mobile history

IBM Mobility is far and away “The” Leader in Gartner’s 2015 Magic Quadrant for Managed Mobility Services!
The Third Year in a Row as the Leader,    Read the 28 October Gartner 2015 Report!

https://www-935.ibm.com/services/in/en/it-services/enterprise-mobility/gartner-magic-quadrant-report/

We didn’t get there overnight !  Follow the adventure below:
In the early 1990’s Mobility meant having a 300 Baud, 600 Baud to 19.2kbps modem attached to the desktop computer at home or simply having a laptop computer. By early mid 1990’s it was having a Modem attached to a Laptop. By the late 90’s very early 2000’s it was a modem built in to a laptop or a high speed portable modem 64kbps. This was followed by 2 way pagers, better laptops and notebooks, cellular and WiFi connectivity,  Personal Digital Assistants PDA’s, Smartphones, Tablets to today’s wearables (watches, fitness devices) and more.

Note: in 1998, 2 way pagers included the precursor to the Blackberry, the Research In Motion, Inter@ctive Pagers 800 and  950. These devices replaced the large devices with the nickname “Bricks” carried by IBM field service personnel.  The first BlackBerry being the 850 and 950 versions of the same device.   Additionally, these pagers and BlackBerry’s ran on the Motient network (formerly Ardis Network) originally designed and Implemented by Motorola for IBM in the early 1980’s.

My first entry into mobility as part of my career was around 1994 writing the Technical documentation for a series of PCMCIA Modems for the IBM Thinkpads for the IBM PC Company, while a sister department in Boca Raton was working with BellSouth on the “Simon” phone and a PCMCIA CDPD wireless Modem.  The Simon Personal Communicator was the first cellular phone to include telephone and PDA features in one device.  By the late 90’s I was an architect getting IBM’s new Lotus Domino Application domains up and running.

Shortly after being up all night for Y2K,  we attended Lotusphere 2000.  The highlight of which was was a matching “Bumblebee” black and yellow “AS/400” with “Lotus Mobile Services for Domino” using an “AT&T PocketNet” phone.    The AS/400 team donated a server, we acquired a few PocketNet phones from AT&T and made the mobile phone connect to  Lotus mail.  Eight lines of 20-character text and a Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) browser—yes, that made us giddy to have a phone to access mail and contacts back in 2000.

The MES team was Born, While they didn’t know exactly where this kind mobility belonged, IBM understood the need for a dedicated team of specialists to focus on managed mobility services even then.  It was different from the days of actually developing Servers, PC’s and related adapters ,  This time we didn’t have to engineer a physical part of the AS/400—I didn’t make the phone and didn’t even write any of the software.  All I did was make it all work together. It seems easy now to describe it with the pictures above; however, in the last decade mobility has become much more complicated.

At the time we were also working with the new class of devices, personal digital assistants (PDA’S), Palm Pilot and Compaq iPAQ where you could only sync your mail calendar and contacts via a cable the serial port of your computer or by using the infrared port of the IBM “WorkPad”.  Infrared port could also get the device over the air (OTA) connectivity with and Ericson phone and GPRS network.
Additionally, we were working with pager gateways for 2 way messaging on a new class of pagers with keyboards, some of which folded up and we called “Clamshell” pagers.
In 1999, RIM introduced the the First BlackBerry for Microsoft Exchange mobile e-mail.

The MES team was also looking at services, the first was BigBlueMail.com (BBMC),  BBMC was integrated Electronic messaging (Email and IM), Voice Messaging,  A Virtual assistant (voice to text, listen to mail and calendar), Fax gateway, Wireless access and paging, finally Collaboration,  by individual monthly subscription as early as the year 2000.  BigBlueMail was an integration of IBM divisions and external partners, Server Group was providing RS6000’s preloaded with Software.com’s MobileMail. The IBM voice Group and IBM Research were providing Voice and Intelligent assistant (which could already provide access to Profs mail and calendar by voice command). Newly acquired Lotus was providing Sametime for IM and Quickplace for collaboration.  Unfortunately, we were too far ahead of the curve.  BBMC as an individual monthly subscription essentially meant a consumer or very small business market and IBM’s systems were not designed for monthly credit card billing, among other things and BBMC was put on the shelf.
Selecting either of the images will bring up the plasma ball that was at one time located at the address BigBlueMail.com. (Note: Depending on the browser you may have to open BigBlueMail.swf from the browser downloads.) 

Then came 9/11.…..The NYC Mayors office and the American Red Cross needed communications capability to their people on the streets. RIM volunteered to provide the BlackBerry SW and BlackBerry devices, IBM volunteered servers and people.  This MES Team member was on vacation at the time and with planes just starting to fly again was driving his rent-a-car from Connecticut back home to FL, Several people from the MES team at the IBM Wireless Pilot Center in Charlotte, NC, flew to NYC. There surrounded by men in Uniforms carrying machine guns IBM and RIM Engineers set up the BlackBerry Enterprise Servers (BES). When others had given up for the night, RIM and IBM MES engineers stayed and got the BlackBerry server operational and talking to devices.  Over the next few weeks they provisioned and handed out devices to the Mayors office, City employees and Red cross workers.

The Blackberry and real mobile email was the first enterprise game changer. Initially running on Paging networks, Mobitext and Motient, over time BlackBerry’s supported Motient, Cingular networks at 19.2kbps.    Originally the BlackBerry 85x’s and 95x’s were relatively large black text, data only devices from 2 carriers.  Today as others they are also sleeker and faster phones and tablets with graphics engines powerful enough to stream movies and video in real time

At the time, Then the BlackBerry only supported Microsoft Exchange, and the MES tream could only support IBM customers.  From where we started deploying the BlackBerry solution to enterprises, state governments, even the US House of representatives.  After establishing the servers, the US House IT team took over management.   However, the Mobile Enterprise Services team was one of the best kept secrets in IBM.  No one knew IBM was in the Mobility Business.

However, also at the time, the BES Server Software has only worked with BlackBerry devices.   As such there were other solutions for other devices from JP Mobile, Excellenet, Afaria, iAnywhere (to name a few) that let the PalmPilot, Ipaq synch mail -Initially via cable then by cellphone enabled sleds the device connected into. The Palm device was integrated into a phone and carriers produced phones with the WAP protocol.

