Wavelink Blog

Tag: enterprise mobility management

What’s New: Wavelink Avalanche

We are pleased to announce that the latest version of Wavelink Avalanche is now available and is packed with new features to increase your IT functionality and decrease complexity, saving you time and money. The entire Wavelink team has worked hard to ensure that the latest version of Avalanche is full of helpful updates that safeguard the security of your enterprise and secure your data and devices from the latest security attacks.
Between the enhancements now available in our cloud-based versions of Wavelink Avalanche, and the announcements made last month at Interchange 2014 (including Mobile Email Management coming soon!), we’re serious about enterprise mobility. (more…)

Tips for Deploying Enterprise Mobility Management – SaaS or On-Premise

Enterprises of all sizes and across industries require different levels of onsite control of their enterprise mobility deployments. Couple this with the unique restrictions that corporations place on mobile internet access and there’s a compelling need for choice among the deployment options when considering an enterprise mobility management solution.

The benefits of a cloud-based deployment are Retail Associate Consumer Devicecentered on simplicity. Selecting a cloud-based (or SaaS) deployment method frees up internal IT staff to focus on other initiatives.  Server components are managed externally by product experts, making a cloud deployment simple and fast. This is in addition to the most obvious benefit of a SaaS deployment – immediate access to software updates.

However, there are enterprises around the world that require, or simply prefer, to have the greatest amount of control over their enterprise mobility management system. An On-Premise deployment method provides this, in a more traditional, shrink-wrapped installation. Companies choose this model often because they like the security of having the entire deployment completely within their corporate intranet. It also provides IT teams with complete control of scheduling updates and patches.

Which option is best? Start by determining the security compliance and control requirements your organization has in place. Next, determine the level of IT staff that will be working with the enterprise mobility management console, and the time they have to handle maintenance to it. Follow that with some considerations related to control. Does the company prefer the accelerated access to software updates and enhancements? Or, does it benefit the business to have IT control the timing of updates to fit in between peaks in the operations cycle?

With both SaaS-based and On-Premise options, Avalanche 6.0 provides businesses with the ability to select the method of deployment that fits each business best. Whether mixed device deployments or BYOD, operational task workers, customer-facing workers, there is no need to compromise. When you’re deploying enterprise mobility, manage those deployments with the enterprise mobility management solution that has been trusted by corporations for decades, ready to be deployed in the method that fits your business.

The Enterprise Mobility Mix – Consumer and Rugged Mobile Devices

The Mix of Consumer and Rugged Mobile Devices in the Enterprise

Has your experience at retail stores been different lately?  Or perhaps you’ve had a different experience at a medical facility?  Maybe your own work has changed recently.  A significant change across industries has been in the number and types of mobile devices being used by all sorts of workers.  Whether you’ve completed a sales transaction by signing on a smartphone, or checked in at your doctor’s office using a tablet, there is no denying that mobile devices are proliferating in enterprise use cases.

In most mission-critical mobility deployments, enterprises have deployed rugged mobile computers.  Consider the devices carried by parcel couriers, stockroom workers and others.  There’s an obvious need for durability, so that these mobile computers can withstand frequent drops, extreme temperatures, and in some situations, hazardous environments (think oil rigs).  Technologies that help these workers accomplish their tasks include advanced data capture capabilities, such as barcode scanning, RFID, and perhaps payment transaction capabilities.

A retail associate uses a mobile device to check out a consumer

A retail associate uses a mobile device to check out a consumer

As consumers, we don’t often interact with these workers as they complete their tasks.  The use cases are not typically consumer-facing.  However, there is an increasing contingent of enterprises that are placing more mobility into the hands of workers who are visible, and directly interacting with consumers.  These workers are still performing mission-critical activities – particularly in revenue generating roles, for the enterprise.

Over the past few years, companies have explored the evolving smartphone and tablet options for these workers.  In some cases, the benefits of these consumer-grade devices have proven not to be the best fit for the business, due to fragility, theft, or other limitations.  These enterprises have generally opted to revert to the familiar – the rugged mobile computers that are likely being used in traditional task-based use cases.  By contrast, there are enterprises across industries that have chosen and successfully deployed consumer smartphones and tablets into consumer-facing use cases.

