Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Mobile Expert Interview Series: Sybase’s James Naftel, Part 1

I had the privilege, last week, to interview Sybase’s Staff Product Manager for Afaria, James Naftel.  We are also working together on a mobile device management (MDM) webinar that will be announced later this week.

Note:  As usual, these are not James’ exact words, rather they are my notes from our interview.  The reason I use my notes is that I cannot type fast enough to keep up with most conversations, plus our conversations often digress or become more expansive than readers would like to read.  As a result, I note key phrases, opinions, advice, thoughts and write them up concisely.

Kevin: What are your current roles and responsibilities?
James: Staff Product Manager.  I drive product strategy and partnerships around Afaria.  I am also involved in working with all the different mobile device manufacturers.

Kevin: How long have you been working with Afaria?
James: Twelve years. The first five years were as a developer.

Kevin:  How many times has the company been sold or had a name change during those 12 years?
James: Let’s see, Xcellenet, Sterling Commerce, Afaria, then back to Xcellenet, then iAnywhere/Sybase and finally SAP.

Kevin:  Was Afaria always about MDM (mobile device management)?
James:  We first started out working on a retail product called Remote Ware which was designed to help stores download or upload sales numbers.  It evolved from there.

Kevin: Where is your office located?
James: Alpharetta, Georgia.

Kevin: What mobile device(s) do you carry?
James: An Android smartphone, an iPad, in the past a laptop,  but most days now the iPad is what I take home with me. Some days the Samsung 7 inch Galaxy Tab.

Kevin: What are some of your favorite mobile applications that you have on your mobile device(s)?
James:  Weather, the ESPN app, EverNote, iProcrastinate (task lists).

Kevin: Do you ever use your mobile device to buy things?
James: I use my smartphones mostly for research, not purchasing things. I use my tablets to purchase items.

Kevin: How many computing devices do you have in your home?
James: Six.

Kevin: How long have you been involved in enterprise mobility?
James: Twelve years.  I started working on Afaria right out of college. First, we focused on supporting mobile laptops for companies that had mobile sales force, like pharmaceutical companies.

Kevin: What is different today, than when you started working with enterprise mobility?
James: The devices. Laptops were the primary platforms when I started, now smartphones and tablets.

Kevin: What industries do you see adopting enterprise mobility today?
James: Everybody. Two years ago it was industries like utilities, energy and cable companies with large field service organizations. Now everybody is implementing enterprise mobility.

Kevin: What were some the most surprising trends you saw in mobility during 2010?
James:  This year (2011) it is Nokia partnering with Microsoft. I really thought Nokia would back Android. However, during last year (2010), it was Android’s success. I have 30-40 devices on my desk today, and many of them are Android devices.  Another surprise, companies allowing the use of personal devices at work. Sybase lets employees use personal devices, but now many others do as well.  We had to refocus more attention to issues related to securing personal devices with corporate data.

Kevin Benedict,Independent Mobile and M2M Industry Analyst, SAP Mentor Volunteer
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.