About 2002-3 WAP was to be the answer to support internet and web applications such a mobile Email, Stocks, News Etc. During this time,IBM developed several products for the enterprise,  Websphere Everyplace Wireless Gateway (more recently known as Lotus Mobile Connect) for secure access to corporate networks.  Websphere Transcoding Publisher, which would transform/transcode a standard HTML website to be rendered to the screen of a particular device.  Todays modern smartphones and tablets have browsers that support native HTML and some sites detect the mobile browser and provide web pages designed for smaller screens.

Except for Lotus Mobile Connect which was the precursor to the AT&T connect we are familiar with today these other solutions, of the day fell out of favor.  At the time and for several years the BlackBerry was the main, some would say the only, game in town for the mobile enterprise, including IBM.

While many mobile fortune 500 companies already standardized on Blackberry, the base grew larger in late 2002-3. RIM introduced BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) 2.0, with Lotus Domino mail support and IBM began a limited use of the BlackBerry internally.  BES 4.0 was the first BES release to support multiple Lotus Notes domains, allowing IBM US, Canada, Europe and others to provide BlackBerry services internally in IBM.   With the release BES 4.1 including support for IBM’s DB2, IBM’s use expanded and standardize on the Blackberry including it in the “Corporate Managed Program”.  BlackBerry peaked at IBM with over 40K devices Globally by 2014.   BlackBerry would dominated the enterprise market until approximately 2012.

In 2004, the MES team embarked on another, ahead of its time” project, e-Device Management, It was more Device Life Cycle Management than an MDM. EDM included processing inital device requests, Procurement, Pre-delivery preparation and returns via a depot, deployment, inventory/asset management ending with device refresh and disposal.  As such, EDM looks very similar to today’s Mobile Telecom Expense Management Services (without the Expense portion).  While this project too was shelved it did result in the team receiving a patent for “Wireless Device Configuration Management”,  US Patent  Number US8,180,860.

Including a few game changers, over the next several years, carriers were constantly coming out with new (non BlackBerry) phones that CEO’s wanted to use to get their mail. Enter Nokia, LG, Motorola, Samsung … Devices and Mobile Messaging Applications such as Exchange ActiveSync, Lotus Traveler, Good Technology and Mobile Device Management vendors such as MobileIron, Airwatch, Fiberlink….

The Game began to change in 2007, in  January, the first Android Phone ships and Apple announces a new iPod with a Phone called the IPhone to ship in June 2007.  By June 2008 IPhone had sold 6 million units in 4 countries,  by late  2009 7.7 million android phones had been activated.  The Era of “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) born but not embraced by enterprise IT.  BYOD being the practice of allowing an employee to purchases their own device, carrier service and use on the corporate network.  This produced legal and security issues to name a few and eventually led to an evolution in MDM’s to provide separate secure areas on devices for personal and corporate data.

The Game changed again in 2010, Apple announced the iPad in April 2010, Samsung followed with the first Android Tablet – the 7″ Galaxy Tab in Sept 2010.  At the Consumer Electronics Show in Jan 2011, 80 Vendors Demoed tablets to compete with the iPad.   The Consumer Era of BYOD was in full swing.  Enterprise BYOD was reluctantly tolerated as enterprises attempted to ensure security as well as deal with the legal implications (wiping an employees personal device).   But as Apple and Android were still targeting consumer use, the BlackBerry was still the device of choice of Enterprise IT.

At first IOS and Android were very consumer oriented operating systems and devices.  There were not a lot of options for enterprises to secure the devices or manage personal and private use, data and applications.   To increase enterprise adoption Apple/Android began to add security policies and API’s for Mobile Device Management.  To Drive their device sales into the enterprise.  Samsung, an Android Smartphone and tablet manufacturer added  “Samsung Safe” and “Knox” management extensions to the “Samsung Galaxy”  family of devices to give enterprises more control.

Coupled with the technology changes and some major Blackberry outages, Enterprises sought alternatives to BlackBerry.  As MDM providers began to support IOS and Android device management Enterprises began to embrace BYOD.  Good and MobileIron also offered Secure enterprise eMail, Calendar and Contacts, soon becoming viable alternatives to Blackberry.  Fiberlink, Airwatch, SOTI and others soon followed.  Even Samsung created SAFE API extensions  to allow greater Enterprise MDM capability for its Galaxy products.  However, None of the MDM’s supported Blackberry 10, helping to erode the BlackBerry base.

While many companies stayed with BlackBerry or added IOS/Android alongside BlackBerry, by late 2012, a general move away from BlackBerry to IOS/Android and BYOD was in full swing.  This included IBM.  In 2010, IBM began allowing the use of Android and IOS devices.  Initially using Traveler, then IBM Endpoint Manager (IEM) was introduced to manage the devices. The IBM Corporate Managed program also began to offer IOS/Android devices as options for employees.  The IBM products were replaced and devices managed by the IBM acquired Fiberlink MaaS360.  Opting for a mostly IBM infrastructure using MaaS360, now IBM Mobile Protect, IBM internal BES5 and legacy java based Blackberry device support closed at the end of 2014.  As of Oct, 2015, IBM supports BES 12 for approximately 1500 Global users in production and operates a Blackberry test environment out of Canada.

Late Breaking news Sept 2015 BlackBerry acquired Good Technology with the goal to provide a unified BlackBerry/IOS/Android mobility solution. Assumed to be Goods Container and App Management, BlackBerrys MDM and Good Boxtone Monitoring..

Through the years the IGS/GTS MES team has been supporting IBM mobile accounts for custom deals and with standardized Managed Mobility Portfolio offerings for Exchange ActiveSync, Lotus Traveler and Good Technology, MobileIron, Airwatch, Afaria, Lotus Mobile Connect and, of course, IBM MobileProtect (formerly Fiberlink MaaS360) .  The original MES team members now working in a variety of GTS and other IBM organizations.

With the rise in mobile specific technologies, for smartphones and tablets including those below a revolution began;

  • Processors, faster more powerful Battery efficient;
  • Screens, with sizes of small and large phones and tablet, Finger, mult-ifinger touch and pressure sensing,
  • Graphics engines (chipsets) capable of producing lifelike images, Photos and HD quality video
  • Wireless communications from the original CDPD to todays Bluetooth Wifi and  4th Generation and LTE cellular technologies which can stream Music, Video

All of these technology advances have driven a revolution beyond the enterprise mail and have had influence in the incorporation of IBM’s MobileFirst strategy in industries.

