Monday, January 31, 2011

Mobile Expert Interview Series: Smartsoft Mobile's Ed Krufka

Smartsoft Mobile's Ed Krufka
 I want to thank Ed Krufka from Smartsoft Mobile Solutions for scheduling time with us. Smartsoft Mobile is an SAP services partner.  Ed has been working on enterprise mobility applications for over twenty years. He started by developing mobile solutions internally for a large utility company. His insights today have the added bonus of a long term industry perspective.

Note: These are not Ed’s exact words, rather my notes from our interview.

Kevin: What mobile device(s) do you carry?
Ed: I use a Windows 7 Phone as my main business and personal phone. I carry an Android for testing and navigation. I can actually use both the Android OS and Windows Mobile 6.5 on the same device. I just need to reboot it. I also carry a laptop.

Kevin: What is your favorite mobile application?
Ed: I use the OneNote application a lot. I can store all of my documents, presentations and notes there and access them from any of my devices.

Kevin: How long have you been involved in enterprise mobility?
Ed: I have been working in enterprise mobility for over 20 years. I started working on mobile solutions in the utility industry. We developed our own mobile solutions internally. They were mobile applications for use on laptops mounted in utility trucks for high volume work orders. In 1995 I joined the vendor side of the business.

Kevin: What is different about enterprise mobility today than when you started in the 1990s?
Ed: All the new mobile devices. It took certain mobile devices to help mature the market. Today, users have completely different expectations. However, the basic process of moving data has not changed that much. Twenty years ago we could move data from mobile laptops in trucks back to a central server.

Kevin: What industries do you see adopting enterprise mobility today?
Ed: Every industry is accessing email on mobile devices. What is meant by enterprise mobility? There is so much confusion. Is it enabling access to back office systems? Is it all business processes? Horizontal business processes are being mobilized everywhere. In the 1990s it was limited to work orders. Today it is everything. The purpose today is productivity for the mobile workforce. Mobility enhances the ROI of the back office systems. Mobility done right enhances the back office ROI for everyone.

Kevin: What business processes do you see companies mobilizing first?
Ed: Every department seems to have different priorities. If the buyer is IT, then they want a mobile tool kit that they can use. IT is not, however, buying as much as the business user who wants mobile access to back office systems.

Kevin: What are some of the most surprising trends you are saw in mobility in 2010
Ed: The acquisition of Sybase by SAP, the rapid adoption of tablets and how slow Microsoft was in delivering mobile products.

Kevin: What are some of the biggest challenges you see in mobility today?
Ed: Confusion. People really don’t know what to do. People still have outdated perspectives. They are thinking about how older mobile devices and mobile processes worked. They need to understand that new mobile solutions can provide access to huge amounts of mashed up information. Traditional mobility came from traditional back office vendors.  However, today mobile data can come from anywhere and everywhere. In addition, we need to think B2C (business-to-consumer). B2C mobile applications must be compelling and beneficial. The mobile B2C app perspective views the end user as the center of the universe, not the back office ERP. It is a different perspective of outside-in. The right approach is to ask, “What information does the user need?” Not, “What data is available in the back office?”

Kevin: What advice do you have for companies just starting down an enterprise mobility path?
Ed: Here is my advice:
1. Develop a mobility strategy and a B2E (business to everyone) strategy. Mobilizing is not the end game. The end game is the data deployed to the people that need it. Enable the data to be accessed by the people that need it.
2. Buy packaged mobile applications. Don’t try to custom build every mobile application.
3. Focus on the user experience. This is the most overlooked component. In the 1990s, we just shrunk a mainframe screen to a rugged handheld computer’s screen.  Today, adoption is driven by usability.

Kevin: How important is mobile device management and security?
Ed: Security is always important. The question is, “Where do you implement the security?” In the past, mobile devices and mobile applications needed to run in both offline/online modes, so the security was on the device. Now the internet is everywhere. Always-connected and real time mobile applications may have a different security model requirement. When mobile devices don’t store enterprise data in the applications, then the security needs to be focused on the back office system.

I want to again thank Ed Krufka for sharing his thoughts, experiences and insight.

Click here to read more from the Mobile Expert Interview Series.


Kevin Benedict, SAP Mentor, Mobile and M2M Industry Analyst
Phone +1 208-991-4410
Follow me on Twitter @krbenedict
Join the SAP Enterprise Mobility group on Linkedin:

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.