|By Vikas Sharan||
|December 20, 2013 11:00 AM EST||
Mobile apps aren't just for consumers anymore. Businesses large and small are recognizing that mobile apps can heighten employee efficiency and productivity. Mobile apps can give many companies a competitive edge through more agile customer service, sales tools, and supply chain management. In a Q213 Appcelerator survey of mobile app developers, 42.7% plan to build apps that are B2B and B2E (business to employee), and more than 51% expect to build apps for enterprise app stores.
Businesses face a number of challenges as they deploy mobile apps across the enterprise. With proliferation of mobile devices, mobile technology fragmentation, and the trend toward "BYOD," operability on multiple platforms is essential to ensure broad adoption. Intuitive user interface is important as well, since employees have expectations based on their experience with consumer apps. To avoid data leaks and other security breaches, businesses need to address authentication and access privileges across the enterprise. Integration with existing IT infrastructure, both on premise and in the cloud, must also be considered, as well as data retention and regulatory compliance.
On November 13, The Silicon Valley Business App (SVBA) Awards sponsored by Regalix, recognized six outstanding mobile business apps for their innovation and development practices. In this article, we describe two of these award-winning apps and how they effectively address the specific needs of businesses.
DocuSign Ink: SVBA Award Winner for Productivity
The global standard for eSignature®, DocuSign Ink makes it possible for employees to use their mobile devices to safely and securely provide information, sign or initial any document, and then return the completed document via email - anytime, anywhere.
DocuSign understood that for the mobile app to be adopted across the enterprise, the signing experience had to be intuitive and easy to use for any user - whether a customer, prospect, partner, supplier, or employee. Download and setup needed to be straightforward, and the process of opening a document from email, importing it into DocuSign Ink, and applying a signature had to be completely seamless with the highest levels of security and availability, since businesses would rely on the technology for mission critical operations. As a result, they designed the app so that users can easily complete form fields, drag and drop their signatures and initials into documents, and complete the DocuSigning of a document received through email in three taps or less. The DocuSign Ink app integrates with the native email client on each mobile device so that users can sign documents from within the email client.
In addition, they recognized that since many employees would be downloading the app on their personal smartphones and tablets, the interface needed to be comfortable and familiar for users on a variety of mobile devices and software platforms. DocuSign developed native apps for iOS, Android, and Windows, optimizing each for the interesting features of the individual operating system. Since native apps deliver faster and more reliable performance than Web-based apps, DocuSign was able to deliver a high-quality user experience, which encouraged rapid adoption among consumers and businesses alike.
By developing native apps, DocuSign was able to give users a rich signature creation experience and tools to enhance productivity. The app is tuned for pressure and speed sensitivity while offering a variety for pen types and colors for users to personalize their signatures. An optional push notification feature was seamlessly integrated into the app, which alerts users when they have documents to sign, when transactions have been completed, and the status of documents as they're being signed, all without the user having to open DocuSign Ink. These features make employees more productive to accelerate the speed of business and reduce costs-all without complicating the user experience.
Voxer Business: SVBA Award Winner for Social Business and Winner for Best Overall Mobile Business App
Voxer Business is a live messaging application that blends the richness of voice with the etiquette of texting. Unlike traditional push-to-talk phones or radios, Voxer Business offers both live streamed and recorded messages at scale, including voice, text, or images. Voxer Business can send live audio between mobile and desktop clients, enabling workers to collaborate regardless of location or device.
Designed to be an enterprise-grade communications tool, Voxer Business was built to mesh with companies' existing business processes and IT infrastructure. For example, the app supports LDAP, Active Directory, and other back end directory systems to streamline identity management and allow integration with existing enterprise system credentials, enabling a true single sign-on experience. Additionally, Voxer aligns its storage policies with its customers' existing data retention and regulatory compliance policies and utilizes military grade encryption to guard against data leaks.
Voxer recognized that employees would be using the app on their personal mobile devices as well as their desktops. Since low latency and high-quality audio are so crucial to the user experience (and adoption), Voxer developed native apps for each mobile device and a Web-based application for desktop that supports multiple conversations. While the look and feel of the app is consistent across devices, each native app is optimized for high-quality audio on the specific platform. Voxer believed that seamless integration of a desktop application was important from a business process perspective, as it gives users complete flexibility whether they are in the office or on the road. An additional benefit is elimination of information silos that can develop when desktop and mobile applications are not unified.
