Posts Tagged ‘IT department’

Mobile Sessions From SAP TechEd I Plan To Watch-Virtually

Eric Lai, Senior Writer | October 12, 2012 in Mobile Data and Messaging,Mobile Industry,Mobility | Comments (0)

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

I made it to my first SAP TechEd conference last year. Not this year, which is a pity, since there are over 100 sessions related to mobile.

123671249outsideVenetian400x353

I may not be able to make to the Venetian/Palazzo Congress Center, but I still plan to attend TechEd virtually, watching sessions and talks via SAP’s broadcast platform.

Sessions begin at 8 AM in Las Vegas, or 7 AM Pacific Time. So if you’re in California or Washington, set your alarm clock. Or catch the replays, which should be up within a few hours.

Some of the talks and workshops in the Virtual Events Catalog have incorrect starting times or durations. Please double-check the main catalog to get the best, latest schedule.

There are many worthy technical sessions on SUP, Netweaver Portal, BusinessObjects Design Studio and Afaria, that I’d recommend for developer and IT types. They may also want to download the Developer Survival Guide for TechEd.

Here are the higher-level mobile sessions I plan to catch remotely:

Tuesday, Oct 16:

11 AM: Mobility Platform Road Map and Strategy. Get the latest overview of where the SAP Mobile Platform, including the Sybase Unwired Platform, Mobilizer and SAP Afaria, are headed. This features two ex-Sybase technical experts, CTO Jagdish Bansiya and product manager, Sami Lechner.

3 PM: Business Benefits of Mobile. In a 20 minute interview, hear the thoughts of Bill Clark, one of Gartner’s former top mobile analysts, who has just joined as SAP’s global VP for mobile strategy.

8 PM: Demo Jam. The annual showcase of the best business demo applications created by SAP, and its customers and partners. Mobile entrants include the intriguingly-named “Singularity” created by Accenture and Cooper Tire to enable instant collaboration across mobile devices, “Food Agent” by Roberto Clemente Middle School that is a mobile app that lets shoppers scan supermarket barcodes to check the origin of food items and possible contamination, and “Personas,” an SAP app to let users self-customize SAP application interfaces for better productivity on their PCs or tablets.

Wednesday, Oct 17:

12:15 PM: SAP User Interfaces – Strategy and Road Map. Improving the design and ease-of-use of applications, both its own and its partners, has never been more important for SAP. I’m eager to hear about the UI development toolkit for HTML5 from SAP.

Thursday, Oct 18:

11 AM: Avoiding Design Errors and Improving User Experience for Mobile Apps. The speaker promises to “share examples of real and already in the market applications” and how their UX/UI is or isn’t up to snuff.

2:45 PM: Developing Apps and Interfaces with Our Cloud Solutions with an On-Demand SDK. The world is moving to the cloud, and SAP is keeping apace. Werner Wolf, a solution manager at SAP, will demonstrate how to bring an iPad, Business Objects, and cloud data together.

How Quickly Can Enterprises Deploy iPhone 5 And iOS 6?

Eric Lai, Senior Writer | September 24, 2012 in Mobile Data and Messaging,Mobile Industry,Mobility | Comments (0)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

How long did it take for your company to upgrade to Windows 7 after it became available in July 2009? Months? Years? Still hasn’t happened?

Even the latter wouldn’t be surprising. According to Net Applications, Windows 7 only overtook Windows XP in popularity last month. That’s more than three years after its release.

This sort of lag would never happen in mobile. In the post-PC era, companies are upgrading to new devices and operating system versions within months or weeks.

Take my employer, SAP. On its first day of availability last Friday, SAP’s Global IT team already had 20 iPhone 5s in possession that it was putting through their paces.

“I already have one in hand, and I have to say, it’s very nicely done, pretty cool to look at,” said SAP CIO Oliver Bussmann in an interview that day.

If everything goes as expected, Bussmann hopes to make the iPhone 5 available to employees within 2 weeks, or by early October.

How about iOS 6? That new version should be available to SAP workers even sooner, with targeted availability this Tuesday September 25, or just one week after its official release. 

How is SAP able to test and certify iOS 6 so fast? “We were part of the iOS 6 beta program, so we did a lot in advance, knowing that expectations from workers would be pretty high and there would be a lot of pressure on our engineering team,” Bussmann said. “Hype on the consumer side always translates into demand on the corporate side.”

SAP may be faster than other companies, but it’s not alone in its plans to embrace iPhone 5 and iOS 6. It’s confirmation that the two new Apple releases deliver features that CIOS care about: LTE, better camera and microphone and improved MDM features (such as the Authorized Mode and Guided Access features that preload apps and restrict users to use only them (like a point-of-sale app for a retail kiosk, or a classroom app for students).

SAP, by the way, now manages 18,000 iPads, 18,000 BlackBerries, 13,000 iPhones and 2,000 Samsung devices, according to Bussmann. Its total of BYOD devices is up to 4,000 – more than double over the summer, which Bussmann attributed to the addition of devices owned by the now-integrated Sybase employees.

What about other devices?

As much as SAP employees love their iOS devices, they also love Android. So SAP is expanding its support. At the end of August, Samsung Android devices were cleared to become available to employees, both as corporate-owned devices, as well as BYOD.

To enable Android BYOD, SAP is testing an Android MDM app called Divide By Enterproid. The software creates a virtual sandbox for all corporate data and e-mail within the employee’s personal device. Bussmann says the software is both technically promising and surprisingly inexpensive.

As for Windows 8, SAP has been testing convertible laptop/tablets from Fujitsu and Samsung for the past month, said Bussmann. The devices hold a lot of promise for workers to replace their existing tablets and laptops with a single piece of hardware, he said.

*****

Last week, SAP launched a Mobility Design Center in its Palo Alto office. This group is focused on quickly customizing business apps for enterprises, especially creating highly-usable, consumer-grade interfaces that will satisfy workers and end users. Learn more here.

