Tag Archives: strategy

Enterprise Mobility is No Game

EA games (Electronic Arts, Inc.) recently released Plants vs. Zombies 2. Plants vs. Zombies has to be one of my favorite games to play on my mobile device. For those of you that don’t know, Plants vs Zombies is what’s known as a tower defense game. The object is to eliminate enemies as they attempt to cross a map. This is done by strategically placing artillery, mines, walls, etc. in the path of the approaching enemy. In the case of Plants vs. Zombies, instead of artillery, players place objects like pea-shooting plants to defeat zombies as they try to reach your house and eat your brains.

This follow-up to the extremely popular first version achieved over 16 million downloads in less than a week. However, there is one catch—it’s only available on iOS. For those of us on the Android platform, which by the way has almost 80% of the global mobile market share, we are out of luck. And with no Android release date in sight, non-iOS users are left in the lurch (bad zombie pun intended).

There are definitely financial reasons for this approach with consumer apps. For example, iOS users spend more money on apps and in-app purchases. Also, many organizations are allowing consumerization practices to influence business methodology and decision making. However, this single OS approach to app development should, categorically, not be followed by the enterprise.

Enterprise app development must take a very broad device approach. In the world of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) there is no guarantee what devices employees will show up to work with. In order to achieve the most return on your mobile investment you should aim to support the most number of users. The allure of the simplicity and controlled nature of devices’ homogeneity is a limited strategic approach. The popular device of today will be replaced by the next cool device of tomorrow. This will lead to a never-ending cycle of playing catch-up that will be cost prohibitive.

Enterprises need to anticipate supporting the vast array of ever-changing devices on the market. Combine BYOD with the notion of the Internet of Things, and enterprises have even stronger justification for a diverse mobile approach. Anything short of a heterogeneous approach to mobile devices, apps, data, and management will paint your mobile strategy into a digital corner where you will be stuck waiting for the paint to dry.

When it comes to mobile app development, how can businesses overcome and address an ever-expanding ecosystem of device proliferation? There are platforms available for developers that do a decent job of bridging the gap between the different mobile operating systems. Platforms such as PhoneGap, Appcelerator, and Sencha allow developers to write the application in a single language that then compiles to a native app. There are some drawbacks to this approach. As much as we love the development process to be write once, use many times, cross-platform development tools still require some tweaking per OS. However, these platforms will get you 95% of the way there.

Your device management strategy needs to be heterogeneous as well. While Samsung and the upcoming iOS 7 release will offer device management and enterprise services, a single platform approach to managing devices is a step in the wrong direction. This convenience of built-in services that are vendor-based is greatly outweighed by the need to have an enterprise mobility management strategy that is flexible for the future. Organizations would be better served to explore one of the many mobile management solutions available to support a wide variety of devices, have app management, and ultimately provide information management.

As hardware diversity increases, organizations need to not only display data on various devices, but also collect data from an ever-increasing range of devices. This could include IT infrastructure, manufacturing equipment, and even display cases. The cost of embedding Internet connectivity is approaching negligible. With this hurdle removed, the matrix of connected devices in an organization is only going to grow. Is your organization prepared for this sort of dynamic addition of mobility? Are you thinking A to Z or just Apple and Android?

The consumerization of IT does not have to mean that the enterprise takes every aspect of the consumer approach and translates it directly into a business strategy. Enterprises that approach BYOD as BY-iOS-D will find they have a left-out and frustrated user base alongside an inferior position for the future. Like tower defense games such as Plants vs. Zombies, organizations need a broad heterogeneous strategy to anticipate and manage the onslaught of mobility. The inability to predict new devices and methods of connectivity necessitates this approach. There is and will be no single dominant mobile end point. Why play like there is?

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


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Filed under Apps, Future, Mobile, Strategy

The Evolution of BYOD – What You Should Be Losing Sleep Over

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.

