App47 Mobility Use Cases, Part I (B2C): Gannett/USA Today

This post is part I of III in the App47 series on mobility use cases we introduced last week. Today, we’re covering a B2C/consumer use case with Gannett/USA Today.

We know what you’re thinking: Gannet/USA Today sells newspapers and news to consumers—so what could they possibly need an enterprise mobility management (EMM) platform for?

While on the surface it may seem like Gannett would only be interested in our analytics, in reality, they use the full breadth of all our features.

Gannett not only produces the USA Today app; it also has a number of affiliates, all of which have their own brands and apps. They all share a common infrastructure: App47. Though they do eventually use App47 for analytics, App47 also gives them a platform for distributing builds, managing security, testing and vetting apps, onboarding users, and ultimately, centralized management.

When building an app for either USA Today or any of their affiliates, Gannett uses our API to connect their build systems to automatically distribute builds. With such a large ecosystem, Gannett needs full control over which affiliates can test which apps. The end user may be a consumer, but through the development process, these affiliates operate almost exactly like users in an enterprise.

Only users within Gannett or its affiliated brands can access test versions. Those apps are fully secure through download and execution, and only specific users are allowed to use them. New versions automatically download, and it’s possible to remotely shut down versions or apps—much like you would with enterprise users. What’s more, the App47 platform ties specific users to their own unique crash logs, meaning that Gannett can trace crash logs to users and resolve problems, whether or not they’re widespread.

All through testing, Gannett remains in full control of the app, allowing them to build their apps in a controlled, managed way. And once they’re finally ready to go into production, the release it into iTunes or Google Play just like anyone else. The only difference is, once their app is released, they use App47 for analytics to improve user experience, track usage, and more.

After release, interest shifts from managing which testers have which versions and which apps are being used where, to how users are using their app. What’s the makeup of Gannett’s audience for their new app? What features in the app are they using? How often? How long are they staying engaged? All of that information is offered in our portal, which allows Gannett to continually improve their app, making a more positive experience for everyone.

Once an app is released into the wild, analytics are a key element in continuous improvement. Long before the app is released, however, Gannett uses the App47 platform to fully manage development and testing across what would otherwise be a difficult environment in which to develop an app.

Even if your business is primarily consumer-facing, during your app testing and developing phase, you’re effectively an enterprise customer and thus can benefit from an EMM platform. App47 presents you with one platform for developing, testing, and production, so there’s no need to sync up multiple software solutions—it’s plug and play.

As it turns out, enterprise mobility management solutions aren’t just for the enterprise mobile app. Gannett is a great example of a mobility use case for an application that isn’t technically an enterprise mobile app, but which mimics one in a lot of ways.

Check in next week, when we’ll continue our series on mobility use cases. In the mean time, let us know your thoughts by contacting us directly through the comments, or via our Twitter feed @App47. We’d love to hear from you!

Posted in EMM, Enterprise App Store, Enterprise Applications, Enterprise Mobility, Enterprise Mobility Forum, Enterprise Mobility Management, MAM, MDM, Mobile Application Management, Mobile Device Management | Leave a comment

Kicking Off Our Series On Mobility Use Cases

Context is king.

We’ve talked before here on our blog about how different customers of ours are using App47 to help meet their business goals. But, admittedly, many of those mentions have been in passing.

Given this idea that context is king—that understanding how real businesses use a product or service is a significant benefit—we’ve decided to kick off a series on mobility use cases. We may have talked about customers before, but in this series we’re going to do a deeper dive into how some of App47’s clients use our platform to achieve their end result.

Over the coming weeks, we’ll look at three main mobility use cases that should help give you that ever-important context: enterprise, consumer/B2C, and eCommerce. Using real client experiences, we’ll take a closer look at what App47 is capable of, what clients’ needs are with mobility in their businesses, and how those clients use App47.

We’ll kick off next week with consumer/B2C.

Check back next week for the first post in the series on mobility use cases. See you then!

Posted in EMM, Enterprise Mobility, MAM, MDM, Mobile Application Deployment, Mobile Application Management, Mobile Device Management | Leave a comment

Press Release: App47 Releases AFSOS, a Cutting-Edge Mobile Operating System

Today, App47, a leading provider of mobile application management (MAM) services for the enterprise, announced that it has released a cutting-edge mobile operating system called App Forty-Seven Operating System, or AFSOS.

