86 posts categorized "Mobile Application Software and Middleware"

02/02/2016

A Smarter Election in 2016

Last night, the citizens of Iowa kicked off the presidential nomination process by coming out in record numbers to participate in the quirky, uniquely American Iowa Caucus. The event’s complicated voting process, with Republicans using a secret ballot and Democrats showing their support for candidates based on their location in the room, has resulted in a number of vote counting and reporting errors over the course of its history. Most recently, in 2012, Mitt Romney was declared the initial winner when in fact Rick Santorum had won by a mere 34 votes; a finding that took two weeks to determine and release publicly. This error afforded Romney a host of political benefits, including increased publicity and access to funding that he might not have otherwise received. Perhaps more vexing, however, was the fact that votes from eight of the state’s 1,774 precincts were lost in the process. While a small proportion of the total number of votes cast, this incident generated concern among many participants, causing them to question the legitimacy of the political process, in which all voters expect to have an equal voice.

Elections, if only due to their colossal size, are difficult to measure. The Florida recount during the 2000 presidential election exemplifies the issues associated with vote counting and the often unsuccessful implementation of technology to remedy a centuries old process. Moreover, technology in the election process is often accompanied by great skepticism, and blunders are not uncommon—see Mitt Romney’s 2012 ORCA program failure. As a result, it was not surprising to learn that Microsoft had developed and deployed a mobile application to count 2016 Iowa Caucus votes and streamline the process of distributing this information to party officials.

Modernizing the Voting Process

Microsoft in collaboration with its partner, InterKnowlogy, developed two mobile applications (one for Democrats and one for Republicans) that enable fail-safe data entry into its Azure cloud system; thus, providing timely and accurate results to party leaders, the media, and the public. While very simple applications, they nonetheless helped modernize a process previously reliant on pen, paper, and landline telephones. Furthermore, to enhance security, Microsoft built two-factor authentication into the application; a feature important for ensuring only privileged Caucus workers had access to the system.

IA Caucus Image

Image: Microsoft

Likely a public relations opportunity for Microsoft (the company offered its software for free), the process went smoothly despite some extremely close contests that could have caused a vote counting and reporting error in previous caucuses. This outcome, not only highlighted Microsoft technology, but also illustrated the transformative nature of mobile technology. While Microsoft and the political parties do not at this time intend to use the applications for other upcoming caucuses and primaries, the precedent has nevertheless been established.

The use of mobile technologies in the voting process remains limited, with traditional data collection (pen and paper) and information distribution (mail) processes the norm. As a result, attempts to improve the accuracy and speed of the process should spur mobile technology adoption over the course of the electoral season. For even Clinton’s and Sanders’s campaign created their own Caucus applications to track the outcomes throughout the course of the night in an attempt to fact-check the process.

Campaigning in the age of Mobility

Candidates for political office have understood the importance of technology for some time, with Obama successfully employing analytics and social media tools to win the 2008 presidential election. Since that time, mobile technologies have evolved substantially and the American populous’ use of these devices has similarly increased. As a result, candidates over the course of this election season will leverage these technologies even more as they attempt to systematically target potential voters and craft political messages.

Microsoft may have not made money on the Iowa Caucus deal, but many technology companies are positioned to benefit this year from billions of dollars of spending on political advertisements. A large portion of which will go to Google and Facebook, given their substantial user bases and advanced targeting capabilities. The advertisements and the platforms they run on are important, but success will largely depend on a campaign’s ability to leverage big data pertaining to potential voters. Utilizing advanced analytics, campaigns will refine their messages and targeting to have the greatest impact.

Digital and technical expertise differs significantly by party, as exemplified by the notable adeptness of the Obama campaigns in 2008 and 2012. Republicans, acknowledging the importance of leveraging data and digital platforms, have invested heavily in these areas as of late—either building in-house capabilities or hiring digital companies, such as Targeted Victory and Harris Media. Nonetheless, Democrats still possess greater resources in these areas and have stronger ties to Silicon Valley. In particular, Hillary Clinton’s chief technology officer Stephanie Hannon, a director of product management for civic innovation and social impact at Google, brings unmatched technical experience and knowledge to the campaign trail.    

An Evolving Political Future

Mobile technology, as a tool for advertising and voter engagement, will reach record heights this year as candidates attempt to accurately target and mobilize their voter bases. Mobile is fast becoming the most effective medium for reaching target audiences, and politicians like companies continue to shift their resources towards this channel. More interesting, however, is the use of mobile technology to support electoral processes as in the case of the Iowa Caucus. Mobile devices and applications support mission-critical workflows in a number of industries from healthcare to public safety, but the political process has largely remained outside the influence of these technologies. In this way, Microsoft set a precedent that will likely serve as an impetus for further modernization. However, it will be the people, ultimately, who will need to decide the extent to which technology will be allowed to influence the electoral process.

Written by Matthew Hopkins.  For more information, contact us at info@vdcresearch.com.  The author can be contacted directly at mhopkins@vdcresearch.com.

01/21/2016

Appcelerator Runs out of Gas

Earlier this week, Axway, a global provider of enterprise engagement software that enables application programming interface (API) management, identity management, mobile app development and analytics announced that it had acquired Appcelerator, a privately held cross-platform mobile development platform vendor. Appcelerator’s flagship, Titanium, utilizes an OS abstraction layer approach to convert HTML, JavaScript, and CSS into native iOS, Android, and Microsoft Windows applications. The company also productized an mBaaS solution (Arrow) to help developers simplify the process of assembling APIs, models, and connectors to access unstructured corporate data.

