Monday, October 04, 2010

Mobile Expert Interview Series: WorkLight's COO Kurt Daniel

I interviewed WorkLight's COO, Kurt Daniel this week.  This was an interesting interview, as WorkLight is following a different strategy than most enterprise mobility vendors.  They have developed a MEAP (mobile enterprise application platform) and a mobile SDK (software development kit), not for their own use, but rather for systems integrators and end customers to use to develop their own enterprise mobility solutions.  They want to be a technology company, not a mobile application company.

Kevin:  How long have you been involved in the mobility industry?
Kurt:  I started in mobility in 1997.  I was negotiating mobile phone contracts, managing Roaming charges and enterprises' phone bills.  In 1999 I joined Sprint.
Kevin:  What mobile device do you carry?
Kurt:  Two iPhones - one for work and one for personal use.
Kevin:  Huh?
Kurt:  Wonderful wife, newborn baby...workaholic.  The work iPhone gets shut off evenings and weekends.
Kevin:  I get the picture.
Kevin:  What are your favorite mobile applications?
Kurt:  Weather Channel, Facebook, Chase Banking, Fidelity, Realtor.com, Bloomberg, Linkedin and many of our own demo solutions.
Kevin: What are your areas of responsibilities at WorkLight?
Kurt:  I look after our worldwide business channels, partnerships, sales and marketing.
Kevin:  Tell me about your solutions.
Kurt:  We have the WorkLight Studio, WorkLight Server and WorkLight console.  ISVs and OEM partners use these solutions to build their own packaged mobility applications.
Kevin:  How do you avoid competing with your partners in the mobility market?
Kurt:  We don't sell applications.  We are not experts on ERPS or other backend systems.  We focus on developing the best mobile technology possible, not services or mobile applications.
Kevin:  How do you fund your start-up business in the early years without generating revenue from services and mobile applications?
Kurt: We raised over $17 million.  That affords us the opportunity to invest in the technology without losing focus by delivering services and enduser solutions.
Kevin:  How do you keep your users loyal to your technology?
Kurt:  We provide them with a platform and SDK that supports the latest modern devices.  We provide them with great productivity tools that enable the same code base to be used across multiple devices and mobile operating systems.  We offer trial versions for 60 days.
Kevin:  Where are you seeing the biggest interest?
Kurt:  We see a big demand in financial services, technology companies, media and entertainment.
Kevin:  What business processes are the highest priority for mobilization?
Kurt:  For customer facing applications, access to customer accounts, almost an e-commerce portal on a mobile device.  In banking, view checking accounts, bill payment, etc.  For internal users, CRM/Salesforce Automation, expenses and HR applications.
Kevin:  What are some of the most surprising trends you have seen this year?
Kurt:  The incredible speed that companies are developing and launching new mobile applications.  The pace of mobile application development and the rate at which new mobile operating systems are being launched.
Kevin:  Where do you see mobility going in the next 18-24 months?
Kurt: Enterprises are going to need to support a larger number of mobile devices and mobile operating systems.  They will need to support iPads, tablets of all kinds, Android and many more mobile apps.  Internally, companies will be launching large numbers of their own mobile applications that were developed in-house.
Kevin:  What are some of the biggest challenges you see in mobility today?
Kurt:  Providing a rich and unique user experience for all of the different devices and OSs.  Companies don't want to launch an ugly mobile application with their brand on it.  Addressing all the different needs of employees, partners and customers.
Kevin:  What is missing from MEAPs today?
Kurt:  Support for the latest mobile devices and latest operating systems.  Most MEAP vendors limit their support to a few devices and a few OS versions.  Most can't provide exceptional user experiences.  Most try to reuse code across platforms that do not look good or work well.
Kevin:  How important is mobile device management these days?
Kurt:  Critical.  The more kinds of mobile devices, mobile operating systems, different applications and versions of mobile applications, the more important it is to effectively manage them all.
Kevin: Who do you compete with?
Kurt:  In-house development teams, Sybase and Antenna.
Kevin:  In conclusion, where does your company fit in the enterprise mobility ecosystem?
Kurt:  WorkLight is a 100 percent technology focused company.  We develop a horizontal MEAP.

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Kurt, thank you for sharing and introducing WorkLight!

WorkLight is unique.  While SAP mobility partners like Clicksoftware are focused on developing the best possible mobile applications for the services sector (and using the Sybase Unwired Platform as their MEAP), WorkLight focuses not on mobile applications, but being the best possible MEAP vendor.

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Kevin Benedict, SAP Mentor, SAP Top Contributor, Mobile and M2M Industry Analyst
Phone +1 208-991-4410
Follow me on Twitter @krbenedict
Join SAP Enterprise Mobility on Linkedin:
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Full Disclosure: I am an independent mobility consultant, mobility analyst, writer and Web 2.0 marketing professional. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.