Recognizing the challenges that having multiple operating systems brings to CIOs, CISOs, and other key players in data security in the enterprise, App47 has, over the past two years, invested significant resources into developing a one-size-fits all mobile operating system solution. While multiple user-brought devices, all on different operating systems, fragment IT’s ability to fully control what employees can and cannot do, an umbrella solution mitigates those problems in an easy-to-use, secure package.

Featuring SHA-512 and 8192 bit key length—with zero impact on decryption times—AFSOS runs on existing hardware. It provides a seamless user experience by emulating devices’ native OS environments while also locking down copy and paste between apps, protecting users’ photos and data, and allowing them to share what they want—but only if it fits the security parameters established by the operating enterprise. Installed through the App47 enterprise mobility management platform, AFSOS is easy to implement and even easier to use.

“AFSOS is the most innovative approach to enterprise mobility since the advent of the iOS platform,” said Chris Schroeder, Founder and CEO of App47. “While there seems to be an ongoing tug-of-war between enterprises and users over control of data, with AFSOS, everybody can have their cake and eat it too. End users get a native experience, the enterprise gets security, and everyone’s happy. We couldn’t be more pleased about the launch of this revolutionary new mobile operating system.”

AFSOS is set to launch on May 1st and will be immediately available to all App47 customers at that time. New App47 customers will be second in line and should expect full access to AFSOS for all devices by the 18th of May.

For questions, please don’t email or call us because we’re just giving you all a hard time and there’s no such thing as AFSOS. Happy April Fool’s Day!

Posted in EMM, Enterprise Mobility, Enterprise Mobility Management, Mobile App Security | Leave a comment

Rapid Mobile App Development Works—But Not Without Management

Gone are the days of mobile app development being a long, expensive process—at least in the enterprise.

Although the developers of Angry Birds probably didn’t know at the time how much their app would take off, one thing’s for certain: they didn’t set out to create an app with a terrible user experience. They wanted a mobile app with depth that would cater to as wide an audience as possible, with all the right features and nothing cut-and-paste.

One of the biggest differences between the consumer and enterprise mobile app worlds is that a feature-rich, native platform, extensive mobile app doesn’t really add more users. If an enterprise has 5,000 employees, that’s the top limit. No amount of new features or rich user experience add-ons will increase the number of employees using that app past 5,000.

That challenge is a big part of the reason many enterprises have grown unwilling to commit to pairing up with a developer and a mobile application development platform (MADP) to develop rich, immersive mobile apps in a native environment. These sorts of apps are expensive, take a long time to produce, and don’t necessarily increase adoption. Why spend a quarter of a million dollars to produce an app when theoretically, an app developed at a fraction of the cost because it’s simpler would work just fine?

Enter what Gartner calls Rapid Mobile App Development (RMAD). Companies like Snappii, Globo, and Out Systems have turned the MADP principle on its head. Instead of devoting months and hundreds of thousands of dollars to building an app, rapid mobile app development presents a codeless (in most cases) environment so simple that nearly anyone in the enterprise can throw an app together in just a few minutes. This lets business owners or decision makers get things done quickly and simply.

The RMAD approach is excellent for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is how it allows players in the enterprise to quickly manage apps and bring critical business elements mobile. But it also introduces a new problem: enterprise mobile app management.

When an enterprise is only developing, say, 2 apps with the traditional MADP approach, investing time, money, and a lot of labor into helping the workforce go mobile, it’s not imperative that they have a solution in place to manage the apps. 2 mobile apps in the enterprise is essentially a one-off, and it doesn’t take a lot of brain damage to manage those apps.

When you’re quickly churning out apps to meet a variety of different needs, however, perhaps even creating seasonal apps that may only be relevant for a few months at a time, you’ve taken a non-issue and put it at the forefront. You have all these apps—and that’s great—but how are you going to manage them? You need to get on an enterprise mobile application management platform if you want to have a positive user experience, high adoption rates, and perhaps most importantly, a true ROI.

For many of the clients we work with, rapid mobile app development just works. It’s cheap, it’s easy, it’s efficient, and it gives employees everything they need and nothing they don’t. If your enterprise switches over to an RMAD model, though, don’t leave management out of the equation. With lots of balls up in the air, MAM is the key to a successful rapid mobile app development approach.

RMAD may take less investment up-front, but that doesn’t mean you get to ignore management over the long run. Go ahead and rapidly develop your mobile apps for the enterprise—just make sure that doesn’t come at the expense of a sustainable mobility program.