While Appcelerator was successful in growing a large developer community by building a powerful suite of tools for cross-platform development, the company was struggling to achieve profitability and was forced to lay off 30% of its employees this past March. Like others who were early in entering the mobile development platform space (e.g., Antenna Software and Verivo Software), Appcelerator failed to gain the traction required to remain as an independent private firm. While the company raised a significant amount of capital (nine funding rounds for a total of $87.9M), Appcelerator was unable to grow its revenues past $10M, and was unable to gain significant traction with large enterprise customers (a challenge for most young startups).

A Fragmented Market

The mobile development platform and tools space is one of the most active in the ecosystem of mobile-first vendors. Whether native, hybrid, or HTML5 web applications, the number of mobile design and development tools available to developers continues to grow (VDC counted 25+ vendors with less than $10M in annual revenues when we assessed the market in Q4 2015). Market leaders such as IBM, Salesforce, and Kony have cemented their position in the market by focusing on the depth and breadth of their solution range. For example, each of these vendors has been actively engaged in refining their development tooling, expanding their backend data access capabilities, and simplifying their ability to integrate with multiple data sources and third-party systems. Other market share leaders such as OutSystems, SAP, and Microsoft are focused on building more tightly integrated, cleaner, less complicated, and more user-friendly development platforms. Other vendors are focused on modernizing legacy applications and speed—these vendors can reduce the pain associated with manually modernizing code, resulting in more reliable, cost-effective, and feature-rich mobile apps.

While Appcelerator's immediate revenue contribution will be minimal, we doubt that Axway paid a large multiple for Appcelerator, based on its flat growth and inability to grow its enterprise customer roster. However, the acquisition makes sense, as Appcelerator's platform is synergistic with Axway's focus on API management, identity management, and cloud integration.  Additionally, Axway's parent company (IT services giant Sopra Steria Group) will likely become a viable channel for Axway to promote Appcelerator's platform going forward.

01/14/2016

2016 Predictions Part II

Predictions for 2016 Part II

This is part II of a two part series of posts which provides the Enterprise Mobility and Connected Devices Team’s predictions for 2016.  The following predictions were written by:  David Krebs, Eric Klein, Cameron Roche, and Matthew Hopkins.  To contact the team, please e-mail us at info@vdcresearch.com

Top 5 Growth Industries for Mobility in 2016

Companies in just about every industry have the opportunity to benefit from a mobile strategy that improves productivity and engagement. However, mobile penetration among industries varies significantly due to a number of factors including, regulatory drivers/inhibitors, security barriers, killer applications, competitive pressures, work force demographics, etc. Despite these drivers/inhibitors, VDC expects software and hardware mobile investments to increase in 2016 as companies adjust to a world that continues to move towards mobile computing. Specific impetuses and impediments to mobile investments by sector will undoubtedly dictate the pace of mobile adoption, but all companies will nonetheless feel pressure to expand their mobile initiatives. Whether employed to improve business processes or engage customers, mobility’s ability to provide employees and consumers with critical information just about anywhere will continue to transform the enterprise.

Modernization and mobility are disrupting just about every industry, but VDC believes that these five industries in particular will be among the greatest investors in mobile technology in 2016.

  1. Following several years of heavy ecommerce investments Retailers are again shifting their focus back to in-store solutions and particularly in-store customer engagement. A key challenge for retailers as their digital and physical presences continue to meld is data and record management and creating centralized inventory and customer datasets. Another key theme for retailers will be around them optimizing the omni-channel initiatives especially addressing their increased delivery cost exposure. In addition, a key focus for retailers will be to create a consistent experience for their workers and customers across multiple platforms.
  2. The postal/courier industry, spurred by ecommerce growth, will be expected to deliver a higher volume of packages and meet the growing delivery expectations of customers. To live up to these demands, organizations need robust mobile applications for engagement as well as comprehensive track and trace solutions that provide individuals with near real-time package information. 2016 will see continued modernization of legacy mobility solutions to address customer’s increasingly sophisticated requirements.
  3. The healthcare segment has great potential for mobility because its workforce is inherently mobile. However, a general resistance to change within the industry as well as security and patient privacy concerns have provided some road blocks to greater mobile adoption. Nonetheless, many companies in the space have made significant investments to reach out to their customers and provide them with the tools to manage their accounts.
  4. Hospitality companies have significant customer engagement needs and the age of information has transformed their business model and increased competition. Market disruptors such as Airbnb and travel websites like Orbitz leverage mobile and Internet platforms to compete with more traditional players in the space. This dynamic is pressuring the larger, traditional organizations to more strongly infuse mobility in their go-to-market strategy.
  5. The Transportation industry, like the hospitality sector, has faced its fair share of market disruptors—Uber, Lyft,etc.—that are driving companies in the space towards mobility. In particular, mobile device use among employees in the space for GPS, logistics, and other application-based services has also proved effective in improving productivity. These dynamics should result in increased investments in 2016.