  • Driving in Medicine, the delivery of healthcare.
  • How we communicate, email “sent from my mobile device”, IM,Twitter, Instagram, Facetime, Skype…
  • Retail,  How we shop, Retailers offer tablets to show patrons what they might look like in clothing, offers and coupons based on your proximity to an establishment
  • Entertainment, How we watch or don’t watch TV and Movies via NetFlix, Hulu and other On Demand Services.
  • How we read, Kindle, tablets on airplanes have replaced bulky manuals, Tablets and Laptops have replaced books at universities.
  • Banking and how we pay bills. Tellerless windows.  I recently obtained a Home Equity loan, everthing was on-line/mobile including providing some materials by emailing a photo of documentation  taken on an iPad and only visiting the bank to sign the final legal documents
  • IOT (Internet of Things) has changed the way farmers manage crops, Elevators and other equipment are monitored for failure, Sensors in Automobiles….innovation is exploding in this area including IBM’s Long Range Signal Control protocol for the management of Device/Thing radio end to end communications.

It would be difficult to find an industry untouched by mobile technologies

As such, In early 2013 IBM formally adopted the “IBM MobileFirst” Brand as  a mobile strategy that enables clients to streamline and accelerate mobile adoption. IBM MobileFirst was combined in the CAMS Strategy using IBM’s industry expertise with Cloud, Analytics/”Big Data” Mobile and Social technologies to help organizations capture new markets and reach more people.

ABSENTEE VOTING OK, BUT USA NOT YET READY FOR GENERAL MAIL-IN-VOTING

Absentee Voting OK, But USA Not yet Ready for General Mail-in-Voting.

Postal Service Funding Is a Red Herring. Quite simply most election offices are simply not ready for Mail-in-Voting possibly by 144-288 million votes. 

There is Simply no integrity of registered voter roles to support Mail in and its not officials fault! No Conspiracy Theory’s, just Common Sense, Logic & Reason. 

Basics:

Absentee and General Mail in voting are not the same not even close.

With absentee voting used by folks out of town, or those of health that prevents them from voting in person. A Registered Voter requests an absentee ballot, the voter is validated an a ballot sent to the voters residence.

The Most obvious Reality Check Indicator is simply that just in 2019 the USPS says 36 Million voters moved!  The USPS web sites indicates 36 Million address changes were processed in 2019! Add in 2017, 2018, That’s 108 million households if married households thats 208 Million voters

Given that voters are typically not removed until after the miss a presidential election, potentially 208 Million ballots could be sent to a former residence.

Is there any evidence there that local election offices across the country have been able to keep pace with have caught up with address changes 

To have accurate voter rolls to validly support mailing out Ballots?

Could local election offices have removed from voter roles the many large city residents that moved to suburbia in 2020 during #COVID19? Or recent high tax or violence moves to no income tax states of TX, TN or FL?

Moving company’s in CA, MI, NY are having a banner year and are currently swamped with moves.  This suggests 2020 address changes prior to the election would be greater than 36 Million. 

Potentially 144 million households or 288 Million voters moved since the last presidential election and ballots sent to their previous residence. 

OK, SO WHAT HAPPENS TO THE 288 MILLION BALLOTS?

Will Biden or Trump fanatics try to play games given obvious logistical issues?

Will ballots be sent to folks long since moved?

Will USPS Fwd NY Ballot to FL?

Will millions of votes be cast by ‘Current Occupant’, along with their own vote?

Will ballots be cast by local staff after being “Returned to Sender”?

Can extra mailed in ballots really believe validated?

Can  millions of signatures will be checked?

My numbers are not scientific, not every address change is a registered voter, doesn’t include the deceased and more. Common sense indicates we are not ready for a US wide Mail in Presidential Election.  I will leave it to professionals to analyze the requirements and future changes to make voting easier. 

Recap:Absentee ballots work but local election office process and the lack of voter roles don’t support widespread Mail in voting. 

https://nypost.com/2020/08/11/new-yorkers-flee-nyc-in-droves/?utm_source=url_sitebuttons&utm_medium=site%20buttons&utm_campaign=site%20buttons

Robotic Process Automation, RPA in 3 minutes, These Robots will not become self aware

Time Flies!
WOW, it’s already been a year since I started the and completed IBM training on BluePrism® Robotic Process Automation software as a special project for an account.  Later this month, I will be working with Python and Raspberry-pi for completely different robotic and IOT concepts  at Palm Beach State College.

Unlike in “The Terminator”, RPA Robots will never become “Self Aware”!!,  WHY? Because they are simply intended to do as the name states in reverse. Automate, Business Processes via Software Robots.

Refined once more, an RPA robot simply executes the repetitive keystrokes,  Mouse movements and clicks with logic that executes business a “well defined business process.

Many enterprises have employees executing business processes at a keyboard, opening an application or spreadsheet, evaluating that data and moving it to another application or pressing an approval button.  Spending 2, 4 or 8 hours a day using Copy/Paste, entering a few keystrokes and moving and clicking a mouse.

In the scenario above, the best case is 2 hours of a resource is being diverted to a lower productivity task and worst case is a full time employee is required.  Opportunity exists for potentially high and quick ROI.  What if, a software tool (Robot) could do the same thing ?  One time cost to write the robot (let’s pretend it doesn’t require update and maintenance).  It frees up an entire resource for other duties or frees up 2-4 hrs of an employee to do higher level more productive tasks.  Robots can be run at night, weekends several times a day, more quickly, with less human error and reduces costs of mistakes.

One just needs to do the math, what is the current labor cost of the resource-cost of developing and licensing the robot.  So that’s the Idea in a nutshell. I suggest reviewing the Everest Research Group RPA report  or the Gartner report as a ready reference for more detailed information about RPA and Vendors.

My teams focus was Enterprise Mobility Services.  So, how I did I get involved with RPA?  A multi-disciplined account team was proactively engaged with a client to address ongoing requirements. The account was looking more for early identification of issues and proactive action as opposed to saving labor. the client had seen some presentations and the question came up, could several their few to several hour time consuming tasks be automated? I was the only one on the greater immediate team with a Software Engineering background to provide assistance. 

