87 posts categorized "Market Leaders"


Can Microsoft Take Off With First Notable Surface Deployment?

Following its Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 that took place last week, Microsoft officially announced its first large enterprise deployments through Delta Air Lines today. As Delta comes aboard the Windows RT bandwagon through the purchase of 11,000 Surface 2 tablets, the company not only aims to lower its fuel and associated costs, but is also looking to enhance efficiency among its workforce. As per the announcement, Microsoft Surface 2 tablets, will initially be used as electronic flight bags (by leveraging Jeppesen’s FliteDeck Pro app that is targeted for the Windows platform) and will enable the airline to eliminate paper-based flight kits that happen to be heavy in nature. The rollout will start with pilots that are flying Boeing 757 and 767 fleets and will make its way into all Delta cockpits by the end of 2014.

This deployment is also significant since it is a natural follow-up to Delta’s commitment to the Windows platform. Back in August 2013, the company announced a 19,000 Nokia Lumia 820 Windows Phone deployment for its flight attendants. These devices are primarily utilized for Dynamics for Retail technology on onboard customer purchases. In-flight purchases that are enabled by these devices not only include food and beverages but also include paying for seat upgrades and receiving   e-mailed receipts as a result of these transactions. The company also announced that a near-term update would include processing digital coupons on customers’ mobile devices. This deployment (including the custom mobile POS solution) was developed by Avanade, Microsoft and AT&T and will operate over both Wi-Fi as well as AT&T’s 4G LTE Network. Delta’s and other airlines’ efforts for enterprise mobility solution deployments also comes in timely since FAA is looking to expedite the approval of electronic devices during takeoffs and landings soon.

While we have all heard of pretty large deployments with iOS and Android-based solutions, (or about smaller deployments based on Windows Phone 8 or Microsoft Surface), this is the first sizeable deployment for Microsoft’s mobile business. Given the fact that the second generation Surface devices were just introduced last week, such large commitments from a large corporation like Delta could get the company start things off on the right foot. Despite the confusion that Surface RT created with its inability to run Windows 7 software last year when it first came out, Surface 2 which is also running on ARM processor can be Microsoft’s special-purpose device targeted for the enterprises that are looking for lower-priced solutions and could use the long battery life. This second-generation Surface RT solution that has a lower price tag could also be a somewhat more expensive alternative to lower-end Android-based solutions for organizations that do not want to let go of the Windows platform.


Turning the Page on e-Textbooks

The fact that today’s book stores are more a relic than a real destination for those in search of textbooks reflects the digitalization of an entire industry. Both Borders and Cengage have declared bankruptcy over the last two years and companies like Barnes and Noble have tirelessly transitioned their strategy towards an online presence as opposed to their brick and mortar beginnings. It is therefore easy to cite the e-textbook as the next cutting edge in disruptive technology, especially due to price advantages posed by resellers like Amazon and their aggressive strategy towards digital content.  Take for example the survey released by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group that revealed seven in ten college students claimed not to have purchased a textbook at least once due to prices that were too high.

The pricing advantage of digital content however is not the only disruption the e-textbook poses for its traditional counterpart. In fact, the e-textbook market is only in its infancy as the following capabilities pose a threat to not only replace the textbook but re-imagine the quintessential learning experience:

  • Capacity to embed interactive tools  and multimedia
  • Ease of access to real time, updated content and Open Educational Resources (free, open licensed resources for the public)
  • New distribution channels that offer instant, ubiquitous access to content, cannibalizing traditional models of distribution
  • Ability to leverage big data and analytics

Simply transferring textbook content onto a digital platform is only the first step for the e-textbook market. In the horizon we see a complete transformation of once static content that promises to change how content is purchased, relationships with authors and the classroom as a whole. As such, the future of the e-textbook market boasts the following opportunities:

  • Embedded assessments and interactive tools that align with core curriculum standards
  • Social and collaborative platforms for discussion between students
  • Leveraging data based predictive analytics and personalized learning
  • OER based on established and proven pedagogy
  • Ubiquitous support and resources for OER

As these opportunities become realized, established dominance by major textbook and publishing companies will be questioned, encouraging consolidation of the market. Smaller vendors specializing in these capabilities like Inkling and CaféScribe may be acquired while major vendors will be forced to continue to adapt to a changing textbook ecosystem as Pearson has already shown through its OER project Blue Sky. The rise of OER will severely disrupt existing textbook market control and bring legal battles over copywrited material to the forefront. Those looking to succeed will need to look beyond simple, digitalized content and embrace the change of the learning environment. 