 

Microsoft Surface:  Some Serious Market Share Ahead

While Microsoft has traditionally ruled the desktop space, challengers like Apple and other devices based on Android platforms have forced Microsoft to renew their efforts in other hardware sectors.  Looking at mobile devices, Microsoft has brought their line of Surface products to the market.  Using the Surface Pro 3 and 4 for their current flagship tablets, Microsoft has been able to successfully redefine a market domain which for years was dominated by high-cost high-performance iPads and lower-cost Android devices. The recently released Surface Book has also seemingly hit a sweet spot boasting top-notch performance at a competitive price. While Tim Cook thinks it’s a “product that tries too hard…to be a tablet and notebook” while succeeding at neither, this also comes from the man who said that the iPad Pro would kill the PC. If that’s true, then he may need to keep his guard up as the Surface Book sold out within the first few days. Couple its popularity with the power of a laptop, the mobility of a tablet, and generally better specs than a MacBook Pro, and Microsoft should see their Surface series of products more than double in market share from 8.9% to nearly 20% by 2020. With this kind of success, Microsoft will likely release a Surface Phone in the future. This Surface Phone would shoulder a heavy burden of possibly being the last true chance for a Windows powered phone to become a significant player in the smartphone space. Otherwise, Microsoft may need to investigate partnering their Windows 10 OS with other smartphone OEMs.

Android Makes a Significant Dent in the Rugged Handheld Market

Over the past decade, Windows CE and Windows Embedded Handheld (WEH) 6.5 have become the OS platforms of choice for the majority of enterprise (rugged) mobile devices contributing to an installed base of well over 15 million devices. The platform has offered its enterprise customers a broad portfolio of devices to select from; as well as strong development tools, a stable developer community and wide support among enterprise mobility-focused ISVs. In addition, with support from Microsoft for 10 years, enterprise customers received the stability critical to their enterprise mobility investments. However, as of January 2015, WEH 6.5 is completely off Microsoft mainstream support with only security patches provided until 2020 when it fully reaches its end of support lifecycle.  Microsoft’s answer to the next generation platform for rugged handheld devices is Windows Embedded Handheld 8.1. The platform has been adopted by a small number of OEMs, however, the devices available supporting this platform today is limited as is their functionality. Moreover, support for WEH 8.1 is expected to expire by 2019. More recently Microsoft has shifted focus towards Windows Mobile 10 (or Windows 10 IoT for Mobile Devices) for this category of devices. This version was beset by many delays with OEMs now estimating product availability by mid 2016. However, Microsoft is expected to more tightly control the specs for devices running Windows 10 eliminating options such as wearable form factors or handheld computers with hard keyboards.

This has opened the door for alternative OS options to fill this void with Android emerging as the primary candidate. Enterprise (rugged) mobile OEMs have been investing in Android solutions over the past several years with shipment volumes beginning to reach critical mass in 2015. We expect this to continue in 2016 with Android supplanting Microsoft as the leading platform for enterprise handheld devices.

01/13/2016

2016 Predictions

Predictions for 2016 Part I

This is part I of a two part series of posts which provides the Enterprise Mobility and Connected Devices Team’s predictions for 2016.  The following predictions were written by:  David Krebs, Eric Klein, Cameron Roche, and Matthew Hopkins.  To contact the team, please e-mail us at info@vdcresearch.com

Point: Microsoft Progresses towards Gaining Critical Mass in Mobile

Microsoft’s Windows operating system currently accounts for less than five percent of the smartphone market despite many efforts—most notably its acquisition of Nokia—to revitalize its mobile portfolio. However, 2016 will mark the first full year of Windows 10. This new operating system enables applications to work across all Microsoft devices; thus countering an argument that critical mobile mass is necessary for robust application development. The Windows Continuum allows developers to develop for all devices in the Microsoft ecosystem, thus ensuring an extensive marketplace of enterprise and consumer apps. Moreover, smartphones have largely become commoditized, and with differentiation fading, Microsoft has a new opportunity to enter a static market with new, sophisticated, and affordable mobile devices. A window of opportunity is opening for Microsoft in the mobile space as the previous barriers to success are fast eroding. Microsoft should gain market share because Windows 10 creates a stronger “mobile” developer community that will design applications for sophisticated devices in various form factors that meet the needs of consumers and enterprises alike. Moreover, the novelty of Apple products is declining while their price remains the same, and the gap between high-end and low-end phones continues to blur. From an enterprise mobility perspective, in segments such as retail, we are witnessing a strong desire to create consistent experiences – from POS to clienteling – and the Windows 10 Continuum value proposition aligns well with those requirements. These dynamics present Microsoft with a unique opportunity in 2016.

Counterpoint: Mobile OS is No Longer Strategic to Microsoft

Yes, it is hard to consider something strategic that is teetering at 1-2% market share globally. However, following Steve Ballmer’s bombastic “My way or the highway” approach to conquering the mobile market, one of Satya Nadella’s greatest accomplishments during his still young tenure at the helm of Microsoft is recognizing that Microsoft can be successful and have a lot to offer to mobile users even though it does not dominate the underlying OS. This OS and hardware agnostic approach has seen Microsoft enable and optimize its core services – from Office to Skpe – to work on Android and iOS, the two clear mobile OS leaders. Not to mention that Microsoft makes $2 billion in royalty payments from Android OEMs. Yes, Microsoft would still love to see its mobile OS share grow and, yes, Windows 10 does offer unique differentiation with Continuum. However, outside diehard Microsoft supporters and those curious enough to make the switch, it is unlikely that adoption will be sufficient to propel Microsoft market share to double digits.

