Mobilizing the Enterprise

Thoughts on SharePoint, Smartphones, and the future of enterprise productivity

Archive for the ‘Mobile Workforce’ Category

Do you need a (new) mobile ecosystem?

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Here at Moprise, we strongly believe that productivity and business need - including workflow, higher level application solutions, and services - dictates your back office computing infrastructure choices.  One rarely selects a solution for mobile access alone. While mobile is important, a mobile-only blinder when making corporate infrastructure choices throws away years of experience, integration, and heavy lifting that got your company where it is.  It’s important that your mobile strategy integrate with your existing corporate infrastructure.

Great coverage of this topic is written up by Brian Katz: 

Written by daviddsouza

May 24, 2012 at 7:29 am

Secure business and personal apps with iOS

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Today another new Android vulnerability was discovered such that all your email addresses, phone numbers, SMS messages, and log files can be access by any application that requests permission to access the internet.  You can read more about it here.  Additionally there has been android malware in the Marketplace that captures and reroutes your personal data to 3rd parties.

It’s useful to ask why Apple’s iOS doesn’t face similar threats.  I think there are three reasons for this:

1)   With the Macintosh, Apple differentiated itself from Windows by claiming there were no viruses or malware on its platform. This feature resonated with customers in a big way and Apple knew it must carry this forward.  However, in the PC era, Mac’s malware resistance really was just marketing.  As Apple thought about new models for computation, they realized strong technical firewalls would be needed to more fundamentally prevent these threats from harming users.

2)   iOS has a curated application store with very end-user favorable rules that app developers must follow such as not using undocumented apis. Apps are actively scanned for viruses and malware behavior before they can get into the store. If a bad app ever leaks into the store, Apple has the technology to remove an offending app from the store and from devices before it infects everyone. As this is the only path for getting apps onto devices, Apple is like a bouncer at the bar actively keeping unwanted apps out while ejecting misbehaving apps that got in.

3)   iOS has a very strong sandbox between apps and a very rigorous api that prevents applications from interacting or sharing data with each other except through a very few well protected apis.   First, unlike Android, an application cannot access the code or data of another application. All sharing is done via a few well-defined iOS apis – so there is a spigot and drain approach to sharing that is controlled by the app, the user, and the OS.  It is iOS that prompts you before sending email, making a phone call, or sharing a document between applications so that even allowed commands require user confirmation.

With these technologies, business apps can co-exist side by side with consumer apps on the phone. iOS guarantees the business apps cannot be accessed or changed by any other application on the phone.  As well, your personal apps & data are safe from corporate scrutiny. In addition, via iOS apis, the business apps can limit their data sharing to other trusted business apps and recently introduced AppConnect technology from Mobile Iron appears to be a start in this direction.

The iPhone & iPad truly have the fundamentals to support one device that delivers work and personal utility while balancing the security and privacy needs for both sides of our lives. Ray Ozzie captured a good summary of iOS a few years ago: Apple internalized that people really understand and like an appliance-style model for their phone & pad.  Appliances don’t get viruses, they don’t data share, they do one function and do it well.

Written by daviddsouza

October 4, 2011 at 4:51 pm

Conversations in Coaxion for the iPhone

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We’ve just released a second how-to video for Coaxion. Our previous video covered setting up document access. This covers what makes Coaxion sparkle: sharing.

Most of us are now highly mobile, and when we move our phones are with us. Until now, the problem with sharing documents has been that our email is so overloaded. Have you ever had someone ask you if you’d read an important email, only to find you accidentally browsed past it? How many emails do we get a day? When we’re on the move from one meeting to the next, are we really going to find that one important email among the other 37 new ones?

Coaxion gives us a quick way to grab our people or teams to get them the right items. You can now pull one person or multiple team members into a conversation, talk about a document, share it with everyone, and have a text-based discussion if someone’s in a place where they can’t talk.

It’s so easy it’s addictive, and you’ll be wondering why you weren’t using it before.

