IT and App Developers Out of Sync on Enterprise Mobile
We came across this article by Frank Donovan at Fierce IT about how IT and development teams view enterprise mobility differently.
Referencing one study he noted that “two-thirds of IT decision makers say that IT is the primary driver in setting the enterprise’s mobile agenda and 30.6 percent say lines of business set the agenda. This contrasts with mobile app developers, half of whom say it is the lines of business that are setting the agenda” Read the entire piece.
What is your experience?
Get in touch to book a meeting or webinar to discuss this or any other topic around your enterprise mobility deployment.
MobileFrame Issued Patent for Intelligent Rendering
We have been working with MobileFrame for six years and were delighted to hear that they had been issued with a patent for intelligent rendering on a mobile computing device.
This innovative feature allows MobileFrame developers to build mobile, desktop and web-based applications that dynamically re-size to fit any sized screen. Generating an excellent return on investment for users has always been at the heart of a MobileFrame deployment. This development means that it’s position among mobile application development MEAP platforms is enhanced.
Top Enterprise Mobility Things To Think About 4 of 10
“I have data in tables that is constantly changing, such as work orders and inventory levels. How do my mobile workers get this new data”
Enterprise data management has become a important topic in many companies. Where users are deploying a mobile system to workers in the field it can create a number of challenges. Our dynamic enterprise data feature allows us to help our users define how often updated and changed data is sent out to users.
Business rules can be defined that tell the system to send this new data to everyone assigned to a specific app or only to those workers or managers who need to see specific data. For example if work orders were assigned to a specific technician the system could be set up to automatically send the data only to that worker.
Making sure you are sending the right data to the correct worker can get complex. Get in touch to learn how we make this a piece of (cup) cake…
Top Enterprise Mobility Things To Think About 3 of 10
“How does the solution work if there is no network connectivity”
If may be hard to believe but wireless Wi-Fi and WWAN networks are not always available or reliable. In many scenarios your enterprise mobility app will need to be designed to contain all the business logic data and process it needs but residing on the handheld device itself. This enables functionality both online and offline by returning the unit back to a dock. Historically this is a common approach with .NET based devices. Same logic applies where Android or iOS are being used. Some apps like Direct Store Delivery are often used in physical environments where network access is spotty and going off to find coverage to compete a transaction would take too much time.
Where wireless or wired access is available mobile workers can communicate with host business systems in real-time. Make sure your remote app can automatically or on command send and receive queued transactions content and messages via a secure connection like Netmotion Mobility XE. Features such as this optimise user productivity while minimizing transmission costs.
The benefits of using Wireless either across Wi-Fi or WWAN are clear but make sure you allow for both on and off line scenarios.
Top Enterprise Mobility Things To Think About 1 of 10
Is your organisation investigating an enterprise mobility project to eliminate collecting data on paper for your mobile workforce? If so there are some important questions to ask the solution vendors you are evaluating before you make a decision.
Does the solution allow you to modify applications following the initial deployment?
Research constantly shows that 70% of senior managers viewed enterprise mobility as a strategic initiative in efforts to configure the supply chain – less stock with fewer outages. A tough act to perform with traditional desktop systems.
The need to create strong user orientated apps has often led organisations to come up with something specific (read expensive) for each deployment. Scalability and robustness have often been thought of as only available to those with HUGE IT budgets. Historically this thinking has led companies to adopt one of these approaches:
Buy An Off The Shelf Solution
Traditional square peg round hole approach.
Expensive, inflexible will no doubt need customisation.
Technically, can become outdated quickly.
Commission a Bespoke Application Development
Tough to justify in house as skills in mobility not common.
Costly, complex, and time consuming.
Difficult to change repeat maintain and upgrade.
Use The Mobility Module That Came With The Back End System
Geared to extend ERP SCM, and CRM functions to small screens not designed for mobile workers.
Not good at accessing multi-application back end environments.
Often excludes functionality mobile workers need.
How Long Do You Expect Your Mobile Process To Stay The Same?
None of these approaches talk much about real world sustainability or Return on Investment – ROI.
So look for an approach that allows apps to be created that specifically match the process workflow that your remote worker should be carrying out. Markets are dynamic so companies can harness the power of enterprise mobility to make business process improvements as their business evolves.
Our approach allows customers to make changes to apps and deploy them to any device in the field without writing a single line of code or paying someone else to make each change.