Enhanced Privacy:  A BlackBerry Resurgence?

In the wake of the 2015 expansion of ISIS, hardware and software companies were pressured by governments to reduce encryptions or create back-end ways for monitoring potentially dangerous activity. The hardware and software communities will continue to push against these requests as their own quest for secure data continues in light of hacks and breaches. Expect to see more complex encryption techniques from software, mobile payment, and app creators. Additionally, expect to see hardware vendors leverage advanced biometrics. With the introduction of iris scanning into consumer-grade cell phones (e.g. Microsoft Lumia 950); look for further penetration of iris technology. Also, with fingerprint scanning penetrating both high and mid range consumer-grade devices, some rugged or semi-rugged devices may also see enhanced biometrics in 2016. Finally, the focus on privacy and security may also provide BlackBerry’s hardware endeavors with another chance at life.  The relatively positive reception of the BlackBerry Priv and rumors about a modernized design on their next smartphone are indicators that 2016 will provide BlackBerry with an opportunity for success not only in software, but also in hardware.

Graduating From BYOD and Basic MDM…Resetting Enterprise Mobility Expectations

2016 will be pivotal year for the technology industry writ large. Mobile and cloud computing will continue to disrupt how IT services are provisioned, as both personal and corporate computing continues to migrate to mobile platforms. However, how strategic is mobility really to today’s workforce and is the opportunity appropriately aligned with IT vendor’s initiatives? When it comes to customer engagement in segments such as retail then, absolutely, mobility initiatives or digital transformation (or whichever buzzword is currently trendy) are strategic and represent critical competitive initiatives. However, what about today’s workforce? Our research suggests that the workforce is increasingly mobile – estimated at approximately one third of the workforce or 1.4 billion workers. And, yes, the adoption/penetration of sophisticated mobile devices continues to scale – in 2015 global shipments of smartphones and tablets reached 1.6B units. However, when looking at how enterprises are truly leveraging these mobile devices to support or enhance mobile workflows the reality is that we are barely out of the starting gates. Outside of task or line workers such as warehouse workers, delivery drivers, retail associates, service technicians who rely on mobile solutions to support very specific and critical workflows, this opportunity has had a very slow burn rate. In fact, VDC’s research suggests that of the overall 1.6B smart device shipments in 2015, only 50M were deployed to support enterprise mobility workflows (this excludes the use of smart devices for email and basic productivity applications).

Yes, enterprise mobility is extremely challenging as is accurately conveying the ROI of many B2B opportunities. As a result we are seeing a shift among larger IT/technology powerhouses and their enterprise mobility initiatives. Standalone (enterprise) mobility practices will be a thing of the past as organizations realize the value of mobile as an enabling technology of a broader initiative (hello, Digital Transformation) rather than a standalone solution. This will represent a huge challenge for some of the pure-plays especially as some mobile capabilities – MDM representing the obvious example – become commoditized to the point that they are given away for free.

11/17/2015

The Postal-Courier Industry’s Looming Technological Challenge

The postal-courier industry, in the midst of market changes, will need to grapple with a significant technological challenge looming on the horizon. The delivery of goods is an expensive proposition that requires significant capital investments and a large supply of labor. Technology, in the form of handheld devices and delivery software, works to create an efficient process that enables companies to minimize costs and maximize revenues. The handhelds used by delivery personnel include a number of important capabilities—bar code scanning, messaging, GPS—that help facilitate workflows. From enabling track and trace to obtaining proof of delivery, the current use-cases for these devices are plentiful. As the expectations of consumers grow and their desire for greater personalization increases; postal-courier organizations will need to heavily rely on these devices to transfer real-time data between all parties involved in a transaction. Moreover, postal-courier organizations attempting to expand their service offerings to offset declining mail volumes and differentiate themselves from the competition will employ handheld devices and new applications to complete additional business processes. To this end, upgrading to a new, more modern operating system helps organizations expand into auxiliary, customer-facing services.

Today’s Operating System

While several postal-courier organizations have chosen smartphones as their delivery device, the vast majority have opted for ruggedized enterprise mobile computers. Over 80% of these devices run on legacy Windows Embedded CE and Windows Mobile 6.x platforms. These legacy systems are particularly well-suited for enterprise devices and applications due to their customizable nature and strong ecosystems of solution providers developing applications. Moreover, comprehensive lifecycle support from Microsoft and OEM partners provides further value-add for these platforms. However, Microsoft ended meaningful support for Windows Mobile 6.x in January 2015, and support for Embedded CE will end shortly; with Microsoft only providing security patches for the platforms through 2020. As a result, over the course of the next few years, postal courier organizations will need to transition to a new operating system. 

Postal Courier Blog Image

 

In theory, the logical next step would be to transition to the most recent iteration of Windows without needing to implement any serious changes. However, the situation is far more complicated than that; leaving many organizations debating their next steps.

The Path Forward

With the deadline of 2020 fast approaching, companies must begin evaluating their options regarding hardware, operating system, and software. In choosing an OS for next generation enterprise handheld devices, the decision comes down largely to the consumer heavyweight, Android, or the enterprise incumbent, Microsoft. However, with Microsoft having failed to deliver a desirable operating since the release of Windows Embedded Handheld 6.5 in 2011; some in the industry have moved to the Android operating system with its modern features and capabilities.

