Category Archives: Corporate Communications Marketing

Facebook AppLinks: The Next Enterprise Mobile Security Sieve?

Since Facebook went public, its appetite to cull and then leverage user data for advertisement, or any revenue generating purposes, has grown more voracious each quarter. Mobile usage though has always been problematic for the house that Zuckerberg built. Facebook’s unique ability to raise the ire of dominant mobile OS platforms like iOS and Android has caused for frustrating experiences on smartphones and tablets, and we all remember the absolute debacle of Facebook Home last year.

However, at yesterday’s F8 Developer’s Conference, Facebook threw down the gauntlet for data dominance with AppLinks. This deep linking platform for data swapping between apps and across operating systems promises to deliver a nirvana of purchasing simplicity that has been rather arduous for app developers until now.

AppLinks Mobile Fiefdoms Overthrown

Mobile content is a business plain and simple. While end users need it for productivity, make no mistake that the three major operating systems will do everything in their power to make sharing data across their respective platforms as difficult as possible. By taking the OS agnostic route, Facebook is positioned to become the trusted source for finding mobile information in a very similar fashion to Google’s dominance over Web data.

The Consumer to Enterprise Conundrum

AppLinks promises a new nirvana of purchasing power for the consumer. Imagine you are reading a movie review on Rotten Tomatoes, with AppLinks in play you will be able to seamlessly jump to Fandango to purchase tickets, or for older films, simply jump to the streaming service of choice. It’s an effortless flow of data, which is not impossible today, but it’s also not easy. Of course this will deliver a plethora of new pop-up advertising, but at this point we have all succumbed to the fact that any connected activity will be used to sell us.

For enterprises though, this seamless information sharing waves an enormous red flag of danger. Unsecured corporate apps or data on mobile devices could leave an open door for AppLinks to grab sensitive corporate data and disseminate it…to…well anyone. Advertisers to savvy Blackhats skilled at setting up legitimate fronts for their nefarious activities could become privy to data that should only be seen by company eyes.

Readying Mobile for an AppLinks World

Despite the dangers, improving the user experience on mobile devices should never be thwarted. Rather, it is incumbent upon IT departments to layer in the right protection, especially when dealing with a large stable of BYOD users.

IBM WorkLight can take on half the battle. With this rich suite of app development tools, Applink connectivity can be taken off the table at the code level during development. For legacy apps, or companies without the coffers to cough-up the cash for the WorkLight, there’s always the protection offered by Mobile Application Management. In this scenario, IT has the ability to blacklist any apps on users’ devices that might be part of the AppLinks networks. If this approach is too draconian as Applinks gains prominence and you have a wide swath of BYOD users, another option is Application Security inside a mobile container. In this scenario, all corporate data (including apps) remain separate from the user’s personal life.

No matter what tactic you take as an enterprise, the only wrong course of action is inaction. How do you plan to prepare for AppLinks? Let us know in the comments.

Philly Phorum ’14 Panel: Mobility as an Engagement Enabler

philly Phorum '14 keynoteOn April 10, digital strategists gathered at the World Café Live in historic Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to explore the next wave of customer engagement using emerging digital technologies.

Fiberlink, an IBM company, was honored to host the first panel, “Mobility as an Engagement Enabler.” During this hour-long discussion, digital strategists from four diverse industry sectors shared their current mobile strategies and plans for future prosperity with mobile personalization driven by big data.

Moderator Joseph N. DiStefano, Business Reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer, kicked off the panel by discussing his years watching mobility evolve from a second to first-screen experience. Joe then introduced

  • Scott Snyder Ph.D. – President and Chief Strategy Officer, Mobiquity
  • Michael Kinzly – Director of Business Solutions, WaWa
  • Joe Portale – Chief Technologist, Mobility Solutions, Lockheed Martin
  • Roy Rosin – Chief Innovation Officer, Penn Medicine

If You Build It, They Won’t Necessarily Come (or stay long)

The panel started with a serious and sobering fact: 70% of apps are deleted after sixty days. The chief culprits of this massive “app”bandonment are lack of clear long-term benefit to the consumer and failure to embrace emerging technologies. One new software update to a mobile OS can turn today’s darling into tomorrow’s frustrating and glitchy mess.

