I was able to schedule a call with AMT-Sybex's mobile strategy manager Malachy Martin this morning for an interview. Malachy is from Northern Ireland (his mobile application development team is located in Belfast), but he now lives and works in the UK. He has been in the enterprise mobility space for a decade now. He started his mobility career working on mobile solutions for utility companies. He is now head of mobile strategy, and as such he works with customers and key partners like ClickSoftware, SAP/Sybase and Syclo.
Before jumping into the interview I wanted to address a question that was posed to me last week by an individual at SAP. I was asked why many of my interviews included the same questions. I explained that if I ask the same question of dozens of enterprise mobility experts, then their aggregated answers will provide us with a comprehensive view and understanding of many key issues in enterprise mobility.
Note: These are not Malachy's exact words, rather my notes from our interview.
Kevin: What mobile device(s) do you carry?
Malachy: A BlackBerry for work, Samsung smartphone for personal use and Windows Mobile 6.5 for testing industrial grade handheld computers, a tablet and a Dell laptop.
Kevin: Do you use mobile devices to purchase products and services?
Malachy: Yes, I use my laptop to purchase many things, but not my smartphones.
Kevin: What are some of your favorite mobile software applications?
Malachy: Many news and sports apps, Facebook and texting (he confessed that he is a big texter).
Kevin: How many computing devices do you have in your home?
Malachy: 12 computers if you count e-Readers (Kindle), iPods, iPhones, laptops, etc.
Kevin: How long have you been involved in enterprise mobility? Malachy: Ten years. I started as a technical project manager, worked on a product team and then started developing mobile solutions.
Kevin: What is different today than when you started with enterprise mobility? Malachy: I remember when there was Xcellnet, then it was aquired by iAnywhere, which was acquired by Sybase, which in turn was acquired by SAP. That certainly represents change.
Today, traditional work life and personal life are merging. Also, today people/consumers/employees are VERY experienced with mobile devices and this impacts their expectations about enterprise mobility applications.
There are much more affordable mobile devices with better screens today, and the enterprise mobility market is moving from smartphones to smartpads.
Kevin: What industries do you see adopting mobility today? Malachy: Who isn't is the question today. We (AMT-Sybex) focus on the essential industries which include, utilities, nuclear, oil and as, energy, smart grids, health, emergency services and public safety. All of these industries are mobilizing.
Kevin: What business processes do you see companies mobilizing first? Malachy: Infrastructure areas such as enterprise asset management (EAM), maintenance, service optimization, geo-fencing, location-based services, mobile sales and CRM, employee self service. In all of these areas, we recommend focusing first on the needs of the mobile user, and then on how the enterprise can support these needs.
Kevin: What were some of the most surprising enterprise mobility trends that you saw in 2010? Malachy: I was not surprised by Apple's success, but I was surprised by Android's. Where is Microsoft? I was surprised that Microsoft was no longer a player. Starting last year it seems everything must run on a smartphone.
Kevin: What are some of the biggest challenges that you see in enterprise mobility today? Malachy: We all have a 9:00 am to 5:00 pm day job, but what about our 5:00 pm to 9:00 pm personal life? For example, one of the most popular mobile apps in the UK last year was called, Tube Exits. It is a simple but brilliant mobile application that lists all London Underground stations and lines, and tells you which carriage you need to sit in to be able to get off right at the exit. This application offers value to people wanting to get home quickly after work. Consumer driven mobile application like Tube Exits will influence user expectations for enterprise mobility applications. Also, companies must figure out how to accommodate personal liable devices.
Kevin: How are enterprise mobility implementations different from other types of IT projects? Malachy: Mobile implementations are certainly different. You need to know what "fits" for the particular job. Some mobile workers may need a toughbook (ruggedized laptop) in the truck, but when they climb over the fence to the jobsite they may want a smartphone. What does each individual need? You need to know what the limitations are in the working environment. Are there device and network limitations that must be understood? Some mobile users work in tunnels and other remote locations and may need to work on their mobile application offline or disconnected from the internet. Are you using add-on bluetooth accessories? If so, these accessories may quickly reduce your battery life. MDM (mobile device management), and all that goes with it, needs to be factored into mobility projects as well.
Kevin: What do companies fail to plan for when implementing mobility? Malachy: The user. It is critical to realize that mobility requires change. It changes the business process. A mobile device may now tell the worker what to do. Devices tell you where to drive. Devices tell you how to do your job. There is less personal interaction when there is automation and mobilization. The mobile application must also benefit the end user, not just the enterprise. There is a social impact and cultural change that must be considered.
Kevin: What advice do you have for companies just starting down an enterprise mobility path? Malachy: Think about the end user. How will mobility impact them. You can negatively impact the users feelings and attitude if done wrong. Think about how all the systems will be impacted by mobility.
Kevin: How important is mobile device management and security? Malachy: Vital. Today it has never been more important. Smartphones are not the same as desktops. You need to consider full encryption and full security. All of these devices today are accessing confidential corporate data.
Kevin: What should people know about AMT-Sybex? Malachy: AMT-Sybex is a consultancy and systems technology provider focused on enabling The Essential Industries. We have over 300 employees with offices in Dublin, Belfast and in the UK. We are an end-to-end consultancy and integrator. We provide complete ERP, EAM and NetWeaver integrations. We develop our own mobile solutions and integrate the mobile solutions of our mobility partners. Our mobility solution is called Field Data Collection System.
Kevin: What makes your company diffferent from your competitors? Malachy: Most of our team have come from the industries we support. We have deep industry knowledge and experience. We all have scars that have taught us. We continually monitor technology developments and provide our clients with advice based upon this information.
Kevin: Where do you see mobility going in 2011? Malachy: I see SAP/Sybase actually developing something that helps make the picture clearer. I have big hopes for Sapphire in May. iPads will dominate the tablet market. Social media will become even more mobile. HTML5 will continue to evolve and become closer to an OS. Cloud computing will continue to grow in popularity, and context aware mobile applications will start to be delivered.
I want to thank Malachy for sharing his insights and experiences with all of us.
Click here to read more in the Mobile Expert Interview Series.