We recently sat down with Ranjeet Vidwans, VP of Marketing for Mocana, to discuss challenges facing companies with the implementation of an enterprise mobile strategy.
ADM: What do you see as the major differences between an enterprise mobile app and a consumer mobile app?
Vidwans: Interestingly, there are probably more important fundamental similarities than there are differences between the two categories. For example, mobile apps that deliver the highest value are the most empowering for their users or owners - regardless of whether they are enterprise or consumer apps - and they tend to be connected apps. Uber provides real-time data for finding transportation. Twitter and Facebook provide real-time social updates and connect millions of people across time and distance.
High-value enterprise mobile apps connect a smaller universe of users, but can empower those users’ professional lives. They connect those users to workflows, processes, and vital resources, giving them business intelligence and data so that they can make better decisions and act more quickly with greater clarity. So connection is essential to both categories of apps because they enable users to continuously communicate and achieve their goals, whether those are working or playing.
Both types of mobile apps also have high security concerns. The types of threats they face differ, however. The backend systems for consumer apps typically house consumer data, including credit card and other private information. It’s this data repository that must be protected - much more than specific transactions an individual consumer executes. The back-end infrastructure for consumer apps must be defended against attacks that compromise the provider’s overall network threat defenses and access sensitive data.
Enterprises certainly have to defend against the same network-focused threat vectors, but they must address other significant security considerations. An enterprise app could have sensitive organizational data stored on the user’s mobile device. If an enterprise user is compromised, an attacker can gain unfettered access to corporate systems and data. Any malfeasance performed in such a scenario can have organization-wide ramifications, as opposed to a consumer scenario where only the affected user’s account and data could be compromised. That’s why enterprise mobile apps need a much, much higher level of security for authentication, access, and data at rest on devices.
ADM: What are the biggest challenges that enterprises have in developing and deploying enterprise mobile apps?
Vidwans: You might call this a chicken-and-egg problem. Enterprises recognize that employees are using mobile devices for work tasks, regardless of whether the enterprise has an “official” mobility strategy in place. But so far, it has been hard for enterprises to prioritize which apps to mobilize without knowing if - or how - apps are being used. Many enterprises lack visibility into usage profiles and patterns of success because actual app usage data is scarce or buried in uncategorized HTTP and HTTPS traffic. So visibility into usage is a challenge. And of course, the development process itself can be complex, requiring time and resources that take away from the company’s core business.
But even for those enterprises that have deployed mobile apps, driving adoption and actual usage has proven to be a major hurdle. A Mobiquity-commissioned consumer survey, Employee Mobile App Satisfaction Report, October 2013, found that nearly 60% of employees stopped using their enterprise mobile apps and reverted to desktop applications for critical tasks. Of those who continued using their enterprise mobile apps, 26% of smartphone users and 19% of tablet users said that they actually became less productive. So, without user adoption there’s no business case for mobility, which leads back to making it more difficult to justify development.
There are several reasons why adoption has been poor. Enterprise mobile apps usually use sensitive data and therefore have extensive security controls in place. These controls can make authentication and usage cumbersome—especially on mobile devices where connections are quickly established and discarded and therefore require users to keep logging back in. This frustrating user experience causes people to abandon their mobile apps. Many enterprise mobile apps also lack the ease of use that characterizes consumer apps. These are a few of the reasons why enterprises have failed to truly mobilize their core workflows.
ADM: Enterprises don’t usually monetize their mobile apps in any particular way - or do they?
Vidwans: Modern CIOs are absolutely concerned about “monetization,” but in a different way than a consumer app developer. They have to demonstrate quantifiable business value for each significant investment they make. So, mobile email is fine, but that won’t make you a hero! CIOs need to be able to add value to enterprise apps through mobility - not simply replicate them in a more portable form.