Security Concerns – The High Hurdle for Mobile Enablement in the Enterprise

VDC data has repeatedly shown that organizations recognize the opportunity to benefit from consumer-oriented mobile devices from a business context; however, many CIOs remain adverse to extending mobile applications to their workforce. This is due to a variety of factors that range from acknowledging that they are not properly equipped to support mobile platforms (from an IT and resource perspective) to being unable to successfully articulate the value proposition and ROI from mobile enablement to corporate leaders. However, as you might expect, security concerns remain a high hurdle and are why the most rational well-planned business cases for investing in a mobile solution are regularly put on the back burner. As shown below, 62% of respondents to a recent VDC survey with >$1B in annual revenue stated that security concerns were a major challenge when evaluating or implementing a mobile solution.


There is no question that presenting the business case for mobile IT investments is a challenge, even for CIOs at progressive companies. It is up to these leaders to demonstrate that mobility investments can positively impact shareholder value and drive business results. While this is no easy task, vendors are well aware of the need to emphasize their security capabilities — this has made developing enhanced security features into enterprise-oriented solutions a key priority, and is opening up significant opportunities for mobile-first, best-of-breed security-oriented ISVs to partner with established incumbent vendors (e.g., Mocana's recent partnership with SAP).

MDM vendors are a significant force in the mobile security software market, accounting ~60% of 2012 revenues in our upcoming (August 2013) mobile security report. However, moving forward, traditional MDM vendors will be challenged to evolve their platforms quickly enough to keep up with the pace of innovation occurring amongst security-oriented ISVs. For this reason it is imperative that MDM vendors embrace the mobile ecosystem to benefit from the innovative solutions that are being brought forth by mobile-first ISVs.


Established Vendors Demonstrate They Can Innovate In Digital Payments

In July 2013, Visa provided multiple updates on the success that the company has so far received with its V.me digital wallet service. As you may remember, the company had an initial launch in United States in 2012, was already forming partnerships with US banks and went global by adding Canada, UK, Spain and France soon after. As of last week, the company has partnerships with over 90 financial institutions in the US, including Bank of America and PNC Bank, almost doubling the number of organizations supporting the service in an 8-9 months timeframe. Likewise, the company has confirmed that the number of merchants that are on board with V.me service has crossed 250 with over 25% of them signing up in Q2 2013. This can certainly be considered a success in an ecosystem with more established solution providers such as PayPal, Square and Google.  

This service enables consumers to make purchases (both online and in-store) using their smartphones, tablets or PCs without entering their account number, billing/ shipping information, etc. Instead, each shopper has a unique username and password to use in their transactions, which helps in addressing shopper-fatigue in filling out long forms. The company is also supporting accounts from its long-time competitors MasterCard, Discover and American Express. As part of its global expansion, the company has announced that it will launch its V.me solution in Australia before the holiday season to take advantage of the Australians who are receptive to online shopping. The company is aiming to benefit from its long history in the payments space, and its strong security features which include encryption and authentication.

Another important update came from Isis with its announcement for a nationwide roll out of Isis Mobile Wallet as a result of the early successes the company received in Austin, Texas and Salt Lake City, Utah. As you might recall, Isis is a joint venture that was created by carriers AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless. Isis Mobile Wallet is using NFC technology to accept payments. Likewise, consumers can also redeem coupons and display loyalty cards just by tapping their smartphones. The number of mobile devices (spread across these three carriers) that currently support Isis is thirty five with more to follow in the upcoming months and years. The company also shared some interesting stats from its pilot that launched in Q4 2012 claiming that contactless payments are accepted in over 4,000 locations in these two cities (combined), more than tripling in the past 9-10 months. Hence, according to Isis, more than 80% of transactions took place at retail outlets such as gas stations, convenience stores, quick-service restaurants, grocery stores and such. Thus, with digital payments increasingly becoming a part of our lives, it will be interesting to see how the market evolves.


