Enterprise mobility 2.0 Cloud Based, Cross - Platform and Context - Aware
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Enterprise mobility 2.0 Cloud Based, Cross - Platform and Context - Aware

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Implementing a mobile project is no small task. The growing choice of devices available, the complexity of back-end integration and the rapid evolution of mobile technologies can make it look like a ...

Implementing a mobile project is no small task. The growing choice of devices available, the complexity of back-end integration and the rapid evolution of mobile technologies can make it look like a daunting challenge to the most experienced of project managers.

Since Appear helped pioneer the mobile workforce revolution back in 2001, we have been
assisting organisations to pilot and roll-out their mobile solutions. From these assignments we have highlighted these key takeaways.

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Enterprise mobility 2.0 Cloud Based, Cross - Platform and Context - Aware Enterprise mobility 2.0 Cloud Based, Cross - Platform and Context - Aware Document Transcript

  • Implementing a mobile project is no small task. The evergrowing choice of devices available, the complexity of back-end integration and the rapid evolution of mobile technologies can make it look like a daunting challenge to the most experienced of project managers. Since Appear helped pioneer the mobile workforce revolution back in 2001, we have been assisting major corporations to pilot and roll-out their mobile solutions. From these assignments we have highlighted these key takeaways. ENTERPRISE MOBILITY 2.0 Cloud Based, Cross-Platform and Context-Aware An Appear White Paper
  • INTRODUCTION The revolution brought about by smartphones and tablets offer more choice, better technology and lower prices to the enterprise, thus allowing the support of new and innovative applications that boost productivity, improve service levels and lower TCO. But this consumerization of the enterprise mobility market has left companies scrambling for steady ground, as the market for consumer devices is significantly larger and more dynamic than historically the case with the industrial grade rugged devices. ” This illustrates why it has become increasingly ”Betting on any specific challenging for enterprises to come up with a long hardware platform has term mobility strategy for their business. Clearly become a significant risk betting on any specific hardware platform has for continuity” become a significant risk for continuity and competitiveness. However, there is sufficient data now to spot a few trends and best practices to benefit from. ” We are also seeing the rise of cloud offerings that help reduce upfront investments and operational cost significantly. This has been a trend for a while with SaaS offerings like SalesForce and Office 365, but mobility has ”The anywhere and anytime accelerated this development further because the anywhere and anytime access that cloud access that cloud offers is offers is especially relevant for mobile users. especially relevant for This has led to additional cloud offerings aimed mobile users” specifically at enterprise mobility, e.g. MBaaS. ENTERPRISE MOBILITY 2.0 In only the last few years, we have seen BlackBerry go from dominating the enterprise market to becoming a niche player with an uncertain future, while iOS took over briefly before yielding to the broader market reach of Android, though facing fragmentation challenges. We have seen WebOS fail to take off, MeeGo reincarnate as Tizen, and the first device running FireFox OS. We are starting to see Windows Phone gain market share, and yet a mixed reception of Windows 8 tablets. After smartphones and tablets, we see the rise of new wearable form factors like glasses and wrist watches that can support new use cases. It likely won’t end there. But not all enterprise mobility initiatives have been equally successful. Usability issues, privacy concerns, lack of agility or expertise, all can lead to expensive failures. ” Enterprise Mobility poses unique challenges regarding battery life, connectivity, usability, life cycle management, screen real estate, security, cost and continuity. ”Enterprise mobility poses unique challenges” In addition, every vertical industry has its own unique challenges, due to the nature of the work, environment, regulations and the technical literacy of its people. Let’s have a closer look at some of these challenges and risks and how a mobility platform could help you address them today, while preparing you for what is yet to come. 1
  • BATTERY LIFE ” Employees need to be able to complete an entire work shift on a single battery charge, as most consumer devices do not offer battery replacement options. ”Most consumer devices do not offer battery Battery stamina does however not only depend on its capacity but also on consumption. While replacement options” mobile devices all implement advanced power savings features, much of the savings depend on usage and application efficiency. The biggest consumers are generally screen backlight, wireless radio (Wifi, 3G/4G) and CPU. The first step is therefore to choose the right device for the job, by performing some field testing on them with real-world work usage patterns. ENTERPRISE MOBILITY 2.0 Regardless of the chosen hardware, and the performance power it may have, by ensuring that heavy operations are offloaded to the server, a mobility platforms can help save on battery and support more cost effective hardware specifications. Efficient file synchronization and integration connectors that allow for server side optimization of backend data, can significantly reduce the amount of data having to travel “across the wire” between mobile applications and backend systems, thus saving on wireless transmissions that significantly impact power consumption. It is also