The Evolution of BYOD – What You Should Be Losing Sleep Over

Chris PerretI spoke recently with Chris Perret, CEO of Nukona Inc., to get his take on the Consumerizaton of IT.  Chris’ balanced command of industry insight and technical detail bodes well for Nukona, whose innovative solution is the epitome of a better mouse trap. His well-tempered outlook allowed for a nuanced mobile management conversation that, buoyed by his strong technical foundation, provided excellent insight into the future of BYOD.

Nukona is a relatively new company to the relatively new space of BYOD. The company began 18 months ago when Perret and the Nukona team decided to approach the problem of consumer devices in the enterprise. They believed that what many enterprises were and are undergoing is not a transition to consumer devices, but “something far more fundamental than that”.  According to Perret “we are undergoing a move toward an “app-centric enterprise.” This means that apps are taking center stage in the access to corporate data. “The app is the terminal to the enterprise data and therefore, it is the app that you need to secure and manage,” noted Perret. His perspective is that the information is most important; it is an organization’s information that is the liability and not the device. “The device no longer matters in terms of management.”  Perret warns that “in an app-centric world users want an instant on, app for anything, unfettered access experience – so much so that they will go around IT if the experience is locked down too tightly.”  This expectation can cause data exposure if not managed properly.

BYOD Insight – It is the access the apps have, not devices that endanger your data.


Perret’s default position is that “the device is a hostile environment.”  He views the trust model as fundamentally broken.  Devices have multipath connections (3G 4G LTE etc). They can run anonymous code. They can travel away from the corporate environment. “Even with well-intentioned employees organizations need to assume that the device is hostile.”  Many of the endpoint management solutions currently available don’t manage apps from this perspective. “They don’t have software control over apps, they can’t prevent the running of anonymous code, they can’t do packet inspection to detect data exports, etc.” Perret thinks it is imperative that IT shouldn’t trust the environment in which employees are accessing enterprise data.

BYOD Insight – Devices are hostile environments – manage accordingly.

Perret was also very astute to point out that the early MDM vendors took on a hard problem. They began developing solutions back when Symbian and other older systems were the top enterprise devices. Early MDM vendors had to write low-level code to control these first-generation devices. They did this because device management was the natural place to go.  Yet, once deployed, “organizations realized they needed apps for their managed devices,” Perret noted.  As time went on app requests expanded even further into the 3rd-party ecosystem.  IT departments found out that they got right into mobile app management as soon as device management was complete.  Perret argues that “every MDM customer will have need of mobile app management solutions as time passes.”

BYOD Insight – Managing devices is just the first step – recognize that you’ll be managing apps as well.

The last piece of the puzzle that Nukona wanted to solve was how to handle the diversity of app development. Perret noted that there are standards and APIs available to developers but that this approach has serious limitations. “Both approaches expect a behavioral change in developers,” he warned. This also places a reliance on audit mechanisms. It is a weak security practice to expect developers to become experts in security. Perret thinks that the role of developers should be to focus on leveraging the best tools available to create the best apps they can rather than on becoming security experts.

BYOD Insight – Don’t rely on the app development process to protect your data.


Next up – how Perret envisions enterprises can solve these challenges. 


NukonaAbout Nukona – Nukona has designed a unique enterprise-grade mobile management solution that delivers an outstanding, intuitive consumer-like app store user experience for employees, while also providing the level of management, control and security that IT requires to support data loss prevention and compliance on both personal and corporate devices. To learn more visit http://www.nukona.com


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


Filed under Management, Mobile, Strategy

The Secret to a Great Mobile Leader

“The task of the leader is to get his people from where they are to where they have not been.”