Snyder of Mobiquity delivered another revelation—the building of an actual app is only 20-30% of the work. Meaning, most organizations are still only at the beginning of their mobility journey. The next leg of this adventure will involve true personalization of apps powered by disparate systems feeding in a multitude of data sources.

The Convergence of BIG Data on Mobile

So, just how are these digital pioneers tethering BIG data and mobile?

WaWa: This all-in-one convenience store for everything from gas to grilled chicken salads has aggregated mountains of data from its customer purchases over the years, but only in the aggregate sense. Since the company prides itself on the consumer coming first, they have respected buyer privacy by never tracking purchases at the individual level. In the age of personalization though, there comes a time when consumers must share some information about themselves for a finely tailored shopping experience. To that end, WaWa is currently developing an app that will let customers choose whether the want to share their favorite items back with the organization.

Lockheed Martin: A company known on first blush for aeronautics, Lockheed actually serves a multitude of markets with mobility on their minds. Portale shared a scenario of battlefield logistics, where data and devices can become the Patton of the new millennium providing real-time field positions of troops and enemy combatants.

Penn MedicineThe focus of apps and mobility in medicine is being forged on two fronts. On one side, healthcare providers like Penn are using apps as community builders amongst patients to share their thoughts on treatment practices, connect with other patients, and offer a direct conduit to caregivers. Moving into the bleeding edge and integrating big data, technologies from companies like Proteus Data Health are enabling smart pills that give off signals to smarter devices so dosages and frequency are all meticulously monitored.

Protecting Privacy and Securing Endpoints

The conversation concluded with some words of caution regarding privacy and protecting data leaks.

Privacy has been an online concern since the first cookie was placed during a browsing session. Unfortunately, though the volumes of data being collected have increased over the years, privacy practices have remained fairly static. According to Snyder, privacy policies will need to be more fluid in our mobile future. A trust relationship will have to be built over time with users willing to relinquish more information as providers show true value to end users for the use of this precious information.

The security of mobile data is another crucial concern. For years the conversation around protecting mobility has been relegated to IT control of devices. As wearable and even consumable data collection points become the norm, we will need to think beyond device protection and even app safeguarding. The answer is a complete enterprise mobility management strategy that considers device end points, apps and data as one ecosystem that can all be monitored, managed and secured.

Marketing for Morons: Why I Dislike Your Likes on FaceBook

Facebook likes suckOK Facebookers, here’s your first lesson on why you can take your thumbs up likes and stick them where the sun don’t shine.

Likes suck. They are the equivalent of getting a handshake at the end of a date. Sure, you get to touch some skin, but let’s face it, it isn’t the skin you want to be touching.

Like kissing your sister or taking your mom to prom, likes are a hollow platitude that do nothing for your writer/marketing friends.

Shares are where marketers and any writers get any kind of reach for their work. And if you share correctly, you might just make your marketing or writing friend a superstar. 

No One Reads Likes

Social Media has exponentially increased the amount of content on the Web and the amount of information a person needs to distill each day. How often do you read in full the stuff YOU actually like on Facebook? Be honest? Maybe 3 out of 10 articles or posts. I know that’s my average.

Now, how often fro you read your friends and families likes? Never? That’s what I thought. FaceBook likes are the equivalent of mastubatory marketing. You can say you did it. You can say it happened often, but ultimately you should be ashamed for this go-absolutely-nowhere metric.

Likes Go Nowhere

Let me expand on that last sentence. Scientists and countless camwhores have proven that pictures and prominence garner clicks. Because they hold such a subdue spot on your FaceBook page, your friends never see them and  thus never share them.

“I’m Stupid and Have No Idea How to Share”

It’s OK, you’re like 2 or 3 other people in the world. Here’s your steps:

  1. Read something awesome
  2. Hit share
  3. ADD A MESSAGE: Was that clear? Shares that come with a personal message like “check this out” reach far more people
  4. Ensure the pic comes through: Pics matter, you must have pics for clicks. If the original article didn’t have one, shame on the writer. They are not worth sharing. Like them and move on.
  5. #’s Matter: Adding hashtags of the original keywords in the article is important for search. Vital actually if you post on Google +. If unsure on hashtags to add, simply boost the keywords at the bottom of the article or post. Or use relevant keywords from the title or URL of the piece.