There is no denying the selection of enterprise mobility hardware has expanded significantly over the last five years.  Whether going with traditional, rugged mobile computers, or consumer-grade devices, it is exciting to see the accelerated adoption of mobility across enterprises – especially as it gets into the hands of the workers with whom we, as consumers, interact.  However, this also creates a new IT challenge: Some workers are carrying rugged mobile computers, others have consumer devices.  There is overlap in applications and content access as well.  For all these users, there is a bottom line benefit to their mobile productivity.  Fortunately, Wavelink Avalanche is there to be able to ensure all these users – task-oriented and customer-facing, are optimally productive.

ROI of the Mobile Worker

Over the past several months, I’ve been listening to the way customers describe their return on mobility investments.  The answers are impressive.  Answers range from increases in worker speed of task completion, to task accuracy, to month to recognize complete return on dollar investments, reductions in man-hours for cyclical process completions, reductions in seasonal headcounts, reductions in worker training time, and more.  The measurements of return on mobility investment are impressive percentages and yield significant dollar-value savings to each of the companies I’ve heard from.LXE Mobile Devices

What is really interesting is how companies can measure their return on investment in such vast and different ways. In some cases, the measure is dollars saved by reducing errors.  In others, it is increased shipments that yield additional dollars per package shipped.  In still others, the savings is recognized by a reduction in seasonal labor, or less worker hours dedicated to completing a specific task.  Whatever the measurement, there are two things that remain true: Every measurement ties to a dollar-value savings that can prove a mathematical return on investment for the dollars spent enabling mobility.  Even more importantly, the measurement each company used to describe their ROI told far more about the problem each was attempting to solve.

Enterprises deploy mobility to achieve a higher level of productivity, but it is not done just for the sake of using mobile technology. There is an underlying pain that the company is trying to address – some way of improving a process to gain efficiency, or to recognize a cost savings.  There is a problem to be solved by deploying mobility – and one recommended approach to begin defining the best mobility solution is to start with an operations audit that can help find the weaknesses and inefficiencies in current processes.  By adding automation and voice-enablement, Wavelink Speakeasy has consistently shown productivity gains for mobile supply chain workers of over 35%. That’s like getting an extra day of productivity from every worker – for every three days worked. Now that’s a fast ROI!

What problems are you aiming to solve with mobility in your enterprise? What measurements are you tracking to determine ROI?  Email me with your objectives at: robert.destefano@wavelink.com

MDM is dead. Long live MDM

A Look at the Difference between Mobile Device Management and Mobile Deployment Management

“Mobile Device Management (MDM) enables businesses to address challenges associated with mobility by providing a simplified, efficient way to view and manage all devices from the central admin console.” That’s all you need, right?  This is how one vendor describes it – right from their website.  At first glance, one might expect that if I can manage the mobile device, that’s what I need.

But then again. What about the applications residing on those mobile devices, which also need to be managed?  Well, sure, typical Mobile Device Management products can cover most of that.  Surely they can push applications, maybe blacklist some apps not appropriate for use at work, and remotely lock a lost or stolen mobile device to maintain a level of corporate data security.

One of the challenges when looking at MDM vendors is that there isn’t a whole lot of differentiation among the capabilities, for example, they all face the same restrictions when managing iOS devices.  Similarly, many vendors predominantly hype their iOS and Android device management capabilities.  And everyone talks about BYOD.

There’s a big difference between Mobile Device Management and Mobile Deployment Management.  Managing enterprise mobility deployments is about more than just the device.  Consider all the aspects of deploying mobility in the enterprise.

  • Users: Who are the users, and how will they be using mobility?
  • Hardware: What kind of mobile devices are best – rugged, barcode scanner-enabled or smart devices?
  • Connectivity: What kind of connectivity will be needed – Wi-Fi? Wi-Fi and Cellular? Connectivity to peripheral devices such as printers?
  • Mobile Applications: What types of applications will the user need?  Are they leveraging application streaming of data located on a host server?  Through terminal emulation? Using a browser? Native apps?

