Q&A with ‘The first lady of emerging technologies’

A high-tech visionary  who has worked in senior roles at Hewlett-Packard, Intel and Symantec, Satwant Kaur is the author of several books about new technologies and the holder of multiple patents. Kaur has her own weekly radio show, ‘First lady of emerging technologies,’ and will be a keynote speaker at CES 2013. She has been the guest of many media organizations seeking her insight into what the future holds.

At IT World Canada, we wanted to speak to her about an area of technology that is changing the face of the enterprise: Mobile.

As such, we’re pleased to present an e-mail Q&A with Satwant Kaur on the subject of the mobile enterprise .We hope you enjoy it. 

[BRIAN BLOOM, IT World Canada]: I’d like to discuss the use of mobile technology in the enterprise. What are some use cases for the new generation of tablets and smart phones that offer real dollar value to a business?

[SATWANT KAUR]: The dire need for today is indeed for enterprises to embrace the blessing of mobility brought their way by advances in processors and networking speed.

We are seeing mobile technologies such as tablets and smartphones moving into enterprises, turning them into a “mobile enterprise.”

Let us look at some ways in which these mobile technologies can offer real dollar value to businesses.

A mobile enterprise enables its employees, partners, vendors, suppliers and clients to carry out various business functions on their own mobile devices. They can all work on their mobile devices seamlessly by connecting wirelessly to the enterprise applications, data and network, according to the access and policies of the business as they pertain to the user’s role.

The businesses can stop spending money on user desktops and laptops, and move to mobile devices that the users currently own.

Here are some of the mobile technologies that are used in enterprises. The prominent Mobile devices and mobile operating systems are:

·         Apple iOS

·         Microsoft Windows Phone 7

·         Google Android mobile devices

·         RIM Blackberry with BES

Here is a list of some business functions that can be supported on mobile devices by using the appropriate business applications:

·         Email, Calendar, and Contacts Office Applications

·         Project Management Applications

·         Document Management Applications

·         Customer Relationship Management Applications

·         Enterprise Resource Planning Applications

·         Invoicing, Vouchers, Work orders, Purchase Orders, and other Accounting Applications

Some dollar value advantages of having mobile technology in enterprises are:

·         Reduction of cost of employee desktops and multiple laptops

·         Reduction in infrastructure and licensing cost of running business; since many fixed cost enterprise IT components can be replaced by cloud services

·         Increase of revenue due to increased workforce productivity

·         Increase of revenue generated from real time opportunities due to faster decision making, since real-time and accurate data is always available on employees mobile devices

These mobile devices are productivity drivers. This mobility has expanded the reach of enterprises to more industries and more markets. Enterprises need to seize the opportunity.

Smart mobile handhelds, whether they are smartphones, tablets or any other mobile devices, bring more cost saving, revenue generation and new business reach opportunities for enterprises. This is due to the following reasons:

·         They can tap into the cloud anytime, anywhere.

·         They can use mobile apps to use knowledge and information sources on both the public Web or the private network

·         This brings collaboration capabilities which cut across geographical and organizational boundaries.

·         These mobile devices are very powerful in terms of memory size, processors speed and performance.

·         They also come with broadband connectivity. They have 3-D sensors, Global Positioning System (GPS) and geo-location capabilities. These mobile devices are intelligent nodes on the web.

The mobile applications can use these hardware features as well as high data networking speeds, and pick information in real time and provide the contextual business knowledge and awareness needed to the business decision makers. This contextual awareness can be:

·         Better locating capability for the “map related application”

·         Motion sensors for the phone “tilt” user interface application

·         Barometers that locate nearest printer, conference room for next meeting, nearest elevator

So, the combination of smart handheld devices and the cloud, available from anywhere, improves business processes drastically. This increased productivity is due to business’ newfound ability to generate, retain, share and leverage real time information.

[BRIAN BLOOM, IT World Canada]:  Please share your thoughts on mobile IT from the IT department’s perspective (the challenges, like BYOD and security), as well as the opportunities to build a better relationships between IT and other lines of business.

[SATWANT KAUR]: That is such a wonderful question to ask, since every single IT department in every single enterprise is thinking on the exact same lines.

So, let us talk about the challenges one by one and the real opportunities that are disguised within those challenges.

Mobile technologies are today a key to the success of an enterprise.  Mobile infrastructure is an integral and centralized piece of the enterprise and it is the responsibility of enterprise IT to manage the mobile portion of the IT infrastructure.

However, they clearly present what, on the face of it, looks like a challenge. Suddenly, all the consumer devices and applications are becoming part of the enterprise domain. They present challenges of control and management, security and network connectivity.

The first challenge for enterprise IT is to maintain control of the enterprise applications, controlling users and groups who can access application components. Also, controlling what data the application can access from other applications or processes.

Let us now also talk about second challenge, namely that of security in a mobile enterprise and how to overcome it.

Another big enabler for mobile technology in enterprises is the secure communications protocols that are utilized between the enterprise Web server and the Web browser on the mobile device. Transport Layer Security (TLS) and Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), are cryptographic protocols that provide communication security over the Internet. Both TLS and SSL encrypt the segments of network connections at the application Layer for the transport Layer, using:

·         Asymmetric cryptography for key exchange

·         Symmetric encryption for confidentiality

·         Message authentication codes for message integrity

If enterprise IT needs to be more cautious, the challenge of security can be overcome by ensuring enterprise critical data is stored on servers in highly secured data centres.

Then there is the third challenge of internet connectivity. As enterprise use more and more mobile devices with mobile applications on them, availability bandwidth becomes a challenge as we try to minimize upload and download times. This can be overcome by IT ensuring Tier 1 mission critical applications run on more reliable and available data centres

IT needs control of mobile devices and mobile deployments

How can enterprises use these consumer devices to their strategic advantage? Enterprise IT is accustomed to controlling enterprise technology within its premises and within its data centers. How can it control the mobile devices?

