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Notes from the Enterprise Mobility in Defense Conference

I spoke at my first military oriented mobility conference today.  It was located in Washington DC, and while attending the other sessions I was able to fill 7 pages worth of notes.  I will refrain from posting all seven pages and just give you the highlights here.
  • Companies don't own brands any longer, their consumers do.  Their consumers can do whatever they want with your brand in the social media space - freedom of speech.  Companies need their consumers to protect and promote their brands since companies can't control the message any longer.  That means a completely different brand strategy.  I credit Fred McClimans, Managing Director, McClimans Group for this insight.
  • Generals today must learn about mobile technologies and social networking from their young enlisted men and women today.  The younger generation has a more complete understanding of these technologies.
  • Americans, unlike many countries, raise soldiers accustom to independent thought and action.  In many countries and cultures people won't think or act independently, they only follow commands.  This is a cultural and environmental competitive advantage for Americans.  Even in disconnected environments, the US Military can expect their warfighters to continue to act and follow through on a mission without additional communications or commands.
  • Our mobile capabilities and our countries competitive advantages are limited by the amount of frequency spectrum that is available.  We need to eliminate congestion and open up more spectrum to maintain our competitive advantages.  This is a long term problem and will take time to solve.
  • Military pilots are using more and more tablets.  These tablets must be small enough to be wore without injury during emergency ejections.  If the tablet is too big it can break the pilot's leg during ejection (they are strapped to a pilot's right leg).
  • The army currently is using the following categories of mobile apps: training, inventory, medical, mapping, command and control and language translation
  • Modern warfare, as conducted in Afghanistan, is more like gang warfare than wars of the past.  Mobile apps that help intelligence personnel diagram and understand human networks are important today.
  • The army divides mobility into four areas, 1) governance, 2) centralized app library, 3) development frameworks and 4) app certification
  • Social networking on mobile devices causes problems for the military.  Facebook wants to use geo-location to reveal the location of soldiers in the field.  Military commanders might click a "Thumbs-Up" symbol to like a comment and suddenly they are being publicly quoted as supporting political parties and views that cause problems.
  • The Pentagon wants to support a BYOD strategy, however, this means the Pentagon can tell BYOD users when they must buy a new device to stay compliant.  Yikes!  There is still much work to be done before this becomes a reality.
  • The DoD (department of defense) believes they will save tens of millions of dollars by moving toward a BYOD strategy for non-classified use cases.
  • The DoD today has secure smartphones but they cost $8,000 USD each.  Ouch!  I see their motivation for wanting to support a secured BYOD environment.
  • Random information - the Pentagon receives 8 million emails per day, but only sends 1 million.  I am sure there is some sort of interesting insight here, but not from me.
  • The Pentagon believes Big Data is the next big wave.  As you can image the volume of data coming into the Pentagon is mind boggling.  Only about 1 percent is analyzed today, and the other 99% is quickly scanned and archived.  However, Big Data promises to be able to help find additional trends and patterns in the 99% fast enough to be useful in the near future.
  • The Pentagon believes Big Data will force companies to re-engineer and rearchitect many of their systems in order to take advantage of it.
  • The Pentagon really only started to get serious with enterprise mobility in 2012.  Now many pilot projects are underway.
  • Securing the data is really the object not securing the mobile device.  This may require some kind of data tagging so you can protect the data for its entire life cycle.  Data may be tagged with different levels of security in the data properties so only the appropriate users can view it and apps integrate it.
  • Biggest enterprise mobility challenge in the military today is how to respond to the "consumerization of IT" trend in a secure environment.
  • There are two high level areas of mobility in the military, 1)garrison mobility (non-classifed, not warfighter oriented apps), and 2) tactical warfighter apps for the battlefield environment.
  • The Marines are wanting to drop Blackberry support in favor of BYOD strategies for non-classified users and apps to reduce costs.
  • The Marines, for legal reasons, want a smartphone that has separate partitions for personal and military use.  The Marines want to control and own the apps and data in their portion, but not in the personal partition.  They are still looking for an ideal smartphone that meets these requirements.
There you go!  I saved you a trip and a long day listening to mobile secure lecture after security lecture.  You are welcome :-)
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Kevin Benedict, Head Analyst for SMAC, Cognizant
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Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I am a mobility and SMAC analyst, consultant and writer. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.

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Kevin Benedict is the Senior Analyst for Digital Transformation at Cognizant, a writer, speaker and SAP Mentor Alumnus. Follow him on Twitter @krbenedict. He is a popular speaker around the world on the topic of digital transformation and enterprise mobility. He maintains a busy schedule researching, writing and speaking at events in North America, Asia and Europe. He has over 25 years of experience working in the enterprise IT solutions industry.