This Is The Biggest Competitor To The iPad In The Hot Education Market

Eric Lai, Senior Writer | September 19, 2012 in Mobile Data and Messaging,Mobile Industry,Mobility | Comments (0)

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

CurriculumLoft is the maker of the Kuno, perhaps the most successful Android challenger to date against the iPad in K-12 schools.

That’s right – this family-owned Indianapolis, Indiana firm has succeeded against mighty Apple with its $375 tablet where Google, Samsung and Amazon have so far failed.

It’s particularly impressive because among educators, Apple has the same cachet that IBM once owned in the enterprise. If no corporate CIO used to get fired for buying Big Blue, then few school principals or district CIOs get overly grilled for choosing iPads over other tablets.

 

1,000 Wawasee High School students in Indiana are using the Kuno.

Credit: CurriculumLoft

Yet, here you have San Felipe Del Rio District in Texas deploying 1,600 Kuno tablets instead of iPads, Wise County Public Schools (Virginia) rolling out 600 Kunos, and William M. Bass Elementary (Virginia) and Morton District (Illinois) both using about 100 Kunos in their classes.

The Kuno’s biggest fans are in the Midwest, with Martin Elementary School in suburban Chicago rolling out 1,200 Kunos, Cardinal High School in Iowa (530 Kunos),  and, of course, Indiana, where Wawasee High School and Beech Grove City Schools have each rolled out more than 1,000 Kunos, and Crothersville HS has deployed 600.

“This month alone, we’re implementing 12,000 Kunos,” said JR Gayman, CEO of CurriculumLoft.

Gayman declined to say how many Kunos total are in use today. Asked if it was in the six figures: “I think the number would surprise people,” he said.

That the Kuno – the name combines K (for K-12) and the Spanish number for one, ‘Uno’, to signify one-to-one student:tablet deployments – is around today is a result of luck and entrepreneurial spirit.

CurriculumLoft is a spinoff of CIM Technology Solutions, which was founded in 1983 by JR’s parents as an installer of slide projecters and other 80s-era audio-visual equipment to schools. Even today, the Web site www.CIMtechsolutions.com automatically redirects to CIMav.com. 

About 3 years ago, Indiana became one of the first states to allow schools to take taxpayer money earmarked for textbooks and use it on digital technology.

Gayman, who had worked as a developer in the Bay Area during the tail end of the dot-com era before rejoining the family firm, spotted an opportunity.

“We could see that the funding that was going toward smartboards and projectors would start moving to tablets and e-books,” Gayman said.

The latest 10″ Kuno 3 tablet runs Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.

The company dipped its toe by first building a cloud platform for teachers to store and share their e-books and  teaching materials. Think of it as DropBox but geared for K-12 teachers. That software morphed into a matching set of applications – the CurriculumLoft Cloud digital repository and the CurriculumLoft Explore 1:1, which manages the synchronization of content onto students’ devices, whether it be Kuno, iPad or PC.

Indeed, many schools are using the CurriculumLoft software without the Kuno, said Gayman, citing one school district an hour north of Indianapolis that is deploying it onto 1,800 student laptops today.

Building a Better Android

By late 2010, CIM also decided to jump into building its own tablet, spurred on by the iPad’s success and the then-high price of Android entrants.

 

For about a year, Gayman and CurriculumLoft vice-president Josh Whitis went to China to find and then oversee the manufacture of the Kuno. Released in the fall of 2011, the Kuno was similar physically to other Android tablets.

What distinguished it was the software. Not just the CurriculumLoft apps, but also the content filtering built at the Android kernel level that enables schools to comply with governmental rules around childrens’ exposure to the Internet.

“Other solutions, especially for consumers, tend to be at the Web browser level. We can filter content at the app level, not just the browser,” Whitis said.

The Kuno also includes a number of Mobile Device Management (MDM) features, albeit tailored by CIM for the school environment. So students aren’t able to easily install or delete apps. Kunos and their content can be logged and tracked by teachers or tech administrators using Active Directory/LDAP. They can also be remotely wiped if the tablets are lost or stolen.

(Speaking of MDM, SAP Afaria now supports the latest iOS 6 features.)

The total solution, including Kuno tablet, rugged aluminum keyboard, and CurriculumLoft Cloud and Explore 1:1, brings the total cost into the $500s. That’s more than an entry-level iPad, but it’s also a turnkey solution that many schools have found attractive.

“You can’t get that with an iPad”

“We’ve literally had some school districts deploy over 3,000 devices without adding a single IT person,” Gayman added. “It’s why we’re getting the buy-in that we have, as we simplify the IT support and address the needs of every stakeholder.”

CurriculumLoft CEO JR Gayman (left) and vice-president Josh Whitis traveled to China for a year while designing the first Kuno.

 

Credit: CurriculumLoft

“We have a complete mobile learning solution for education. You can’t get that with an iPad,” added Whitis. The iPad “is a great product, but it can be hard to manage. We’ve had several schools that were in the adoption process for iPad, that changed direction because of us.” 

According to Gayman, the iPad isn’t even the Kuno’s biggest competitor. “Lenovo is who we see the most,” he said.

“The use of the Kuno was not a hard transition for the students to make at all,” wrote Drew Markel, assistant principal for Crothersville Community Schools in Crothersville, Indiana, which deployed 550 Kunos, last year. “We want our students marketable in today’s workplace.”

Here are some anonymous student comments from a Kuno pilot in Georgia. Check out CurriculumLoft’s YouTube channel to see other educator testimonials.

The biggest problem with the Kuno in its first year appears to have been the high breakage rate, which Gayman blamed on an inadequately-ruggedized case. To fix that, the latest version of the Kuno comes standard with an aluminum back, thick interior padding, and a plastic molded case that includes a cover to protect against pencils and other sharp objects. 

With the re-engineered Kuno, the breakage rate so far is under 1%, Gayman said. 