important that event driven mechanisms, including push messaging rather than polling, are utilized to minimize unnecessary CPU cycles while ensuring fast synchronization of relevant data, even when the device is in standby modus. ” And finally, contextual information could be used to exchange only data relevant to a particular application, user, task or moment. This includes eliminating steps in a workflow ”This would mean time and that are irrelevant or can be completed power savings on all aspects automatically with contextual information, of device usage” thus simplifying and reducing the number of device interactions required to compete a task. This would mean time and power savings on all aspects of device usage. CONNECTIVITY 2 The consumerization of the enterprise market also means many enterprise deployments are starting to use public 3G/4G networks as their primary or only method of connectivity. Aside from the security impact, for the foreseeable future there will remain many areas where mobile network coverage is suboptimal or absent, such as in buildings, elevators,
  • tunnels or remote sites. For public network operated devices it is therefore common for connections to drop many times throughout the day. ” Nothing is more frustrating and wasteful for employees than having to enter a large amount of data, while serving a waiting customer, and receive connectivity related errors or even loss of that data. Indeed, many mobile applications become instantly useless as soon as connectivity drops. ”Many applications become instantly useless as soon as connectivity drops” But it is not only about the complete absence of connectivity. It’s also about performance as the actual bandwidth available for cellular 3G/4G networks can vary between 0% and roughly 60% of what is theoretically possible, due to signal quality or network load. By implementing efficient background file synchronization, the mobile platform will have more time to send less data. This will optimize the use of available bandwidth significantly while keeping the applications responsive. ” ”Enable applications to continue working as usual even in the temporary absence of connectivity” With Offline application support, the mobile platform can enable applications to continue working as usual even in the temporary absence of connectivity. It can do so by performing requested operations on local data, while synchronizing the changes to the backend whenever possible. ENTERPRISE MOBILITY 2.0 There are several ways in which an enterprise mobility platform can help applications offer a more consistent, reliable and responsive user experience, despite inconsistent network performance. Think of data collection activities like incident reports, time reports, sales transactions, download of files, etc. Applications could just “fire and forget”, and move on to the next task, while relying on the platform to complete those transaction with the back end as soon as possible. This requires the mobility platform to implement a certain transaction model that guarantees the integrity and security of the data while it is stored on the device, processes the transactions in the proper order, mitigates any synchronization issues with the backend and offers applications the option to track the status of these transactions through notifications. ” ”Context information could be To further optimize the reliability and performance of applications, context leveraged to anticipate the information could be leveraged to dependency on resources anticipate the dependency on resources ahead of time” ahead of time. By initiating a pre-fetch of required data briefly before it is needed, the time window for successful retrieval could be significantly increased, making it less prone to local dead spots or reduced bandwidth. In addition it would significantly boost 3
  • ” user perceived performance as the data will have already been cached locally on the device the moment it is requested. As Wi-Fi remains heavily used in enterprise environments and increasingly in public spaces, enterprise mobility platforms must ensure that switching between different connectivity methods is seamless and transparent to applications, active file transfers and authenticated sessions. USABILITY ”Ensure that switching between different connectivity methods is seamless and transparent” ENTERPRISE MOBILITY 2.0 Usability is important to enterprise mobility, as it impacts user adoption, productivity and satisfaction levels. It can affect data quality and even employee health (RSI). Not only are enterprise applications expected to offer a reliable and consistent user experience, they are expected to do so with the same levels of accessibility and usability as consumer applications. Gone are the days that enterprise applications could get away with clunky user interfaces that cramped up as much information on that tiny screen as possible, while still being able to operate it with a stylus. If users can’t swipe it, they won’t like it. And it makes perfect sense since these finger operated interactions are far more intuitive. Most popular web services are extended with mobile client applications on all major platforms, allowing users the freedom and convenience to access these services anytime, anywhere and on almost any device. That the same level of flexibility and accessibility will benefit enterprises, is illustrated by that fact that many employees reach for alternative devices, such as laptops or personal smartphones, to complete their tasks after batteries in their corporate devices have died. ” In fact, a Forrester’s Forrsights Workforce Employee Survey in Q4, 2011 among 9.900 information workers in 19 different countries, already revealed 74% used 2 or more devices for work and 52% used 3 or more, with 14% using six or more. Same survey also revealed that ”74% used 2 or more 60% is used for both work and personal purposes. devices for work” 4 These numbers continue to rise, as more organizations recognize the benefits of supporting a heterogeneous fleet of devices. It not only allows different user groups to receive different devices that are better suited for their particular tasks, but also multiple devices per user. In fact, most organizations already complement their tablet deployment with smart phones for voice communication and email, but do not yet leverage them beyond that.  Forrester