Unlike Mobile Device Management, Mobile Deployment Management refers to managing this complete set of consideration, ultimately with the goal of maximizing the productivity of the user of this mobility solution.  With the Wavelink Mobile Enterprise Productivity Suite, a mission-critical mobility deployment can be unified under a single vendor and completely managed through Avalanche.

Go ask MDM vendors if they can check all the boxes for the mobility deployment considerations above. They can’t. Managing mobile devices – ‘everyone’ can do that.

It’s been 40-years and what a 40-years: The DynaTAC, the beginning of a game changer cell phone

Today Mobile Enterprise reminded us that on April 3, 2013, the cell phone celebrated its 40th birthday. It’s gone through many cosmetic facelifts since the first day the Vice President of Communications Systems at Motorola walked “down the streets of New York City, talking on a large, clunky yet portable phone,” that weighed almost three pounds, operated on radio frequencies and had about twenty minutes before the battery died.

It would be another ten years before the Motorola DynaTAC was commercially available and would bring with it a new era of the way we define business and success. If you The Motorola DynaTACsaw someone back in the late 80s or early 90s on the street with a cell phone you knew they had to be someone important just because of the level of status the cell phone had achieved at that point. The Motorola DynaTAC was a game changer and as other manufacturers entered the mix, organizations began to see the potential cell phones would have in the business world. With a cell phone you could be anywhere in the country assisting a customer or meeting a potential customer and immediately report back to headquarters with an update. That single ability to call as soon as you walked out of building changed the course of business.

Back in 1973 Motorola knew that cell phones would change the way we lived and did business. Whether they could have predicted the exact way in which they have changed our lives is anyone’s guess (we also thought we would be driving cars in the sky by now). Through the addition of the Internet it further created a new generation of cell phone technology. This later addition cemented cell phones (smart phones) as critical components of our daily life. You think about all the ways you use your cell phone from staying on top of work, to checking in on friends and loved ones, to ordering pizza. Even how we are able to relay information in an emergency has changed just in 15-years. They are not just convenient tools in our daily lives but they changed the way we respond to emergency even as something as relatively minor as your car breaking down. 20 to 15-years ago unless you were fortunate enough to have one of the first generation car phones, you would have to hike to the nearest house, hope someone was home and call a tow service.

Cell phones changed and continue to change the course of business. By our growing consumer need to use cell phones/smart devices we are single-handedly dictating how we then do business. BYOD isn’t a phenomenon. It has become very much a real business changer. Consumers want to be able to use their cell phones at work in multiple ways, dictating then that an Enterprise really has to take a closer look at how they secure and manage these devices. Given the potential productivity gains from consumer devices it makes sense to consider integrating them in a DC, in government, transportation, healthcare and on the retail floor. According to the Yankee Group “half of all companies find it very difficult to manage software upgrades on mobile handsets and to manage the costs associated with mobile devices. Almost the same proportion finds distributing mobile applications to devices very difficult.” In just 40-years cell phones have become business changers, strategy changers and productivity changers. Happy 40th birthday to the cell phone.

Securing the First Responders: With today’s critical infrastructure threats, how can you ensure your city’s response team’s rugged devices are secure?

In an emergency first responders need to be focused on their number one priority – be it saving lives, protecting citizens and preventing crimes. Worrying about the security of the technology they have with them shouldn’t be of concern. In fact keeping onboardPolice Car laptops and smartdevices that are the make-up of numerous fleet vehicles, such as police and fire vehicles secure shouldn’t even be a secondary thought. It should be simple and should just run in the background. With technology changing rapidly it is vital to ensure information that is sent to public servants, law enforcement officials and military personnel is secure. But while technology is changing rapidly it doesn’t mean that budgets are increasing to account for all these new devices or the changing climate of new threats.

Simple to use, simple to manage device management that protects the infrastructure of every city’s government is possible and in most cases requires very little in way of investment.

What should a city or government entity look for in a mobile device solution?