What Everybody Ought to Know About Identifying a Mobile Computing Platform for Enterprise Mobility
Guest Post by Timothy C B Cox. I always have said the mobile computer like the smart phone is not much use without applications, and it’s true for all enterprise solutions which makes identifying a mobile computing platform for enterprise mobility such an important task.
But the platform does play an important part in the solution and should not be overlooked as just an easy decision because of our familiarity with smart consumer devices. Recently Apple reported a drop in product margin’s, but their pricing has not really changed. It shows smart phones are not going to get any cheaper anytime soon.
If anything consumer choice will be between the high margin expensive full featured hand-sets and the lower cost feature limited devices. Or putting it another way, choosing between high margin devices and low margin devices. Of course it’s in the interests of the vendor to urge the consumer to purchase the high margin product.
So future options are limited, I see them trying to protect existing product margins by releasing a new product with lower cost base. I cannot see them compromising flagship products in terms of quality or features being a route for established brands when they battling with each other for market share.
Samsung is currently being probed by the Taiwanese authorities for possibly paying people to post bad reviews and poor readability reports for the HTC One in Taiwan. The HTC One uses higher quality materials in its case design and Samsung is concerned they may get into a new battle where their material costs increase to defend against other products, and this would be an unwanted downward pressure on their product margins.
The Apple iPhone is generally accepted to be of high quality design and build. What Samsung fears is having to compete with another Android handset where the only real difference is quality of materials used in it’s industrial design.
Everyone selling is under pressure from falling margins!
Mobile Computing Platform for Enterprise Mobility
Rugged devices, though initially more expensive do last longer before being replaced, they are more stable in design and feature sets. Typical customers do not like unpleasant surprises, because their investment is larger and the time to reach their ROI is longer.
You shouldn’t expect rugged device makers to jump onto latest OS releases or design features their customer base has a predefined expectation of their products. If you look at Conical responsible for the open source Ubuntu Linux distribution, they have a two track release solution, a LTS or Long Term Support release and a general release. Think of their LTS release as the enterprise edition (stable) with the general release aimed directly at the consumer (with latest features).
Rugged device manufactures also work to the LTS concept but all their products adhere to the LTS concept! Where they commit to a number of years of support, service and updates for their platform.
Enterprise customers must get a stable platform to build their business; not to be distracted by worrisome and unimportant support and life cycling of the product. It allows customer’s to manage their mobility system over a known period of stability in terms of the platform, allowing them to build and plan their applications and solutions with very low risk along with favorable Total Cost of Ownership TCO numbers.
Buy a consumer device for use in the mobile workforce and you will be going through some sort of product and/or software refresh every year. Because consumer devices change with annoyingly regularity, to the delight of the vendors and retail stores, as it drains consumers wallets regularly.
In short, it’s not in best interests for consumer products to have a LTS approach, they rely on phones being replaced regularly to maintain revenues. Google likes to tell the market they have 1.5 million phone activations every day, but they don’t let on if these are existing users upgrading or new customers.
In April 2013 Google changed from reporting new hand-set activations to only reporting device visits to their on-line app store called ‘Play Store’!
So a LTS products may not have all the latest features and leading edge (or bleeding edge) options like consumer products. But they are what is called ‘stable’ releases, nothing is included that may have a negative affect on smooth running of the device. Be assured the LTS designed products do not suffer like some iPhone batteries have after a recent iOS update from Apple, and solved by two subsequent updates.
Imagine (as an enterprise user) having to manage, push and pay for (if pushed over 3G) an update to your mobile workforce. Not to mention dealing with users suffering from shorter than expected battery life, this happen recently with Apples iOS devices. Just because the vendor pushed an update to hand-sets automatically.
Get a new Windows Phone device, and even if you to use it in the enterprise, be ready to create a new Hotmail (Microsoft Live) account for each device. Use Bing to find out more! Something else to manage and filter and control and lock down and…
It’s not the incorrect decision to purchase a consumer device, all companies are at different stages in their cooperate life. Some have more important projects with bigger positive impact on their operations commanding a larger percentage of the available budgets. Some may not be able to afford the initial costs of rugged mobile devices.
No matter how you look at it, there is someone who will supply a product to fit your financial requirements, guaranteed! So I would go as far as to suggest that companies who can only afford consumer devices or think they are stretched too much to get into rugged devices should wait until they have the budget or consider leasing, because maybe they are spending their cash on the wrong kind of project and its better spent elsewhere!!