— Henry Kissinger


In the last few days there have been a couple hotly debated articles in the twittersphere regarding ITs position to the consumerization of IT. On Tuesday the kindling was provided by Rachael King’s article “Nearly half of IT managers still against BYOD trend” and yesterday’s was a piece by Galen GrumanGuess what? IT isn’t afraid of consumerization after all.” . The resultant 140 character exchanges from these articles that I participated in and witnessed were passionately argued from both perspectives. Those on the vanguard of mobility scoffed in disbelief at those who cling to the fixed infrastructure of the past. On the other side, those desiring consistency and security remained baffled at those who are buying into this cloud and mobility “hype”.  All in all, if the IT industry could have been represented by a manual transmission car over that last few days you would have been able to hear the gears grinding and feel the car jerking from a long ways off. This will only continue in the long run as we shift gears from a technological world-view dominated by the PC to a mobile one – from a single point access to anytime-anywhere access. This is a shift not only in hardware but in role as well. What IT needs most to smooth out the impending ideological clash, is CIOs and IT leaders who have a deep understanding of the value of mobility, can maintain a cool head, and communicate a clear vision.

It will not be possible for IT leaders to set the correct tone for the organization without a deep understanding of the implications of a mobile workforce with a persistent cloud connection. This really is key to anything else that follows.  To lead well during this next phase of IT, it will be imperative to comprehend the value proposition of a mobile-centric world as it relates to your organization. This does not mean, however, blind submission and acceptance of all things mobile. Understanding the value of a tool allows one to know precisely when to use it as well as when not to use it. Understanding the value will allow you to be able to speak articulately in response to the “whys” and “what ifs” that will arise. Understanding the value proposition of mobile will also assist you in seeing through the emotional excitement, hype, and concern while responding with a reasoned approach.

The new versus the old, the way of the future versus the secure, the cost savings versus the headache – it would be easy for anyone to get caught up in the debate and the emotion. Yet, as a leader, you must resist. There will likely be both enthusiasts and conservative members of your staff when it comes to mobility. This is not to say that you can’t be impassioned toward mobility, but derision toward either side will only produce suspicion and mistrust. Leverage your understanding of the value proposition to quell tension, concern, and excitement. By avoiding the emotional froth created by the stirring up of the IT waters you’ll be able to maintain respect as a leader and give people the opportunity to want to see your vision implemented.

CIOs and IT managers need a clear vision for mobility that is communicated throughout the organization. This means not only the IT department but for the organization as a whole. A well communicated vision for mobility in an enterprise will demonstrate ITs relevancy as well as assist in reigning in rouge employees, insecure data silos, and shadow clouds. Your job as the IT leadership for the organization is to be ahead of everyone else. Laying out this vision allows everyone to move along a predictable path that you, rather then they, set. Your vision must also include a viable career path for your staff. As roles and responsibilities change it is bound to bring up employment security concerns. Communicate how you plan on realigning roles and resources as things change. Can you leverage mobility to free up staff to work on more strategic initiatives? Your vision should fully leverage the value of mobility for your organization.

The next few years will prove to be as exciting, if not more, as when the PC was introduced into the enterprise 30+ years ago. Make sure you are setting you, your team, and your company up to leverage a mobile-centric world to its fullest extent. Be the kind of leader that gives people the strong desire to want to be part of what you are planning. Inspire people to want to shift into a new way of thinking. Give people a new outlook on what is possible and how they can succeed!


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


Filed under Mobile, Strategy

Build Your BYOD Community

As more and more enterprises grow into a milieu dominated by BYOD (either through intentional planning or organic stumbling) the importance of accessing a shared pool of community knowledge will become paramount. The “How-To” of consumerization of IT is a rapidly evolving body of knowledge. With BYOD being so new, CIOs down to IT administrators will have little to no back-history to draw upon for planning, implementation, and support. Organizations will do well to connect with the BYOD community at large to share and learn as they go.

Besides the obvious reason of following in the footsteps of other’s success, why should an enterprise allot dedicated time, energy and resources to connecting with other enterprises who are formalizing BYOD? One good reason is that those “footsteps” disappear just as fast as they are made. The relevancy of patterns and practices can shift quickly – the success or mistake that an organization made yesterday may not even be a possible outcome today. Devices, Operating Systems, Apps, threats, etc. are changing so rapidly that what worked recently may no longer be relevant. A much better solution to the same problem may exist 1 month from now and therefore doing it as others have may be folly. Staying connected with others allows for rapid sharing of knowledge to keep abreast of changes.