Gayman also touts the Kuno’s battery that can be recharged 1,000 times, giving it a lifespan of 3-4 years – a key point for cash-strapped schools.

But is that lifecycle realistic considering the Kuno’s single-core ARM chip? Especially when there are quad-core, Tegra 3-based kids’ tablets like the Nabi, or dual-core Android education tablets like the Kineo that also boast curriculum and management software?

Gayman says that no schools have complained. “Our goal is to maintain a cheap price point with a single-core model that is durable and sustainable,” he said.

And, he says, the Kuno is doing so well that CurriculumLoft is planning to release a version tailored for healthcare and corporate verticals. Ironically, CurriculumLoft is not planning to create a Kuno tailored for universities. “We’ve found that it is a very different market,” Gayman said.

CurriculumLoft’s expansion could be jumping the gun. Some educational tech experts think that growth in the K-12 market will come, as in the enterprise, from BYOD, rather than school-funded deployments. That will put the Kuno at a disadvantage vs. $199 consumer tablets like the Google Nexus and the Amazon Kindle Fire, said Corey Thompson, CEO of Naiku, Inc., an educational software firm.

“I think the challenge for these specialized tablets will be to find the schools that are willing to pay a premium in order to have some additional support in addition to already paying for the devices themselves,” he said.

Gayman is undaunted. The company has spread its bets, such that if specialized tablets like the Kuno go out of favor, CurriculumLoft can still offer its software for whatever device – smartphone, tablet, PC – schools go with.
 
“Our goal is to be platform-agnostic,” he said. “The future may look very different.”
 

Do you think the future for Android tablets in education will be solutions like the Kuno or consumer-y tablets like the Nexus?

The Five Things From Apple’s iPhone 5 Launch That CIOs Will Care About

Eric Lai, Senior Writer | September 12, 2012 in Mobile Data and Messaging,Mobile Industry,Mobility | Comments (0)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

There was a ton of news from Apple’s event today, many of which may have sounded earthshattering to those nattering away on Twitter (raises hand), but upon more reflection, are probably irrelevant to those of us in the enterprise and business worlds. (more…)

Real-Time Is The Wrong Reason For Your Enterprise To Go Mobile

Eric Lai, Senior Writer | September 10, 2012 in Mobile Data and Messaging,Mobile Industry,Mobility | Comments (1)

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

First, it was the Scandinavian-style Smorgasbord. Later, it was Old Country Buffet.

(more…)

Chart: Top 100 iPad Rollouts by Enterprises & Schools (Updated Oct. 16, 2012)

Eric Lai, Senior Writer | August 31, 2012 in Mobile Data and Messaging,Mobile Industry,Mobility,Sybase News | Comments (0)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

As part of my research mapping the largest iPad and other tablet deployments by schools and universities, I also updated my list of the largest publicly-known iPad deployments, including companies, governmental agencies, etc.

Notable additions include Coachella Valley Unified School District, one of the poorest districts in the US, which has deployed 4,000 iPads, and may, depending on outcome of Nov. ballot, deploy another 16,000, according to Superintendent Dr. Darryl Adams.

Long Island University, one of the first large deployments on my list, will soon be up to 19,000 iPads. Conde Nast has 5,000 iPads. In Minnesota, West St. Paul has 1,550 and Minnetonka High School has at least 1,000 (thanks to Eric Simmons, director of technology at New Ulm Schools). 

There’s also Lincoln School in Costa Rica (1,464 iPads), Croswell-Lexington Schools (MI) with 1,700 iPads, East Allen County Schools (IN) with 7,780 iPads, Roche (formerly Genentech), now up to 13,070 iPads, McAllen School District in Texas (moved from 5,000 to 25,000 iPads deployed), Clinton Public Schools (now up to 1,350 iPads), Encinitas Union (upgraded to 4,500 from 3,700 iPads), Abilene Christian University (Texas), Eanes ISD (Texas), the Leeds School of Medicine and Essa Academy (UK), Hult International Business School, Ft. Bend ISD (Texas), Prince George’s County Schools (Maryland), Rochester (MN) School District, Mansfield County Schools (Texas), Vancouver & CDI Colleges, Beaufort County (GA) schools, Farmington (MN) schools, Muncie (ID) Community Schools, Encinitas Union (CA) Schools, Hopkins (MN) schools, and many, many more.

(Many thanks to my tipsters including Dr. Adams, Charles Clickner, head of technology at Lincoln School, Theo Kerhoulas, principal at Croswell-Lexington Schools, Kurt Dager in the IT department at East Allen County Schools, Paul Lanzi, Roche manager for enterprise mobile applications, George Saltsman, director of mobile learning at Abilene Christian University, Kevin Hime, superintendent, Clinton Public Schools, Mike Guerena, tech director at Encinitas Union, Jill Burdo, tech integration specialist at Ramsey Middle School (MN), Yousuf Khan, CIO of Hult Intl. Business School, Brett Belding, senior IT manager at Cisco, Thomas Burgess of Lexington School District One (SC), Cathleen Richardson of Apple, and anyone else I might have stupidly forgotten.)

Indeed, nearly 70 out of my top 100 are K-12 schools. 

Besides the new schools on the list, the major differences with this version are:

a) I’ve expanded it from 50 to 100;

b) I’ve changed the way I’ve embedded the list, hopefully making it more attractive and readable.

If you want to copy and paste the below data but are having trouble, please visit the Google Spreadsheet.

Check out my entire list of iPad deployments here, and my Android list here.

Oh, and please send any missing deployments to me via ericyolai@gmail.com or via Twitter @ericylai.

Gartner: Mobile Is Not The Edge, But The Center, Of Your IT Universe

Eric Lai, Senior Writer | August 22, 2012 in Mobile Data and Messaging,Mobile Industry,Mobility | Comments (0)

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

My ZDNet blogger-in-arms John Fontana is at Gartner’s (formerly Burton Group’s) Catalyst conference in San Diego this week, and wrote up two pieces about mobile (even though he’s more of a security/privacy expert). (more…)

Will The New Wave Of Prosumer Tablets Beat The iPad In The Enterprise?