Posted in EMM, Enterprise App Store, Enterprise Mobility, Enterprise Mobility Management, MAM, Mobile Application Management | Leave a comment

The One Key Enterprise Takeaway from Mobile World Congress

This week marks two weeks passed since Mobile World Congress 2015 in Barcelona. As one of the (if not the) world’s biggest mobile-focused shows, every year, MWC is the place to be for cutting-edge mobile tech, trends, news, and more.

We’ve had some time to digest all the news coming out of the show over the last few weeks. What did we find? Well… a lot.

Some of the biggest themes seem to be mobile security and management—both of which are good for us. BlackBerry is bringing cloud-based enterprise mobility management to the masses, a host of companies released new mobile apps, Android for Work is getting bigger (and so is security), and hundreds of other companies are all hopping on the enterprise mobility train. Which is great.

There’s one trend we don’t quite get, though: wearables. After seeing the slow adoption rate of mobile apps and BYOD—nearly the pace of a snail—why does everyone suddenly think that wearables in the enterprise are going to take off at the speed of light?

We’re still working on building enterprise apps for devices built two to three or more years ago, not to mention addressing ongoing security concerns with BYOD and enterprise mobility. For us, then, the thought that a new, unknown technology like wearables will enter the enterprise, see quick adoption, and suddenly have tons of features behind it seems a little silly.

What’s going to be the business driver for this tech? Don’t get us wrong—wearables are cool. We’ll probably be getting our hands on Apple Watches this year. But let’s not forget the pace of enterprise. Almost nothing happens quickly.

Although we do like the idea of this new technology, our key takeaway is that wearables probably aren’t the next big thing in the enterprise—at least not yet. Let’s get our current tech sorted out before we jump on the bandwagon and hope for the next big thing to take off.

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What My Neighbor’s New Mobile App Can Teach Enterprises About ROI

The other day, a neighbor of mine called me in need of help. She said her laptop got a virus and she wasn’t sure what to do. As the neighborhood’s resident geek (shocking, right?) I said I’d be happy to help.

I gladly fixed the laptop, and as it turned out, she needed help setting up her email on her brand new iPhone 6, too. Her work was moving away from their network solutions-based email provider to a new system, and she wasn’t exactly sure how best to configure it.

I’ll interject by saying that my neighbor is the very definition of a mobile worker. Without naming names, she works for a fairly large healthcare provider as a physical therapist. She helps people recover from surgery by providing PT service in the home.

At face value, the new system her work is using—a mobile app—seems like a win. Great, right? Well, hold onto your security hat.

When the app starts up, she’s required to enter her full email address—approximately 40 characters long—and password. This happens on startup or any time the app has been idle for more than 10 minutes. She’s also required to enter her personal PIN every time the app resumes execution. After that, the app downloads her messages for review. Nothing is cached. Ever.

This new app is designed to be secure with one thing in mind: HIPAA.

I get it! Security is important. But here’s the thing. My neighbor has already told her supervisor and coworkers that if they need anything, they should call her instead of emailing her. Because it takes her approximately 5 minutes to get logged in on her iPhone, downloading data through a VPN over LTE, she just doesn’t have the time needed to quickly react to emails requiring immediate attention.

I’m personally grateful that all healthcare providers are required to treat my personal information with care, and I can see in principle why the app is configured the way it is. But there are much better ways to solve the problem.

The app could, for example, allow for PIN verification to work for more than just the current session. It could enable remote wipe via a MAM provider. (Yes, that’s a blatant plug.) It could remember the username and simply require stronger passwords. It could even encrypt your data at rest and in transit for quicker response times rather than downloading the information and never ever caching it.

As we’ve talked about before, at the end of the day, the enterprise must measure their mobile efforts based on ROI. In this case, the app actually has a negative ROI. The company has made a sizeable investment with a vendor to provide mobile service, and yet, its employees are refusing to use the app because of the horrible user experience to simply log in and check email.

Before developing and deploying a new mobile app, be sure that you’re not accidentally creating a user experience like the one my neighbor now has to deal with.

Some things look great in principle but in execution are much less ideal. If you can’t trace your app back to tangible ROI from productivity gains or some other means, you may find yourself actually hurting your employees—which I’d hazard to guess isn’t a place you want to be.

Posted in BYOD, EMM, Enterprise Mobility, Enterprise Mobility Management, Mobile App Security, Mobile Application Management | Leave a comment

How to Use Technology to Protect Your Assets

Think for a moment about how hard you worked to earn your assets. You had to put in a huge amount of time at the office to afford that big screen TV and MacBook Pro. Likewise, you’ve worked to build up a great credit score. The sad fact of the matter is that one person with malicious intentions could ruin all of that in a second. There are a number of great gadgets and services out there that are specifically designed to protect both your digital and physical assets.