  • Part of the problem is that usability requirements and feature sets can be very different on these devices, making multi-platform design and development complex and costly. That is why many enterprise mobile applications still require large tablets to operate conveniently, as they continue to display too much data and require too many user interactions to complete a task. Even if the same could fit on a smaller screen, it would make these applications hard to operate. And of course not all applications, such as those operating barcode scanners, can run on all devices. An inventory application that makes use of missing features, may fail to launch and prevent access to the rest of the application functionality. So user interface optimizations alone can only do so much. Not to forget that enterprise applications can be very data intensive while data entry on most mobile devices remains more cumbersome than using a full size hardware keyboard and mouse on an office PC. It can enable applications to display only relevant data for a particular user at a particular time, reducing the amount of “noise” that users must sift through to find what they need. ” It can help reduce the number of steps a user must perform to complete a task, by more intelligently anticipating and further automating steps in a workflow. Having employees spend less time typing, searching, tapping and scrolling, means more time is spent on the task at hand. ”Reduce the number of steps a user must perform to complete a task” ENTERPRISE MOBILITY 2.0 A mobile platform with context-awareness can help applications much more easily and consistently detect device features, tasks requirements, user preferences and other environmental conditions, regardless of the source of these parameters. Less data to display or enter also means the available screen real-estate can support larger font sizes or UI elements to improve legibility and (single hand) operation. ” Context-support can greatly simplify the implementation of flexible and efficient applications and is expected to become even more relevant with the upcoming wave of wearable devices, like smart glasses and watches. ” The need for context awareness in mobile applications has increased with the capabilities of mobile devices” These smaller devices are expected to have a huge impact on the enterprise market, in areas like health  Gartner care, public safety, inspection and B2C solutions, but will require smarter interfaces to humans and backend systems to make optimal use of them. The ease by which these new devices can be evaluated and adopted will greatly enhance an organization’s competitive advantage. “ Most consumer devices do not offer battery replacement 5
  • APPLICATION DEVELOPMENT The app revolution in the consumer space has led to hundreds of thousands of applications for all sorts of purposes. Enterprises can benefit from a similar approach, where, instead of single or few large monolithic stand-alone applications, multiple smaller applications (or even so-called widgets) are built to support specific tasks. This modularity greatly simplifies the development and maintenance of applications, while improving the agility to support new business needs as they come. ” For enterprise apps, we often see the same business data being needed by multiple applications. Since about 50% of the cost associated with the development of enterprise applications is spent on ”50% of the cost is integration efforts, it is critical that enterprise mobility associated with platforms reduce this effort and prevent its duplication for integration efforts” each application, let alone for each hardware platform. ENTERPRISE MOBILITY 2.0 That brings us to the subject of cross platform development: While generally native development is better optimized for the hardware it runs on, and offers more responsive applications, cross-platform solutions ensure wider adoption, faster development, more continuity, easier maintenance and significant cost savings. The leading trend in enterprise mobility is towards capturing the best of both worlds by using a hybrid approach. ” Gartner predicts that by 2016, more than 50% of all applications will be hybrid. ”By 2016, more than 50% of all applications will be hybrid”  Gartner http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/2324917 “The advantages of the hybrid architecture, which combines the portability of HTML5 Web apps with a native container that facilitates access to native device features, will appeal to many enterprises.” -- Gartner (2013) But most hybrid platforms either offer a standard container with limited access to native features, based on the lowest-common-denominator, or generate multiple platform specific binaries that make the solution less portable and may complicate debugging and application management across a heterogeneous fleet of devices. 6 A more complete and flexible hybrid approach would let developers not only build crossplatform solutions on a standard set of native features, but also enable them to extend this set of features with application modules and shared services that require native performance, or additional platform specific features such as new sensors, barcode scanners, bluetooth printers or other custom peripherals. By implementing context-awareness, applications can easily detect and use these optional features, while maintaining their cross platform functionality on other platforms or customized containers that lack them.