Eric Lai, Senior Writer | August 20, 2012 in Mobile Data and Messaging,Mobile Industry,Mobility | Comments (0)

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

(Corrected 6 PM PT, August 21, with information provided by Avaya.)

Consumer appeal has been the most important factor in the business tablet war to date. That’s because the vast majority of tablets used for work – five-sixths, by one estimate - have been brought in by workers via their employers’ Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) programs. It’s why the iPad has dominated.

It’s a simple equation, but it vexes the IT snobs and command-and-control traditionalists. How has this [UGH] gadget, with its va-va-va-voom looks infiltrated THEIR HOUSE so quickly?

Intellectually, they might understand that we’re in an era of increasing Consumerization of IT (CoIT), and that they need to stop thinking that they get to call all the technology shots. But old habits die hard. So as a reminder, let’s look at what happened to the 2011 wave of tablets that thought the pathway into organizations was via the IT manager, not the worker:

BlackBerry PlayBook – It came from IT favorite RIM and delivered the Canadian company’s vaunted manageability and security. But delays by RIM to deliver its trademark e-mail experience on the PlayBook (and other apps), as well as cut the price to a competitive level, has hurt the popularity of the first iteration of this device.

Cisco Cius – Another vendor well-liked by IT, Cisco’s entry featured some powerful videoconferencing, networking and security options. And its nod towards CoIT was to run the Cius on Android. But the tablet itself was homely and underpowered. And the options were pricey. Cisco stopped supporting the Cius less than a year after its launch.

Avaya Flare – With its $2,5001,999 list price tag and positioning as a “desktop video device” integrated with (Avaya) desk phones, Avaya couldn’t have expected many consumers to buy the Flare. What it probably didn’t expect was how few enterprises would. Avaya has since wised up, abandoningcontinues to offer its proprietary unified communications hardware, but I suspect the market is warmer to the Flare Experience unified communications apps (list price: $190/user) in favor of pushing Flare video apps running on iOS, Windows and (in 2013) Android.

Tablet War 2.0 – the Battlefield Shifts, Slightly

A new wave of tablets are set to hit the market and challenge the iPad in companies and other large organizations. The vendors behind them have learned their lessons: appealing to IT is not enough. They get that for the foreseeable future, there will be two channels into the enterprise – BYOD (employees buy and own) and IT (company buys and issues). To be successful, they need to cater equally to both.

At the same time, there is a growing realization that poorly-managed, overly-liberal BYOD programs can cost companies more than they save. These vendors are hoping that IT will start reasserting itself and restrict employees who wish to Bring Their Own tablets to a limited menu of IT-approved ones.

For instance, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 released earlier this month. It follows its successful, smaller predecessor which proved that millions of people dislike touchscreen keyboards enough to go stylus. Besides being excellent for artists (and Palm Pilot nostalgists), the Note 4G also suits field workers who must accurately fill out long forms or questionnaires while on the go.

Like this guy.

Credit: ShutterStock.com

 

For IT managers, the Samsung Note is like other recent Galaxy-class devices, running a more-manageable, secureable variant of Android through the Samsung Approved for the Enterprise (SAFE) technology. Features include on-device encryption, Cisco and Juniper VPN, Exchange ActiveSync and more. Also, it’s much easier to fix than an iPad!

SAP CIO Oliver Bussmann, who carries a Galaxy Note himself, says it’s one of the most-requested Android devices at SAP. “I see more and more internal users, especially executives, going for the Note,” he said.

Or take Hewlett-Packard, which strongly hinted last week that rumors that its coming Windows 8 tablet will be enterprise-oriented, with a stylus, enterprise dock and sunlight-viewable screen, are true. 451 Research’s Chris Hazelton believes the HP tablet could even come with an optional semi-rugged to fully-rugged keyboard.

And then there’s Microsoft, which IDC predicts will build 3 million Surface tablets running both Windows 8 and Windows RT, and other Windows 8 tablet vendors, including Asus (Tablet 600), Acer, Samsung (Series 5 & 7 Hybrid PCs), Dell (Latitude 10) and Lenovo (ThinkPad Tablet 2).

Arriving in late October, Windows 8 tablets may cost as little as $600 and $700, sport optional or integrated keyboards, be backwards compatible with existing Windows applications, and, crucially for IT pros, be compatible with Microsoft’s stack of systems management software.

Not a Return to Days of Yore

Some hope that this will be the start of Microsoft’s takeover of the tablet space, just as it slowly but eventually dominated the business PC space with Windows. Others hope this will be a re-ascendence of command-and-control IT, which favors corporate deployments and the standardization on a single platform, presumably Windows, for better management and control.

I think that ship has sailed.

Companies aren’t going to dump iPads and Android tablets wholesale. These tablets have proven their usefulness in many companies under many different conditions, from sales enablement, field service, meetings, accelerating internal processes and more. Their devices too much of a bargain ($199 Nexus vs. a $700 Windows 8 tablet?) and the platforms just too rich with apps.

 

Credit: ShutterStock.com

Also, the growth of iPhones and Android smartphones at work continues unabated. Why would employees be content if they allowed to use iOS or Android with one kind of mobile device but banned with another? Rather than abandoning BYOD, companies will learn to use the right Mobile Device Management (MDM) software to create the right security policies and keep costs under control.

Don’t get me wrong: Windows 8 tablets will certainly appeal to many consumers and companies. But I just don’t think that most organizations will be willing to turn back the clock. Standardization is an unattainable utopia. The average enterprise already supports three or more mobile OSes.

Don’t forget that Apple is upping its enterprise game. It revealed in an SEC filing this month that it plans to incorporate fingerprint sensor technology from its recent acquisition, AuthenTec, in its products as soon as possible. Presumably, that would mean embedding fingerprint sensors for secure authentication into the iPhone and/or iPad. This could smooth in-person retail payments made using wireless NFC (Near-Field Communications) technology, as well as “be handy in large business or government agencies where security is paramount,” wrote CNET.