Written by In Other Words

September 7, 2011 at 5:55 pm

Book Recommendation: iPad in the Enterprise by Nathan Clevenger

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You have seen iPads in coffee shops, buses, and airports.  You have been following Apple’s phenomenal 300% stock price growth since the launch of the first iOS device in January 2007. You saw Nokia and Blackberry users trade in their devices for iPhones while the stock market gave the companies a robust haircut. And most recently you have been listening to Apple’s last two earning reports highlighting the rapid adoption of the latest iOS device, the iPad, in the enterprise.  And all throughout this time, your users have slowly moved from pleasantly sharing their new devices with you to a raucous call for enabling deeper business productive solutions beyond email.  Technology adoption curves in business have rapidly sped up since the days of the PC simply because of the clear productivity and ROI benefits desktop computing provided during the 1990s and 2000s.  Mobile devices like the iPad now deliver ubiquitous computing and promise the next giant increase in corporate productivity.   As companies jump into mobile IT to maintain their competitive edge, there is a huge need to separate reality from hype and move from aspiration to operation.

iPad in the Enterprise by Nathan Clevenger is a comprehensive tome of knowledge that helps you understand today’s iPad opportunity and operationalize it within your business.  Nathan leveraged a tremendous set of mobile experts, corporate case studies, and real application examples when creating his book.  It is filled with detailed examples, analysis of real deployments, and numerous pictures to help readers get a broad and deep understanding of the business value and how IT can best purchase, roll out, secure, and deploy iPads.

The primary beneficiaries for Nathan’s book include business decision makers and IT decision makers who will find a wealth of information that saves them time in planning the rollout with details on all the pieces required to deploy iPads.  The business decision maker wants to understand the potential benefits of the iPad, decide whether build vs buy of the necessary infrastructure and applications is the best way to accomplish the business goals, and finally to understand the security and deployment needs of IT.  Nathan goes into depth for multiple vertical (legal, medical, sales, manufacturing, etc) and horizontal (document mgmt., business intelligence, etc) categories so that all readers will find tangible and lucid examples of the iPad potential.

The other beneficiary, the IT decision maker, needs to procure, secure, and deploy the mobile devices for the benefit of the business leader.  Detailed examples surface the value of secure access to IT business servers and data, the common requirements around security, the need for corporate app stores, mobile management systems, Apple corporate developer certificates, and other base procurement requirements that will help the IT decision maker speed creation and delivery of business apps.

Finally for mobile enterprise developers, there is the beginning of an “Enterprise iPad Logo Program” much like earlier Microsoft Windows enterprise desktop logo programs. Nathan provides guidelines and even some sample code for the core set of user experience, enterprise security, authentication, licensing, and deployment guidelines for consistent maintenance and management across all enterprise applications.  I certainly hope Nathan will develop this opportunity into a future book of developer centric practices and IT-centric requirements that enables IT to dramatically speed up deployment and reduce costs when deploying mobile apps into the enterprise.  Some readers will find this detail overwhelming and recognizing this, Nathan encourages readers to focus on certain chapters according to their roles.

Overall, I really enjoyed the breath and depth Nathan brings to making sense of iPads in the enterprise.  Armed with his knowledge, IT and business leaders will be able to quickly operationalize and derive business value from their iPads.

Written by daviddsouza

August 10, 2011 at 12:30 pm

Three Trends From a Year of Tablet Research

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UX Magazine recently published an article on “Five Lessons From a Year of Tablet Research”.  More interesting than the lessons were the three trends they identified and the impact on the world of work and productivity on an iPad.

Trend #1: Trading (Home) Computer Time for iPad Time 

The iPad is a replacement for the “home” computer because of its portability. Recently published research from Nielsen indicates that 70% of tablet owners use their device while watching TV, and 57% use their device while in bed.

When it comes to using the iPad for work- or school-related purposes, the same Nielsen research also notes that approximately one in four tablet owners use their devices while attending a meeting or class.

Each of these situations represents new opportunities for productivity. Whether it is triaging email, reading business documents, or collaborating with colleagues, enabling these tasks on an iPad puts productivity within convenient reach.

Trend #2: The Tablet Is a Shared Device and Raises Security Concerns

The iPad is used by many members of the family but doesn’t support multiple logins. So those business documents could be accidently deleted by the children or viewed by a guest unless one is careful.  An access PIN on business apps may also be a near term remedy before Apple enables multiple profiles on an iPad.

Trend #3: Tablet Users Need an Experience-Based Incentive to Access Apps Over the Web

While websites are generally accessible on tablets, users will use apps if they offer a compelling experience beyond the website.  A natural and streamlined user interface that uses gestures to elegantly show the full content available on the ordinary website.

You can read the full article here.

Written by daviddsouza

August 6, 2011 at 9:09 am

Posted in iPad, Mobile Workforce, UX

Present from SharePoint on Your iPad

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Does your company’s intranet live on SharePoint? Do you want to present from your iPad? It’s easier than you might think.

We’ve tested a few different presentation options across the internet such as converting your file to a .pdf, and have concluded that professional presentations can be best accomplished on the iPad using these six easy steps.

These instructions include a sneak preview of our upcoming app, Coaxion, which we’re releasing for the iPad in a few weeks. Coaxion will simplify the presentations by providing direct SharePoint access to your presentations (and other documents) when you need them.