Working with a few RPA tools was fun. It took me back to my programming roots.  I had to quickly learn a few RPA tool’s develop,  assess scenarios, create a few prototypes and make recommendations.  It came down to a comparison between WinAutomation®  and BluePrism to recommend appropriate solution for the accounts projects.  Actually a few of the tasks while easily done in RPA were quite simple and Windows OS related that they were done in Shell Script and the more complex tasks left for WinAutomation or BluePrisim.

The example above demonstrated that the appropriate choice can be radically different based on what the robot is expected to accomplish, the repetitive action applications they solve, infrastructure, the complexity,  skill required and cost.  The cases where scripting were used are examples. 

BluePrism provided a greater set of capabilities with deeper integration with applications and processes that benefit from optimization.  However, it required more effort, greater skill set and a greater cost per instance of a Robot.

WinAutomation was easier to work with, required less skill to develop but had limitations in standard capabilities and not as rich  integration with applications and processes that benefit from optimization.  However, much less expensive.

With either provider a robot was a robot, large/complex =$X; Small/Simple  same $X.  BluePrism robot cost was more expensive.  Additionally, unless changed, in the BluePrism cost model,  a Robot deployed to 10 locations = 10 robots and cost 10*$X.  With WinAutomation Develop once, Deploy many and pay for a single Robot.   For a more detailed look at the RPA landscape I suggest looking at the Everest Research Group RPA report  or the Gartner report from a sponsoring vendor

My experience and the Video
While creating ‘Robots’ using Robotic Process Automation tools is not typical software programming (my 1st love), it does use many commonly used algorithms, constructs and logic typical of traditional programming.  This can be seen in the 2nd part of the 3.5 minute video where robot is repeated in single step mode where the code in the tool takes the form of a flow chart including moving to a new chart, calling a subroutine……..

Depending on the skill of the learner, RPA’s “can” be learned very quickly.  I believe at one time BluePrism made the claim you don’t need trained programmers to implement robots.  However, unless you purchase development services, you do need BluePrism accredited developer which assumes 3 months training and 6 months to become a professional.   I would say a good programmer or process engineer would make an Excellent ‘Robot’ Designer.

 With RPA you can do amazing things and free up expensive resources doing, needed, labor intensive, brute force tasks to do other things.

Both of the RPA products BluePrism and WinAutomation are good and it was a fun challenge to create a few robots.  The brief 3.5 minute video below is a screen recording of a sample training scenario where a BluePrism Robot automates the tasks of a worker opening a daily spreadsheet of orders and enters them into an order processing system, even calling out errors.

Hopefully, this BTE brief was helpful,the short video brings RPA into a little better perspective and will be helpful to you.  Please leave comments below and  LinkedIn,  or contact me on  LinkedIn.

Bagel Solves Critical Software Issue

Yes, Bagels are Brain food and bring enlightenment!
You won’t find this in any of the SDLC documentation.

If your the smartest guy on the floor, this may not help.  But , if your an intelligent person on a team surrounded by the brain trust of your organization or you know there are others near by that can help this may work for you.

Buy Bagels and cream cheese and some of your toughest problems will be solved.  Good Donuts can work too.

When I was a less senior software engineer.  I was given many new development projects (device drivers, diagnostics) that were new to me but old news to the geniuses around me.   Some of them were inventors of the laptop or desktop architectures you use today.

Every once in a while I would get stuck.  I didn’t know how to program around something, get something to work or I thought the code was there but it just wasn’t doing what I expected.  I knew I was close, the answer was staring me in the face, or It wouldn’t work that way and needed a new approach.

I knew the resident geniuses knew the key to unlocking the door to my issue answer and could save me days but given their projects, schedules and demands.  So, what was the best approach to get help.

Now, I’m not shy and If I know the right person am very much in favor of knock on door and ask for a few minutes.  But if you know someone does but not exactly who and or it might be hard to find some of their time,  let them find you!

How? Brain Food, Bagels.    When your stuck, have a bit work obvious at your desk.  Bring “good” bagels early,  set them where anyone can see, make it obvious they were free for the taking and wait.  Slowly but surely word will spread and Brains will arrive.  The will asking, whats the occasion, work anniversary? Promotion? ….  to which you reply,  It’s Tuesday, or whatever the day of the week it is.    Tell them feel free to take one.  Now ever good sport helping themselves to a freebie will be polite and offer chit-chat.  How is your morning? what are you working on….etc…

Simply tell the truth. going OK, working on such and such and trying to figure out a problem. or your stuck on a piece of code..  DON’T ask for help!  let it come to you.  be fairly specific in the description.   By the time the brain has finished fixing his bagel, the  brain will say, Let me have a look.   Usually before long the issue was solved and I was back on my way developing or testing the next unit of the program.

Clearly you have to pick your battles and need to do this sparingly.  If your office or cube looks more like a bagel shop than a work place your in trouble.
and If your truly new, people will understand.  Find a mentor or someone senior and schedule regular session to go over how your doing and where your need help.  Your learning,  its expected and will be respected.

And If you come across someone with Bagels, feel free to take one, Ask what they are working on, offer some assistance and maybe take them under your wing, be a mentor, check in and see how they are doing!

I used bagels and donuts.  In your office it might be a healthy choice…
Please leave comments below or contact me on  LinkedIn.

Look for my Extra Tip!!!  Hershey’s kisses for pain relief.
Brain Photo from Yale Scientific article  Your Brain on Food

Four Zones of Mobile Success (or failure): Part 4, Device User

 

This is the final installment in my four-part series discussing four zones of Mobile Success.  The first post discussed the enterprise zone: the enterprise back end, including mail servers, messaging solution and directory services. The second zone is the enterprise security zone consisting of firewalls, VPN’s and reverse proxy. The third zone I covered was the Internet. All of these function as points of success or failure in mobility.

The final zone is the device user zone, which is probably the zone most prone to failures. The zone consists of the user, device, applications and the local wireless carrier. For many reasons, new devices, replacement devices, provisioning, re-provisioning with the carrier messaging system and enterprise often result in a issue and call to the help-desk. The vast majority of interactions occur in this zone, and the more interactions there are, the more opportunity for errors.

From part three of the series, the Internet Zone; data travels the course of the wireless carrier’s wire, fiber, switches and routers until it reaches a wireless tower associated with a device. Then the tower transmits the data to the device. Because a mobile device is an “always on” device, the associated tower can change and must be maintained throughout the day as you travel to different locations.

