How EMM Is Evolving Right into a Smarter Cellular Enterprise Hub

The definition of Enterprise Mobility Administration (EMM) retains altering as quick as our notion of what cellular is and what it will probably do for companies. At Cellular World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona in February, the query of what EMM means for privateness and safety proved to have advanced solutions for enterprise customers and the organizations using them. Nevertheless it’s just one piece of EMM’s bigger evolution round actually cellular enterprise.

Past the essential software, knowledge, and gadget layers, EMM suppliers resembling MobileIron, SOTI, and VMware’s AirWatch are creating a cloth upon which enterprises can handle increasingly more facets of their enterprise. Whether or not it is with broader cross-platform compatibility, smarter e mail and notifications, higher mobile-optimized enterprise apps, or improved discoverability, EMM is remodeling right into a conduit for cellular productiveness.

Blake Brannon, Vice President of Product Advertising at AirWatch on the time of MWC, stated the house is prepared for that subsequent stage past mobility, content material administration, and app administration. He stated AirWatch is specializing in app transformation—taking duties nonetheless historically completed on desktop (or web-based) apps and determining sensible methods to mobile-optimize them—after which bettering cellular productiveness by designing higher native actions to finish duties.

“It isn’t nearly taking 100 apps we’ve got for desktop and porting them to cellular,” stated Brannon. “It is about breaking down the knowledge somebody is searching for to get. Take into consideration a typical e mail workflow. You might have a query, some data, and also you want three extra factors of information from some back-end system the corporate is utilizing to make a greater choice. You want the flexibility to finish a job. It is driving a subsequent stage of effectivity and productiveness by taking one thing that will require me to enter a wholly separate app and begin from the 1st step, and switch that productiveness right into a swipe gesture.”

The AirWatch philosophy feeds into VMware’s push for the “digital workspace” via its Workspace ONE platform, and every EMM supplier is focusing on that centralized cellular enterprise expertise in several methods. Carl Rodrigues, President and CEO of SOTI, stated the issue of mobility is approach greater than EMM, and defined how SOTI is extending its platform to all the things from analytics to the Web of Issues (IoT).

“That you must handle your units, your software program, knowledge, paperwork, shopping expertise, and safety; that is EMM,” stated Rodrigues. “However we’re additionally wanting very closely at enterprise intelligence (BI), which is totally different for every vertical. We’re offering an open, customizable platform so you’ll be able to suck out knowledge from our system and pipe it in actual time to the suitable enterprise analytics engine.”

Utilizing Notifications for “Knowledge Snacking”

E-mail remains to be the entry level for enterprise productiveness on cellular. Much like how Google’s Inbox acts as a hub of bundled notifications, the email-based notification heart is the place EMMs are natively integrating the bigger app infrastructure. Brannon stated AirWatch views this centralized hub as a solution to facilitate “knowledge snacking” for higher productiveness.

“Knowledge snacking is little items of information that, after I’ve bought two minutes whereas I am pumping gasoline and I resolve to examine e mail, I see this and understand it requires me to do one thing,” stated Brannon. “How do I benefit from that? If I am leaping into one other app, if I would like to return to the desktop, I am not going to finish that job. I’ll put it on the to-do record and wait till I get again to the desktop. I wish to take that two minutes of time and be capable of end a job.”

Knowledge snacks may be industry-specific and tied to location as properly. Brannon gave the instance of a health care provider making rounds in a hospital, checking his or her cellphone, and seeing a notification saying, “You are close to Room 412, this is the back-end knowledge with this affected person’s identify and chart data” with out opening a selected app. This kind of inbox can also be the place notifications floor from collaboration, job, and venture administration apps (resembling Slack or Asana) that are making up the different experiences through which users interact with enterprise data.

Expanding the Enterprise App Ecosystem

EMM providers are also building their own apps to give businesses more granular control over different aspects of the user experience (UX). These app bundles all revolve around the secure email apps transforming into notification hubs, but have branched out to include everything from browser and document management to built-in help desk apps.

“We see the shelf life of enterprise apps as very, very short,” said Sean Ginevan, Senior Director of Strategy at MobileIron at the time of MWC. “In the consumer world, you start off liking something and you use it for a year or maybe 18 months until a better version comes out, and you switch. Having apps be interchangeable in that way is really important. IT is now being driven by employee preference, not the other way around.”

One pronounced app trend is secure browsers. Apps such as AirWatch Browser, MobileIron’s Web@Work, and SOTI Surf are designed to keep enterprise users within a browsing experience that feels like Chrome or Safari, with deeper security and privacy settings baked in. SOTI’s Rodrigues explained that SOTI Surf was actually built by using Google’s Chromium open-source web browser code. The resulting browsing experience feels like Chrome, but with access to a corporate intranet without virtual private network (VPN) login plus added features such as a back-end web crawler to categorize different types of sites.

The email and browser experiences are also tied into secure document management apps such as SOTI Hub, the VMware AirWatch Content Locker, and MobileIron Docs@Work. Rodrigues described SOTI Hub as a corporate content management solution broken down with different departments within an enterprise. The company has scaled it up over time to handle millions of files and map complex folder directories so users can pull up file search results from their devices in seconds.

Ultimately, it’s about keeping mobile users on task without forcing them to leave the EMM experience to find something they need. It’s become so streamlined that EMMs now have their own built-in help desk apps as well, including MobileIron Help@Work and SOTI’s Pocket Controller.