To Present, You’ll Need:

  • Coaxion for the iPad to pull your presentation from SharePoint, releasing free soon in the App Store
  • Keynote for iPad to play the presentation, $9.99 in App Store, not free but looks much better than presenting pdf files and allows you to edit your presentations
  • Optionally, a VGA adaptor from the Apple Store to connect to most projectors, $29.00, it’s only compatible with some presentation programs including Keynote, otherwise you can present by placing your iPad on a desk or meeting table for viewing

Step One:  In Microsoft PowerPoint, save your presentation normally as a .ppt or .pptx file (alternatively, save your presentation normally in Keynote).

Step Two: Keep your presentation on your company’s intranet where you normally would.

Step Three: When ready, select your presentation from SharePoint using Coaxion for the iPad (an active wireless or 3G connection is needed at the time of pulling the file). 

Step Four: In the upper right corner, choose “Open In”, then “Keynote”, then in Keynote make any changes you need. 

Step Five: Set up for the presentation for viewing on a desk, table, or using the VGA adaptor for most projectors. 

Step Six: In Keynote, press play when you’re ready. 

What to Expect

You’ll preserve attractive slide transitions and the layout of your page for a slick, professional presentation. However, animations are slightly different if moving between PowerPoint and Keynote.

Keynote on the iPad allows one animation per object, and views text boxes as one object. If you’ve added multiple animations to text within a box, such as one-at-a-time list items, in Keynote they will arrive together on only one click. If this is an important issue for you, consider putting each list item into a separate text box and re-adding the separate animations.


By simply carrying your iPad with you and optionally, a cable, you can present from your iPad efficiently and professionally. Try it!

Written by In Other Words

July 27, 2011 at 12:33 pm

‘Let’s meet’ doesn’t have to be death knell for productivity

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Two people sitting in a room is a conversation. Three is a meeting, and things start to deteriorate from there. As the number of participants grows, the odds increase that PowerPoint slides will be shown, meaningless “action items’’ distributed, pet projects trotted out, oratorical skills exhibited, and BlackBerrys checked.

Last week, we expanded into a new office in Seattle’s Pioneer Square neighborhood but we don’t yet have conference room furniture. I thought it would make our board meeting more difficult but Scott Kirsner’s timely advice on running a good meeting suggests it’s better we don’t get too comfortable:

1) Have an agenda and goal
2) Nix the chairs
3) Start at an odd time
4) Limit the size

As we have our meeting, we all use Coaxion for the iPad. This is a private meeting so social sharing doesn’t make sense. Coaxion makes it easy for private groups to share pre-reading, finalize the agenda, and refer to the data during our discussions. With Coaxion, I can share documents and product stats from our development team’s SharePoint site, opportunities from the Marketing Team’s SharePoint, and the board can bring in their ideas from Dropbox for the meeting pre-reading. A powerpoint-less and paperless meeting - what a concept!

During the meeting we can refer to the docs, updating them if needed, and track our decisions. Post the meeting, our decisions and follow up can be tracked within the Coaxion discussion thread. If someone had to call in via phone, they would have all the data they need to participate effectively.

No powerpoint (check), no paper (check), focused agenda (check), small team (check), no chairs (check), and start anytime (check)…

Written by daviddsouza

July 18, 2011 at 11:40 am

GoogleDocs: Mobile, Security, and Offline

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The GoogleDoc’s team solicited feedback from their users and it’s no surprise to us that the most requested features for any document management system are offline & mobile access. The desktop web browser was great for Enterprise 2.0 but we believe Enterprise 3.0 is all about mobile productivity beyond email. And with intermittent connections and high latency networks, caching and offline access to data is a key piece of this.

In light of  the RSA and Citibank breeches, security will always be critical and was another requested feature. Sharing is good but it should stop when the the need ends. And despite the rise of the social enterprise, we feel private communication remains a critical piece of execution in the enterprise - product launches won’t remain secret if plans are broadcast on the corporate social network.

These are some of the reasons we created Coaxion. Currently supporting Dropbox and SharePoint but let us know (feedback at what other corporate data sources you need to work with.

Written by daviddsouza

June 16, 2011 at 10:32 pm

iCloud and the Enterprise

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We’re at WWDC this week and the biggest announcement from Apple was iCloud. iCloud is a free Apple service that ensures your personal data is wirelessly synchronized to the cloud, your iOS devices, PCs, and Macs.

Data automatically going somewhere is a legitimate concern for an enterprise. Lots of questions come to the surface - how is it shared, who has access to it, what controls are there, who is in control, and many more.

