Saturday, November 2, 2013

Enterprise Mobility: How Mobile is Transforming the Workplace

Live-Blog of Enterprise Mobility Panel.  *Please note that anything not "in quotes" are paraphrases of what was said and are not direct quotes of the panelists.*

Moderator: Michael Skok, North Bridge Venture Partners (

Jay Wessland, Vice President of Technology, Boston Celtics (Apperian customer)
Cimarron Buser, Global Business Development, Apperian
Tom Lounibos, CEO for SOASTA
Tim Gu, product Manager, Integrations, Okta

Tom: Enterprises don't have talent pool to build and support mobile applications.  In crisis mode.  Start with sales reps
Uneven distribution in how enterprise shops are going into mobile. Majority is being used as sales tools (catalogs, finding stores)

Michael:  this is a consumer-led evolution.  Moving forward, it will be "BYO Cloud," "BYO Device," and different security measures will be needed for corporate and private data.

Tim: this breaks traditional security model (company devices, company resources).  Now people are bringing their own devices to work.  How do we manage security?

Cimarron: Apperian is unique in that it allows companies to deploy an internal app store. People expect apps to be great, but traditionally enterprise apps have "sucked."  People come into workplace expecting great apps in a great app ecosystem.  Many of these apps have a social complement.  Becomes incumbent on the company to have a system to deploy apps and ensure adoption since ROI depends on it.

Michael: Jay, you're an Apperian customer. Comment on how you reacted to the "your apps suck" mentality.

Jay: moved videos and information onto general, publicly-accessible cloud offerings, but didn't want to go quite so public with enterprise apps.  Went to Apperian and tied apps to enterprise.  Separated information into security-required and not.  This separated user bases and data within company.  Corporate employees needed security and were willing to invest time in learning apps.  Players have less need for this.

Tom: quoted Jack Dorsey: "In the future enterprise apps have to be as easy to use as Twitter."  I laughed at first but every day since that comment I realized he's right.  Everything now is about seamless application to prevent fragmentation.  All of our customers, enterprise or consumer, are trying to make apps as simple to use as possible.  How are they doing this? Looking at design. Simplifying and paying attention to "where the button is."

Cimarron: Consumerization of IT:  Expectation that apps used in enterprise are as simple to use as consumer apps.  Example of app used in insurance: reporting accidents via app works for end users, but can be mirrored for insurance adjusters.

There are so many things where mobile is the only way: "people won't want some stuff displayed openly on computers."  True for Celtics too: laptops no longer fit space, so people moving work to phones and ipads.

Mobile is now about content creation as much as it is about consumption.

Moving on to questions from Pigeonhole:

Corporate communications: Jay addressed early use of Blackberry Messenger as quick connections.

Tim Gu: brought up own question to audience about move to video communication for work.  Would people be willing to use this if the are home and disheveled?

Q: How are stadiums using technology to avoid mobile service disruptions caused by extremely high levels of demand concentrated in small areas?

Jay: "Not very well."  Mobile is such a challenge:  you have to rely on connectivity.  Industry is still in infancy.  Infrastructure problems, etc.  This opens up a huge opportunity for us.

Q: Will non-cloud-based enterprise software disappear?

Tom: What drove the cloud? Cloud computing came from the requirement of mobile devices.  We will continue to run into problems but we will also innovate solutions.

Michael: Mobile access to searches has surpassed PCs.  This will continue to grow. All of this relies on mobile connectivity.

Jay: Dropbox offers a simple cloud solution to this: it is so easy to favorite documents to make them available offline.  Other apps can do this too.

Enterprise selling.  What is the best strategy? Consumer to enterprise (like Box)? or other way around?

Cimarron: Still start pretty high up.  Another example (other than Box) of going consumer to enterprise is Evernote.  Everyone who uses it becomes addicted, so enterprises end up having to offer it.

Technique of "if you want to see this you need to join" works really well to entice consumer use of apps.

Michael: Pay attention to how long initial adoption takes.  "Overnight success" is actually "five-year overnight success."

Cimarron: Example is Blackberry. Tipping point occurred on hardware side when people started to move to iPhone, but it took a long time.  Now look where we are.

Michael: Questioned assumption of question that enterprise selling is painful.  It doesn't have to be.

Jay: barrier to me is ease of use on the admin side. Ease/speed of implementation is key to sell in enterprise apps.  Price is low on list (within reasonable constraints).

What do you think about the future of enterprise social media? (Yammer, etc)

Tom: Two barriers: adoption, and marketing organization not understanding. This could be a way for companies to understand their employees' experiences.  Similar to how airlines are responding to customer complaints on Twitter.

Michael: other side of this using this to engage with developers.  Enable communities to self-serve.

Tim: when i think about internal use of social media, I think of this as a replacement for email.  Facilitates communication of knowledge in a faster and easier way.  When you think about designing a product, anytime it involves communication between people, think about how this can help their interaction.

Jay: As we see more employees not congregating in an office space, and workforce is more geographically dispersed, these tools will become more and more useful in the workplace.  Twitter is about business and consumer, not within the business itself.

Question:  Have you seen interesting use cases of enterprise employee wellness apps?

Cimarron: this has been slow to develop.  Seen as an HR app and is not top priority right now. I've seen the gamification of employee programs and this has started to show up on the wellness side too.

Jay: We're growing this part of the business for players.  Have been using gamification to mark player's progress using mobile tools.  Adding an employee on the basketball staff who is a medical technology person.

Tom:  There's actually an HR company in boston that is now getting into the gaming business.  Giving games to employees during breaks because they noticed that employees were using other people's games and this keeps them on their portal during their off-time.

Question: Dropbox vs. Box? Consumer vs. Enterprise? Who will win?

Cimarron: Google is jumping in too and so is Microsoft.  What makes Box so successful is the ecosystem they have built, offering up their platform for people to build on.

In an enterprise setting, how can companies like Evernote compete with Microsoft, which rolls out products to millions of users instantly?

Cimarron: by solving problems that remain in the software.  Evernote has been doing work to address privacy.  People want to share some but not all of their data within their org (work vs. private data).

Tom: Battle needs to be mitigated between consumer desire for open source and enterprise desire for control.
Jay: Will need to compromise on both ends.

Cimarron: Is it about controlling behavior or protecting data?  Lines are becoming blurred between corporate and private life.  In the past, IT controls were about controlling behavior, not about utilizing ad optimizing technology.

Michael:  I am looking forward to the next generation controlling IT.

Tom:  I'm really excited about the disruption that is taking place now.  Mobility is not about "mobile" anymore.  It is so much more than that.  This is a GREAT time to start a company. If there was ever a time, it is now.

Jay:  I think we're ending on a good note.  It is difficult and challenging to find the balance between open and private, but this will be the big challenge and opportunity moving forward.

Cimarron:  We tend to be very American and Euro-centric when we think about these devices, but a huge market opportunity exists outside of these regions. Huge opportunities exist in this area.  We don't know what technologies will win.  This is going to be an exciting couple of decades.

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