Thank you from every writer and marketer in the world.

Mobility Management 101: Talking Tech to Teachers & Staff

As schools and universities across the globe trade their textbooks for tablets and slide rules for smartphones, the IT staff of these institutions must rise to the challenge of protecting and managing these new endpoints of burgeoning knowledge.

To aid in this vital endeavor, Fiberlink, an IBM company, hosted a 1-hour Webinar to help translate common mobility management terms into staff and teacher speak . According to webinar hosts Frank Gentile and Tyler Hoy, education mobility specialists with Fiberlink, the toughest challenge facing IT in education is evangelizing the virtues of mobile device management, mobile app management and mobile content management to budget approvers and teachers within the school district.

Unlike other industries, educational organizations often rely on bootstrap resources to manage smartphones and tablets. There are even scenarios where there are no IT resources within a district, leaving teachers with the burden of managing a technology landscape that is still misunderstood even within the most erudite IT circles.

To find out just how many schools are currently contemplating mobility, the Webinar opened with a simple poll to determine the audience’s timeframe for mobile enablement. 40% of attendees were already in a pilot program for implementing mobile devices. Another 40% had plans to initiate a pilot program before the close of this school year, while the final 20% were ready to launch a program before the end of the current calendar year.

Mobile Policies Prevent “Running in the Halls”

School is as much about learning societal rules as it is about facts and formulas. With the proliferation of mobile communication and productivity applications, students would be wise to learn the mobile rules of conduct they will be expected to follow when they enter the workforce. Policies within a mobility management platform are those first lines of defense, just as a hall monitor stops kids from pushing and shoving their way to class.

According to the second Webinar poll, over 50% of attendees were not enforcing basic policy protection (like passcodes) or remediation for lost or stolen devices (like blocking or wiping a device).  To take the severity of the situation another step, policies also quickly enable access to WiFi, apps and school content. Some participants said they were relying on Apple Configurator to meet some of these needs, but the need to physically tether devices to a management console leaves little to no room for scalability. Also, this approach only addresses one OS, Apple. In a world where Android dominates the consumer market and schools look to cut costs by relying on Bring Your Own Device Programs, the Configurator model breaks down rapidly.

With mobility management solutions like MaaS360, all devices are enrolled into the system and configured over the air. This means with the push of one button, IT (or a teacher) can easily push a notification to students via SMS or email. Once a student hits “accept”(or whatever custom End-user Licence Agreement, or EULA, the school wishes to enforce), the device is enrolled and policies are enforced.

Now, not only are devices connected to network resources, but also the administrator now has a clear view of the school’s digital footprint. Device types, installed apps, OS types and versions are all easily accessible from the front-page watchlist. If a student tries to jailbreak or root the device, policies spring into action to place the mobile rapscallion in digital detention until they are back in compliance. Digital detention can also be used when passcode entries reach their limit or for devices not on the latest and greatest operating system version (or to keep devices on older OS versions until all the bugs are worked out in the latest and greatest).

Learning: There’s an App for That!

school-lockersIn actuality there are thousands of apps that can harness the power of young minds and further foster the teacher student relationship in the digital age. However, IT has struggled with the best way to distribute the apps they want on phones and control time wasters like Flappy Bird or Candy Crush.

Enter Mobile App Management. With this tool in place IT can blacklist (ban) or whitelist (allow) both public and custom developed apps. Another popular control model is Kiosk mode, while often used in retail environments for point of sale or inventory lookup, this mode can be customized to turn school owned devices into running just the apps set by IT.

Mobile Container: The School’s Cleanest Locker

For enterprising schools that want to reap the cost savings of Bring Your Own Device, a mobile container would be the wisest choice for true security.

The container acts as a partition keeping school email, documents, apps and even web browsing in a separate passcode protected space. Even school-owned devices can benefit from these controls especially from the perspectives of web access and content distribution. A safe internet playground is not only the norm these days for students at home it also allows schools to meet Child Internet Protection Act (CIPA) requirements with robust filters based on categories or specific URL blocking.