  • In addition, to get developers up to speed faster, and reduce vendor lock-in, an enterprise mobility platform should build on and facilitate the use of standard frameworks and development tools as much as possible. Allowing developers the freedom and flexibility to use what they already know and like, will make them productive faster than having to learn yet another set of proprietary tools that require extensive training. And finally, an enterprise mobility platform should facilitate agile development processes with a set of tools, roles and policies that ease the collaboration between developers and stakeholders. LIFECYCLE MANAGEMENT If a major bug was found after deployment, that was somehow not caught in automated or even field tests, the impact on operations was significant as the whole logistical process had to be repeated. ” To stay competitive, your mobility strategy needs to ensure that you stay ahead of rapid changes in the market and adapt to new business needs. A reduction of cost and overhead can be achieved by introducing more agility to shorten the development, test and deployment cycles. ”Your mobility strategy needs to ensure that you stay ahead of rapid changes” ENTERPRISE MOBILITY 2.0 Traditionally, rolling out an upgrade to an application required major logistical operations, possibly spanning several months of collecting, cradling or otherwise interrupting operations while downloading and testing large file sets over slow networks. Splitting enterprise needs into smaller modular applications will make it easier to add new features and support new use cases and user groups, without growing the complexity of individual applications too much over time. But this approach needs to be complemented with a way to easily deploy and update those applications in the field, as inability to do so will force longer test cycles and increased maintenance overhead. While public app stores have made it easier for consumers to discover, deploy and update applications, enterprises will need finer control over who can discover these apps, and not be faced with a possibly time consuming or unsuccessful approval process. In addition to enabling users to discover optional apps themselves, an enterprise mobility platform should allow enterprises to enable automatic discovery of certain mandatory or contextually relevant applications and updates, such as critical bug fixes. 7
  • ” It is however also critical that these automatic updates do not interrupt the operations of individual users in the field. A mobility platform could for example allow large updates to be ”it’s critical that automatic downloaded in off-hours, and applied only when updates do not interrupt applications are not being actively used. In case operations in the field” an application is in use, the platform could notify the user of a pending update with a non-intrusive message. Fortunately, hybrid platforms and modularization can ensure that individual applications maintain a very small footprint, making their updates in the field more quick and efficient. ENTERPRISE MOBILITY 2.0 With lifecycles of consumer devices being generally shorter, and pricing ever more competitive, enterprises should be prepared to migrate users to new platforms as needed, either because there is no other option at that time, to support new use cases or otherwise getting more value for money. Because many users may find big changes disruptive to their daily routine, resistance to such changes might prevent a successful rollout. By ensuring that mobile applications can maintain their common look & feel across multiple platforms, hardware changes can be decoupled from software changes, allowing enterprises to exercise finer control over the overall change process and the impact on their users. SECURITY Initially, consumerization was met with fear rather than opportunity, at IT management level. This led to investments in MDM tools that focused primarily on controlling and disabling users and devices, rather than embracing and enabling them. Security is absolutely critical to enterprise mobility, and the invasion of personal devices into the enterprise domain has raised valid concerns. But a good enterprise mobility strategy cannot be based on a general sense of insecurity and uncertainty. Enterprises must investigate the real threats to their business. A good enterprise mobility strategy is characterized by maximizing business value, while ensuring the most valuable business assets, its data, is kept secure. That should be the primary responsibility of the mobility platform. 8 ” This understanding is especially key to supporting BYOD. Remarkably enough, this concept is not new. Your bank has long understood that they must be able to offer a great e-banking experience, without requiring you to ”Remarkably enough, this only use bank issued laptops or letting them take full control of your personal device. concept is not new” Certainly any attempt to do so, would make the