Another excellent reason to be connected to the BYOD community is that other IT professionals have and are asking very important questions as best practices emerge. In fact, others are probably looking at the consumerization of IT in ways that you haven’t thought of yet; bringing up challenges, concerns, and strategy that would be very valuable to you and your enterprise. Just as it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a community to evaluate the problem set and keep on top of all the changes.

Those involved in strategic planning, implementation, and support of BYOD in the enterprise need to become part of a community. They need access to real time information. Relying on static documents and guides could prove troublesome as the device landscape and ecosystem continues to change and accelerate at a phenomenal pace. So where, besides twitter, can IT organizations connect with those in the thick of BYOD implementations? Here are a few resources to get you started connecting with others:

Galen Gruman, executive editor at InfoWorld, had started the group Consumerization on Linkedin. Linkedin groups are an excellent way to have ongoing dialogs with other subject matter experts.  InfoWorld has also create a channel specifically for the Consumerization of IT. There is a plethora of current articles and information there.

A second group on Linkedin is BYOD : Bring Your Own Device. Again these groups are great for putting practical questions out there and getting feedback.

Another excellent online resource for connecting with those focused on enterprise mobility management is The Enterprise Mobility Forum. The Enterprise Mobility Forum’s mission is to be the global community builder and evangelist for showcasing the value of successfully deploying and managing mobility solutions within organizations in the public and private sector. You can find them at: http://theemf.org

Lastly, there is always the old-fashioned option of connecting in person with others at an event. One BYOD dedicated event that is right around the corner is the CITE (Consumeration of IT in the Enterprise) conference and expo. This will be held March 4-6 2012 in San Francisco.

No matter how you connect with other IT professionals for your BYOD planning, deployment, and implementation, it is important that you do. In the realm of BYOD, we are all walking along on a dimly lit path. Unfortunately, with such limited visibility there are bound to be a few of us who trip. But, with a few helping hands getting back up should be quick and easy. Better yet – perhaps someone will be able to catch you before you even fall!   I would love to hear some of the ways you are connecting with the BYOD community at large – 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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Running Full-Speed Towards BYOD – Don’t trip!

Mobile devices are exponentially finding their way into businesses. IT organization are making plans on how to manage and control this onslaught through MDM. It’s great that everyone’s now got a fantastic fancy new phone that they can bring to the workplace – but what, besides email, are they going to do with them once they get there?  A single app won’t, most likely, be worth that much effort. An app or two may be a first step but it doesn’t even begin to leverage the advantages of a mobile workforce that has a constant connection to the cloud. Perhaps, you think it would be best to ease into the whole BYOD thing slowly; only start with a couple of mobile apps.  I am all for testing the waters, but don’t confuse implementing your mobile app strategy as a controlled trickle with a lukewarm approach to app planning. You need a solid plan around what capabilities will be required to have a mobile-only workforce (and you will eventually have a mobile-only workforce).  Before you get too far down the consumerization road you should define your mobile-ecosystem needs and requirements.

People use the term ecosystem as loosely as they do cloud – but what does it really mean?  For the purpose of this article I am specifically examining the enterprise mobile app ecosystem and defining it as:

The apps that tie together data and tasks.

How many of you have actually sat down and laid out what your mobile-ecosystem capabilities will need to consist of? Are you thinking that it will just organically work itself out? Would you let that happen in the traditional desktop/server realm? Hardly! The added challenge with consumer devices is that it is all too easy for end users to go ‘rouge’ and download apps of their choosing. An organically-grown ecosystem will create major challenges down the road as the lack of planning will offer no cohesive guidance and vision to how your enterprise apps should work together.

In order to build the most productive mobile-ecosystem for your organization you must first be able to articulate:

1.       The data your workforce interacts with regularly

This means any sort of document, contacts, quotes, emails, diagrams, photos, etc. that your organization is producing, editing, and distributing.

2.       The actions end users take upon that data

What are the tasks, edits, additions, subtractions, etc. that your workforces takes against the above data?