Also of security note: within the containerized document sharing environment schools can abandon free cloud collaboration tools like Dropbox and Google Docs for a private cloud alternative. This low-cost, but infinitely more secure, alternative facilitates permission controls, sharing and even editing of the most popular file types being used today.

For the final poll of the Webinar, Fiberlink asked attendees what part of mobility management was most pressing for their district. App management was the clear winner taking 50% of the votes, while over-the-air configuration, digital detention, content control and secure browser shared the rest of the votes.

Educating (and Monitoring) the Educators

While much of the webinar and following Q&A focused on the needs of students, Frank and Tyler were quick to mention the ability to bring teachers and staff into the mobility management fold. Since MaaS360 policies can be customized into groups, the rules for adults on campus can be more flexible than the rules placed on students while ensuring their devices that are carrying sensitive student records can be located, blocked or even wiped in an adverse event.

Savvy school budget and IT leaders are rapidly learning that mobile is a first, not second screen experience, requiring the same controls and safety measures as more archaic endpoints like laptops and desktops.  Mobile device management, mobile app management and mobile content management are questions of when, not if.

Android Acceptance Accelerates in Enterprise BYOD [STATS]

IT departments have had a love/hate affair with Android since the first time the Google’s Green Guy raised his antennae: they loved the devices for themselves, while loathing the idea of end-users having access to such and open and flexible mobile OS.

In the early days of mobility, this fear of Android was a good survival instinct for these warriors of the firewall frontline. No forced email encryption…an App store rife with nefarious blackhats trying to capture data…and more fragmentation than a jigsaw puzzle when it comes to device type and OS version were all strong signs for IT to beware.

Android-enterprise-KingToday, management tools for mobility have assuaged those initial techie trepidations to make Android smartphones and tablets a viable entrée for enterprise palpability that can sit right beside Apple’s iOS. Recently, Fiberlink, an IBM company, scoured the millions of devices currently being managed by their Enterprise Mobility Management solution, MaaS360, to see just how Android is enabling enterprise mobile productivity.

Smartphones Smolder Tablets

When looking at all Android usage across MaaS360’s platform, smartphones trump tablets 84% to a paltry 16%. This stat isn’t really rife with surprise since email is the original killer app and since leaving behind the dark days of 2.0 the OS has become infinitely more secure.

However, IT still needs to be wary. Even though the Android OS lives in a 4.0 world, many users have yet to leave behind their elder operating systems for fear of change (and updating a slew of apps and other logins). This requires IT to use some form of Mobile Device Management to get these OS laggards up to current standards using policy controls for security and mobility management sanity.

 Samsung: Android’s Enterprise Savior

Device diversity has always been a hallmark of the Android OS. It’s this wide stratum between high-end and more affordable manufacturers that has made Android the clear consumer choice across the globe.

Currently the Android device leaders in the enterprise consist of:

Top 5 Android Manufacturers Managed by MaaS360 MDM

The top 5 make up 90% of all Android devices in the enterprise, and include:

  • Samsung: 56%
  • Motorola: 22%
  • HTC: 8%
  • LG: 2%
  • Asus: 2%
  • Other: 10% (Amazon, Huawei, Sony, CASIO, Pegatron)

While a short list, it’s broad enough that IT seriously needs to take a minute when considering BYOD programs allowing Android devices. Despite sharing the same “engine” each of these devices are very different under the hood. To make an impact in the market, all of these devices share their own unique features and custom baked apps that IT must decide either to allow or block until work is over. From the useful Samsung SAFE feature to less than useful bloatware beleaguering other devices, all features must be part of an enterprise mobility planning conversation.

The diversification of Android is only going to continue if the rumor’s flying out of Mobile World Congress 2014 hold any credence. With the Nokia X Window’s skinned device Android device representing the low end of the market and Samsung’s possibly waterproof, iris scanning S5 feature bonanza at the high end, the Android management challenge for IT will only increase in 2014. Fortunately, Mobile Device management solutions have also evolved in line with devices, experiencing their own evolution from simple device watchdog programs to fully enabled Enterprise Mobility Management protecting devices, apps and content.