In short, the meeting notice I mentioned in part 3 leaves the enterprise and finds the first wired network on-ramp to  a devices carrier, traverses their network to the tower near the device and then wirelessly sends the meeting notice to the device.

How does all this magic happen?  When the phone or tablet is turned on, it looks for a tower to associate with.  Once that happens the carrier notes that user Juanita Doe’s device can communicate through tower XYZ, regardless of where a message traffic originates.

As for points of failure, any of the following could apply at the device level:

  • Failing device hardware
  • Battery that’s low or spent
  • Device out of coverage, weak or no signal
  • First time use or replacement, not provisioned or properly provisioned with the carrier
  • First time use or replacement, not provisioned or properly provisioned with the enterprise
  • Encryption or decryption failures, expired keys
  • Incorrect password
  • Corrupt application service books, policies or certificates on the device
  • Incompatible OS level

Below we have the complete picture of the basic mobile enterprise network again. As demonstrated by the discussion in this series, so much technology has to go right for the basics of wireless and mobile applications to work. It takes even more for an enterprise wireless strategy to be effective and successful. For a strategy to be effective it must include mobile management processes, such as procedures and tools including predictive analytics to detect problems, alert the enterprise administrators and help isolate any issues or failures in the enterprise mobile ecosystem.

As mentioned in Part 1 of the series, As an Architect in Mobility for over 17 years now, I have found this diagram and discussion to be extremely valuable tools.

I believe the 1st incarnation of this was in 2003 when an IBM colleague (Scott Symes) and I had the blackeye’s as we experienced the effects of issues in different zones.  It was BlackBerry at the time, hence we gave it the nickname of “BlackBerry Blackeye” chart.  But, as other technologies have come to market, the essentials are still true today regardless of device manufacturer, operating system or application.  The diagram has been updated and expanded reflect some of these changes as Android, IOS Devices, Messaging, Monitoring and MDM/EMM (Airwatch, IBM/Fiberlink, BlackBerry/Good, MobileIron, Tangoe, Zenprise, etc.) have come along. Others have disappeared or been consolidated.  However, the fundamental issues and the concepts remain constant.  There are many points of success and failure in a Mobile enterprise infrastructure.

A well designed, planned and implemented strategies, infrastructures and applications will prevent  lost sales due to abandoned carts, increase customer loyalty and repeat use.  Will increase employee productivity and prevent  lost investment in the failure of application adoption

In the simplest of terms, success equals good high quality uninterrupted service.  Applications that consider the diverse screen real estate and user interaction. Unresponsiveness due to back-end servers, load balancing or firewall issues, internet network congestion will be seen as the fault of and blamed on the application.

Mobile success, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder or in this case the user.  Therefore, the success of a mobile enterprise infrastructure and whether or not you get a “black-eye” depends on how well these points of failure are understood and managed.

It’s my hope this series, revised from original publication at IBM Mobile Insights, has been and will be helpful to you.  Please leave comments below or contact me on  LinkedIn.

Four Zones of Mobile Success (or failure): Part 3, Internet

Internet

This series of articles describe the four zones of success or failure (points of failure)  in an end-to-end mobile enterprise infrastructure.  In the first part  I discussed the enterprise zone—the enterprise back-end, including mail servers, messaging solution and directory services. In the second part I covered the enterprise security zone, consisting of firewalls, virtual private networks (VPNs) and reverse proxy.

The third zone in the journey is the zone where the enterprise has absolutely no control, the Internet zone! The Internet zone stretches out, encircling the globe, a mysterious cloud with an army of routers, switches, wires, fiber and wireless carriers that provide the infrastructure and plumbing to carry your data packets from end to end. It’s the big hop between your enterprise and devices.

Within the Internet zone are two key add-ons: push notification services and network operations centers.

Push notification services: Non-BlackBerry solutions require integration and connectivity to the Apple and Google push services for Apple iOS and Google Android device support.

Network operations center (NOC): Some of the mobile enterprise solutions make use of an NOC concept. The two most notable are BlackBerry and Good Technology. In these solutions all traffic related to their solution passes through the NOC. This has the advantage that the enterprise’s security zone only needs firewall rules to the trusted NOC. The NOC integrates all communications from devices on the various carrier networks.

Like any other link, a broken link affects the chain. However, the NOCs are highly redundant, fault-tolerant configurations that are rarely down. They are so reliable that when an incident occurs the disruption often makes the evening news. As far as point of failure, it is far more likely that your local network connection to the NOC will fail rather than the NOC itself.

The second to last leg of the Internet zone is the wireless carriers (that is if the device is not WiFi connected). Interestingly enough 99 percent of the path of a meeting notice going from server to wireless device is not over wireless. The notice will follow the wired or fiber connections of the Internet and wireless carrier until the meeting notice hits the cell tower nearest the intended device. Wireless carriers have a vast array of switches, routers and wired or fiber networks before anything goes wireless.

Once again, any of these elements can create a point of failure in the communication path. The user perception will be that the mobile device or application is at fault and failing again. As in the first two zones, some monitoring and mobile device management (MDM) or Enterprise Mobility solutions provide tools to help determine these issues.

2017 Update: Today various Mobile analytics tools are available to assist in the identification of a failing node in the network, point of failure.   Don’t let the term analytics put you off.  Often significant data and analysis can be done with just a few lines of code and the tool will do the heavy lifting.  Please refer to my article Demystifying Analytics and a short video example

The next and final zone in the series will be the user zone.

I hope this was helpful, Please leave comments below or contact me on  Linkedin and stay tuned to finish out the series republication.

What Do Sneakers and MDM’s have in Common? The One Thing You Need to Know about Mobile Device Management

It has never been about the device!

To be current, MDM’s, Mobile Device Management systems have evolved beyond Mail, Calendar and Contacts into Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) Suites by including Content, Access and Application  Management with Device Management at the cornerstone.

However, one simple fact remains,  it has never been about the device.  It has always been about the data.  What data can be accessed? by whom? How can it be done to ensure integrity and security.

This becomes absolutely obvious in events that occur every day: a device is accidentally dropped in the dishwater, is fumbles out of your fingers and breaks on the concrete, or is run over by a car.    At that point, do we really care about managing the “device”?   No, from an individual perspective we really only care about the inconvenience but mostly  that we may have lost contacts, pictures and other data that can’t be restored to a replacement device.