So don’t dismiss those who tell you ‘you’re making a huge/massive mistake by looking at consumer products’. Help them understand where your company is today and what resources and projects you are working with. It will save everyone a whole lot of wasted time and money!
Sometimes it’s difficult for people to understand why a company would choose what looks to be an inferior product. I would like to be driving a Range Rover and I could if I wanted, but I drive a cheaper 4×4 because my children are still young and make a complete mess of the interior. So choosing the cheaper car fits my situation today and I live with that decision and my car delivers exactly what I expect!
Timothy C B Cox Mobile Workforce Strategy Consultant based in Dubai. Get in touch with Tim through Linkedin
Call us to discuss how we can help you identify the right opertaing system for your enterprise mobility project.
Worcester, UK – MobileWorxs announced today that it has joined forces with SOTI to resell the award winning Enterprise Mobility Management software, SOTI® MobiControl®
MobiControl allows companies to manage, support and secure their mobile field force using a web-based management console. With MobiControl, enterprises can control, access and secure mobile devices remotely, saving time, labour and money. Mobile administrators can locate, gather and track information and lockdown GPS enabled devices, enable security protocols and provide mobile application and document management capabilities. The system tracks hardware and software assets effortlessly.
Now You Can Access Your Mobile Apps Through A Desktop
Having decided on your mobile application to replace paper forms and pep up the performance of your field based workers the other equally important consideration is the back office software non mobile staff use.
The mobile app is often thought to be the first and only consideration in an enterprise mobility project.
But having the ability to access your mobile apps through a desktop can add value to the remote workforce and can help the business move away from the rudimentary Excel or paper based systems in the back office that are so common.
The back office system is usually the hub of a business. Without it office staff cannot enter customer orders, find customer information, check the status of jobs in or assigned out to the field, manage users, view reports send invoices and edit stock. Even with the rise of mobile products and apps it is likely that people are still going to be sitting at a desk doing business oriented tasks for some time to come.
Traditionally Back Office Systems Are:
1. Paper based forms.
2. A database built locally made up of Excel sheets or in MS Access.
3. Billing/Account system like Sage.
4. CRM/ERP i.e. SAP and MS Dynamics
Many companies still run their businesses on reams of paper or may have progressed to using Excel or Access. So building a mobile app to increase the effectiveness of remote staff is a real opportunity to think about the back office in a new way.
An accounting application such as Sage is very good at accounting but has no real functionality to create jobs assign them to a mobile worker or create a PDF report on job completion.
Similarly if a customer has spent ten’s of thousands on a large ERP system it will contain all the backend features/data required so only integration between the mobile app and ERP system is required. In some scenarios further data processing is required before it is transmitted into the ERP system. A desktop app/batch process can be developed to create this functionality. The issue with custom development within a CRM or ERP system is simply cost. It can be very expensive to have a custom function developed and any further changes are very expensive.
Desktop Portal Benefits
Even when accounting or CRM/ERP systems exist a specific desktop app as in our Pest Control product will allow a user in the office to enter new customer details straight into the desktop and using a built in scheduler deploy it to the most suitable worker at the appropriate time slot and manage changes dynamically. The management of ongoing activities and production of reports can also be managed through this desktop portal.
In just about every case the ability to access your mobile apps and critical business data through a desktop portal on the mobile side can prove just as useful as having mobile devices in the first place. It also ties in well with managing permissions for mobile device management MDM.
How to Build it ?
As ever there are a few options. A software house can custom make an office solution you could buy off the shelf or if you have the skills and patience go DIY. The other option is to use the platform being used for the mobility project.
After all it uses the same approach to data management and the reports will be derived from the data being generated in the field anyway. With these tools the provider can quickly develop applications for PDA and desktop pulling from the same resources. Applications can be viewed on a desktop via a native OS client or browser based.
Whatever your application we can show you examples of how you can access your mobile apps through a desktop portal.
Mobile Application Development Platform 8 New Features
MobileFrame have released a new version of their mobile application development platform with 8 new features.
The product continues to set the bar for excellence and continues to help future proof enterprise mobile deployments and ensure existing investments in application deployment are protected against obsolescence.
Customers continue to ask us for a mobile application development platform that can deploy apps across the entire enterprise on any device. v5.2 offers a compelling return on investment ROI proposition allowing us or our customers to create apps that increase productivity whilst being compliant with the processes of their business. It also allows for apps to be designed and deployed quickly along with excellent integration with legacy ERP and CRM systems and provides the basis for an in house BYOD approach.
