Empowering Enterprise Mobility – Considerations for enabling apps on mobile devices : Part 3


In part 2, we discussed considerations for preparing an enterprise for mobility. In this post, we will discuss Application Development & Distribution Strategy and Mobile device management

Mobile Application Development Strategy

Apps define the experience that end users have and therefore, laying out a robust plan for app development should form the crux of your strategy.

Phase-wise development of apps

Building out all applications that you users need together is not possible. How do you choose which apps to do first? Should you go for the low hanging fruits? Will low hanging fruits make the impact on users? When it comes to the users, the first impressions, tend to stay for a long time. So then should we do a big bang approach and choose the most critical app first? What if things fail?

Therefore, it is it very important to balance between a big-bang approach and low hanging fruits approach. Classify mobile apps by Impact and Usage. Choose a combination of apps from the classification for the initiation phase which will be good to make the impact and yet provide a plenty of learning opportunity.

Considerations

  • Classify apps as High Usage, Medium Usage and Low Usage
  • Classify apps as High Impact, Medium Impact & Low Impact
  • Define a factory model for building apps
    • Initiation Phase – Build, User Trials, Improvise, Deploy
    • Factory – Build, Deploy, Feedback

Define a phase wise approach for the application factory, along with timelines. This gives a very clear view of the mobility roadmap – which can be reviewed with stakeholders and approved.

Consider setting up a Mobility COE

Functional Considerations

App functionality is typically defined by the business processes, however App features is something we can define to increase app experience. In addition, define the device capabilities you would like to use. Some of the features you could consider are as follows

Core Features

Additional functionalities

Device Capabilities

  • Search Box
  • 4 Tile Sizes
  • Supports Landscape and Portrait Views
  • Snap View - 500px
  • Search
  • Share
  • Live Tiles
  • Semantic Zoom and gestures
  • Multi-lingual
  • Secondary Tiles
  • Push Notifications
  • Mail App Integration
  • Calendar App Integration
  • Skype / Lync/ Bing Maps Integration
  • Animations/Transitions
  • Offline Capabilities
  • Multi-Touch Gestures
  • Sing
  • le-Sign On
  • Roaming Profiles
  • NFC / Bluetooth connectivity
  • Accelerometer
  • Gyro meter
  • Wallet
  • Lock Screens
  • Location Services
  • Augmented Reality

Design Considerations

Since we are catering to varying devices and form factors, it is important to define a common architecture that apps must follow.

Considerations

  • Responsive Design – Define ground rules and patterns to use to ensure the app scales beautifully for different resolutions, devices sizes and orientation (Landscape/Portrait)
  • Use of gestures to increase user productivity – Pan, Zoom, Flip, Rotate etc.
  • UX & UI – Build Rich and engaging UX for apps. Do not ignore the UX. Mobile apps require us to shift from the traditional breadcrumb model, make good use of the real-estate available, minimize use of keyboard and increase use of touch. Define a base template that caters to branding needs of the enterprise and then give the designers a freehand to create innovative, productive designs.

Technical Considerations

Always connected devices depend on network speed and latency. It is important to build applications for zero connectivity, however that does not suit every business process. Also, upkeep of applications are largely dependent on how they are development

Considerations

  • Define characteristics that help determine the type of apps - Native apps, Hybrid and Browser based apps.

Native applications are rich and responsive; utilize every platforms core hardware and software capabilities and OS resources fully. It is an un-matched user experience and should be the solution of choice.

  • Define characteristics that help determine what type of apps should be always connected and what type of apps could use offline capability with periodic sync
  • Build Once Strategy - Will you use cross platform frameworks like Xamarin or Cordova or would you maintain separate projects for each OS that you support. The recommendation is to choose a platform like Xamarin that builds on top of Visual Studio and leverages C# and .Net skills to develop and deploy natively for iOS, Android and Windows
  • App Certifications – Although these apps would be deployed via company portals, adhere to certification guidelines provided by Windows store. This will ensure compliance to performance, suspend & resume time and effective utilization of device resources.
  • Updates & Refreshes – Define a primary ALM tool that you would use for managing updates to the app and publishing refreshes. The codebase needs to be coordinated across multiple form-factors and devices. Visual Studio provides best in class source code control and ALM overall and can be used for Apps + Hybrid development with cloud and on premise applications.
  • Identity & Access control –
    • Define Single – Sign On experience, regardless of location.
    • Think about letting users access external resources via Active Directory Federation
    • What will be the Authentication mechanism for apps using corporate resources Define the baseline to ensure every app developer implements the same mechanism
    • Define which group of users have access to what type of apps and what level of access. Define how this will be enabled via Access control and Authentication

