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.

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.

Short Mobile Analytics, “Day in the Life” Demo

Short, “Simple” Mobile Analytics Demo

Analytics continues to improve by leaps and bounds. Processing power, data storage capacity, types and amounts of data collected, methods of analysis and presentation to take meaningful action. I narrated and completed a video on my own time in 2015 (in part to learn Camtasia Studio and Tealeaf). It was placed and still hosted on YouTube by IBM. Some some images were provided by colleagues. Other images are actual IBM® Tealeaf®screen grabs of data. “Color of Summer” is from  a current IBM Watson/Tealeaf CX Analytics demo on You Tube analyzing why web shopping carts are abandoned.

This was a very simplified but practical example of using real time mobile analytics and hopefully, analytics a little 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.

Want to learn more?
I suggest a look at the following links for more information:

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

 

 

The Four Zones of Mobile Success (or Failure): Part 2, security zone

 The Security Zone

In my initial article, I introduced the idea of four zones of a mobile enterprise network: Enterprise, Security, Internet, and User zones.  All four areas contribute to the success or failure of a mobile enterprise, and all must be working properly in order to ensure success. In the first post we discussed the enterprise zone, consisting of the enterprise back end—mail, messaging solution (example) and directory services as points of success or failure in mobility. In this second post of the series, we’ll talk about security.

The enterprise security zone is the next zone of focus; it is still within the control of the enterprise but not of the typical mobility service team. The security zone is typically set up and managed by the enterprise networking team.

The enterprise security zone’s intent is that networking, server and application access behind the firewall is “Private”.  However, since is Internet connected for employees and customers “Privacy” is “Virtual” and the zones purpose is create a secure “Gateway” to ensure corporate network access to is only done by those allowed.  The Security Zone is typically made up of routers, switches, proxy’s, anti-spam or virus and other networking devices to create an enterprise network security firewall directly in front of the back-end enterprise infrastructure or network.   The zone often includes a second firewall directly attached and facing the Internet. If you have dual firewalls in the zone it is called a demilitarized zone (DMZ).   BlueCoat Products is a major supplier of such devices and appliances.

Depending on the mobility solution, there may be other servers sandwiched between the two firewalls. This diagram simply shows a Virtual Private Network (VPN) and a reverse proxy server. The VPN allows secure administration, browsing and mobile application access. The reverse proxy can broker requests so that outside entities only talk to the proxy and never actually have access to an infrastructure server.

Often existing servers are used for mobility solutions by updating the settings, ports and rules based on the inputs of the mobility team specific to the solution selected.

The enterprise security zone is a key, complex area. Typically the internal firewall is set up only to allow traffic from the IP addresses of the proxy and VPN to access the specific IP of back-end servers such as messaging, and only over specific ports. Messaging and back-end servers communicate over specific port numbers that vary from application to application. Similarly, the front-end firewall is the initial filter restricting all traffic to the enterprise, including to mobile devices and applications.

This can be difficult and confusing to get correct initially. Many applications use and require ports not documented in materials or not easily identified. It is typically a “set and forget” procedure to establish but still requires diligence as new network, server infrastructure or other changes requiring updates to the firewall may affect existing ports and rules.

If there is a mistake in updating ports and rules it can create a point of failure in the communication path. The user perception will be that the mobile device or application is at fault. The firewalls and security zone are normally managed by Enterprise Networking team. Separated from Mobility the only the Networking team has access to security dashboards, tools, controls and ability to update setting.  Obscured from this data  mobility teams to isolate messaging issues due to an issue within the security zone. Some monitoring and mobile device management (MDM) solutions provide tools to help determine a firewall issue.

I’m not really a firewall and security guy, My experience was more at the Physical layer network in my early career with IBM.  Such as, which pins on the connectors perform which functions and how data packets flow across the network.   But Feel free to share your thoughts or questions.  A good deal of network and security information can be found at Infrastructure Security Services .

In the first two zones discussed the Enterprise has complete control on what and how much to implement to ensure Success or Failure, load balancers, fail-over or cluster servers.  In Security, firewalls, proxy’s, devices and network appliances.

In my next next post of the “four zones” series, I’ll begin to  discuss the last two zones where the enterprise has “no direct control”, starting with the Internet zone.

The four zones of mobile success (or failure): Part 1, enterprise zone

“updated slightly from original publication in IBM Mobile Insights, December 2013, content still holds true”

The IT Managers nightmare !

It’s 2am, the phone by your bed wakes you. It’s only 11pm in “Next to Nowhere by the Trees”, Oregon.  The CEO is just getting back to his hotel from the big meeting and dinner with a client. He needs to stay another day, wants to rearrange his schedule and see if the inventory update came in and His device hasn’t updated in 3 hours; Where O Where can the problem be?