Apple – and Google, for that matter – also continue to open up more APIs to third-party MDM and MAM (Mobile Application Management) vendors so that they can continue to improve their security and manageability.

Bottom line: enterprises should not expect Windows 8 to herald a return to one platform uber alles (i.e. PCs AND tablets). Enterprises should expect to support iOS, Android and Windows 8 if they want to optimize worker performance – and morale.

CIO On Windows 8 Tablets: “Best Solution Currently Available”

Eric Lai, Senior Writer | August 16, 2012 in Mobile Data and Messaging,Mobile Industry,Mobility | Comments (1)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

My blog last week, “University Deploying Thousands of Windows 8 Tablets Is Smart Tactics, Flawed Strategy,” generated quite a bit of reader reaction. (more…)

iPads In The Enterprise Aren’t Overhyped. They’re Properly Hyped.

Eric Lai, Senior Writer | August 15, 2012 in Mobile Data and Messaging,Mobile Industry,Mobility | Comments (0)

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Bill Simmons, aka the Sports Guy on ESPN/Grantland, is probably my favorite writer on the planet. In the last decade, I’ve read more words by him than anyone besides myself.

There are several reasons for this. His stuff mostly appears on the Web. Like every guy I know, I stopped reading actual books around the time DSL replaced AOL. Simmons also writes incredibly long. His trademark mailbag columns, where he answers his readers’ off-kilter questions, are 10,000 words of Jack Kerouac-style-stream-of-consciousness – if Kerouac had a MacBook and grew up obsessed with 80s movies and the Red Sox.

Finally, Simmons has a gift for spinning fantastical theories that make total sense despite not being grounded in anything resembling scientific rigor, like his 16 Levels of Losing (rating the psychic pain of fans depending on the scenario) or The (Patrick) Ewing Theory (teams play better after losing a superstar).

One Simmons-ism that I find particularly applicable to tech is his notion of something being, not over-hyped, not under-hyped, but properly-hyped. It’s like the Gartner Hype Cycle, but applied to jocks, as they go from overhyped college star to underhyped, struggling young pro to properly-hyped veteran.

Take Lebron James. When he was a high school freshman with a bodybuilder’s physique, he was already overhyped. The hype only grew when James skipped college and instantly became an NBA star. By year 4, though, James began taking heat, from nitpickers who latched onto his (occasionally) poor dribbling and (relatively) weak 3-point shooting, to critics who pointed out his inability to win an NBA championship.

When he messily switched teams, gave up his Alpha Dog status to teammate Dwyane Wade, and still failed to win a championship in his first year, the naysayers seized on every opportunity to call him a choke artist, a waste of talent, a loser. By the end of that season, James was stupendously under-hyped.

Then what happened? Not only did James win the NBA’s Most Valuable Player for the third time, but he finally carried a team to the championship this past June. That’s the sort of season that anyone not surnamed Bird, Jordan or Bryant can only dream about. But it’s a requirement for a player with the nickname King James to live up to his billing, answer his critics, and, finally, reach the state where his achievements match the hype.

Domenic Gareri / Shutterstock.com

The iPad is the LeBron James of tech. Like LeBron, it is incredibly successful (85 million sold in 2.5 years, 70% of the tablet market) and incredibly hyped.

Only in one area could you argue that the iPad is underhyped, and that is in the enterprise. There’s no shortage of critics charging that the iPad is incapable of ‘real’ business work, that it’s not manageable and insecure, and that it will be dead meat once Windows 8/RT comes out.

For sure, some companies stumble when they blindly jump onto the iPad bandwagon. Like the enterprise that returned 40% of the 14,000 iPads earmarked for its managers because, according to a Gartner analyst, “they don’t have a clue what to do with them.”

In other organizations, the iPad has simply failed to make a dent. In the City of Minneapolis, an attempt to encourage iPad deployments and BYOD usage resulted in just 170 of its 3,600 workers using them, according to a recent article in CIO magazine headlined, “Is the iPad Over-Hyped in the Enterprise?”

Still other organizations like Seton Hall University are consciously eschewing the iPad in favor of Windows 8 tablets.

Personally, I think it’s great that stories like these are emerging and being aired publicly. No CIO would expect a unplanned ad hoc deployment to succeed. Why should iPads be any different? And if you combine super-strict BYOD policies along with super-tight budgets, as happened in Minneapolis, would you expect many workers and managers to bring/deploy iPads?

Not the Holy Grail

The critics are right: there are many things that the iPad isn’t. It isn’t the Holy Grail of mobility. It isn’t the Jesus Tablet. It’s not even a 100% laptop replacement.

But the facts are this: 94% of Fortune 500 companies are rolling out or testing iPads, according to Apple. Thousands more have deployed them. And some of these deployments are massive: 32,000 by Korea Telecom, 26,000 by the San Diego Unified School District, 18,000 by the United States Air Force, 11,000 by United Airlines, etc.

For many companies, the iPad is proving to be a useful business tool that is as easy to manage as Windows PCs and secure enough for top-tier banks. In others, it is a wedge for the next generation of technology to make its way into enterprises. It is an enabler for many companies to overcome the inertia of naysayers to experiment with scenarios where tablets can make add plenty of value (like field service, like sales, like meetings, like healthcare, like HR and general worker productivity). And it is helping companies earn real ROI today.

It’s not only possible to reconcile these opposing views and facts, but desirable that we do so. To ignore one or the other would be to over-hype or under-play the iPad. To properly hype/assess the iPad, we need to match expectations with reality, link hype to actual impact.

Want to see some more examples of companies improving their operations using apps and tablets like the iPad? Check out the infographic below created by the SAP Mobile team, which references companies like Vodafone, CSC, Asian Paints, Charite Berlin hospital, Verizon Wireless and Standard Bank of South Africa:

 

What Happens to Syclo After Its Acquisition By SAP?

