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IT Briefcase Interview: A Holistic Approach to the Mobile Evolution with IBM MobileFirst

March 13, 2013 No Comments

In the below interview, Kristen Lauria, VP of IBM Mobile Enterprise discusses the challenges that BYOD (bring your own device) brings to the table, and outlines ways in which IBM Mobile First works to provide companies with the essential tools to safely take advantage of the many opportunities being enabled by mobile today.

  • Q: Can you give me an overview of MobileFirst?

A. IBM MobileFirst is the industry’s most comprehensive mobile portfolio that combines security, analytics, and app development software, with cloud-based services and deep mobile expertise. Through MobileFirst, IBM is rolling out a series of resources to help its ecosystem of developers, partners and academics tap into the mobile opportunity and help businesses to radically streamline and accelerate their adoption of mobile.

With the IBM MobileFirst Platform businesses can quickly create secure enterprise and consumer apps.  New updates to the platform include expanded capabilities of IBM Worklight designed to simplify app deployment. IBM Worklight provides an open, comprehensive and advanced mobile application platform for smartphones and tablets, helping organizations of all sizes to efficiently develop, connect, run and manage mobile apps.

  • Q:  How does IBM MobileFirst work to provide security, analytics and app development software, with cloud-based services and deep mobile expertise?

A. Mobile computing is at a turning point, and businesses need to embrace mobile in order to remain competitive. However, businesses are incurring a number of demands and challenges associated with bringing mobile fully into the fabric of the enterprise. In addition to a solid strategy, they must also assess the appropriate solutions to successfully implement mobile. IBM is no stranger to these challenges, and is enabling businesses for this second wave of mobile with its IBM MobileFirst portfolio – which addresses critical mobile needs from security to analytics, cloud, social business and app development software and services.

In addition to meeting mobile-specific requirements, the portfolio provides for rapid integration between social and cloud services as well as back-end servers where the data resides. To provide organizations with the flexibility to embrace mobile computing, these solutions are also delivered through the cloud as managed services –  enabling enterprises to free up resources by having IBM run all or part of their mobile infrastructure and offerings.

  • Q:  How does IBM MobileFirst provide companies with the essential tools to take advantage of new business opportunities being enabled by mobile?

A. Enterprises are being prompted to embrace the mobile revolution at a rapid pace – whether or not they are fully ready to do so. To be effective, an organization must first understand how mobile will transform their industry and where to get started. Alternatively, other organizations may have already created a mobile strategy or components of one, but didn’t gain the expected ROI and now need to reassess their strategy. IBM MobileFirst includes several new services to help clients establish mobile strategies, design and implement mobile projects.

With IBM MobileFirst Strategy and Design Services, clients can tap into IBM expertise to map out a mobile strategy for employees and customers, a detailed roadmap for mobile enterprise IT and communications infrastructure, as well as key design skills from IBM Interactive – IBM’s design agency – to build compelling mobile experiences. These services ensure mobile projects yield measurable business value, link mobile investments to ROI and IT strategy, and establish plans for growth and maturity of mobile initiatives.

IBM MobileFirst Development and Integration Services offer services that help organizations roll out a mobile infrastructure as well as manage mobile application portfolios and BYOD environments. With IBM’s expertise in mobile platform device and application management, clients can now implement a mobile strategy quickly. For clients who are looking to develop new mobile applications and integrate them with enterprise IT systems, manage and secure mobile environments, and maintain visibility, control and automation of mobile devices, IBM’s service offerings deliver many benefits.

  • Q:  In what ways can IBM MobileFirst help design and deploy mobile apps to meet the growing mobile demands of students?

A. IBM MobileFirst offers a series of resources to help its ecosystem of developers, partners and academics tap into the opportunity for mobile, beyond the device, and augment existing mobile skills or help develop new ones.

For instance, Daegu Health College, a health training college located in Daegu, South Korea, is using IBM Worklight to design mobile applications to meet the growing demands of its students, who heavily embrace a mobile lifestyle.  With approximately 7,500 students studying in the field of health and medical care, Daegu needed to find ways to deliver information to students’ mobile devices. Using IBM mobile platform application development platform, they created a suite of mobile applications for students allowing them to manage common academic tasks from their mobile devices including verifying class registration, checking grades, viewing class schedules and searching library materials.

  • Q:  What role do you see “bring your own device” (BYOD) playing in the overall mobile trend? What are the main IT challenges that you see arising with the rapid evolution of BYOD?

A. Just as the Internet transformed the way we do business, we’re rapidly seeing mobile have a similar and equally significant impact on the way companies run – changing the way they interact with employees, their clients and also prospective customers. We are entering the second wave of the mobile revolution, moving beyond the device and into the business of mobile. Over the next three to five years, the most cutting edge advances in mobile will have next to nothing to do with the device – but rather what runs on them and how this information is utilized.

With more employees than ever bringing their own devices into enterprise environments, organizations are facing challenges managing various devices and operating systems. The pace at which these devices are being brought into the organization, along with security concerns, are also creating a need for businesses to better manage their BYOD programs. Mobile offerings like IBM Endpoint Manager, part of the IBM MobileFirst portfolio, provide a single solution and console for organizations to manage all of the endpoints in an environment, including traditional desktops or servers as well as mobile devices. Ensuring this end-to-end security support is critical to all organizations, from the enterprise to governments and regulated environments.

  • Q:  What role does BYOA (bring your own application) play within this equation?

A. BYOA adds another layer of complication to the BYOD trend. There are two key challenges with BYOA. The first is that you do not know the supply chain of that app, who built it, what their intentions were and what the product actually does. For example, a “flashlight” app should not need to access your personal contact information or GPS location. And if it asks, what is it doing with that data? The second challenge is that many well-known gaming apps have variants readily available on the web that actually contain malware.  Although they still play the game, they might also be extracting your data.

This is why we advise clients have a three-pronged approach to their mobile security strategy:  1) protect the device, 2) protect the network traffic, and 3) protect the app itself from other apps.  For app security specifically, IBM AppScan helps organizations proactively reduce security risks to iOS and Android enterprise apps. Organizations can build security into the initial design of these apps, so vulnerabilities are detected early in development.

  • Q:  Where do you see the mobile trend heading over the next ten years, and how will IBM MobileFirst work to accommodate the mobile evolution? 

A. Mobile is a journey and it’s going to transform industries and governments as we know it.  We believe IBM is in a unique position to help businesses with that journey and identify new business opportunities along the way.

Kristen Lauria, Vice President, IBM Mobile Enterprise

Kristen Lauria is the vice president for IBM Mobile Enterprise and Application and Integration Middleware (AIM). In this role, Kristen is responsible for advancing IBM’s strategic growth initiatives with a global ecosystem of clients and partners. Her leadership extends beyond IBM Software Group and includes driving IBM’s mobile enterprise computing thought-leadership initiative and market development.


Fresh Ink, Inside the Briefcase, MOBILE DATA

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