Mobile Application Development Platform 8 New Features
You can now View/Freshen Projects from the App Library. You can still View/Freshen from the My Project screen as well.
The Create PDF workflow now has an option to leave the PDF document open in order to print additional content to the same document.
Change Photo workflow now provides an option as to how you’d like the image resized. You can now choose to zoom the image or stretch the image when resizing.
The Unused Steps list now includes a search bar that allows you to filter down the list of unused steps based on the step name, prompt, or input type. This should make it easier to find a particular step.
For web layouts you can now specify a minimum size for resizable forms. The resizing of the layout will not go smaller than this amount if set. This will allow your screen layouts to look acceptable regardless of the browser size.
Dynamic data definitions will automatically create a description tailored to the configuration.
Simulator files for the Test Site have been updated to a more modern look. A new simulation file for Generic Desktop Browser has been added.
Zoom has been introduced into the Test Site so it will make it easier to test on devices where the simulation file produces a large screen.
Get in touch to book a webinar or to take a look at our pre-built apps for your enterprise mobility project. For Soup fans here are 10 great recipes.
Guest Blog from Kirsty Rostron our resident leasing guru.
Business moves fast especially if you are a organisation looking at mobile technology to solve business problems. So when it comes to acquiring equipment of any size shape or form that will enable your organisation to grow and become more profitable there is little time to ponder over critical decisions.
None more so than those of a financial nature, which if made on a whim – or based on the premise that it’s the way things have always been done in the past – could end up having an adverse affect on the business in both the short and long term.
With many businesses looking to convert Capital Expenditure (CAPEX) to Operational Expenditure (OPEX), there is most certainly more of a noticeable trend for these financially astute and progressive organisations to move away from the total and outright purchase of ever changing technology. Rather electing to acquire them via a lease agreement instead.
So why choose to go down this road? Other than the obvious one of keeping expenditure off the bottom line and more money in the bank for those unforeseen rainy days leasing has so many other benefits. All of which you simply can’t afford to ignore. Especially when there is a growing awareness among senior managers that since putting leasing to the test and experiencing the benefits first hand, they would never consider returning to what they did before.
So what exactly are the benefits of leasing?
Leasing delivers a great many financial benefits and the effects are long-term and secure. This helps to provide you and others in the organisation with a more favorable experience when using the newly acquired product. The other benefits may not seem as obvious at first as the financial ones but are no less important and impactful when you consider them in more detail. These are just a handful:
Choosing to lease means that you get your product straight away rather than when budgets allow. Enabling everyone to start using that much needed device or solution as soon as possible.
By leasing you are placed into a fixed agreement which remains secure throughout the lease period. You won’t have to worry about changes and unpredictability as the lease option is uncomplicated and safe. This allows you take more calculated risks in other areas of your business.
Leasing offers you the flexibility to be able to upgrade your enterprise mobility technology at any stage throughout the agreement by simply restructuring the payment schedule. Allowing you to react to rapidly changing market dynamics and steal the march on competitors.
Leasing is extremely cost efficient. You can offset 100% of the rentals against your tax liability to maximise tax efficiency. Learn More.
Leasing benefits the future of your business. Cash purchase only secures the fact that you have the product you need, but it doesn’t offer you the long-term benefits that leasing does. Leasing equipment releases valuable working capital for alternative projects within your business.
Key Point: To Lease or not to Lease that is the Question ? Over £30 billion of Capital equipment was financed in 2016 in the UK alone and it’s estimated that around 90% of The Times Top 100 companies use leasing as a means to acquire equipment and business solutions, so they must be onto a good thing. In fact now that you know a lot more about the benefits, it begs the question. What’s stopping you from experiencing the power of leasing?
For more information and to get approved for your lease Contact Kirsty via the link below.
Talk to us about how we can help you arrange finance to incorporate all the key elements of your enterprise mobility system including enterprise grade devices deployment and ongoing support.
Having covered the software side of enterprise mobile device security in Parts 1 & 2, this blog will cover the hardware options to make your device and data secure.
If you are thinking “adding an SSL or Mobile VPN and device management software seems expensive why not cut out the data over the air and just use local Wi-Fi or docked Ethernet when in the office”. Limiting data transfer to within the four walls makes it very difficult for “eavesdroppers” to listen in. Jobs for the day can be synchronized to the device over night, the user can complete the jobs throughout the day and then return the unit to a cradle when the shift has finished.