Eric Lai, Senior Writer | July 26, 2012 in Mobile Data and Messaging,Mobile Industry,Mobility | Comments (0)

Tags: , , , , , ,

If your company suddenly had two products that owned highly-coveted Leader rankings in the same Gartner Magic Quadrant, would you kill one of them? Or would you celebrate your good fortune by trying to accommodate and integrate the two? (more…)

Apple’s iPhone Sales Were Weak Because The Chinese And Big Businesses Love It [Huh?]

Eric Lai, Senior Writer | July 25, 2012 in Mobile Data and Messaging,Mobile Industry,Mobility | Comments (0)

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Let’s keep a little perspective. Apple still sold 26 million iPhones in its fiscal Q3, up 28% year-over-year, worth $16.2 billion, up 22% year-over-year. The strongest challenger to the iPhone, Samsung’s Galaxy S III smartphone, has been sold 10 million times two months after launch, but that was after months of pent-up demand and stellar reviews.

The normally overexcitable stock market is certainly keeping its collective head. As of mid-day, Apple’s stock is only down 5% on above-average trading. You’d think after what you read on Techmeme yesterday that AAPL would look like this:

China Syndrome

Some are blaming Europe for iPhone weakness. But if you’re going to point to a region, point to China, where sales fell 28% to $5.7 billion in Q3 from $7.9 billion in Q2.

People forget that Apple hugely ramped up iPhone sales in China at the beginning of the year. It launched the iPhone 4S at Apple Stores in Beijing and Shanghai in January. January/February is when Chinese New Year occurs, when workers get their annual bonus (usually at least several months worth of pay) plus several weeks of vacation. It’s really the closest equivalent to Christmas, with lots of gift giving. And what better gift for a young urbanite than an iPhone?

Also, Apple officially began offering iPhones via a second carrier partner, China Mobile, at the end of Q2. With 129 million subscribers on its CDMA network, China Mobile is like the U.S.’s Verizon. As a result, its iPhone shipments in China in fiscal Q2 were up 5x year-over-year. Yes, 500%. And don’t forget that China is Apple’s second largest market in the world.

The net is that Apple’s iPhone comparables for Q3 vs. Q2 in China were impossible to match. But few analysts seemed to notice the China situation, despite Tim Cook openly talking about it.

Virtually, all of the $2.2 billion sequential revenue decline, was due to iPhone sales in Greater China and about half of that $2.2 billion is attributable to changes in the channel inventory not the underlying sell through of the iPhone.

No, let’s blame the euro crisis or the housing market or Obama/the Fed because that’s trendier.

Enterprise Savvy

For my other argument, I’m going out a little on a limb, using circumstantial evidence, albeit what I consider strong evidence.

There is no doubt that enterprises are buying up iPhones. Not being brought in by BYOD – that’s more of a tablet/iPad phenom – but being bought up by IT and deployed as a standard device, often replacing BlackBerries.

For instance, Good Technology reported today that among users of its MDM software, the iPhone dominated Android, with 62% share vs. Android’s 37% share of smartphones.

 

Or as Cook said:

We estimate that the number of iPhones in the Fortune 500 has more than doubled in the past year…PepsiCo has deployed thousands of iPhones with an in-house app build specifically for their field merchandisers. This app has eliminated paper reports and provides real-time information to managers, sales teams and delivery drivers.

German insurance provider ERGO has built an in-house app for iPhone that thousands of agents use to process insurance claims, which has significantly reduced paper work and improved processing time and customer satisfaction.

The good thing about enterprise deployments is that they are huge. The bad thing is that CIOs and IT managers are savvier than your average consumer (slap yourself on the back if you’re in IT). You know exactly when smartphones are introduced, and the effect of timing on refresh cycles and Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). And you are plugged into the rumor mill about the iPhone 5, as evidenced by your reading this and other blogs.

It doesn’t take that many Fortune 500 CIOs to wait for the iPhone 5 to cause enterprise iPhone sales to become unfavorably “lumpy” for Apple.  If this is a significant factor, I don’t think Apple would admit to it, as it would show a crack in the façade of broad enterprise embrace of the iPhone.

Any readers working in IT who want to confirm or disconfirm that this entered into your decisionmaking about whether or not to deploy iPhones this quarter?

Still, I think the broad narrative holds true – enterprises are still embracing the iPhone. But as it becomes a significant segment for Apple, expect Apple to experience more seasonality in sales as enterprises try to time their buying and refresh cycles to gain maximum TCO.

 

Is This The Most Boring Branch Of Enterprise Mobility?

Eric Lai, Senior Writer | in Mobile Data and Messaging,Mobile Industry,Mobility | Comments (0)

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Ask a man on the street what the mobile enterprise means to them, and you’ll probably get one of two replies: 1) “Mobile wha?” 2) “BYOD.”

Why BYOD? Well, Bring Your Own Device is the one thing that potentially touches all of us workers, not just IT folks and developers.

No wonder BYOD’s gone totally mainstream – so much that some wiseguy pundits are declaring BYOD to be soooo over, and that we need to boldly go beyond it.

So if BYOD is hot because it’s all about me, what’s obscure and therefore all about meh? Traditionally, that would be industrial mobility, or the practice of mobilizing field service workers.

Mobilizing field workers has been a thriving field for decades, with companies equipping their delivery drivers, repair technicians, surveyors etc. with mobile devices. The problem is that it’s we’ve become accustomed to seeing these guys carrying around mobile devices. Hence, no longer novel.

That’s out in public. Inside most companies, field service only involves a tiny fraction of workers. Hence, obscure.

Also, the mobile devices used by field service have traditionally been homely, ruggedized gear running some green screen Linux-based UI, or, if you’re “lucky,” Windows Mobile or CE. Hence, meh.

