “We are making big strides forward to show that our mobile platform isn’t just for SAP, that it is also for non-SAP systems.” Brown mentioned that an attractive part of the Syclo acquisition is that the platform ties into many other backend systems. When it comes to SAP’s mobile vision, this seems to just be the beginning. Brown emphatically stated, “We keep broadening our integration capabilities.”

On the enterprise mobility front, SAP is embracing the idea of the mobile ecosystem at its finest; realizing that you need to become a piece that frictionlessly fits into a larger whole. This playing nice in the ecosystem at large is what will win new developer converts and position SAP well in the future of enterprise mobility.

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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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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Enterprise Mobility – Data in the Driver’s Seat – Part II

This is the second half of a two part series examining data’s central driving role in enterprise mobility. Part Iexamined the aspects of data management. Today we’ll look at how a robust enterprise app ecosystem is derived from the data requirements.

There are many apps and services available that target enterprise users – almost too many. In assessing if an app or service is the right fit for your organization what do you use to inform your judgment? How do you go about assembling your enterprise mobile app ecosystem? What steers your strategy? Data is the cornerstone of a robust enterprise mobile ecosystem. If you have a robust data management process in your organization it will provide the clarity required to select the right apps and services, as well as understand the boundaries for your ecosystem.

Required Capabilities

Once you have done the legwork to develop a data inventory and management practice, you will have a sense of not only the data itself, but also the process that drives this data. This is invaluable in developing an enterprise mobility strategy and ecosystem because you are able to eliminate the noise and distraction of that ‘shiny new functionality’ in any given app. You will be able to zero in on capabilities that support those data processes. App/Service evaluation is less about cool and more about capable. It is important to ask – does this app have the flexibility to fit within my current and future processes?  Knowing how data moves about in your organization will allow you to tightly focus your ecosystem to provide just the right level of functionality to your users. The apps you chose for your enterprise ecosystem need to fit your data processes.

Access & Control – Getting at the Data

When evaluating apps or services, the insights you gain from your data management process will also drive the access and control questions. What sort of data access privileges do you require as an administrator; a power user; a common user? Does an app or service even provide the level of granular access control? It is also important to understand how easy or difficult it is to control data access. An app or service may allow you to fine-tune access permissions, but if it is clunky you could end up wasting a lot of time.

As well, are you able to access the entire data set easily? Are you able to import and export the data? This is particularly important for several reasons. First, if you want to use a service but have existing data you want to leverage, without being able to import it you are DOA .Next, if you are unhappy with an app or service and you want to change, you will need to export the data.  If you can’t export the entire data set you could be stuck or have to start over and heads may roll. Lastly, don’t underestimate the power of manipulating data, especially sales data, in applications like Microsoft Excel. I have seen companies select cloud services with poor import/export capabilities and pay dearly later when they need to access it in entirety.

Data Sensitivity

Data is also in the driver’s seat because many organizations are wanting to mobile-enable existing data sets. Many of these data sets are considered sensitive. This alone is often the deciding factor of leveraging a public cloud service or app vs needing to build a custom one that is on-premise. Data sensitivity often determines an organization’s appetite for risk.

These are just a few of the key high-level considerations that data influences in the assembly of an enterprise app ecosystem. Data is the understated driver in a sound enterprise mobility strategy. Data will determine a number of key directions.  Apps may possess the ‘coolness’ factor, but it is in the data that enterprises will find a ROI with mobility. How else do you see data driving the ecosystem? 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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