  • number of satisfied customers significantly drop, making this valuable service unsustainable. Much can be learned from its similarities with enterprise mobility. But there are also differences. While banks have more to fear from phishing or skimming practices, enterprises have to worry more about the loss or theft of these devices that allow access to sensitive data. ” The best approach is to assume that mobile devices are by definition always insecure. The focus of enterprise mobility should therefore be to implement a secure environment on an otherwise insecure platform, rather ”Enterprise security is about data, than trying to secure the entire platform itself. In other words, enterprise security not devices” is about data, not devices. This container should implement encrypted storage and transmission, and offer flexible, secure and extendible multi-step authentication mechanisms that can be centrally managed, ideally integrated with existing corporate directory services. This flexibility will allow enterprises to not only find the best balance between usability and the sensitivity of the data that needs to be secured, but also ensure new and improved authentication mechanisms can be implemented when necessary, such as NFC readers, biometric scanners or anything else, without it having to impact existing applications or integrations. ” ENTERPRISE MOBILITY 2.0 This can be accomplished by using a secure enterprise container application that holds all enterprise data, and can only be accessed by authorized users and applications within that container. In addition, enterprise mobility solutions should minimize the number of integration points. Ideally, the only way both users and ”The only way both users and applications can access enterprise data, is through the secure container. And the only applications can access way the container can access backend enterprise data, is through systems, is through a single secure tunnel to the secure container” the cloud platform. This will greatly simplify management, monitoring and configuration of corporate policies and firewalls. And in case devices are lost or stolen, it should be easy for users and enterprises to locate these devices and remote wipe all sensitive data. However, it is important to privacy regulations and user adoption, that without the consent of the end user, enterprises should only be able to wipe corporate data. 9
  • CONTINUITY ” A good enterprise mobility strategy will support business continuity over a longer period of time. ”A good enterprise mobility This does not mean that you should prevent the use of vendor specific features strategy will support business that can help your business save money continuity over a longer and keep you competitive, but it does period of time” mean that if the need arises, there should be a feasible and cost effective vendor platform migration strategy. ” ENTERPRISE MOBILITY 2.0 The first strategy is to ensure the use of open standards such as HTML5, to reduce lock in on any particular platform or vendor. ”What hasn’t been implemented, doesn’t need to be migrated” The second strategy is to reduce the amount of code required to build functional applications. After all, what hasn’t been implemented doesn’t need to be migrated or written off. The third strategy is to ensure full ownership of applications and backend data. With a public cloud platform, the latter can be easily achieved if the platform allows a hybrid cloud approach, where your backend applications and data, as well as the connectors to them, can be implemented and hosted on premise or private cloud. CONCLUSION While defining an effective enterprise mobility strategy can be a daunting task, we hope that the awareness of some of the main challenges and their potential solutions, as outlined in this document, can assist enterprises to a successful deployment. The challenges are however not only technical. A successful mobility strategy requires synergy between vendors, integrators and power users, who not only understand mobility, but also the challenges specific to your business. 10
  • ABOUT APPEAR As an enterprise mobility software pioneer since 2001, Appear has developed extensive experience and expertise with innovative award-winning context-aware enterprise mobility solutions deployed in areas such as public transport, dealing with every aspect of mobility in the most literal sense of the word. Appear Networks Systems AB, Kista Science Tower, 164 51 Kista, Sweden Phone: +46(0)854591370 Web: www.appearnetworks.com ENTERPRISE MOBILITY 2.0 contact info@appearnetworks.com 11