 

Big Turnaround

If you’d asked me even nine months ago, I would’ve wholeheartedly, 100% echoed the sentiments above. Mobilizing knowledge workers and salesfolks – that’s where it’s at!

My attitude adjustment began last November, when I attended the Enterprise Mobility Exchange in Las Vegas. At that conference, which despite its name is all about field service, I learned about Coca-Cola Bottling, which was swapping out ruggedized devices for iPads and encouraging their new owners, delivery drivers, to install and play Angry Birds and other games.

Why? Because drivers would start to get emotionally attached to their iPads and take care of them like their own property. Indeed, Coca-Cola found that the breakage rates for the iPads were lower than its pricier, heavily-armored counterparts.

Then I learned about Aviva, the world’s 6th largest insurance company, deploying BlackBerry PlayBooks to its risk inspectors that it hopes will save gobs of time and money by making its inspectors 2-3 times more productive.

And then I listened to Syclo Mobile’s CEO Rich Padula keynote speech at the company’s (now an SAP subsidiary) user conference last week. You can catch the reply of this and other speeches, including Syclo’s platform roadmap, here, and download the presentations here.

The pre-eminent provider of field service apps, Syclo has been around since the late 1990s. So not only did it survive the era when ruggedized WinMo devices were the only game in town, but it thrived, with 600 customers as proof.

Here were some of the fascinating customer stories Padula shared:

The MGM Grand Hotels wanted to make its room maintenance people more efficient. So as part of a Syclo mobile asset management solution, it stuck “little barcodes around the door frame of each room,” said Padula, which the repairmen could scan as they went in rather than type it. 

Results were great for the first several weeks. But the maintenance department forgot to tell housekeeping. So the Monday after that, the techs discovered that the maids had scrubbed all of the barcodes off. Moral of this story: you need “good interdepartmental communication,” Padula said.

Mobilizing can shorten processes dramatically. What’s so exciting about that? Well, that can save a ton of time and money.

 

Mobile work orders help HP’s repairpeople save an average of 45 minutes a day. For a full-time worker making $30 an hour, that adds up to $5,600 in savings a year. The cost of managing a work order at healthcare vendor Johnson & Johnson, meanwhile, fell by half, to $4.50 from $9.

Finally, Syclo, if you can believe it, tried to out-innovate Apple. Back in 2004, it introduced a Siri-like voice control feature for an inventory management app. Yes, eight years ago. The feature allowed users to enter data and move through screens by speaking into its device, rather than using a stylus or (gloved) hand.

The voice technology was adopted in some big warehouses, according to Padula, but ultimately failed because workers in maintenance storerooms wouldn’t use it. “We never got the adoption we wanted,” he said.

Padula wasn’t clear why voice control failed, but I wonder if the reason was similar at all to why voice-controlled car computers are not a reality yet.

All in all, you could say that my attitude towards field service mobility is 180 degrees different than it was less than a year ago. There are great stories to be told. Do you have any to share? Please do so in the comments below.

What Do Small Companies Think About Mobile?

Eric Lai, Senior Writer | July 19, 2012 in Mobile Data and Messaging,Mobile Industry,Mobility | Comments (0)

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

I’m not alone in using the term “enterprise mobile/mobility” when I want to talk about something of interest to all business customers. That’s lazy writing, though. Strictly speaking, enterprises means large firms, which in Europe, means more than 250 employees/50 million euro in revenue, or more than 500 employees in the U.S.

Defined that way, two things are clear: 1) the vast majority of companies are small-to-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs); 2) the needs and attitudes of SMEs can differ from their bigger brothers.

Getting an enterprise CIO on the phone can be difficult. But finding out who actually runs IT at an SME can be even more elusive.

So I turned to a colleague at SAP who deals with this world every day.

Shawn Robertson is a vice-president in charge of SAP mobile inside sales based in Scottsdale, Arizona.

SAP’s inside sales team for mobile has grown by leaps and bounds since the acquisition of Sybase in mid-2010. There were just two Inside Sales Executives devoted to mobile in the second half of 2010. That grew to ten mobile ISEs last year. That has grown to 32 mobile inside reps (out of 1,000 inside sales reps worldwide for SAP) under Robertson’s watch.

Unlike field-based account executives, inside sales reps do most of their work over telephone and e-mail. That doesn’t make their work any less demanding. ISEs are expected not only to be able to sell SAP’s entire mobile portfolio, which also now includes the Sybase 365 and Syclo apps, but even help customers “mock up a potential custom app” written for them by SAP.

And because they focus on deals under $175,000 in worth, they tend to talk to more SMEs than other SAP mobile reps, says Robertson.

And what do Robertson and his reps see? Poor mobile device management and security, for one. Many SMEs are still wrestling with how to handle the BYOD influx.

One company Robertson worked with recently was starting to deploy iPads due to the CEO’s sudden conversion to the merits of mobile real-time sales dashboards.

Of course, the CEO hadn’t considered the security implications – but his director of IT had. She bought a 25-seat package of SAP Afaria mobile device management software as part of the proof of concept deployment, which she fully expects to be successful, Robertson said. When that happens, “it will trigger them to go big” on mobile, Robertson said.

Once de facto aimed at enterprises, Afaria is more appealing to SMEs today for two reasons: a 14-day free trial, as well as a cloud version hosted on Amazon Web Services.

Arming salespeople with CRM apps – popular with enterprises – is also popular with SMEs, too.

One consumer goods vendor had a problem with field reps that would go out in trucks. Once out in the field, though, the company had no visibility into their real-time inventory, while reps had little to no information on customer accounts.

“The customer’s reps would go in blind every time,” he said.

Credit: Shutterstock.com

Ironically, the company did have a CRM application running on laptops. But it was inconvenient to use, requiring reps to dial into a server to refresh data. That doomed it to poor usage, Robertson said.

To fix that, the company deployed SAP CRM Sales Mobile app to 75 field reps. “What they have now are reps who actually use the system now, and can intuitively access the latest account information, be more intelligent about the account, and get back to the job of relationship selling,” he said.