Android does not represent a perfect solution. Designed for the consumer space, the operating system lacks many of the security and management features of Windows as well as the substantial base of enterprise developers and OEMs supporting it. Nonetheless, Android’s enterprise user-base has grown steadily over the past few years, coinciding with improvements in the OS’s enterprise functionality. All leading rugged OEMs now offer an Android option, and several view this operating system as the way forward for the industry. Moreover, many ISVs that previously supported legacy Windows systems have shifted their R&D focus to Android (and iOS). This growing portfolio of Android devices and enterprise applications serves as justification for many to switch to this OS in light of Microsoft offering no suitable alternative.

Microsoft’s hopes to regain its market share, or at the very least stop the flow of users away from Windows, lie with its new OS for enterprise handheld devices—Windows 10 IoT Core. Postal-courier organizations, specifically those in the United States, have a pent up demand for a Windows solution, albeit having been burned by Microsoft in the past. Failing to deliver a Windows 7 solution and releasing an unsuitable solution in Windows 8; confidence among those in the space is waning. Windows 10, with its cross-device functionality and enterprise features could meet this demand. However, the release continues to be delayed, incentivizing those in need of a more immediate upgrade to switch to Android. Continued delays, or the release of an incomplete product, would further spur Android adoption, essentially sealing Microsoft’s fate in the rugged enterprise space.

What about the Apps?

Devices and operating systems play an important role in the completion of business processes, but applications/software are the last piece of the puzzle. Most organizations either develop their applications internally or outsource the process, but either way, the finished applications provide the key to performing tasks in the field. Unfortunately, postal-courier organizations planning an OS transition will also need an application-transition plan. For regardless of OS choice, organizations will need to recode old applications or develop new ones.

Windows 8 and 10 are not backwards compatible with legacy Windows systems, and a move to Android or iOS will similarly require recoding. This process, in most cases, will be expensive and cumbersome. If the company has the technological resources, they may complete the project in-house; however, most organizations will likely need to outsource at least some of the project. There are a number of tools on the market, such as Xamarin or iFactr, which enable cross platform development, and essentially provide organizations with a bridge to their next OS. Microsoft is also providing hooks from Visual Studio (VS) to the Xamarin platform making it easier to leverage existing .NET and C# skillsets to support development on Android or iOS. Moreover, we expect many in the industry to use this period as an opportunity to modernize applications that have been in service for decades.

The Bottom Line

Handheld devices play an instrumental role in the postal courier market now and moving forward. The next few years mark a period of mass transition of the likes never seen in the postal courier industry, and the lack of leadership by Microsoft creates an environment of uncertainty. However, this period also marks a moment of opportunity for organizations to modernize their systems and applications. The path taken today will largely dictate the quality of enterprise mobility capabilities tomorrow.

Written by Matthew Hopkins and David Krebs.  For more information, be sure to review our forthcoming full postal-courier report, set to be released this month (November), or contact us at info@vdcresearch.com.  The author can be contacted directly at mhopkins@vdcresearch.com.

07/16/2015

Recap: Qatalyst Global’s Managing BYOX & End User Mobility conference

Managing BYOX Event Recap

At Qatalyst Global’s Managing BYOX & End User Mobility conference, organizations such as PG&E, Fairfield University, and Aetna shared their experiences integrating mobile initiatives, while vendors including Apperian, Bluebox Security, Dilligent, IBM, and WorkSpot, explained how their mobile services could increase company productivity and efficiency. We had the opportunity to speak with several of the end users in attendance about their BYOx approaches — not surprisingly, most were still challenged by the complexities of implementing BYOx policies and proving the ROI of these initiatives. The Fairfield University’s CIO, Paige Francis gave a great presentation that illustrated how heavily mobile technology was relied on by her student body and how important it will be going forward to understand the expectations of future generations of workers and customers. Francis spoke at length about the difficulties of meeting student and employee technology needs in a campus environment and how Service Oriented Architecture concepts now applied to mobility (she described this as “Mobile Oriented Architecture”). We agree, as mobile devices and services will need to seamlessly interact with one another independently. 

Qatalyst_byox_event_July_2015

End Users Know They Need to Deliver a Positive User Experience

Companies at the conference were at all different stages of their mobile journey exemplifying the differing pace of adoption. Some companies stood out, PG&E for example has developed and deployed a number of mobile applications to enhance field service operations as well as meet customer needs. Interestingly, the utilities industry, which had remained fairly stagnant in regards to technology over the past few years now stands positioned to develop rapidly as mobile and IoT technologies are incorporated to enhance business processes. Other industries such as health care have been keen to embrace mobile technologies, but issues surrounding contractual and regulatory obligations complicate initiatives. However, a major take away from the conference has to be that keeping it simple in both development and deployment is essential. Focusing on the end user — how the end user will use and experience the technology — can guide the process fairly completely, while financial constraints remain important considerations. As Steve Damadeo — the IT Ops Manager for Festo — explained, BYOD and mobile applications provide ample cost-saving opportunities as well as productivity gains if implemented with a focus on cost containment and user experience.