This series will discuss four “zones” of success or failure in an end-to-end mobile enterprise infrastructure.  The diagram below represents the typical end-to-end mobile enterprise network containing four zones: enterprise, security, Internet, and user zones.

2017 Note: for the purpose of illustration I’m using “mail” as the end to end application.  In reality, this directly relates to other B2B, B2Eor B2C business critical applications, website, storefront, claim processing, etc.  

All of these 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 an inability to perform daily enterprise activities on mobile devices.

We have all heard the help desk cries:

  • I can’t activate my BlackBerry! iPhone or new S7…
  • I stopped getting mail to my iPad!
  • My calendar won’t sync to my device!

Mobile infrastructure administrators and help desks hear these statements day in and day out. But they never hear:

  • My new iPhone 7 has been running fine for weeks!
  • I never have any trouble getting to my applications on the iPad!
  • I can work just as well with my tablet on the road as I can in the office!

—even if they are outside the control of mobile IT—mobile IT gets the blame because the user perceives that the servers or applications are not working. The chart above is sometimes called the mobile IT “black eye chart” because no matter the failure mobile IT gets the black eye for the trouble.

Only one thing has to go wrong in the enterprise network in order to get messages of frustration from users, like those in my first list.  But a lot has to go right in order to hear the other positive message “silence”.

The enterprise zone

For my first blog post in this series I will discuss the enterprise zone. The enterprise zone consists of the enterprise infrastructure servers—those boxes in the server farm or room.

The back-end infrastructure that exists in the enterprise zone (but not in the diagram) is the server farm itself: the racks, servers, storage, switches, cables, network, cooling, power and so on that the mobility application infrastructure runs on. Each is a possible point of failure that can potentially be immobilizing.

For the purposes of a mobility discussion it is assumed that the enterprise back-end application to be accessed by mobile devices is the typical mail, calendar and contacts. Therefore the enterprise zone for mobility would typically be the following servers: mail, mobile messaging, mobile messaging control, active directory or Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) services for authentication and an SQL database to contain all the data about the mobile users, and in some cases a monitoring server.

The scenario also assumes that the enterprise zone is connected to the Internet for data flow to from the mail servers to devices through the Internet. This brings up the very first element of success or failure of the mobile infrastructure: the mail server.

The mail server, typically Lotus Domino or MS Exchange, is the heart of this and most scenarios. It is where all device-destined data originates. Again we make an assumption that everything is working in the infrastructure to ensure that data can flow into an individual’s mailbox on the server. When the mail server is down, is unavailable, has lost connectivity or is having other functional issues, the mobility infrastructure cannot begin to deliver data to devices. If it’s down long enough, it will begin to result in calls for help desk tickets indicating that the user is having trouble getting mail on a BlackBerry, iPhone, iPad, Windows phone or Android device. Quite simply, any issue with the mail server will be perceived by the user as a problem with the mobile technology.

The mobile messaging server (Lotus Traveler, BlackBerry, Good, MobileIron, Airwatch and so on) polls the mail server to determine if anything needs to be sent to the user device and forwards items created on the device to the mail server.

Mobile control server is a component of the mobile messaging solution. It manages the messaging servers and handles device enrollment. Device policy management in some cases provides the virtual private network (VPN) for the messaging service.

The Active Directory (AD) or LDAP server is an essential element of an infrastructure that is essentially the enterprise address book of all users. It is an essential part of enterprise security, managing the enterprise ID’s passwords, permissions and so forth. Any issues related to directory services will result in request failures in the mobility critical path and again simply be perceived by the user as a problem with the mobile technology.

Issues with the mail, messaging, control or AD/LDAP servers will result in issues for users. However, there are numerous times when these servers are fully functional and another component of the end-to-end infrastructure causes the user’s activity to fail.

The reality is, the average user will not even know a control or AD component exists and will blame mobility (more often than mail) as the issue, since they don’t understand which link in the chain is currently broken. Mobility apps by Traveler, BlackBerry, Good Technology, MobileIron or AirWatch are the most blamed and maligned element of the mobile infrastructure. This is simply because it’s the element the user is attempting to use and therefore must be the problem.

It is critical to an enterprise to have tools in place for monitoring, such as mobile device management (MDM) to identify, isolate and assist in resolving issues in the above components that are within the enterprise control.

More Importantly for 2017 and beyond as some monitoring tools have gone by the wayside the role of active and passive Analytics will be drivers in determining points of failure and success.

The next area discussed is the enterprise security zone.  share your thoughts below and stay tuned for more in my “Four zones of mobile success (or failure)” series.