The final thing that smaller customers tend to embrace today are apps that accelerate internal workflows.

“Everyone’s got pain points,” Robertson said, citing his own personal bugaboos – approving his employees’ gas receipts, and getting all of the necessary signatures on a sales contract during end of quarter crunch time.

“This stuff is very easily understood,” he said. And SMEs “just want to make things light speed faster.”

Infographic: The Ten Things We Fear (And Love) About BYOD

Eric Lai, Senior Writer | July 16, 2012 in Mobile Data and Messaging,Mobile Industry,Mobility | Comments (0)

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Two years ago, BYOD was just another acronym jockeying for acceptance by the technorati. (more…)

For Your Mobile Enterprise, Build a Genius Bar, NOT A Help Desk

Eric Lai, Senior Writer | July 9, 2012 in Mobile Data and Messaging,Mobile Industry,Mobility | Comments (0)

Tags: , , , , , ,

Everyone’s suffered through an unpleasant encounter with a member of your company’s technical help desk. Some young, would-be Alpha Geek who sarcastically overwhelms you with jargon while he – and it’s always a he – condescends to fix your laptop or printer.

I think Jimmy Fallon nailed it in the late 1990s with his “Nick Burns, Your Company’s Computer Guy” character on Saturday Night Live.

Oh, By the Way, You’re Welcome

That was then. In the mobile age, we aren’t so easily intimidated. Gadgets are not only easier to use, but – let’s face it – we as a society are tech-savvier (read: geekier) than ever before. In a BYOD age, we are adept at solving our own tech issues using Google, user forum or pal. Indeed, we often know more about our devices than our alleged technical betters.

Corporate help desks need to adapt to the post-PC age. Out with the patronizing Nick Burns-types; in with advisors who know better than to treat us as idiots, but instead as valued customers and partners.

This is the experience that SAP is trying to create with its newly-opened Mobility Solutions Centers.

(If you happen to be an SAP employee, check out the excellent overview of the MSCs by Jerry Janda here: https://blogs.wdf.sap.corp/sapnews_en/2012/07/global-it-opens-new-one-stop-mobile-shops/)

SAP employees can walk in and get in-person advice from mobile experts in Bangalore, London, Mumbai, Paris and our headquarters, Walldorf. They can also try out smartphones and tablets to see what makes the best sense for their workstyle.

“I rented an Ipad for 2 weeks in order to ‘train’ myself on the device here in MSC Paris,” one employee wrote in reaction to Janda’s article. “Knowledgable, friendly and cool staff helped to get the device ready very quickly. The center is equiped with a good range of devices and the design of the MSC is modern and young. Well done! Keep it up guys :)” 

Employees can also get support or training for their devices or apps – all in a stylish environment that recalls the Genius Bar environment at an Apple Store.

“These are cool places where you can come and feel comfortable to ask any question you want,” said SAP CIO Oliver Bussmann. His team runs the 5 existing MSCs, and plans to have a total of 11 running worldwide soon, including Palo Alto, Vancouver, Sao Paulo (Brazil) and, starting July 16, at the North American headquarters in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania.

Service Without The Snark

Before opening the MSCs, SAP had locations where employees could bring their mobile devices to IT staffers. But as Bussmann admits, “these were typical repair shops, some not much more than a closet in size.”

That wouldn’t do, not when SAP employees carry more than 51,000 devices today (19,000 BlackBerries, 17,000 iPads, 13,000 iPhones and 1,500 Android devices, primarily Samsung Galaxy S devices, including the Galaxy S III and the Galaxy Note).

And unlike typical help desks, MSC experts aren’t under pressure to fix problems quickly and move onto the next trouble ticket, according to Bussmann. That creates the friendlier vibe that will encourage experts to spend more time with each employee and help him or her try out productivity-enhancing apps they might not have previously considered.

Indeed, the MSCs will be showcases for SAP apps for not only internal workers, but also visiting customers.

Remote employees – and SAP has many of those – can still opt to get phone or e-mail support for their mobile devices. Bussmann encourages them to stop by an MSC if they have the chance.

The next step? Turning the MSCs into the primary provider of front-line, hands-on support for SAP employees with laptop troubles. Though in the post-PC age, Bussmann said providing laptop support is becoming a moot point.

“There is more and more discussion we are having about moving certain groups of employees entirely away from laptops,” he said.

Afraid That Training Mobile Workers Is Too Difficult? Not For These 80-Year-Old+ Computer Novices

Eric Lai, Senior Writer | July 5, 2012 in Mobile Data and Messaging,Mobile Industry,Mobility | Comments (0)

Tags: , , , , , , ,

The National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) is the branch of the US Department of Agriculture that generates statistical gems such as: farmers this year have planted nearly 100 million acres of corn this year – the most in the last 75 years.

(more…)

The Latest, Biggest, Baddest iPad Deployments

Eric Lai, Senior Writer | June 27, 2012 in Mobile Data and Messaging,Mobile Industry,Mobility | Comments (0)

Tags: , , , , ,

You’d think that after 2.5 years of large-scale iPad rollouts, that it wouldn’t be newsworthy anymore.

(more…)

Chart: Enterprises that are Deploying Android Smartphones & Tablets

Eric Lai, Senior Writer | June 19, 2012 in Mobile Data and Messaging,Mobile Industry,Mobility,security,Uncategorized | Comments (2)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

(Updated June 18, 2012) Without question, more enterprises are rolling out iPads and iPhones than their Android counterparts today. But there’s finally some large-scale Android deployments to talk about. (more…)

Samsung’s Pincer Movement Android Strategy to Winning the Mobile Enterprise

Eric Lai, Senior Writer | June 18, 2012 in Mobile Data and Messaging,Mobile Industry,Mobility | Comments (0)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

While iPhones dominate the post-BlackBerry era of enterprise smartphones, analysts such as IDC expect Android to catch up by next year. (more…)