The Enterprise concern about a “broken” device is replacement and lost productivity.   A security issue does not exist.  An enterprises main concern is  about the device that’s lost, stolen or compromised so things like this can’t happen.

We all have moments where we temporarily misplace a device or it falls between the bed and night stand.  That’s why there are apps to  to have the device ring out, come find me.  But, at the point that we frantically discover our device is truly missing,  lost or stolen the action we take is is to immediately request that the device be remotely disabled, data wiped and service canceled.   The answer proves once again that it’s not the the device itself that’s important but the data it contains and can access.

From an MDM/EMM perspective, for all intents and purposes the device you carry is simply a black box.  An MDM/EMM is really a means to protect data or securely rendering content on the device by manipulating device features through security policies that control access to the data, should the device get into the wrong hands. Now that was a long sentence, with a lot of meaning, so let me break it down:

  • We’ve already established that what’s on the device that can’t be restored is more important than the physical device itself.
  • What is of real concern is what data can be accessed or transferred by the device, in the right or wrong hands.

Whats needed is :

  • An understanding of how to manage, secure and protect a device and it’s data.
  • To understand the business, it’s data, concepts and assets that need protection.
  • To adopt a business strategy determine the processes and data to extend to mobile employees.
  • A mobile strategy to utilize the most appropriate software, tools, methods and devices to securely implement the business strategy.
  • Understand the various employee roles and associated access needs to business processes, applications, data, and the protection needs for corporate and employee owned devices.

Discussing MDM is not really much different than when friends and family who know I work at IBM ask me, “What computer should I buy?” or “What’s the best smartphone to get?” My first question to them is, “What to you want to do with it?” For my wife and a couple of cousins, a mobile device is only used to make phone calls. No texting, no apps, nothing.  For them, why get a smartphone and data plan? Another cousin wants a device to support her medical research. In that case,  how about a reasonably powerful laptop with sufficient storage?

Again, It’s not about the device—the phone, smartphone, tablet or 2 in 1 computer.   It’s about you—what you need to do as an individual or business, what data and applications you will be working with, what and how much needs to be protected, who needs access, where and when. These things will be the foundation of a strategy, which will determine the applications and supporting software infrastructure needed, which will determine which devices best render that data to your employees and customers, which will lead you to the MDM solution that allows you to seamlessly provide protected data to those who need it, where they need it, when they need it.

The bottom line with MDM: it’s never been about the device. Just as Cosmo (Ben Kingsley) told Marty (Robert Redford) in the 1992 movie “Sneakers” , “It’s not about who’s got the most bullets [the tools]. It’s about who controls the information. What we see and hear, how we work, what we think … it’s all about the information!”

Its the same with MDM, the enterprise needs to control or manage “the information”, the data, it’s content and access.  I helped establish these services while at IBM using IBM and Vendor MDM/EMM tools.

It was “Cosmo’s” dream come true, “It’s about who controls the information”, and with MDM/EMM’s,  YOU manage,  protect and control the enterprises information.

To learn more, ‘Gartner’ typically a publishes an MDM (now EMM) report annually called the “Magic Quadrant” containing details about product and service providers.  A free copy of the current (2016 )report can be viewed at this link or from EMM Vendor websites.

I hope this was helpful, Please leave comments below or contact me on  Linkedin or any means appropriate for you.

Including comments about the movie ‘Sneakers’.  Full Disclosure,  I loved the movie, I own a copy,  Dan Aykroyd‘s character,  ‘Mother’ is too funny.                 My voice is my passport, Verify

Telecomm Expense Management, Riddle me this, When is TEM not TEM?

When it’s MDM or EMM.

Several mobile device management (MDM/EMM) products have a feature that is suggestive of Telecom Expense Management (TEM) but is still far from being a significant or complete  telecom expense saving solution. MDM/EMM product features offer an limited opportunity to reduce a few specific types of mobile expenses such as “roaming” charges and unused/under used devices  While these features focus on a subset of devices they do have value. However, these features  should not be confused with a true telecom expense management system that offers a broad range of significant saving opportunities across all devices.

I don’t intend to detract the value of the isolated and limited expense features of MDM/EMM solutions, but I want to put them in the proper context of a mobile telecom expense management perspective.  In this post, I will explain the savings features of an MDM/EMM, how they differ from a TEM and why an effective TEM generates larger savings.  …

How do MDM/EMM and TEM Differ?
To start with Expense is TEM’s middle name. MDM/EMM manages devices and TEM manages expenses.

How do MDM/EMM features help manage telecom spending?
The most popular MDM/EMM expense feature is “roaming notification” or alerts.

Roaming is when you are using your wireless device in an area not covered by your home carrier but that of a “local” carrier. In agreement with your home carrier, signal coverage is provided by a local carrier at a premium cost, allowing you to continue using your device as if nothing has happened. In the Past, you’d typically, get the next  month’s bill  with some surprisingly huge charges from the network providers on which you roamed. Very little can be done after the fact to get those charges reduced.

Fortunately, today US carriers as well as other countries and regions have agreements within local boundaries, and users won’t have such surprise additional fees and is less of a concern.

Unless they travel Internationally!  With International travel, all bets are off. You exit the plane, turn on your phone and it get picked up by a foreign carrier. Before you know it, you’ve agreed to pay astronomical roaming charges. It is not unusual for a typical $100 monthly bill to become a few thousand dollars. Regular travelers can simply pay modest extra amount for an international calling plan and get a reasonable monthly rate (but much higher than a standard rate).  Depending on the carrier, sometimes you can get an international rate just for the month potentially saving thousands.

MDM/EMM’s can detect that an individual is roaming off the home network and generates a user alert so the individual can choose to continue or not. The MDM/EMM solution may also send an an alert to administrators, which may be able to assist the user in getting an international plan before incurring extra expenses.  It’s limited, but can be significant preventing a few occasions may justify the feature.  It may be more effective to identify frequent international travelers and update their plans.

The other main claim of MDM/EMM’s is that they can identify most active users and least active users.  MDM/EMM solutions can create usage reports that management can act upon by changing heavy user plans or removing low-use users.  Some reports only reflect messaging use not voice.  Therefore, it is important to define the usage base.