This obviously limits what the mobile system can do. No new jobs can be sent to the user, no changes to the jobs, jobs cannot be assigned to a different user, no remote support or monitoring no results sent back in real-time so orders cannot be processed until the next working day. Overall when going mobile the pro’s of using a secure connection and device management outweigh the con’s.
With hardware, how can a log in confirm the user is psychicaly present? Using a biometric finger print scanner is one option. The user can slide their finger over the scanner which will confirm it against the device or against the backend server. It makes the device very secure as only that specific user can login. Application can also asked for user name and password is the finger print scanner becomes damaged or too dirty. You will find a bio metric scanner on some laptops and rugged PDAs such as the Motorola ES400, or an attachment for the MC75a.
Instead of finger print sensors, an alternative option is a smart card. Just like a security card is using to access through a door, a user can touch a smart card to a sensor. The card can then be validated over the network and the user granted access. The issue with this is that a user can still lose the card. If available for your chosen device like a rugged handheld the initial purchase and card replacements will not be cheap though.
The last hardware piece to cover is a TPM (Trusted Platform Module). These chips are installed on the motherboard, which store certificates, passwords, but primarily encryption keys. Threat of hacking (software or accessible hardware) or physical device theft is reduced, and device authentication must pass via this chip. Currently these chips are only found in desktops, laptops like the XRW and tablets but could be installed to all devices.
So in three parts we have looked at device security out of the box, the potential problems if not secure and the options available to further secure you device, data and network.
Key point: Think about mobile device security in the planning stage and before your project gets off the ground!
Do not get spooked by potential enterprise mobile device security problems call us to discuss how we can help your project to address your key business issues.
Enterprise Mobile Device Security Part 1 covered the basics of locking down a device using the in built features. These are a good start to locking down a device/applications but more can be done to be ensure device and data integrity.
A mobile application normally always require a login ideally with an admin console back in the office where the passwords can be easily controlled by an administrator. Linking the password to Active Directory is another security feature some applications can use meaning the credentials will be confirmed against the business network.
This means password polices can be enforced, and user only needs one login to access the network from PC or mobile device.
Passing login data and and other sensitive data over the Internet in plain text is never a wise option. “Eavesdroppers” can essentially pick out the data travelling from device the server. The quickest and cheapest option is the add a SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate on the server. This certificate provides encryption (usually 128-bit encryption and above) meaning only the device and server can de-crypt the data. An SSL certificate is also recommended when using web applications. You’ll commonly see an SSL certificate when entering payment details for online shopping.
A step above SSL is to use a Mobile VPN. There quite a few Mobile VPNs available from service providers but also available as software to purchase. An example is Mobility XE. Software such as this allows remote workers secure, and robust access to network resources. They offer FIPS 140-2 (Federal Information Processing Standard Publication 140-2) encryption which is a US government standard for non-classified information. Needless to say it is highly secure with very strong encryption levels. This level of encryption is becoming more and more popular with large organisations and local government.
When the communications is secure the next step is to lock down and control a device. There are a few different options for this. First is a simple lock down tool on the device, the master device is locked down, allowing access to specific applications and settings such as Bluetooth settings. This master file can then be deployed to rest of the device pool. The next level above this and a method of mass file deployment is a device management platform. SOTI MobiControl is a very popular product for just this.
MobiControl has lots of enterprise mobile device security features including configurable device lock down, remote control and help desk, location tracking, deploy files/software, allow/deny access for resources, enforce security policies and importantly manage a number of differing OS devices in the same pool, and kill the device if stolen. Killing device means the device will become inoperable by the thief.
Limiting and allowing access to specific websites can also increase productivity if the user cannot surf the web or access games on the device. There are other similar offerings, but SOTI is probably the most popular now, especially as Motorola now recommend SOTI as the remote management tool of choice.
Some application software can provide lockdown and remote control out of the box, but it very much depends on how many units the customer has and the level of remote support/control the customer wants to provide its users.
There are many software solutions for security, of which the more popular have been covered. Security of your data is down to the customer and the sensitivity of the data. The more sensitive the data, or desirable to a third party you feel it is, the more secure the data should be.
The final part in this series next week will look at security hardware for your mobile device.
Do not get spooked by potential enterprise mobile device security problems call us to discuss how we can help your project to address your key business issues.
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