MDP Space Heating Up - Funding Announced for Xamarin, Appcelerator & Others

The market for enterprise-grade app platforms is continuing to attract substantial investments. Today's funding announcement of $16M Series B funding for mobile first startup Xamarin follows on the coattails of Appcelerator's $12.1M funding announcement just yesterday, bringing the company up to a total of more than $63M in funding.  In the past few months companies such as FeedHenry and Kony have also received notable funding rounds.

This uptick in funding in the MDP market is indicative of a clear market gap.  While the past year has seen substantial interest in the enterprise community in development of sophisticated internal and customer-facing mobile apps, these organizations face a tremendous uphill battle in actually developing these apps.  MDP vendors have emerged to try to rectify this challenge, bringing attractive UIs and simple platforms to maket to facilitate rapid, cost-effective development of cross-platform apps.

More tenured vendors in this space, such as Antenna and Verivo, continue to invest to build out strong functionality (including HTML 5 and enhanced integration capabilities), brands and channel relationships in the market.  As newer entrants (FeedHenry, Sencha, Xamarin and Appcelerator) grow their customer bases, we expect to see significant product announcements and continued funding announcements in the months to come.  Verivo, for example, launched Akula just this month, complementing the company's existing MDP product with an open platform solution. Sencha, an HTML5 oriented MDP, announced Sencha Space just today at its annual SenchaCon event.  Sencha Space is a secure and managed environment for deploying mobile HTML5 business applications. 



What Does an 'Enterprise' Smartphone/Tablet Look Like?

Due to the valuable and often sensitive nature of the content residing on mobile devices, and the inherent insecurity of modern mobile computing platforms, CIOs and IT personnel know that they must make protecting their mobile end points from the vulnerabilities and threats that they are regularly exposed to a top priority. Handset OEMs and mobile ISVs are in tune with these trends and are beginning to augment and enhance the security mechanisms to protect both corporate liable and BYOD devices. The goal is in hiding the complexity associated with the enterprise-grade security they are adding from consumers who are the ultimate buyers of the devices.

Hardening the OS w/o Affecting the UX

In just the past 8 weeks, all four of the major mobile computing platform vendors held their own developer / ecosystem oriented events (BlackBerry Live and Google IO (May), and Apple's WWDC and Microsoft's Build (June). While each respective company's mobile initiatives (save BlackBerry) weren't necessarily front and center, the enterprise mobility strategies of each were thoughtfully "rolled out" and messaged. The mobile elements of these events received plenty of attention from the media and analyst community.

Handset OEMs are very well aware of the enterprise opportunity ahead of them – while Apple's Senior Manager of device management Todd Fernandez poked fun at his company for furthering its enterprise strategy "lookout I just used the 'e' word", Apple did announce several notable security enhancements to its latest version of iOS, and did proceed to updated its 'Apple for Business' web site.

The Platform Battle is on


While BlackBerry’s mobile solutions have historically been synonymous with large mobile deployments in enterprise settings, the iconic handset manufacturer’s slow move to touchscreens has significantly impacted its market share and given competing platforms such as Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android an opportunity to take over in the enterprise. As depicted above, this has BlackBerry (and Microsoft) on the outside looking in on the enterprise market.

The security enhancements that Apple teased at WWDC were indeed notable, IT-friendly improvements included: auto-updates for apps, better app multitasking, per-application VPN, enterprise SSO capabilities, streamlined device-management enrollment, better app license management. However, competitors focused on Google's Android platform (e.g., Samsung, HTC, Huawei et al – along with mobile ISVs) are taking advantage of the platforms' openness and innovating on a broad range of enhanced security features on Android devices. Not to mention that these vendors are able to innovate, harden, and develop their own security enhanced (SE) features by leveraging the good work that originated in NSA to better protect the integrity of apps and data on the Android platform.