These features are real and have real value but are not, “real” mobile telecom expense management (TEM) systems.

How is mobile Telecom Expense Management different?

Mobile Telecom Expense Management is by far a more robust end-to-end lifecycle concept. Ask yourself some of the following questions:

  • Do you know how much you’re spending? If not, dollar signs might as well be spewing from the tablets and mobile devices in your infrastructure.
  • Is your organization getting the best rate plans available for your size?
  • Are the carriers actually billing you at the proper rates? Applying discounts?
  • Do Joe and Mary, who have the same devices, have the same plans? Same features? Are they billed at the same rates?
  • How are you ensuring your employees get the right devices, features and plans?
  • How do you dispute issues or incorrect bills and ensure you get credit?

If you’re unsure about any of these, a true mobile telecom expense management assessment and service can help provide answers.
A TEM service typically quickly begins saving money and has a short breakeven point.

With a telecom expense management, you can help reduce telecom expenses by typically 10 to 20 percent and increase control over voice, data and wireless costs. Typical payback ranges from three to nine months.

How TEM works
TEM typically starts with an optimization and expense review of all invoices, statements and bills for the past three months. This exercise can determine how much you are overpaying for mobile services.  Mobile TEM is a mobile device lifecycle management service. A few of its key attributes are that the TEM service can:

  • Based on its industry benchmarking, negotiate rates, terms and conditions with your carriers on your behalf, resulting substantial savings
  • Process your monthly invoices, audit to verify accuracy and even process payment to the carrier, reducing your burden and costs
  • Manage disputes and ensure proper credit if an invoice is found to be in error
  • Facilitate usage by assisting in the development of user personas and profiles identifying classes of need and arranging for plans that fit the profiles; or on a larger scale helping purchase bulk minutes, data and text at lower rates and then allocating to individuals and apportioning those reduced costs down to organization or department levels
  • Provide a user portal for employees to select approved devices, rate plans, services, accessories and so on, and process them, including approvals, submitting and tracking orders with the carrier, ensuring shipment to the user and proper activation and provisioning

Comparing MDM/EMM and TEM solutions
The complete TEM  picture is above and you can’t get these services and associated savings from an MDM/EMM. MDM/EMM’s are necessary and have their own value proposition.

But an MDM/EMM alone can’t tell you if you were billed incorrectly, inform you that you’re eligible for a device upgrade, order a device and more.MDM/EMM and TEM complement each other and in many cases can be integrated

IBM had a long history of TEM Services prior to the Wireless age.  Keep in mind Mobile TEM only relates to the devices connecting to cell towers.  True TEM includes all the other connections (wired) supporting a business on the internet, including switches, routers and  gateways

Tangoe enhanced capabilities in 2015 when by purchasing IBM’s Emptoris Rivermine Telecom Expense Management,  A software solution which provided expense data is in a single database managed from a single system not one for fixed and one for Mobile. When TEM is integrated with an MDM/EMM solution, it can Leverage the MDM/EMM to also lock or wipe devices and to reset passwords.  GSGtelco has a strong reputation for pulling together TEM,  Device Life Cycle Management and Cloud Hosted MDM/EMM.  MOBI and other Solid vendors are available.

However independent TEM information is scarce these days,  Gartner has not written a Magic Quadrant for Telecom Expense Management since March 29, 2012  even access to the 2013,  report on critical capabilities for TEM has expired. While Gartner has published  a paper “Competitive Landscape: Independent Telecom Expense Management Providers, 2016“,  at $1,295, I have not found one of its providers sponsoring free access.

To learn to know more about TEM and how TEM services can reduce your costs and increase your bottom line?  I suggest reviewing:

 

 

 

Enterprise Mobile Analytics, Should I care?

Often when we hear the word “Analytics” it is associated with “IBM Watson”, “Jeopardy” and the advances in cancer research and healthcare.

This article discusses Mobile analytics.  What are mobile analytics? The quick answer: done right, mobile infrastructure analytics provides an end-to-end (view of mobile user experience such that trouble areas can be easily identified and proactive steps taken to correct them.
Should you care? Yes

Note: Web Analytics is similar but traditionally assumes desktop browser access as opposed to a device which has a smaller screen.  Web analytics doesn’t address issues where a user may have had to rotate the device to see more clearly or or how often had to use fingers to enlarge an image.

Should you care about mobile analytics for the enterprise?

  • Is your enterprise planning to implement mobile applications in the near future?
  • Does your business rely on the use of mobile applications by customers?
  • Does your help desk get frequent calls about mobile apps not working?
  • Are you losing business or consumer transactions because users are having difficulty and abandoning the application or cart? Would you even know?
    If you said yes to any of the above, then yes, you should care about mobile analytics!

What does it mean to you?
Not having good analytics tools could mean losing business, money and reputation in the market. Your customers or employees may be avoiding adoption of applications because of bad experiences using your app—experiences that could be corrected and prevented using mobile infrastructure analytics.

Let’s start at the beginning. I’ve been around (some say forever) in computing for over 33 years and mobility for 17.  I’m still a bit old school, and I don’t use apps as much as folks of more recent generations.  Because I don’t use them frequently, it’s much more disturbing. Some applications seem to randomly return errors, crash and need to be opened again or even require a device reset.  When this happens, I usually delete the app and attempt to get money back where applicable. I have always held that if it’s happening to me, it can and is happening to others too.

That said,  Millennial’s have grown up with “apps”, expect them to work and may be less tolerant and less loyal to brands.

When a user deletes an app, What does this mean for the enterprise?

  • An online merchant loses customers and sales as carts are abandoned.
  • If it’s a standalone app, the app doesn’t make the sales it should or if free doesn’t get the pass-through advertising or other revenue it should.
  • If it’s an enterprise app, it is not adopted by employees and they work around it or lose productivity.

Where’s the app failure coming from?
As I wrote in a previous post, there are in the mobile infrastructure: enterprise, security, Internet, and user. All four zones must be working properly for the successful daily use of mobile devices in the enterprise. However, they are not all under the control of the enterprise, and a failure of any one of the elements in a zone can cause problems. The app on the device and the app server are only two pieces.