Privacy Considerations Important Going Forward

Providing a unique and outside perspective on the legal obstacles facing multinational corporations’ mobile plans was VDC Research’s own Eric Klein. His presentation touched on one of the many impediments to crafting an effective technology policy that incorporates mobile; from security and privacy concerns to regulatory and user experience issues. Achieving compliance with laws and regulations that are often archaic in relation to modern technology can be cumbersome. Case law as explained by my colleague Eric Klein has failed to keep up with technological development – particularly with regards to mobile technology. Baker & McKenzie’s data privacy and security expert Harry Valetk was in agreement, and spoke at length about this topic and echoed many of these sentiments. While it will take time, the case law will catch up, Valetk predicted that “regulators and courts will apply the laws as they are today regardless of if they more accurately regulate the technology of 20 years ago”.  

Note: This was a recap of the first day (7/15) of the 2-day event. 

 

05/19/2015

Event Recap – Citrix Synergy

Citrix succeeded in demonstrating it can innovate on application delivery and customer service

Synergy_2015
I had the pleasure of attending Citrix's Synergy customer event this past week in Orlando Florida. The event was well attended (about 7.5K on-prem, and roughly 5K remote attendees) and featured a nice mix of vendors on the show floor that ranged from small startups to heavies such as Cisco, IBM, Intel and Microsoft. After narrowly missing its Q1 numbers a few weeks ago, Citrix needed to demonstrate that its recent restructuring and organizational changes were positives; and that they were helping to transition the business to its next phase of growth. The company's GM and CSO for Workspace Services Geir Ramleth summed it up nicely when he said: "This is a new Citrix we're moving in a more cohesive way." Citrix was successful in this vein, Synergy provided a big opportunity to showcase a robust innovation pipeline in front of the company's most important customers.

The Suite Always Wins (right?)

If you've been tracking the evolution of mobile enablement in the enterprise, you know that many vendors are vying to deliver "holistic" or "end-to-end" mobility solutions (suites). The goal is certainly a noble one, but it is not very realistic. Most large firms are working with several EMM and complementary security vendors, as well as with a variety of application development platform and tool vendors; while this is not ideal, it is a fact of life (today at least). However, as Apple, Google, Samsung and Microsoft continue to refine their mobility solutions, vendors like Citrix will need to focus on helping businesses simplify application delivery and provide them with tools that can help with implementing best practices and with  mobile architecture and security policies. Bottom line, differentiating is going to get tougher. From what I heard at Synergy, Citrix gets it, and is working hard on developing new products and services that will enable businesses to move beyond thinking about which devices to provision and support by offering device and network agnostic solutions that can manage modern mobile applications while enabling them to move legacy applications to a cloud environment via a single control plane.

The "suite approach" isn't going away (IBM, Oracle and SAP have proved that), but it is changing. Opening up platforms is critical moving forward; customers don't want to be "locked in", and need the flexibility to run the applications of their choosing. While Citrix maintains a broad portfolio of products: XenApp, XenDesktop and XenServer to secure data via virtualization, NetScaler and CloudBridge to secure the network, and XenMobile, WorxApps and ShareFile (and now Workspace Cloud) to provide a containerized environment for productivity applications, to share content and provision applications, it is a stretch to call these a "suite". However, the range of these solutions shows how many elements are needed in a modern enterprise. Not to mention important partners that vendors like Citrix must integrate with that can help deliver capabilities for streamlining app development, enhanced security, secure messaging, and user experience reporting/monitoring. Bottom line, suites sound good to customers, but require complementary solutions. While the vision and approach that Citrix is pursuing to enable their customers to seamlessly manage and provision modern mobile applications while helping them move to the cloud is the right one; others have moved in this direction too.

Feud Continues — Enzo and Beyond the Horizon

The fact the VMware unveiled its project "Enzo" the day before Citrix's Synergy event wasn't surprising (after all, Citirix announced key enhancements to XenApp and Xen Desktop the day before VMworld kicked off last summer). Regardless, both Enzo and Citrix's Workspace Cloud share a similar goal and  make use of a control plane to enable customers to deliver a comprehensive mobile workspace to their end users; with the aim of better orchestration between apps, physical resources and the cloud. I plan on digging deeper to learn more about the technical differences between these competing solutions; suffice it to say that these are complex and have the potential to disrupt how end user computing services are delivered. Both Citrix and VMware have robust solutions; however they both are challenged by the strong interdependencies that exist between their various solution components  not to mention limited backwards compatibility as they update their platforms.

One Final Thing ...

One_final_thing

The big reveal at Synergy was Dynamic Containerization (DC) which appears to bypass the need to access and modify an app's source code (a cumbersome and very limiting process). DC brings the ability to containerize any publicly available app from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store. I had the opportunity to speak with several key stakeholders that were involved in developing DC; there is no question that Citrix has proved they can deliver this capability (I've saw a demo), however, I'm skeptical as to whether the method/IP is in violation of the TOS of both Apple and Google. End users would love this capability and have been asking for it; however this will be a wait and see as the product matures.

The #UNCEO

Templeton_on_the_show_floor
Mark Templeton has been with Citrix from the beginning, he's plain-spoken, down-to-earth and is the epitome of the #UNCEO. CEO's like John Legere and Marc Benioff may be the most prominent #UNCEO's, but Templeton should be right there with them (credit to my friend @bobeagan for mentioning this at the event). Not only does he pull off this vest, but Templeton made it a priority to visit with many of his company's partners on the show floor (even the smallest vendors).