“We’re building something like ServiceNow into the product,” said SOTI’s Rodrigues. “Every one of our big customers now has a help desk built into the product to create tickets, access a knowledge base, and get into our analytics and diagnostics data. All of that is built into the product: video chat, voice chat, everything. You don’t need to go out and source something else.”

MobileIron Help@Work for Android

Different Ways to Tackle Discoverability

To make the UX feel more natural when dealing with enterprise apps, EMM solutions also need to solve for discoverability. It’s about devising an intuitive way to surface IT-approved apps relevant to a particular department or use case, and each EMM provider with whom PCMag spoke approaches it a bit differently.

AirWatch uses a wizard during setup to recommend specific app choices for users based on their industry and use case. MobileIron, on the other hand, has an app store of all the IT-approved enterprise apps available for users’ devices. SOTI has a marketplace as well, but it includes recommendations and social elements such as blogging and communications.

MobileIron has an enterprise app store listing the recommended apps approved by the IT department, and SOTI’s marketplace includes elements of both sides. Inside MobiControl version 13 (the latest version of its EMM product at the time of MWC in March, now in version 14.0.1 as of last month), there’s a curated list of integrated third-party apps and services, tagged with different industry-specific categories, along with a community element that includes blogging and review functionality in each app’s marketplace entry. Both echo the experience of consumer app stores.

Brannon described the wizard in AirWatch as a recommendation engine calibrated for different verticals. Rather than the IT department vetting every app or inundating the user with a choice of all the available apps, he said AirWatch surfaces a few “best-of-breed” options with associated app configurations for a user’s device.

“You can log into the system and say ‘I’m in healthcare and I’m deploying a mobile clinician device,’ and it says ‘Use Epic or CERN, and here are the three best recommended apps for that,'” said Brannon. “Three clicks and you can [avoid] weeks of research and [take] a couple hours to configure everything with compliance and reporting, and make it a whole lot faster and simpler.”

Breaking Down Platform and Infrastructure Barriers

Broadening EMM to encompass entire enterprise organizations is tricky when you want it housed within one simple experience. It means simplifying the management of fleets of Android, iOS, and Windows devices while integrating all of the back-end services and existing infrastructure in which a business is already invested. It’s one of the main drivers behind the AppConfig Community that was launched by AirWatch, MobileIron, and other EMMs.

That cross-platform access is also why Rodrigues said SOTI, which isn’t participating in the open-source initiative, integrates with devices at the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) level. Across the top of the SOTI dashboard are icons for Windows Phone, desktops and tablets; Android and iOS devices; and what the company calls Android Plus—a custom device management suite built directly from Android source code (in partnership with close to 100 Android device manufacturers).

MWC Demo of SOTI's EMM Dashboard

“We work with local device manufacturers to enable deeper management beyond even what Google or the OEMs provide,” said SOTI’s Rodrigues. “Android Plus is technology we developed over eight years of research to get in at the platform level. We also created a new set of open [application programming interfaces or API] and RESTful web services to allow developers and IT to automate in use cases like inventory management, data migration, and device life cycle management.”

All the EMM providers are working to make it simpler on IT to integrate EMM at all different levels of a company’s infrastructure. SOTI works largely at the API and OEM level while MobileIron is approaching the enterprise stack from what Ginevan described as a “systems level,” tackling different layers of the stack from a vendor-neutral perspective.

“There are a lot of viewpoints out there that, if you want to do mobile, great! Rip out your entire existing infrastructure and use our cloud infrastructure,” said MobileIron’s Ginevan. “We believe mobile actually needs to be extended to the investments you’ve made. If you’ve done a massive deployment of SiteMinder from CA [Technologies], don’t rip that out. Reuse the things you’re already invested in and we’ll extend mobile services into that infrastructure. That idea of choice really matters.”

Ginevan said that, from a platform perspective, MobileIron sees Apple, Google, and Microsoft fighting for enterprise mindshare. Microsoft and Google are trying to fight for cloud computing, productivity, and identity. Apple and Microsoft are fighting over the UX. Apple and Google are fighting on the device side to see, as Ginevan put it, “who can be sticky and own the computing fleet.”

The CIOs and IT departments deploying EMM solutions need to ask what the right mix is of the three main players that fit their enterprise, whether it’s using iOS devices with Office 365 running on Amazon Web Services (AWS) and hooked into Salesforce.com, or whatever combination makes sense for their business.

“We don’t care what identity provider you want to use; we don’t care if you choose iOS or Android; if you use native apps with Office we can go in and secure that too,” said MobileIron’s Ginevan. “We want to be the neutral third party that allows enterprises to make those decisions with eyes wide open, and choose what’s right for them and for the investments they’ve already made.”

That simplicity is key to where technology companies say EMM is going. It’s about making it easy on enterprise IT departments to manage mobile infrastructure at every level, while on the front end, enabling users to be more productive on the device that never leaves their pocket. EMMs say they need to solve for each business and industry’s unique compliance issues and policies while simultaneously making the UX simple.

“The Siris and Cortanas and built-in mail clients are going to be targeting the personal digital assistant for the next three years,” said AirWatch’s Brannon. “Nobody is going to do this for the enterprise, integrate with their back-end SAP or Oracle or Epic systems and all these tools enterprises use. Those are farther off than what Apple or Microsoft is going to build into the OS, and it’s what EMMs are squarely focused on right now. Enterprises are a different use case with different tools but it’s still the same user.”

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