The concern for data sharing

Corporations have spent billions storing, securing, archiving, and managing corporate data in systems like Exchange, Oracle, File Servers, SharePoint, EMC Documentum, and IBM FileNet. There are compliance checks and data retention policies on who accesses it and how its shared. IT has controlled how this data gets onto PCs via Outlook and onto devices via email clients and applications like our Moprise for SharePoint iPad application. iCloud introduces some obvious concerns with the automatic propagation of corporate data into Apple’s cloud, onto other devices, and the possible co-mingling of personal & corporate data.

The scope of iCloud

Personal - From the Apple keynote, iCloud is currently designed for synchronizing data across devices linked to a specific Apple ID. This means devices registered by a particular Apple ID will automatically be synchronized. Some families share Apple IDs so that the same music and movies are available to everyone and in these scenarios iCloud data would be synchronized across all devices. To keep your data private, you should not share devices and Apple IDs with others.

Per Application - Each application decides how it uses iCloud synchronization APIs and what data is copied into the cloud. Some (all?) of the Apple supplied applications - the iWork suite was demonstrated during the keynote - utilize iCloud. This means data shared with these applications is subject to synchronization into the cloud. For example, a corporate application that uses “open in” to view a document in Pages, could have the document synchronized into the cloud and onto other devices. We will need clarity on how email configuration and email itself is synchronized to other devices. Corporations may not want Exchange email automatically showing up on rarely used personal devices but it could be useful to easily share the configuration between a frequently used iPhone and iPad.

Per Device Back Up - Today, each time a device is plugged into iTunes, a backup is automatically created of all the state on the device. This should be encrypted if corporate data is stored on the device. But in the future, with iCloud, a backup to the cloud will automatically be created. Is this automatically encrypted? Can this be disabled?

Key Chain - User names and passwords are stored into the key chain for secure access by applications. This useful feature enables onclick login to websites or servers without fear of someone stealing the cached password. But synchronizing this information onto lost or rarely used devices would be a concern.

Configuration Profiles - A corporation may install configuration profiles on a device that control policies, set VPN certificates, and other lock down state on the device. Understanding how this is synchronized to other devices will need to be made more transparent.

What controls are needed?

Corporate Configuration - Any “corporate owned” data and configuration clearly needs independent controls on how it should be propagated into iCloud and synchronized across devices. Enterprise certificates, VPN configuration, and Exchange configuration, at the very basic, need controls to disable automatic sharing across personal devices.

Enterprise Applications - Enterprise applications already need to be designed with features like security, encryption, and data protection in mind. Enabling controls and sensible defaults around how their documents and settings are copied to the cloud will also make sense. In most cases, additional copies of corporate data outside of corporate storage systems won’t make sense.

Corporate Documents - Documents sent via email and Moprise or Coaxion SharePoint documents can be opened in productivity applications like iWorks for editing or viewing. Documents passed between applications need an attribute that indicates to the iCloud apis they should not be synchronized into iCloud and across devices. The document file itself would hold the attribute so it survives as it is copied between apps. This would allow corporate documents to be used by iCloud enabled applications yet still preserve any corporate security decisions. Corporate apps would need to change to add this attribute but other apps do not need any changes - meaning only the apps that get value from the security need to change.

Next Steps

As consumers with multiple devices, iCloud solves lots of challenges and we welcome the ease of moving between our devices seamlessly. As well, the value provided by cloud synchronization and sharing will get greater over time as other companies like Microsoft also embrace cloud documents. As a producer of broadly used enterprise applications, we get lots of feedback from IT and CxOs on the security and integrity of corporate data brought to devices. At Moprise, we will continue to dive into the iCloud APIs and documentation provided by Apple and provide feedback on what we need to tune our enterprise applications to secure corporate IP and promote productivity across mobile devices.

Written by daviddsouza

June 9, 2011 at 7:07 am

The Fed Gives Stamp of Approval to Apple’s App Security

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The Federal Government has loosened its grip on the Blackberry from the Washington Post.  The Federal Government has moved towards a policy of “giving employees what they want” when it comes to choice of tablets and mobile phones. Most are selecting iPhones and iPads for use at home & gov. The State Department, Congress, and the ATF are all using or piloting iPads and iPhones for work.

My take is the Spooks are getting comfortable with Apple’s focus on security.  The security and application sandbox provided by Apple’s iOS helps ensure work applications & data are securely isolated from personal apps.  Apple’s closed environment help ensure malware doesn’t get into the App Store or onto devices.

At the end of the day, RIM secured email but Apple secured Apps.

Written by daviddsouza

June 2, 2011 at 8:20 pm


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