  1. 802.11 provisioning with industry standard encryption and authentication protocols
  2. Access Point (AP) detection and reporting with various IDS-oriented enhancements to assist with identification, alerting, monitoring and reporting of potential threats and a holistic view into the state of the agency’s security
  3. Ability to remotely manage configurations and updates of all Access Points across a city from one location
  4. Encryption of all communication channels and database encryption
  5. Device location mapping; enabling the lock down and wiping of devices when needed
  6. Push down all device software updates over the air without the need to physically bring in critical devices that are needed 24/7. Industrial laptops are powerful tools but they can be rendered virtually useless in an emergency if they are not kept up-to-date. Push down a security patch from a central location and save critical time and money
  7. Device management that doesn’t take up valuable bandwidth. Send out a software package in seconds without it hindering GPRS that is being used not only to update software applications but basic data communications with officers and firefighters out in the field
  8. Security for all wireless data transmissions that includes a seamless handoff between the various wireless network infrastructures in operation

Remember you don’t need to buy the latest and greatest device with the pretense that because it’s newer it’s going to be more secure. By making simple IT infrastructure changes using existing devices it is more than possible to stick to the budget without sacrificing security. A simple to use centralized mobile device management solution that plans, deploys, secures, monitors and maintains enhances the reliability and security of the tools first responders need to use.

Why Small Businesses Should Still Care About MDM

It started with a simple $5 wristband in November 2011; Let’s Create Jobs for USA was founded with a $5 million contribution from Starbucks and a promise to create jobs for the American people. I vividly remember purchasing my wristband when they went on sale (ironically I was in the company’s hometown of Seattle). As someone who lives in a state that’s seen substantial unemployment, I was eager to play a small part in launching the movement.

As part of my weekly Starbucks visits (I won’t admit to a daily addiction), I recently noticed that they’ve taken this movement one step further by assisting small businesses on the technology payment front through a payment processing option called Square Mobile Card Readers.

Available in every company operated Starbucks store in the United States, “Square’s Mobile Card Reader with the free app, Square Register, enables anyone to easily accept credit cards so individuals and business can connect with customersSquare Card Reader anywhere their business takes them.” This simple tech attaches to an iOS or Android device and enables any size business to accept credit and debit cards. According to Starbucks roughly two-thirds of the 27 million small businesses in the United States do not currently accept credit or debit payment due to expensive processing fees and extensive applications. Think of the potential this small mobile card reader can bring to a small business and talk about a low investment – these card readers cost only $10 and come with a $10 rebate!

Say what you will about fancy and expensive coffees, but this is a highly effective tool that allows small businesses to generate new ways for income. Having said that, I won’t lie that my second thought was PCI compliance and keeping those devices secure. Any mobile device, be it rugged or consumer, has the capability to suffer a security breach. Add additional devices to your network and you further increase the importance of keeping them not only secure but maintaining peak performance. A Mobile Device Management (MDM) solution therefore still provides substantial value to any business whether you have two or three devices or two or three thousand devices.

For small business owners, a MDM solution that you manage in the Cloud is a perfect way to ensure devices are not only secure, but configured and managed from an easy-to-use console and without the need to purchase servers or an entire IT department. With MDM you also get the capability to lock down these consumer devices if they go missing and immediately protect them by securing and wiping confidential data. You even have the power to detect foreign devices entering your network and define specific parameters that your device(s) can be utilized in.

In closing, while we look at new ways to add jobs let’s not forget the critical nature of protecting the devices that come with them.

The Risk Of Increasing Operational Cost (OPEX) By Doing MDM Backwards

We’re all aware of the explosion of new devices arriving in the marketplace.   From phones, to tablets, to bigger phones, to smaller tablets,…. And all of the new challenges and opportunities these devices bring with them.  Everyone is abuzz with the new terms of “device consumerization”, and “application containerization”, etc.,. etc.  The emergence of so many new devices, with so many different form factors is exploding the options for endpoint connectivity into enterprise business applications.  

However, what do all these new devices really mean in terms of providing enhanced value to today’s business processes?   And, what do these changes really imply in terms of mobility device management?   Is it possible, as is often the case with rapidly evolving technologies, that all the hype is really about a rather thin area of deployment, and is overlooking some, or possibly many, of the basic fundamentals?   If so, what does this imply about future costs?

Three prior articles shed some light on these questions.   Consider the following highlights.

