Thursday, December 16, 2010

Mobile Expert Interview Series: ClickSoftware's Founder Dr. Moshe BenBassat

I had the opportunity to speak to Dr. Moshe BenBassat, Founder of ClickSoftware yesterday about the release of their lastest version of ClickMobile called ClickMobile Professional.  He was calling from Israel where they have been having some very stormy winter weather over the past week. 

Let me first give you some background on Dr. BenBassat.  Following a long and successful academic career with positions at USC, Tel Aviv University and UCLA, he established himself as one of the world's leaders in the area of optimization and decision support software for a wide variety of applications. His research work was supported by DARPA (the U.S.’s Defense Advanced Research Project Agency); NIH (National Institute of Health); Ballistic Missile Defense Agency (via TRW); ARI (U.S. Army Research Institute); NASA; and NSF (National Science Foundation).  Now that is credibility!

*Important Note:  These are not Dr. BenBassat's exact words, rather a compilation of my notes taken during our discussion.

Kevin:  Tell me about the new version of ClickMobile Professional that you announced today.
Dr. BenBassat:   What makes this version unique is that it uses HTML5 to become device agnostic.  It has what I call a universal mobile client that can run on and support all the major mobile operating systems, plus device specific features, offline/online and data syncing capabilities.

ClickMobile Professional

When we tested the iPad and Blackberry Torch they worked out of the box. Gil Bouhnick (a fellow blogger) was very excited to show me this when I walked into the office a few weeks back.  Using the ClickMobile Professional strategy makes the time to market very fast for mobile applications and reduces the development costs to support many different mobile operating systems and devices.  In the past new mobile applications with different operating systems needed to be prioritized and added to a list of projects.  However, today they can be developed very fast and multiple operating systems and devices can be developed and supported simultaneously.  Acceleration of mobile development is key.

Kevin:  A couple of months ago ClickSoftware announced a partnership with Sybase, an SAP company.  Tell me about that.
Dr. BenBassat:   ClickSoftware is supporting SUP. SUP provides beautifully executed integration with SAP and many other business solutions and databases. You can extract business objects into a mobile application very efficiently. Once ClickSoftware receives the business object, ClickMobile provides the development capabilities to add mobile client business logic, mobile business processes and mobile application design.  We work very well together.  ClickSoftware focuses on the mobile business applications and frameworks, and Sybase on the mobile infrastructure frameworks.  Together our solutions are very powerful.

We work very efficiently with SUP because we designed our solutions early on with a mobile business framework that is separated from the mobile infrastructure framework.  This allowed us to quickly support Sybase's SUP and our partnership with SAP.

Kevin:  What mobile devices are your customers using today?
Dr. BenBassat:  Some customers use specialized and ruggedized laptops and handheld computers, but today there is more demand for smartphones.  This is why it is so important for us to use HTML5 so we can efficiently support more mobile devices and operating systems.

Kevin:  What mobile device(s) do you carry today?
Dr. BenBassat:  A BlackBerry (for email and calendars) and an iPad.  The iPad has become indispensable to me.  I constantly write notes and conduct internet research on it.  The best feature about my iPad is the "instant on" capability.

Kevin:  What is your favorite mobile application?
Dr. BenBassat:  I use mobile apps to find travel information, buy tickets, find restaurants, etc.  There may also be a game or two on there somewhere.

Kevin:  How did you get involved with enterprise mobility?
Dr. BenBassat:  I have been working on optimizing workforce scheduling for over 20 years. When I started there were no mobile solutions. Field services technicians used paper. They would get their assignments and disappear for the rest of the day.  You never heard from them.  When their work was done they often went home. You saw them the next day. Mobile devices allowed you to talk during the day and revise schedules and plans, then came mobile applications and mobile data solutions. ClickSoftware came up with the idea of real-time service optimization. Intra-day schedule changes became feasible. This is not so important for small companies, but when you have 1,000 or 2,000 service technicians in the field this is critical.  If you can optimize 2,000 schedules during the day, then this can represent a massive ROI.

Now we have gone far beyond scheduling.  We have expanded into mobile sales and mobile marketing capabilities.  Mobile timesheets is another new area we are supporting.  We are working on a mobile timesheet solution for a large utility now.

Nowadays the tablets are very nice.  They provide a larger screen that allows for complete dashboards and nice map views for managers.  This provides us with another area for expanded innovation.

I want to thank Dr. BenBassat for taking time out of his evening to share with us.

To watch a video interview that I conducted with Dr. BenBassat earlier this year click here.

Kevin Benedict, SAP Mentor, SAP Top Contributor, Mobile and M2M Industry Analyst
Phone +1 208-991-4410
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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.