Microsoft seems to have blown an opportunity at the recently concluded Build conference – Mr. Ballmer spent all of 3 minutes on Windows Phone 8. While Microsoft did disclose that Sprint would be carrying a new device, many of us expected to hear more. It seems clear that the vendor has been slow on delivering its 'General Distribution Release 2' (GDR2) update for Windows Phone 8 – although it is rumored that at least 2 GDR updates are forthcoming and will be delivered prior to the upcoming 'Blue' release. Regardless of any potential enhancements that are planned, what I see mattering is where mobile ISVs are focused.

So what does an enterprise Smartphone/Tablet look like? For now, iDevices, and Android devices (with mobile ISVs focused on both, and the Android inclined handset OEMs who have formailzed enterprise strategies focusing on the latter).


Google's Continued Push into the SMB Market

Google announced today its addition of several BYOD management features to Android devices:

  1. Selective wipe - Remove Google Apps account data without wiping a user’s entire device. 
  2. SD card wipe - During a full device wipe, wipe SD cards in addition to the internal memory.
  3. Device Policy app - Ensure that security policies are enforced across all devices by requiring the latest version of the Device Policy app. 
  4. Wi-Fi configuration - Enter wi-fi settings in the Admin console once -- and they'll be automatically pushed out to all managed Android devices.

So, does this mean the end for today's leading MDM vendors (e.g. AirWatch, MobileIron, Good Technologies, SAP)?  No - clearly these features are limited to Android devices, and many enterprises will require more sophistcated management features.

So what does this announcement mean?  Well for one, we can expect a continued push by Google into the B2B market - leading, it seems, with solutions simplifying management for small and medium businesses.  For SMBs that have yet to develop sophisticated BYOD management policies, this is an attractive option.  Further, this announcement puts another check into the Android box for enterprises that are looking to see how Android and iOS stack up in terms of meeting enterprise requirements.



Mobile Payments Market Getting More Crowded In Americas Market

Last week, Sweden’s iZettle announced that it is expanding out of Europe and bringing its mobile
payments system to Mexico. The news did not come as a total shock, given the announcement from earlier this month that announced the partnership between iZettle and the Spanish bank Banco Santander with Santander’s €5M ($6.6M USD)  investment in this Swedish start up. Along with this partnership, iZettle had gained access to Santander’s customers in the United Kingdom. Even though the investment looked relatively small in comparison to the funding that Square has received – the most recent one being $200M in Q3 2012 – it is very significant since Mexico marks iZettle’s first
non-European market and is also a market where Square is not participating in. With so many people knowing iZettle as Square’s “European cousin”, this bold move could very well be just a stepping stone to the Swedish company in their plan to further expand into Americas market.

Trying to conquer the Latin America market does come with a price though. iZettle had to develop a new device which is kind of like an all-in-one type of solution for all platforms to enable the company to process payment both through chip-based and mag-stripe based solutions. The cost of tweaking its solution was reflected through an increase in its transaction fees from its flat 2.75% fee in Europe to 3.75% for chip-based transactions and 4.75% for mag-stripe based transactions in Mexico. Likewise, the reader is also being sold for about $40 to the merchants except to the Banco Santander customers who will be getting a discount. The opportunity, on the other hand, is also massive given the majority of the business in Mexico being small and medium-sized enterprises that could likely prefer buying such readers over investing in more traditional payment solutions. According to iZettle’s CEO, 95% of the cards in Mexico are chip-enabled. Just like the fact that this is seen as a key reason for Square not yet moving to European market, this could very well be an important factor that is keeping the company away from expanding into Mexican market. iZettle already had presence in multiple country markets in Europe – including UK, Spain, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland and Germany – while Square’s operations are limited to US, Canada and Japan following a recent expansion.

While Square continues to take its time before moving into the Latin America market, the competitive landscape is definitely getting more crowded in this sub-region. Some strong players include Zoop in Brazil and Mobiliz in Mexico. Though it is not certain which country markets these companies will expand into next, there is also start ups like Clip, which raised $1.5M funding with its Square-like solution that will be primarily focused on the needs and requirements of the Spanish-speaking countries like Mexico. Albeit it is still too early to tell which companies will be “winning” at the end, forming strategic partnerships with “local” leaders does seem to make entering new country markets a little less challenging for these start ups.