Find My iPhone, iPad and Mac

Previously called “Find My iPhone,” Apple’s free “Find My iPhone, iPad and iMac” service now works for all devices with the iOS operating system installed. All you need to do is sign into a device with your iTunes user ID and password and the hardware in question will automatically be linked to an iCloud account. If you ever lose one of your devices, you can log on to the iCloud website, click “Find My iPhone, iPad and Mac” and locate it using the built-in GPS feature.

LifeLock

LifeLock offers a full line of identity theft protection services that are designed to safeguard everything from your personal finances to your credit score. If someone steals your identity, they could potentially ruin your credit and rack up thousands of dollars in debt in the process. LifeLock’s 1 Million Dollar Guarantee is incredibly valuable with regards to preventing that from happening.

MicroTrax

MicroTrax is a service that uses technology called MicroDots to allow you to track any asset that you may have from a device with an Internet connection. Once the MicroDots and labels have been properly attached to the device in an inconspicuous location, you can use any Internet connected device to view its current location regardless of where you happen to be.

1Password

1Password is billed as a detailed password management system, but in reality it is so much more. It’s an efficient way to safeguard all of your assets in the digital realm. 1Password will automatically generate a complex password for all of your important accounts that it will then store so you don’t have to remember them. Hackers won’t be able to get into your bank account, your credit card account or other valuable Web portals and you can keep track of all of your unique passwords from one user interface. 1Password can also be used to store credit card information, addresses and other data that you want to protect.

Prey

Prey is an anti-theft software that can be installed on the vast majority of the most popular electronic devices in existence. Computer versions exist for popular operating systems like Microsoft Windows, Apple Mac OS X and even most popular distributions of Linux. Mobile versions also exist for Android, Apple’s iOS platform and more. Once the software is installed, it allows you to track your hardware using any device on the planet with an Internet connection. The most helpful part is that Prey isn’t something that a thief can disable. Once installed on your computer or other device, it leaves no traces that it is installed on the system at all.

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We’ve Spotted the Enterprise Mobility Parade. Where Are You?

A wise investor once told me to “find a parade, and get in front of it.”

During our four years as a business (we celebrated a birthday last month!), we’ve brought on and kept many great customers—some small, and many large. Regardless of size, I’ve always felt that our customers have been intrepid first adopters in the market, which is a large part of the reason we love working with them so much!

In my reflection on our last four years, I’ve found myself thinking a lot about that advice to find a parade and get in front of it. Initially, we thought the enterprise mobile app parade was happening in 2011. I still think that’s true—and I think that the increasing frequency of conversations about enterprise mobility shows that we’re living out that sage advice in real time.

Looking at articles published just even within the last few weeks shows us all we need to know. From Workspot’s advice on how to build a mobile-first architecture and OS, to IBM’s Bob Egan’s discussion of how to effectively mobilize your workforce, to Huffington Post’s (talk about mainstream!) list of 6 things you need to know before building a mobile app, there’s no shortage of folks talking about the now popular idea of enterprise mobility.

All of which is to say that the enterprise mobility parade is reaching critical mass.

It’s exciting to see how many people are talking about not just how to build the next great commercial app, but how to take that know-how and learning into the enterprise. And with momentum behind enterprise mobility, specifically enterprise apps, at an all-time high, now’s the time for your business to invest. Many of our customers are clearly ahead of the game, but there are still a lot of businesses lagging behind who aren’t yet involved in enterprise apps.

We’ve spotted the parade and still feel very comfortable that we’re in front of it, but I’d ask you to ask yourself: are you as much a part of the parade as you should be?

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At App47, We’re All About Open Source!

Open source is quite the buzzword these days.

It seems that every last thing you hear about is open source. So much so, in fact, that it can sometimes be hard to figure out exactly how it’s being used, or why. But as it turns out, at App47, we’re all about open source—and we think we’re a great example of how organizations can use open source to make a better product and bring ideas to market more quickly.

Back in the “old” days, a company like App47 may have looked completely different. I’ve run different tech teams where we’ve built everything from scratch. If we were looking to add reverse geocoding functionality to find IP addresses and make decisions about how the software should behave, we would spend a week writing rule sets, figuring out UI management, and going through the rest of the process to get things working seamlessly. Setting up servers took a while, too.

All told, it may have taken a team of 10 people then to do what 2 people can do today with open source technology.