DocuSign and Voxer built their mobile business apps on different foundations. DocuSign was well established as a leader in eSignature and eSignature transaction management for the enterprise. Recognizing the growing trend of mobility among consumers and the mobile sales and service workforce, DocuSign added mobile apps to its product portfolio to deliver even greater value to customers. Voxer applied its mobile app technology, which first gained massive consumer adoption, to the rigorous requirements of the enterprise as it developed its professional-grade solution. Voxer Business is arguably the poster child of the consumerization of IT. Both companies have employed best practices to develop native mobile apps that deliver cross platform functionality, an intuitive user experience, and IT infrastructure integration. Much more than mobile versions of business apps, DocuSign Ink and Voxer Business are good examples of mobile apps designed from the ground up to work for businesses-and to make them more nimble and productive.
Cultural, regulatory, environmental, political and economic (CREPE) conditions over the past decade are creating cross-industry solution spaces that require processes and technologies from both the Internet of Things (IoT), and Data Management and Analytics (DMA). These solution spaces are evolving into Sensor Analytics Ecosystems (SAE) that represent significant new opportunities for organizations of all types. Public Utilities throughout the world, providing electricity, natural gas and water, are pursuing SmartGrid initiatives that represent one of the more mature examples of SAE. We have s...
Nov. 27, 2014 04:00 PM EST Reads: 1,190
The security devil is always in the details of the attack: the ones you've endured, the ones you prepare yourself to fend off, and the ones that, you fear, will catch you completely unaware and defenseless. The Internet of Things (IoT) is nothing if not an endless proliferation of details. It's the vision of a world in which continuous Internet connectivity and addressability is embedded into a growing range of human artifacts, into the natural world, and even into our smartphones, appliances, and physical persons. In the IoT vision, every new "thing" - sensor, actuator, data source, data con...
Nov. 27, 2014 04:00 PM EST Reads: 1,583
The Internet of Things is tied together with a thin strand that is known as time. Coincidentally, at the core of nearly all data analytics is a timestamp. When working with time series data there are a few core principles that everyone should consider, especially across datasets where time is the common boundary. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Scott, Director of Enterprise Strategy & Architecture at MapR Technologies, discussed single-value, geo-spatial, and log time series data. By focusing on enterprise applications and the data center, he will use OpenTSDB as an example t...
Nov. 27, 2014 03:00 PM EST Reads: 1,415
How do APIs and IoT relate? The answer is not as simple as merely adding an API on top of a dumb device, but rather about understanding the architectural patterns for implementing an IoT fabric. There are typically two or three trends: Exposing the device to a management framework Exposing that management framework to a business centric logic Exposing that business layer and data to end users. This last trend is the IoT stack, which involves a new shift in the separation of what stuff happens, where data lives and where the interface lies. For instance, it's a mix of architectural styles ...
Nov. 27, 2014 03:00 PM EST Reads: 1,226
The 3rd International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that its Call for Papers is now open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
Nov. 27, 2014 03:00 PM EST Reads: 824
An entirely new security model is needed for the Internet of Things, or is it? Can we save some old and tested controls for this new and different environment? In his session at @ThingsExpo, New York's at the Javits Center, Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, reviewed hands-on lessons with IoT devices and reveal a new risk balance you might not expect. Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, has more than nineteen years' experience managing global security operations and assessments, including a decade of leading incident response and digital forensics. He is co-author of t...
Nov. 27, 2014 01:00 PM EST Reads: 1,613
The Internet of Things will greatly expand the opportunities for data collection and new business models driven off of that data. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, discussed how for this to be effective you not only need to have infrastructure and operational models capable of utilizing this new phenomenon, but increasingly service providers will need to convince a skeptical public to participate. Get ready to show them the money!
Nov. 27, 2014 11:00 AM EST Reads: 1,221
The Internet of Things will put IT to its ultimate test by creating infinite new opportunities to digitize products and services, generate and analyze new data to improve customer satisfaction, and discover new ways to gain a competitive advantage across nearly every industry. In order to help corporate business units to capitalize on the rapidly evolving IoT opportunities, IT must stand up to a new set of challenges. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jeff Kaplan, Managing Director of THINKstrategies, will examine why IT must finally fulfill its role in support of its SBUs or face a new round of...
Nov. 27, 2014 10:00 AM EST Reads: 1,180
One of the biggest challenges when developing connected devices is identifying user value and delivering it through successful user experiences. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Mike Kuniavsky, Principal Scientist, Innovation Services at PARC, described an IoT-specific approach to user experience design that combines approaches from interaction design, industrial design and service design to create experiences that go beyond simple connected gadgets to create lasting, multi-device experiences grounded in people's real needs and desires.