Tactile Touchscreens at CES 14 Bludgeon BlackBerry’s Last Bastion of Hope

Say what you will about BlackBerry, but there was always one saving grace for their devices – a tactile keyboard. This one simple feature of user experience kept many in the enterprise tapping away gleefully on these “bricks with clicks” despite fallacies from apps to…well…everything else…when compared to iOS and Android devices.

Now, Tactus technology has taken all of the teeth out of BlackBerry’s bite with the invention of tactile screens for all of today’s smartphones and tablets.

tactus tactile touchscreenYou CAN Touch This

Here’s how it works: Tactus adds a small polymer layer to the Gorilla Glass on tablets and smartphones that when activated by the user adds fluid stretching the surface with micro-fluids above the device’s A to Zs. While keyboards will be the first and prevalent use for this technology, Tactus can also elevate the gaming experience by making joysticks slip free as well as A & B buttons for the more serious mobile gamers.

Oh the Places Tactile Screens Can Go

Tactus unveiled their uplifting mobile experience at the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in beta form. CES 2014 shows the technology ready for wide market adoption.

Let’s take a minute though to speculate what Tactus might be showcasing at CES 2015 and beyond, especially when it comes to transcending beyond the basics of business or simple consumer wants.

Healthcare: Fiberlink Communications, an IBM Company, saw a record number of hospitals and other healthcare organizations sign-up for their mobile device management platform MaaS360 in 2013. Doctors and nurses are foregoing hospital provided computers on wheels (COWs) and traditional laptops for the easier to use (and carry) smartphones and tablets. This was especially prevalent in nursing staff where Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) isn’t a luxury, but a necessity considering many are transitory between facilities.

Currently, many of these devices are simply being used to access medical records. However, as I recently learned at my dermatologist, the App market is exploding for medical devices. My mole mapping has transformed from being written down in sentences to being visually displayed on a cartoon of my body. One tap at a time the doctor was able to place my most suspect moles on a virtual figure of my frame. With Tactus technology the weight and density of each malicious spot could be displayed in startling 3-D accuracy.

Move forward a few more years and we could see raised buttons on screens become the console for performing robotic assisted surgeries that today require a Pac-Man size joystick. While the patients might find it disconcerting, doctors will appreciate the world of 2020 when they can do emergency surgeries remotely from their tablet.

Financial & Legal: How many email signatures have you seen apologizing for typos because a message was sent from a mobile device? For the financial and legal markets, there are no excuses for the famed fat fingering of information. In the beginning of the smartphone craze, email security was the main reason these industries shunned the hysteria for touch screens. Once email encryption became the norm though, there was still a leeriness to move away from BlackBerry because the touch keyboard ensured accuracy. When you are in an industry where the terminology isn’t standard in spell check, one must rely on themselves to write the right words. With Tactus technology, tort won’t be as easily changed to tortoise.

Retail: I’m stretching here a bit (pardon the pun), but I truly envision a tomorrow where the feel of these new tactile buttons will be able to be manipulated to finally bring bricks and clicks together in the virtual world. How many times have you loved an outfit online, only to have it arrive on your doorstep with a fabric that’s scratchier than Laura Ingalls Wilder wear. Wouldn’t it be a wonderful experience to actually feel the fabric before you add it to your cart?

Obviously we could extrapolate this technology to every industry if we just imagine: In education where phones could become a “Please Touch” museum on the go, or in manufacturing where again precision level joysticks could move human intervention on the assembly line to a lounge chair affair. Tactus is the advent technology we’ve wanted since the television entered our living rooms. For today the technology is a simple keyboard, with a little imagination though, Tactus has the potential to finally obliterate the virtual and physical divide.

Mobile Device Management Advertising – DONE REAL!!!!

Here’s a banner ad I conjured espousing the TRUTH about IT’s constant struggle to manage and secure smartphones and tablets in the enterprise.

If you have a Ralph, you definitely need some mobile device management (#MDM) to keep him (and the company) safe. 

#MDM Mobile Device Management