  • According to Aberdeen Group’s Analyst Insight, “High Performance Organizations Empower Employees with Real-Time Mobile Analytics”, July, 2011
    • The adopters for Mobility Business Intelligence (MBI) on emerging mobile devices can be segmented as follows;
      • Enterprise Executives – The Board Room and other C-Level company stakeholders
        • These users are interested primarily in Dashboards that allow them to view the holistic health of the business from one central platform.
      • Field Sales – The road warriors and those dependent upon direct interface with the company’s customers
        • These users are primarily interested in real-time data to help close sales faster, (i.e. inventory stock data), as well as increase customer satisfaction, (i.e. trouble ticket response data).
      • Operations – Operations management including I/T
        • These users want to deploy Dashboards again, but focused solely on the health of their specific area of operation, (i.e. server uptime, etc). (more…)

Myths of BYOD

If you ever visit one of the public food courts in Singapore, you’ll find that there are as many as 85 different food vendors and outdoor kitchens side-by-side. Most of these have exactly the same menu as the vendor next to them and they will proudly tell you that. When begin your decision process, the vendors move from talking about the food and how good they can make it taste, and move the sale to talking about why their chef is better than the rest, or why their customer service is a differentiator. From where I sit, BYOD and MDM may have started to morph into exactly that.

Now, I’m not trying to belittle or downplay the importance of the BYOD market, but there have been scores of new vendors that have popped up in the last couple of years, and they are starting to sound a bit like these food vendors by sharing the same features and capabilities. One thing we’ve noticed is that there are some myths that need a little debunking. We’re not saying this just to stir the pot, but most companies need to strongly consider if BYOD is really for them.

BYOD in the Enterprise

Is this really going to save me money?

This has been a huge topic, and there have been a number of studies into whether or not BYOD saves money for those who implement it.

Cisco, for instance, stated a 17-22 percent savings, but that’s not the norm. Tom Kaneshige points out that while hardware costs might be lower, and they no longer have to worry about acquisition cycles, there are hidden costs. A lot of the BYOD crowd is basing savings on workers bringing their own mobile devices to work – tablets, phones, etc. so there is a trade-off between acquisition costs and a number of aspects of control.

One place that costs creep back in is in service plans, and allowing workers to purchase their own vs a negotiated corporate agreement. An Aberdeen report indicates that a big corporate wireless plan breaks down to about $60 per person while the average reimbursement for a BYOD smartphone is $70. If you’re a big enterprise, that can add up really quickly. Kaneshige’s article goes on about other hidden costs, and what it surmises is sometimes you are robbing Peter to pay Paul.

Completely secure

We run up against this all the time. Companies will say that they have verbal and written policies in place. We have the firewall, a secure VPN, etc. but when you start to ask questions things begin to fall apart. A recent study asked workers about using their mobile devices remotely, only 29 percent of users have set passwords that would prevent their device from being used by a thief or co-worker.

While a stranger might not be able to get on the network, without a pass code on the phone, someone could surely access contact lists, to do lists, and company email to access and review a lot of data that companies don’t want other people view or have access.

Productivity

This has been one of the biggest claims amongst those who are leading the BYOD charge. They claim that using a device they “know” will make them work faster and be more productive. They may be more familiar with their device reducing confusion about how the device works, but how much time are they spending playing Angry Birds, keeping up with Words with Friends, posting on Facebook, etc. that isn’t being or can’t be enforced by the company?

There’s no concrete evidence that this is going on, but if my friend, who is using his phone for work, is a test case, then I would suggest it’s more than his employer would like.

Conclusion

BYOD isn’t inherently bad or good. Whether it really works for you depends on how you do business, secure your enterprise, and manage your costs, employees, and infrastructure. I thought it might be useful to at least start talking about a few of the widely cited myths and panacea expectations that we encounter as we talk to potential enterprises considering allowing employees to use their personal devices and computers as part of enterprise working assets. BYOD can be useful and may make sense for you – clearly define your requirements, policies, and expectations moving forward. Make sure you understand how your workforce uses technology and the trade offs of personal freedom on productivity. With that said, you also need to know there are some rough, potentially sharp and harmful edges associated with employing BYOD. I didn’t even mention the potential headaches that accompanies managing BYOD, depending on whatever your definition of managing it might be. Bottom line, can you really control what you don’t own, or should that even be a realistic expectation?