Nov. 27, 2014 08:00 AM EST Reads: 1,178
Enthusiasm for the Internet of Things has reached an all-time high. In 2013 alone, venture capitalists spent more than $1 billion dollars investing in the IoT space. With "smart" appliances and devices, IoT covers wearable smart devices, cloud services to hardware companies. Nest, a Google company, detects temperatures inside homes and automatically adjusts it by tracking its user's habit. These technologies are quickly developing and with it come challenges such as bridging infrastructure gaps, abiding by privacy concerns and making the concept a reality. These challenges can't be addressed w...
Nov. 27, 2014 07:45 AM EST Reads: 1,467
The Domain Name Service (DNS) is one of the most important components in networking infrastructure, enabling users and services to access applications by translating URLs (names) into IP addresses (numbers). Because every icon and URL and all embedded content on a website requires a DNS lookup loading complex sites necessitates hundreds of DNS queries. In addition, as more internet-enabled ‘Things' get connected, people will rely on DNS to name and find their fridges, toasters and toilets. According to a recent IDG Research Services Survey this rate of traffic will only grow. What's driving t...
Nov. 27, 2014 07:00 AM EST Reads: 1,450
Scott Jenson leads a project called The Physical Web within the Chrome team at Google. Project members are working to take the scalability and openness of the web and use it to talk to the exponentially exploding range of smart devices. Nearly every company today working on the IoT comes up with the same basic solution: use my server and you'll be fine. But if we really believe there will be trillions of these devices, that just can't scale. We need a system that is open a scalable and by using the URL as a basic building block, we open this up and get the same resilience that the web enjoys.
Nov. 27, 2014 06:45 AM EST Reads: 1,341
Connected devices and the Internet of Things are getting significant momentum in 2014. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Hunter, Chief Scientist & Technology Evangelist at Greenwave Systems, examined three key elements that together will drive mass adoption of the IoT before the end of 2015. The first element is the recent advent of robust open source protocols (like AllJoyn and WebRTC) that facilitate M2M communication. The second is broad availability of flexible, cost-effective storage designed to handle the massive surge in back-end data in a world where timely analytics is e...
Nov. 27, 2014 06:45 AM EST Reads: 1,276
We are reaching the end of the beginning with WebRTC, and real systems using this technology have begun to appear. One challenge that faces every WebRTC deployment (in some form or another) is identity management. For example, if you have an existing service – possibly built on a variety of different PaaS/SaaS offerings – and you want to add real-time communications you are faced with a challenge relating to user management, authentication, authorization, and validation. Service providers will want to use their existing identities, but these will have credentials already that are (hopefully) i...
Nov. 27, 2014 04:00 AM EST Reads: 1,176
"Matrix is an ambitious open standard and implementation that's set up to break down the fragmentation problems that exist in IP messaging and VoIP communication," explained John Woolf, Technical Evangelist at Matrix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Nov. 27, 2014 04:00 AM EST Reads: 1,126
P2P RTC will impact the landscape of communications, shifting from traditional telephony style communications models to OTT (Over-The-Top) cloud assisted & PaaS (Platform as a Service) communication services. The P2P shift will impact many areas of our lives, from mobile communication, human interactive web services, RTC and telephony infrastructure, user federation, security and privacy implications, business costs, and scalability. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robin Raymond, Chief Architect at Hookflash, will walk through the shifting landscape of traditional telephone and voice services ...
Nov. 26, 2014 02:00 PM EST Reads: 1,581
Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Chief Architect for the Internet of Things and Intelligent Systems at Red Hat, described how to revolutioniz...
Nov. 24, 2014 07:00 PM EST Reads: 1,698
Bit6 today issued a challenge to the technology community implementing Web Real Time Communication (WebRTC). To leap beyond WebRTC’s significant limitations and fully leverage its underlying value to accelerate innovation, application developers need to consider the entire communications ecosystem.
Nov. 24, 2014 12:00 PM EST Reads: 1,592
The definition of IoT is not new, in fact it’s been around for over a decade. What has changed is the public's awareness that the technology we use on a daily basis has caught up on the vision of an always on, always connected world. If you look into the details of what comprises the IoT, you’ll see that it includes everything from cloud computing, Big Data analytics, “Things,” Web communication, applications, network, storage, etc. It is essentially including everything connected online from hardware to software, or as we like to say, it’s an Internet of many different things. The difference ...
Nov. 24, 2014 11:00 AM EST Reads: 1,717
Cloud Expo 2014 TV commercials will feature @ThingsExpo, which was launched in June, 2014 at New York City's Javits Center as the largest 'Internet of Things' event in the world.
Nov. 24, 2014 09:00 AM EST Reads: 1,743