Thursday, March 03, 2011

Mobile Expert Interview Series: ClickSoftware's Israel Beniaminy, Part 3

ClickSoftware's Israel Beniaminy
This is Part 3 in this interview with ClickSoftware's VP of Product Strategy, Israel Beniaminy.   Read Part 1Part 2 and Part 4.

Kevin:  How are enterprise mobility implementations different from other typical IT projects?
Israel:  The good news is that unlike some other IT projects, ROI for mobility projects is usually easy to calculate and achieve.  More tasks per day, per field worker, shorter time-to-invoice, reduced work force required for paperwork, call center and dispatching are just a few examples.  The bad news - The users work in a highly dynamic environment, and it can be quite difficult to imagine all the situations in which the mobile application may be used.  This calls for careful planning and execution of testing, which must include testing in the field, not just within the office.

Kevin:  What do companies fail to plan for when implementing mobility?
Israel:  Allow me to defer to my colleague Gil Bouhnick who wrote a great article on this: "10 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Deploying a Mobile Management Solution",

Kevin:  What advice do you have for companies just starting down an enterprise mobility path?
Israel: "Think big, start small."  Think carefully about the ultimate target, but build a road map of deployment phases, making sure that each phase delivers enough new value to each stakeholder. "Business first, technology second" – Your business requirements should dictate technology choice (sounds trivial, but it's too easy to lose sight of this).  Future-proof - Your business will change, and mobile technology will change, in ways that are difficult or impossible to predict.  Choose your strategy, architecture and processes to maximize your ability to easily adapt to these changes.

Kevin: How important is mobile device management and security?
Israel: The obvious answer is the right one.  They are very, very important.  Still, the specific circumstances determine exactly how this importance should influence your decisions.  If you choose to install native applications on the mobile device, device management can be highly challenging.  If you choose a zero-footprint solution, you can still achieve robustness (including operation even when out of coverage) and high functionality, and in that case the device management requirements are simpler (though they may still exist).  Same goes for security.  While nobody wants to lose lists of customers to a competitor, companies will differ about their threat magnitude and probability assessment, and will therefore differ on choice of an appropriate security solution.  While considering these, make sure to also consider a different but related subject, worker safety.  Can you find a mobile worker who has stopped moving and answering the phone?  Can you do that while respecting employee privacy?  Will the mobile application include a "panic button" to let workers get help?  What other things can you do to protect your mobile workers?

Kevin:  What should people know about your company and products?
Israel:  ClickSoftware is widely recognized as the leader in field service management solutions – ask analysts such as Gartner and partners such as SAP (who market our solutions under their own brand). We believe we have the potential to achieve a similar status in overall enterprise mobility.  We base this belief on our technology, partnerships and architecture, and above all on the extremely rapid growth in the number of our mobility customers.

Kevin:  What makes your company different from your competitors?
Israel:  In enterprise mobility, we work top down from business processes to technology.  It is not about synchronizing device data with back end server data, and it is not about enabling the user to bring up a form and edit its contents (though both of these are important parts of our solutions' functionality).  It is about making the whole interaction work as a business process, coordinating not just a mobile device with the back office, but also coordinating applications on multiple mobile devices (which may all belong to the same mobile worker or to different workers) with multiple applications at the back end, all done in real time.  It is about making the mobile application easily adapt itself, without any programmers necessary, to the ever changing needs of the organization.  To that end, we see ourselves as providers of both enterprise mobility applications and of a business mobility application framework.  Unlike some of our competitors who strive to also provide the mobility infrastructure, we rely on interchangeable mobility infrastructure on top of which we can deliver the business benefits.  This enabled us to be the first (as far as I know) company to deliver a complete business mobility platform on top of Sybase's technology mobility platform, and will enable us to continue our rapid innovation process in the future.

Stay tuned for Part 4 of this interview.

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Kevin Benedict, Independent Mobile and M2M Industry Analyst, SAP Mentor Volunteer
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Full Disclosure: I am an independent mobility analyst, consultant and blogger. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.