Today, businesses have to reimagine business processes based on mobile, instead of static, application and information access and use. So CIOs now have to approach mobility from the standpoint of what I call “numerator and denominator thinking.” Numerator optimization increases revenue, reduces time to revenue, and unlocks new opportunities. Denominator optimization reduces development costs, accelerates time to market, reduces help-desk costs, and squeezes inefficiencies out of operations. Determining the right combination for the enterprise’s unique business model will be key.
ADM: How are your customers achieving enterprise mobility and functionality?
Vidwans: Our clients are using our platform to deliver a consumer-quality user experience that their users love, without sacrificing the security they need. There doesn’t have to be a trade-off between the two. And in fact, at the same time they are simplifying connectivity to enterprise apps, such as SAP, gaining visibility into app usage, and seeing rapid user adoption for the first time.
ADM: Are your customers finding that tablets avoid the need for traditional desktop devices like a mouse? What are your thoughts on increasing the usability of enterprise mobile apps?
Vidwans: Users that are 100% untethered are still rare, and that will be true for the next several years. We think that laptops will continue to be the platform of choice for content creation and heavy back-office transactions.
But enterprises need to focus on empowering users to accelerate the pace of business by giving them access to data and functionality that they need for performing critical micro-transactions from their mobile devices. For example, employees need to be able to check inventory, approve POs, check the status of a trouble ticket, track a shipment, etc. from their mobile devices. The ability to enable those small micro-transactions begins to help businesses achieve measurable “numerator-denominator” results.
ADM: What is your thinking on how enterprise mobile apps will evolve? Can you comment on trends you’re seeing in adoption, development, funding, or usability?
Vidwans: Visionary CIOs are now embracing the fact that mobile apps can help them achieve business differentiation. They will be increasingly concerned with measuring the quantifiable results of their mobile initiatives. Tools that help them drive explicit business benefits and demonstrate those results will be at the vanguard of the next wave of mobile investments.
Positive outcomes only come from usage, not just deployment, and this will be the critical pivot for the next wave of enterprise mobility. Having better visibility into usage gives CIOs the data they need to make their next mobility decisions—which apps or approaches should they keep? Which should they abandon?
ADM: For those who are developing enterprise mobile apps, do you have a “top 3 or 4 things” that they should keep in mind?
Vidwans: For this, I point to what our founder and CTO, James Blaisdell, refers to as the “4 Cs” of a successful mobile strategy. The following criteria can help enterprises get on solid footing as they select the right apps to mobilize:
- Control: You need to be able to control the app from a development standpoint. Prioritize homegrown apps or those from your business app provider (like SAP) over SaaS apps.
- Connected: The most valuable mobile apps are ones that tap into enterprise data and functionality. Eschew brochure-ware apps in favor of those that actually activate business processes from mobile devices.
- Cross-Platform: Users want the devices they want. Instead of mandating an enterprise mobility platform, support the leading mobile platforms to maximize your users’ ability to choose the devices they prefer.
- Currency: In the mobile app world, delighting the user is the currency that matters. From the very start, be sure that your app shows the value it adds to your enterprise. Building this currency of delight lets you deploy a second, third, or even hundredth app.
ADM: Do you have any future predictions for enterprise mobility?
Vidwans: Earlier I mentioned that truly untethered users are rare, but the fact that they do exist is an amazing thing. It’s a harbinger of increasingly mobile and, more importantly, purely mobile enterprises.
I also believe that current mobile form factors will be increasingly exploited. For example, new augmented reality and wearable devices will create a Cambrian explosion in how enterprise workflows are reimagined.
Finally, I think that the fuel for enterprise mobility - enterprise data - will also explode through use of RFID and other technologies. We’re only seeing the tip of what will be possible.
Ranjeet Vidwans is VP of marketing at Mocana
. He has spent most of his 20-year career in the Information Security arena. Most recently he was VP of marketing and business development at Identropy, where he led the company’s re-branding and the launch of a new Identity-as-a-Service product offering which was subsequently acquired by CA. He has previously held leadership positions in Business Development, Product Management, and Marketing roles at various enterprise security software
Read more: http://www.mocana.com/
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