Enter today. When we built App47, we weighed all the options for open source automation software. We looked at two of the most popular tools, Chef and Puppet, but ultimately decided on an IT automation software called Ansible that’s given us everything we need and more. What once would’ve taken us a week now takes us a fraction of that time. As a matter of fact, that reverse geocoding functionality we mentioned above that would’ve taken us a week to build from scratch took us about 2 hours to integrate last week.

What does that mean in practice? It means that Ansible has helped App47 be better. Because it fit within our environment and because it’s so easy to set up, our entire process has been tremendously simplified. Server setup takes 30 minutes instead of a day, and thanks to consistent language on the servers, we know exactly where everything is located—every time. We can add new software features and scale them easily, and scan for bugs and security features. Our servers are updated daily, so we know we have the most secure, reliable software we can.

None of this would be possible without the open source community. These days, it’s hard to count the lines of code that are ours and those that are open source. We’ve benefited tremendously from the open source community, and we make sure to give back regularly, too. We help fix bugs and add feature enhancements, but quite frankly, it’s amazing what we’re able to do within this new environment today.

Needless to say, we’re big fans of open source—both using and contributing to. If you’re looking for an example of what Ansible and open source tech can do, look no further than App47. We’re living proof of how this great new(ish) movement can help make companies better.

Posted in EMM, Enterprise Mobility, Enterprise Mobility Management, MAM, Mobile Application Management | Leave a comment

What the Success of Apple Pay Can Teach Us About Driving Enterprise Mobile App Adoption

Just a few weeks ago on their fiscal Q1 2015 earnings call, Apple CEO Tim Cook announced something surprising: after launching in October 2014, Apple Pay now accounts for $2 out of every $3 spent with contactless payments. Especially given the failure of Square Wallet last year, which sought to solve basically the same problem, this announcement surprised a lot of people.

On closer look, though, the initial success of Apple Pay—even if it’s only been around for a few months, and even if it still only accounts for a fraction of all payments that happen every day—can be traced to something that Square Wallet didn’t address: need.

Before options like Square Wallet and Apple Pay came around, consumers essentially had two options: paying with cash or paying with a card. While cards may have been more of a pain when they first came out, today, it’s hard to beat their convenience. No waiting for change and stuffing it into your wallet, no counting out pennies in your pocket, no confusion. It’s basically just swipe and go. So right from the outset, anything that wanted to make payments better for consumers had to somehow be easier than paying with a card.

Square Wallet, quite frankly, wasn’t. Partly due to a lack of retailer adoption, and partly due to the fact that the process of paying with Square Wallet took more time than paying with cash or a card, it never really took off. Who wants to give the cashier their name and then wait around for them to pull you up? Not us—and apparently not many other consumers, either.

Building off of the failure of others to make payments easier, Apple Pay has—where it’s an option—made payments easier and quicker. It’s not swipe and go, it’s touch and go, and apparently it’s working. What Apple Pay does that Square Wallet and others before it didn’t is address a true need and offer a solution that really is better.

If a solution didn’t make payment easier, or quicker, or eliminate the need to get out your wallet, why would you use it? The short answer is that you wouldn’t. From the outset, any new payment ‘solution’ had to find a need and provide a solution that addresses it in a better way than anything around today.

You might be wondering what all of this has to do with driving enterprise mobile app adoption. It comes down to the same thing: need. Enterprise employees don’t use apps like consumers. They’re not using them for fun, and they certainly aren’t using them to make their job more difficult. They want a solution that helps them be better, faster, more efficient at their job. If you can’t get that figured out, you’ll likely never see the level of adoption you’re looking for.

In thinking about your enterprise mobility solution, from the app store all the way down to the apps themselves, ask yourself: what’s the value you’re providing? What needs are you addressing? What exactly are you doing for your employees? If your answer is that you just want them to use your apps because you think they’ll somehow use them for the sake of using them, you’re going to remain behind the curve.

Your app store and your apps need to address a real need of your employees, whether that’s helping them check out customers faster, look up information quicker, go through everyday processes more efficiently, or any other of the number of needs in the enterprise today. Without that, your apps aren’t a value-add, they’re a novelty.

Want to drive enterprise mobile app adoption? Go back to need. Chances are, the answer you’re looking for lies with the biggest problems your employees face every day.

Posted in EMM, Enterprise App Store, Enterprise Mobility, Enterprise Mobility Management, MAM, MDM, Mobile Application Management, Mobile Device Management | Leave a comment

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    703.251.4557 | info@app47.com

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