Electronic Flight Bag Programs Are Ready for Take Off

Earlier today, American Airlines announced that the company has completed its Electronic Flight Bag (EFB) implementation, making it the first major commercial airline to deploy EFB throughout its fleet. Along with this deployment, the company is not only discontinuing paper revisions to terminal charts, but will also be replacing over 35 lbs of paper-based manuals and various materials that the pilots have been carrying in each flight. This will enable the company to not only be greener with eliminating 24 million pages of paper but will also help its bottomline by saving $1.2 million of annual fuel costs.

After getting FAA’s approval to use Apple’s iPad in all of the airline’s current fleet types and during all phases of flights, the company deployed over 8,000 iPads. Mobile software that the devices will be running is provided by Jeppesen, a unit of Boeing Digital Aviation. The FAA-approved Mobile Terminal Chart application by Jeppesen is allowed to be used from gate-to-gate throughout all phases of flights. Jeppesen has been serving the aviation market with its mobile EFB solutions - Mobile FliteDeck VFR, Mobile FliteDeck and FliteDeck Pro and has been partnering with organizations like AirWatch for an optional MDM capability in order to provide a complete solution to its customers. These solutions not only allow pilots to access and navigate terminal charts but also help them save time in getting updates. Other commercial airlines such as Alaska Airlines, United Airlines and Delta Air Lines have also deployed tablets to their fleets, along with large business jet fleet operators like NetJets, Flexjet and Flight Options.

The approval to use EFBs throughout all phases of the flight will likely attract more commercial airlines to fully deploy a solution. Especially with airlines like JetBlue that already have in-flight WiFi deployed, enabling them to send real time updates to pilots around weather and document updates,
replacing paper manuals with EFB programs would allow the pilots to be much more efficient while performing their duties in a secured manner.


Android is Enterprise Viable

Android’s perception problem is largely due to well-documented flaws in OS releases prior to v4.0, which have been plagued with malware. The good news is that many of the exploits are limited to older versions of the operating system. The bad news is that more than 50% of the Android devices in use are on versions prior to v4.0 and, according to Google, 44% of Android users are still on Gingerbread (v2.3.3 - 2.3.7; many of these devices were released two years ago). This platform fragmentation will persist as a problem, as handset OEMs continue to sell pre-v4.0 devices. Additionally, many users can’t upgrade to the latest OS release because the process is tightly controlled by their carriers, which have been slow and inconsistent (at best) in updating devices on their networks.

Improved Security Mechanisms

While the BYOD trend has opened new opportunities for businesses, it has also introduced new risks. The continued uplift in Android market share not only has more consumers bringing these devices into the workplace, but has IT organizations increasingly open to supporting the devices due to the important incremental security enhancements Google has made since the initial release of Android in 2008. The most recent Jellybean Android firmware incorporated several critical security enhancements such as Address Space Layout Randomization (ASLR) and Data Execution Prevention (DEP). ASLR is a defensive technique that has long been a security mechanism for desktop and server operating systems; DEP imprints important structures that reside in memory as non-executable. These exploit-mitigation elements are common features in desktop Linux distributions, and are critical to the Android platform. They harden and protect it from exploits such leakage of kernel addresses that lead to privilege escalations and expose devices to privacy and security risks. Similar to malware problems that plagued earlier versions of Windows, pre-v4.0 Android releases are vulnerable due to the platforms’ openness. Not to mention, that the "bouncer" feature that Google added to their Google Play app store security mechanisms seems to have also helped with "bad apps".

While improvements have been made, Google has much further to go. The commitment from handset OEMs like Samsung and HTC has helped raise the bar for Android, as these vendors are partnering effectively and integrating IT-friendly security mechanisms into their devices. However, additional precautions and considerations should be taken into account for mission-critical deployments in corporate environments - vendors such as Motorola Solutions recognize this and have raised the bar with their Assured Mobile Environment (AME) solution. The platform battle looks like it will be continuing for the forseeble future (be sure to check out my next post on tnis topic).