Mobile Apps Distribution Strategy

Distribution of apps to user devices can be done in one of the following ways:

1. Directly from the OS vendors store – Windows Store, Apple Store, Android Store etc.

This is the most preferred approach as all the plumbing work related to updates notifications, performance and security, Quality, reviews, feedback, ratings etc. is taken care of by the infrastructure. Windows store also provides for auto updates, which means new updates are directly pushed to the device w/o waiting for users to sign-in. However, this requires enterprise apps exposed to all users across the globe – which may not be appreciated despite being access controlled

2. Side-Loaded via private store w/o having to unlock the device in question or pre-loaded by the OEMs

A company portal which is a private store can be enabled via robust MDM solutions such as Windows Intune and System Center. While an MDM means additional investment, it provides for a secure environment to distribute, manage and control enterprise apps. Pre-Loaded apps by the OEMs require some sort of maintenance for upgrades and should be best achieved via an MDM

Considerations for MDM solution for apps distribution

  • How will users provision apps? What control measures would be in place? Some apps may need to be force deployed on users devices for compliance reasons.
  • Define the strategy for a private store. Windows Intune offers this out of the box using Company Portal – which is a self-service tool for installing apps
  • How will you distribute and update apps and policies?
  • Usage Reports - Provides usage information and help identify under- or over-used resources and prioritize package replication.
  • What happens when a device gets lost or the employee leaves the org? You need your MDM to wipe out all corporate assets from that device – Apps + Data
  • How will you ensure data encryption on the device?

Mobile Device Management

Security of devices, encryption of data and manageability is most important when devising a mobility strategy. Even in BYOD scenarios, you need a tighter control over devices that access corporate resources. Usage of mobile devices must be controlled with IT managed tools, in compliance with corporate security policies.

If a device cannot be managed or controlled, it should not be able to access corporate resources.

In addition to Apps, mobile devices can also ask for browser based access to corporate network. Therefore, enterprise IT also has to manage enrollment and management of devices onto their environment. Enterprise IT must:

  • Secure devices such that only registered devices are allowed access to the network and apps. These devices must conform to specified security standards
  • Access levels are determined by policies enforced – such as only encrypted devices get access to all internal resources. Non encrypted devices may access Low Business Impact networks.

Again a robust MDM solution like Windows Intune and System Center will be very handy here.

Considerations for MDM solution

  • Enrollment / De-registration of devices; Provide a Workplace Join feature on your phone to actually enroll for corporate services
  • How will your push and enforce policies on the device?
  • What happens when a device gets lost or the employee leaves the org? You need your MDM to wipe out all corporate assets from that device – Apps + Data
  • Selective Wipe - Removes corporate-related applications, data, and management policies from the mobile device, remotely enabled by System Center and Windows Intune
  • How will you ensure data encryption on the device?
  • Enables IT to view and manage PCs, mobile devices, servers, and virtual machines—both corporate-connected and cloud-based—through a single management console.
  • How will you handle OS upgrades to the device?

Conclusion

A successful implementation of Enterprise mobility has the following key characteristics:

  • Enable device choice, Consistent and Rich end user experience
  • Greater access to information, with and yet protect corporate assets.
  • Flexibility for app provisioning on devices, updates and maintenance, anytime, anywhere.
  • Granular control of devices, data and apps
  • Get a single view across your entire environment
  • Build on existing investment and reduce complexity for the user and IT administration, manage costs to decrease the total cost of ownership of mobility initiatives

Therefore key to success is effective planning and selection of the rights products to enable management of enterprise mobility.

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