Ping Mark and encourage him to be more active on Twitter - it's not too late. After all, Obama just joined this week!

Wrap

This blog didn't cover several of the important initiatives that were revealed at Synergy; namely: WorkspaceHub (a dongle which incorporates both BLE and WiFi and features with VGA and HDMI inputs) that leverages Octoblu (a Citrix cloud platform) to manage M2M interaction between devices by using sensors and wireless connectivity. The demo of this tech wowed the audience as it showed how a workspace could be seamlessly "moved" from one device to another. The integration with Amazon's Echo was the most impressive element as it enabled voice-control in the workplace. Concierge: which enables real-time customer service and support directly from within a mobile application (great use of #WebRTC). Citrix also showed off CubeFree: a modern version of the WiFi finder mobile app but for finding reliable workspaces (cool concept).

Upon leaving the event, it was clear that the company's key executives and product owner/managers had been busy working on the technology that was showcased. Citrix's vision is a good one, but it will definitely take time for companies to make a meaningful move in the direction that the company is moving in. There are a variety of factors that have placed CIOs in a holding pattern when it comes to extending mobile applications to their workforce. These range from the acknowledgment of not being 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. But from what I'm seeing in the market, it will only be a matter of time ...

 

04/23/2015

Mobility is Driving Enterprise Collaboration Innovation

Long a bandied-about buzzword, collaboration has gotten an enterprise makeover in recent years in integrating chat and content sharing. The market has emerged from its roots in consumer-grade social networks like Facebook and Twitter to incorporate established enterprise players like IBM, Oracle and SAP, especially after Microsoft’s acquisition of Yammer in 2012. Since then, enterprise-specific social networking products have transformed from more consumer styled chat tools to fully fledged business collaboration platforms that have the potential to replace not only intranets, but knowledge management systems and corporate portals as their features and functionalities continue to expand. The main driving force behind this explosion in innovation has been mobility, both on the consumer and the enterprise front, as the impact of mobile-native millennials entering the workforce grows.

Differentiation in a crowded market

Companies are increasingly coming to understand the value of employee collaboration and of enterprise social networks (ESN), particularly as social media becomes a more integrated part of professional and personal daily life. However, the low barrier to entry has meant that there is an abundance of options available, ranging from consumer-grade chat options to Tier-1 solutions and everything in between. The result is a crowded market with considerable overlap, making it difficult for vendors to differentiate themselves. Although many companies faced with a plethora of options turn to existing solutions providers like IBM, Oracle and Salesforce, there has been room for innovators to disrupt the marketplace. These include companies like Atlassian, Slack and Zimbra, who offer a streamlined, mobile-first approach to collaboration. The sheer number of market players and the stratospheric levels of funding mean that the playing field is wide open with no apparent winners, which in turn is putting pressure on big name vendors to bring powerful collaboration tools to the table.

Appealing to a workforce that spans multiple generations

While the millennial generation has proved to be a significant driving force behind the adoption of more consumer-like collaboration tools in the enterprise, there is a challenge in getting older employees to adapt their work habits to embrace a more fluid approach to work and collaboration. For companies like Tangoe, considering the requirements of an inter-generational workforce has been central to the design and development of their product. In order to overcome resistance to new work processes and collaboration tools, vendors have the ability to introduce adaptive elements that can learn from end-users’ habits, although this presents privacy and security issues that would need to be addressed by the vendor.

Seamless integration is key

There is definite value in areas like user-defined contact preference, one-on-one and group chats, and content sharing, particularly when combined with a mobile-first, device-agnostic approach. This is increasingly becoming the norm across enterprise productivity applications and products. However, to be truly powerful, these solutions must be able to provide a user experience that meets the high expectations of a user base accustomed to consumer products and seamless integration. In an era where many longstanding productivity applications like email are undergoing significant revamps, a lack of integration could lead to a glut of programs and unnecessary app-switching, which is inefficient and cumbersome. Any shortcomings in either category can result in a lack of employee buy-in, or worse, employees resorting to workarounds using consumer-grade programs that lack the necessary security features and risk data leakage. Major players like Microsoft, Salesforce and SAP have done well in integrating their collaboration tools into their portfolio, but the bar has been set high to meet expectations. Given the growing market for enterprise collaboration, however, it is a challenge that a growing number of vendors are willing to accept.

with Kathryn Nassberg, Analyst

03/17/2015

Does the New SecuTABLET Foreshadow BlackBerry's Transition to Software?

Following a turbulent year which saw sizable contractions and the launch of two new devices, the BlackBerry Passport and the Classic, the company once again made headlines this week with the announcement of its first foray in years into the tablet market after the failure of the ill-fated PlayBook with the unveiling of the SecuTABLET, a high-security tablet based on the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5. Presented in collaboration with IBM at CeBIT 2015, the device is squarely focused on security, with the public sector and security-minded enterprises as its target market. Aiming for the highest levels of security, the device, which has been designed with European governments in mind, is currently undergoing certification for a German VS-NfD (classified – for official use only) rating, making it one of the most secure tablets to enter the market in an era where concerns around data leakage and breaches continue to grow. The tablet marks a notable departure for BlackBerry, as this represents the first device from the company that does not feature proprietary hardware or OS. 