Mobile devices are that part of IT infrastructure that needs different tools and methods to control and manage since it is carried on a person by business users rather than sitting on premises. This difference has major impacts on both IT and business sides of enterprises. That has to be handled in a strategic fashion by enterprises.

BYOD is really an opportunity for the enterprise rather than a challenge. BYOD policies allow users to use the hardware and software environments they are most comfortable in. BYOD also allows the users to have pervasive access to business applications, thus giving them an ability to carry out their functions, or respond to alerts any time.

Enterprise IT needs to offer their own enterprise mobile app store on user mobile devices, thus eliminating the need for a user to use public app stores

Enterprises need to have organizational flexibility to support enterprise mobility. IT needs to allow use of disparate devices per the wishes of business users. IT, by providing this autonomy of infrastructure, will foster partnership with the business side, and result in even more value creation and commitment by business users.

The edge of the enterprise is defined by the mobile devices and the enhanced role of IT is to manage and deliver applications and data all the way up to the edge. Employees get far more productive by having perpetual access to the information they need through their handheld devices.

Enterprise IT has more hidden opportunities since the new smart phones and tablets use new classes of applications that are easy to use from handhelds and are available in the cloud. Thus, lesser cost and work for IT to get business running.

These easy to use applications include cloud-based collaboration and real-time file sharing. These need minimal IT deployment efforts to carry out business functions such as sales and support.


[BRIAN BLOOM, IT World Canada]:  I’m curious about your thoughts on Microsoft’s foray into the enterprise mobile market, and if you see their market share increasing due to their already large footprint in the data centre and office.

[SATWANT KAUR]: Microsoft has in the past indeed missed the mobile wave completely.

If we go by its past performance in mobile, Microsoft’s footprint in the enterprise mobile market unfortunately will not follow the same pattern as it did in the data centre and office.

Microsoft’s hardware partner Intel has also missed the mobile wave. And Wintel is not the holy grail of enterprise computing for mobile.

Many times in the past, Microsoft did come out with smartphones that ran Windows Mobile. They also have come up with tablets that run Windows XP Tablet Edition. However, it is Apple with iPhone 5 and Google will that dominate the mobile marketplace, without leaving much room for Microsoft, Nokia and RIM’s Blackberry.

Apple iPad also hurt Windows PC sales in enterprise computing. This will also impact the sales of the Microsoft’s enterprise business software.

However, there may still be some things that Microsoft can do in the future with its technology that may reverse the current downward trend of Microsoft’s dismal performance in enterprise mobile market:

 ·         Microsoft can build upon its strong foundations in the enterprise by leveraging long-term licensing agreements for Microsoft Office and Microsoft Exchange to cover the mobile world.

·         Microsoft is replacing old enterprise applications with their cloud versions with Office 365, which may work well on mobile devices.

·         Microsoft’s “Surface” series of tablets may become very popular. The two models to look for are the Surface model running the Windows RT operating system on an ARM CPU and the Surface Pro model running the Windows 8 Pro operating system running on an Intel CPU.

·         Windows 8 UI (older name Metro) may turn the tide by becoming a darling of the enterprise users. Windows 8 tablets are aimed at the enterprise market due to preexisting Microsoft enterprise applications such as the Office suite and the Windows OS.

 [BRIAN BLOOM, IT World Canada]: I’d be interested to hear your take on the morphing of tablet and desktop operating systems. Will making desktops operate somewhat like tablets increase productivity? Or is it a losing proposition to marry the two (I’m referring to Windows 8, especially).

[SATWANT KAUR] How can any discussion on mobile technologies be complete without touching upon a two-in one operating system like Windows 8?

The top three players in operating systems are Microsoft, Apple and Android. Microsoft has big operating systems in both the enterprise and consumer spaces. Android is growing in the consumer market. Apple is dominating in the enterprise. Naturally, Microsoft needs to redefine itself in both segments.

Microsoft has chosen to do so by morphing all desktop and mobile operating systems into all-purpose operating systems like Windows 8 that run on phones, tablets and desktops.

Microsoft Windows 8 will support multiple operating systems, thus providing cross-platform development tools.

With Windows 8-based tablets and desktops, Microsoft has the potential to change and win the OS market

This dual OS is targeted at business users who want a tablet for personal use, but don’t like carrying a laptop in addition to their tablets to work.

Microsoft Windows 8 strengthens enterprises’ BYOD strategy with Windows 8, a two-in-one operating system.  

Microsoft’s Surface Pro will be based on an Intel processor and Windows 8 processor.

A few things to note about this OS:

·         The user interface is also dual. It has new user interface (based on an older UI called Metro) that works with tablets with a touch of the fingers. It also has a desktop interface that works with legacy applications with a keyboard and mouse.

·         Windows Media Player in the Windows 8 operating system will no longer play back DVDs, the reason being that functions like media playback, DVDs and broadcast TV, watching live TV, etc. require decoding hardware and software with royalties. Being a dual OS, the royalties may have doubled for Microsoft. This feature can be purchased as an upgrade

·         Windows 8 will have lightning fast laptop boot time.

·         The OS will also close unused or forgotten applications automatically to release RAM and increase performance.

·         Windows 8 will offer dynamic desktop tiles rather than shortcut icons.

·         Windows 8 also has a built-in antivirus present inside the kernel of the operating system.

So, Microsoft has the potential to win over the tablet market, both the enterprise and consumer segment, with this dual operating system, especially on the Surface Pro.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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