I can’t count the times that I’ve been handed an iPhone or iPad by a family member saying that Facebook, Pinterest, email or a shopping app isn’t working. In most cases, clearing the error message and trying again gets everything working fine. The app no longer fails, data comes back from the server, and therefore the error was in between.  Such as, the local ISP or a load balancer at the enterprise and not app or site itself but,  giving the app, app provider or IT team the black eye.  Not to mention, my having to try to explain.

We have all heard the help desk cries:

  • The app hangs or takes forever to respond!
  • The app went away and I had to reopen it!
  • I keep getting an error message!

Mobile application administrators and help desks hear these statements day in and day out. At any point of failure, even those outside the control of mobile IT, the app gets the blame because the user’s perception is that the application or server isn’t working. Until recently, enterprises had no end-to-end view of how an app was performing or if something was causing it to fail to perform in the users’ eyes.

Where mobile infrastructure analytics can help
Mobile infrastructure analytics provides an end-to-end view of the infrastructure supporting your mobile application. This includes tracking things like

  • The overall user experience
  • How long users stay on a page, what they search for and add to the cart
  • Whether they have to rotate the screen or expand or shrink the view
  • Whether they buy or abandon the cart, where they abandon from, and whether they return to it
  • Whether smartphones abandon more than tablets

All of this data and much more can be collected and and presented grapically to help companies understand the mobile user experience and provide insights for improvement.

Mobile infrastructure analytics correlates the errors seen by the user to events and errors in the infrastructure allowing administrators to proactively respond, correct and prevent additional issues. Mobile analytics predictive capabilities can generate alerts that a problem is coming, and administrators can stake actions to prevent users from ever being effected.

This is what mobile analytics means and why you should care.

How to learn more and get started
Want to know more about mobile analytics and how tools can provide actionable insights into your mobile application infrastructure, performance and your customer or employee user experiences? I suggest a look at the following links for more information:

Hopefully you now have a better understanding of mobile analytics and why it’s important for the enterprise. If you have more questions about the value of analytics, leave a comment.

Analytics, Mobile Infrastructure Analytics Demystified

Analytics, Mobile Analytics, oh my!  High-level math, double oh my!  Add infrastructure, and you’re probably thinking, “Get me out of here… or bring in the science guy!”

In fact, there is no reason to shy away from the topic of analytics, and I will tell you why. First, believe it or not, you already understand analytics. How is that? Let’s take a look at some analogies that provide an easy way to relate the concept, starting with sports.

Four analytics analogies

  1. As a kid, did you ever have to choose sides for a game of soccer, football or dodgeball?  Well, you or the captain used analytics to pick players. The data points were assumptions—right or wrong—based on individuals’ gender, size, strength, speed and past game experience. In essence, you were performing analytics with real or simulated data and associated attributes to pick players.
  2. Or think about the draft in fantasy football. Why do you pick players? Because of their stats. You know the rules and how points are assigned from play each week. Midseason trades too—these are all based on analytics.
  3. How did you choose your last car among the various alternatives? Gas mileage? Reputation of the manufacturer? Repair history? Cost comparison? It’s all analytics!
  4. Have you ever picked up a copy of Consumer Reports to help pick out a washing machine, entertainment center, kids cereal or something else? Yup, that too is analytics.

In each of the cases above, decisions are made based on analytics. In some cases, you’re more familiar with the data; in others, you just used looked at the Harvey Balls.  (Yes, they have a name.)

In simple terms, mobile analytics is very much the same. Like choosing sides for a game, picking fantasy players, or guessing which teams will make the final four, you, your staff or trusted vendors decide what attributes of your business infrastructure relate to mobility and should be tracked and measured.

Then tools, such as IBM Tealeaf or AppDynamics, do the heavy lifting (all the math and calculations) so that you take the insights from your graphically represented customized dashboard of qualitative data instead of Harvey Balls) and transform them into actions that will improve customer experience, reduce customers abandoning the site and increase sales.

What do mobile analytics look like in real life?

Turning to a more practical example for discussion: say your company has had a website presence and maybe even a web storefront for sales. You’ve enabled it for mobile devices or even created a mobile app. Maybe you’ve also developed a mobile application for employees to conduct daily business.

The questions you need to be asking yourself are:

  • How are the employees doing?
  • Are they more productive?
  • Is the help desk getting calls?
  • Are sales increasing?
  • Is brand awareness increasing?
  • Are customers returning to the storefront, completing purchases or abandoning carts?
  • Where do they spend their time when browsing?
  • Where do they experience trouble or give up?
  • Are sales appropriately distributed across the population of device types, or are more transactions completed by tablet than phone?

This is where mobile analytics tools and services do the heavy lifting and provide you with actionable intelligence. Mobile analytics can let you know what’s working well and what is not, with specific insights to why.  In particular, for the enterprise, AppDynamics, SAS, IBM Tealeaf and Cognos , are Analytics technologies can provide dashboard graphics that can be drilled into to determine measures and quantify the data to answer your questions.

Did a customer abandon a cart because the network was slow, there was an error or they were just looking? Maybe they bailed because they couldn’t really see what they wanted on the smartphone screen. With good analytics tools and service, you can see what your customers did, when they did it and sometimes even why.

In addition to helping with user experience, IBM Infrastructure Analytics Services can correlate user events with network and back-end server logs to determine if there was slow response time or even an error that caused the user to abandon the cart or application. From the measurements, the analytics software can proactively generate alerts for infrastructure issues so they can be corrected before the customer or employee experiences a problem.

You’re already familiar with analytics!

Tealeaf CX Screen capture

There is no mystery to it. Implementing analytics mobile or otherwise for your enterprise is simply a matter of knowing the important stages of application use, what’s important important to measure, and letting the tools or a service do the heavy lifting.

 

Without additional Hardware, Software and training,  an analytics service can provide you with a graphical view of that critical data and help you correlate user behaviors in your mobile application in real time. With predictive analytics help achieve better understanding of usage patterns, abandonment, availability, performance and capacity allowing you to make needed adjustments to meet business goals.  Or a service can “host” the heavy lifting while your staff implements the capture and reporting for actionable decision making.

Want to learn more? I suggest a look at:

Hopefully, this blog post has made mobile analytics easier to relate to and given you some insight to mobile analytics and how tools can provide actionable insights into your mobile application infrastructure, performance and your customer or employee user experiences? I suggest a look at the following links for more information:

Please leave comments below or contact me for further discussion on LinkedIn.