A powerful enterprise partnership

As noted in BlackBerry’s press release, a study from IBM’s Institute for Business Value (IBV) found that 63% of public authorities want mobile access to mission critical apps, but the level of security required through legally mandated restrictions towards data privacy present a considerable obstacle. As a result, there is a dearth of solutions that fit a “government-grade” level of security demanded by the public sector. To address the gap, BlackBerry has worked to form a partnership with some of the best-in-class solutions providers to create a turn-key, secure tablet solution that meets stringent security requirements. The device features recent acquisition SecuSmart’s security architecture and secure SD card and driver, in addition to the trusted execution environment protections from Samsung’s KNOX platform, and is complemented by Apperian’s secure app store and app-wrapping capabilities. The latter’s app management, which has proven itself to be best-in-class and speaks to the firm’s strength in the MAM category. Meanwhile, IBM brings considerable industry-specific expertise to the table, as well as the ability to bring mobile solutions to a wide array of both regional and vertical environments.

Embracing the niche

Despite a high price point of €2,250 (US$2,380), the move represents a smart and positive development for BlackBerry, which has struggled to maintain enterprise relevance in the face of steep declines in market share against Android and iOS devices. By teaming with Samsung, not only can BlackBerry offload the hardware requirements in bringing the SecuTABLET to market, it also can take advantage of a considerably larger user and application base than would be available to its own proprietary OS, whose market share has dwindled to single digits in recent years. If anything, this strategy holds significantly more potential as it allows BlackBerry to pivot away from its hardware roots While it is still too early to tell, preliminary guidance reveal tepid adoption rates of its smartphones that mean any attempts to regain general market share will be an uphill struggle at best. By focusing on the niche that is government and high-security enterprise, BlackBerry can leverage its differentiation through high-level security to its advantage, especially with its acquisition of Secusmart. However, while there have been competing solutions from the likes of Motorola’s AME 2000 and Apple, through its collaborations with KoolSpan and its own Root of Trust to provide similar hardware-based solutions, BlackBerry’s traditional strength in the public sector and the sophistication of the SecuTABLET solution will offer a meaningful point of differentiation to help it withstand the competition.

With Eric Klein, Managing Director

03/10/2015

The EMM Pivot is Upon us #MWC15 EMM Recap

Mobile first EMM vendors know they must evolve — and they are ...

As one might expect, the high profile handset refreshes from Samsung (Galaxy S6), HTC (M9) and LG (G Flex 2) and the notable (and well timed) acquisition announcements (NXP acquiring Freescale, HP acquiring Aruba Networks, and Mitel's acquisition of Mavenir) garnered the lion share of the post MWC media coverage. However, there was something different at MWC this year. There was a "new partner" sitting in on several of the briefings we had at MWC.

Google sent several senior executives to Barcelona (Sundar Pichai, Rajen Sheth, and Andrew Toy were the most visible)  either Rajen or Andrew was present (and actively participating) at several of the meetings we attended at MWC the exception? Our meeting with Good Technology. Why? Read on.

Android for Work is Legit and KNOX is Not Dead (yet)

Every prominent enterprise mobility vendor has moved quickly to completely integrate with the Android for Work platform.

Android_for_work

Good is negotiating with Google and is likely to join the other prominent vendors listed above who were quick to announce their integration with the Android for Work Platform however, it appears as though Good (and SOTI) have forged strong(er) partnerships with Samsung. Both seem to have gone further than their peers in integrating with the company's KNOX platform (which is not just a container). While all of the vendors listed above have been working with Samsung's KNOX platform; after speaking with several Samsung executives, the level of integration with KNOX is varied. Good and SOTI have seen traction from their partnership with Samsung and have figured out creative ways to go to market (one sure fire method is to give away the device  while not sustainable, it appears as though Samsung is willing to do so). Here's what my colleague David Krebs wrote in his MWC Event Recap post:

KNOX
In summary, we see both Good and SOTI benefiting by working with both Google and Samsung. Both vendors have a sizable footprint in both government and financial service industries. We expect that Good will formalize its partnership with Google soon.

ACE to the Rescue

The launch of App Configuration for Enterprise (or ACE) was timed for MWC. Five prominent enterprise mobility vendors (AirWatch by VMware, Box, Cisco, Workday and Xamarin) have collaborated on the standard which aims to simplify and scale the deployment of apps in the enterprise. The benefits are clear and straightforward (see below).

Ace_benefits

There is no question that enterprises are challenged by app provisioning and distribution. Considering that multiple versions of the same app (built with different SDKs) is now normal, the standards-based platform agnostic approach (thanks to the ability to seamlessly invoke both the latest iOS and Android   APIs) will be welcome. However, the consortia needs to get other important vendors on board (Citrix, IBM, Microsoft, Oracle and SAP come to mind). 

EMM Evolution

My next report (scheduled for May) will focus on the evolution of EMM. I'm seeing some interesting (and consistent) thinking from prominent EMM vendors on how they intend to evolve and differentiate their platforms moving forward. Key initiatives that are in development and on most road maps include:

  • Split billing
  • Unified Endpoint Management
  • Enhanced email clients
  • Architecture enhancements
  • UX / Console optimization

I'm actively scheduling briefings to discuss the evolution of EMM and the pivot that I anticipate. If we didn't meet at MWC, I'd welcome to opportunity to discuss this topic with you in the next few weeks.

Kudos to GSMA for hosting another top-notch event. See you at MWC 2016!