These two items are the key building blocks to the design and plan of a mobile-ecosystem. They will give you a roadmap for implementation. As well, they give you a total picture of organizational workflow that can facilitate discussion and examination.

Once you have your list you can begin to identify apps that align your business needs and requirements with the capabilities of apps that are out there. There are some sites that can help you get started.  GetApp is a  great site to begin with for app reviews  and comparison. Since the enterprise app space is still maturing make sure you spend a little extra time on research to identify all the options. You’ll also want to make sure you pick apps from solidly backed companies that will still be around in a year or two.  Lastly, most apps have a free-trial period. If you have a more complete picture of what you mobile-ecosystem will need to look like you should coordinate free trials of the target app group to evaluate and understand their interaction and integration.

One final note on data; free – flowing data is key. As I have written about before, data that is in its own silo, no matter how useful the functions the app, will create limitations for any organization down the road. When evaluating an app – don’t get swooned by the sexy UI alone – make sure the data policies and capabilities allow the app to play nice. From a data perspective keep these questions in mind:

  1. Can data be uploaded?
  2. Can it be exported?
  3. Can it be shared across other apps?
  4. Can it be deleted?

Finding a mobile-ecosystem that meets all your capability requirements as well as that has data flexibility will give your organization the winning combination required to see some real productivity gains. The coming consumerization of IT affords businesses an opportunity to step back and evaluate what they work on and how they work. It creates the rare chance to restructure workflow and process as people make the switch from desktops to mobile. It allows organizations to start with a clean slate of opportunity that is unburdened by years of the desktop paradigm. Whether you do this in isolation or through a steering committee, now is your organization’s chance to build a best-of-class ecosystem.  Don’t blow it.


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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Filed under Management, Mobile, Productivity

How to Write your 2012 Technology Roadmap in Minutes

For the next 12 months do you know where you are going with technology?  Do you know how much you are going to spend on IT?  Are you just along for the ride, playing fireman and only putting out fires as you go? How will you measure your success for the next year? As we begin the New Year is it an excellent opportunity to spend a little bit of time thinking strategically about where your organization is going, why you are going there, and how to arrive. As well, arrive within an approved budget and set expectations.

Don’t make this planning task bigger than it needs to be. A well-thought-out Technology Roadmap consists of 4 parts:

  1. Problem Statements
  2. Solution Option(s)
  3. Recommended Solution
  4. Executive Summary

These parts don’t need to be long diatribes. In fact, the longer they are the less likely they’ll be read by others. Think a couple sentences for each point. More detail can be added later if requested. Just having an outline of a plan will put you ahead of the majority of IT organizations.


IT is typically a very reactive group. Many people want to jump straight to the solution without considering the problem they are trying to solve; a user has a problem and you want to fix it. Don’t be tempted to skip this step and go straight for the solution. Slow down and make yourself write a couple sentences as to what really is the problem you are trying to address. This process often exposes angles you haven’t thought of and intersections with other problems in your organization. Technology problems are usually small symptoms of larger interconnected systems and processes. Stating the problem draws these connections out. Perhaps a more unified and simpler answer exists. Take the 10 minutes to think before you jump.


Now that you have defined the problem you can approach tactical response(s).  It could be a single solution option – but many problems have multiple paths for resolution. You don’t need to go overboard with options.  It is best to keep it to 3 options at most – a low-cost, mid-cost, and the Cadillac option. With each option include the following:

  • Dependencies (if any)
  • Advantages
  • Disadvantages (including risks)
  • Cost
  • Timeline

You goal is to keep this brief – think summary – not verbosity. The goal of this exercise is not to write a dissertation and have every last detail considered but to put a framework around a technology discussion. Keep it simple; stick to the couple sentences guideline for each bullet point.


Lastly, briefly state what the recommended solution is and why. Use this part to honestly asses what the minimum viable solution would be. We would all love the Cadillac solution – but will it be overkill, adding cost and complexity to the problem?  Make sure to remember that you want a system to run with the minimal maintenance as possible. What is the right-size solution for your organization?


The Executive Summary is a rollup of the total costs and timeline of the recommended solutions. This will help with the decision making process to not only identify if costs are within budget (or what the budget ask should be) as well as what resources will be required to execute the roadmap.

Taking the small bit of time to figure out where to spend your time and IT budget for the coming year will reap big rewards and give you a way to measure success. Whether you are a one person show or part of a large enterprise, is it worthwhile to set a known course for this next trip around the sun. Why not spend the time to make it the most productive year yet!

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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No (real) App is an Island – Part II – Got a Plan?

In Part I we looked at the disadvantages of having employees leverage readily available “productivity” apps from their device marketplaces. This coupled with the app’s isolated stores of data will end up costing organizations time and money. As an organization you can deter this by proactively developing a plan for mobility, communicating that with the organization, and then putting it into action.

Developing a plan can sometimes be a stumbling block to beginning. I have put together this 5 W’s outline to help you with your planning. The 5 W’s is just Who, What, When, Where, and Why. The 5 W’s are questions in each of those areas that touch upon critical points that need to be decided. Use this as your starting point to understand how a mobile workforce will benefit your organization.

We’ll start at the end with the WHY for it is of utmost importance to understand where you are going before you think about how to get there.


Why, as a business, is mobile important for us? Where does mobile make sense – what aspects of our business are well suited for mobility? Are we trying to deliver better service, create additional revenue opportunities, allow for extended data access, offer convenience for employees, or give customers insight?  What is the end goal we trying to accomplish as a business though a mobile platform? Make sure you have a reason in mind. There is nothing worse than having technology for technology sake.


Who do we intend will be using a mobile offering – employees, customers, potential customers, contractors? Will it be everyone in these groups or just a subset, for example just full-time employees? Do we need to be concerned about who is accessing data (think HIPPA, Credit Card, PII data)? Who can see what data? How do we assure the right people are working with the right thing?


What data or processes do we plan on accessing through the mobile platform? How do we plan on identifying apps that can meet these requirements? What mobile platforms do we need/want to support? What is our process for evaluating these apps? How will the apps we use integrate with our current and future processes? Am I able to export/accesses data at a later date if I change applications? What is the backup model for the app? Who owns the data? What is the Total Cost of Ownership?


When do we anticipate users would be accessing the data or functionality? Does it need to be available 24/7? Does any data we intend to distribute need to be real-time? What is the Service Level Agreement and uptime requirements for our mobility strategy? Do we need to offer user support during business and/or off hours? If a defect is discovered how timely can it be resolved? Are there any restrictions as to when the system will be offline?


Where are users planning on accesses the data and processes from? Is it on a limited basis or all the time? Do we have a globally distributed team who needs to collaborate or individuals accessing from client sites? Will users have access to just handheld devices where they are? Does the apps we are looking at work well in that small form factor? Are the users remote all of the time and intend on a mobile device being their primary access?


Creating the mobility plan is the first step. Now get the word out! Communicate it frequently with your entire group of users. Collect their feedback and make adjustments to your plan. Mobility is a rapidly evolving space and you’ll need to adjust as well.  Create a process to evolve as technology and opportunity allows. This will shut the door to random one-off pieces of functionally that will cause problems down the road.

In order to be successful you also need to measure. Establish criteria for success.  Do you know how you are going to measure success? What are the metrics you are going to measure? Is it based on customer satisfaction, revenue, employee access? How are you going to collect these metrics? How often are you going to evaluate the plan and its metrics to make necessary adjustments?

There are now more mobile device connections in the United States than there are people. As the growth of capable devices expands it is inevitable that employees and clients alike will expect some level of interaction with your products or services. Employees and employers are increasingly embracing BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) and there is danger for organizations that don’t have a cohesive strategy in place to have mobility evolve uncontrolled with challenging and costly results.

Next I will discuss how to put this plan into action through, MDM, Mobile Device Management.

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Filed under Mobile, Productivity