Transportation and logistics companies and mobile technology: Lessons for other industries

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In the run-up to the holiday season, it’s the transportation and logistics industry that makes wishes come true for young and old alike. Though these holiday heroes make it look easy, transportation and logistics companies rely heavily on mobile technology to help them deliver, suggests FleetOwner.

Companies in other industries should take cues from the transportation industry on how it uses mobile technology to get the job done.

The transportation and logistics industry has important enterprise mobility insights because it’s an industry that’s mastered knowing the location of its people and assets using location-based services and the IoT.

Here are five mobile solutions powering the transportation and logistics industry and lessons other enterprises can learn from their applications:

1. Geofencing

As highlighted by DreamOrbit, the transportation and logistics industry uses geofencing to create virtual boundaries around assigned areas using GPS-enabled devices. For example, transportation and logistics companies use geofencing technology to track when trucks enter and leave a depot yard or overnight parking area.

Geofencing technologies aren’t just for tracking vehicles, either. A healthcare institution can use the same technology on devices within its network to limit access to patient information. It can also integrate geofencing technology with enterprise mobility management(EMM) solutions. Doctors or other healthcare professionals can bring up the patient data they need on their mobile devices when they’re working their shifts. As soon as their shifts end, their mobile devices won’t be able to log on to any hospital resources holding patient information. This technology can be critical for hospitals with mobile workers to remain compliant with the 1996 Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

2. Location-based services

Whether trucks are in freight yards or delivering toys for Black Friday, it makes good business sense to know their locations. Companies use mobile devices and onboard GPS to support location-based services across their fleets. Location-based services can feed into back-office systems including management dashboards and analytics platforms for reporting purposes. Management can use that data to make informed decisions about its next business moves.

Companies in the retail, healthcare and field services industries use these technologies when it’s necessary to track employees and customers for security and other purposes. For example, consider when a cable company equips its vehicles with location-based services so it can track them and dispatch the closest technician to service a customer.

3. Mobile-based planning apps

Firms use cloud-based applications (sometimes called transportation management systems) to manage and track shipments from the warehouse through transport to shipping. Drivers can access these systems using mobile apps. Some vendors also offer secure chat and collaboration features as part of these applications, giving them channels to communicate back to dispatchers and corporate offices if something changes on their routes.

Mobile planning apps have many applications across other industries. Though field service companies such as construction firms are a natural fit, these apps point to a future in which mobile devices will run more business operations. Furthermore, the implications for secure collaboration and communications are transferable to healthcare, financial services and manufacturing, where mobile workers need close communications across one or more facilities during daily operations.

4. The IoT

The barrier to entry for the IoT is going down for the supply chain, according to Logistics Management. This is leading to some exciting applications for the transportation and logistics industry. Consider a transportation company that tags its loads with IoT beacons. Each beacon communicates with its main dispatch center or even directly to customers, enabling them to track goods through their entire shipping cycles. Transportation management systems, enterprise resource planning platforms and even customer relationship management applications can then read these IoT beacons.

The transportation and logistics industry sets an example for its implementation of the IoT to track vehicles and packages while going through the supply chain. Similar parallels for the IoT exist in pharmaceuticals and healthcare, where IoT sensors can monitor patients both in hospitals and at home. In the end, it’s about the IoT sensor triggering a notification prompting a person to take action. Other enterprises will also use IoT devices to monitor machinery and other assets.

5. Enterprise mobility management

The transportation and logistics industry represents a mobile workforce like no other industry because of its delivery challenges, deadlines and the distances its workforce covers. All this makes the industry a natural consumer of EMM solutions. Mobile devices need to receive security, app and mobile OS updates, whether they’re on the road, at a corporate facility or at a rest stop later that night. Using today’s EMM solutions lets transportation companies secure IoT devices and integrate geofencing solutions into their overall mobile security solutions.

Look at the landing page for many EMM solutions right now and chances are you’ll see a vendor trying to suit its platform to cross-industry business requirements. That’s a testimony to a mobility vendor that’s learning from the transportation industry to create the best solutions for its customers.

Part of becoming a better mobile enterprise is studying how other industries go mobile. The transportation and logistics industry is a perfect case study in mobility because it represents businesses with critical timelines that require flexible and secure mobile technologies to ensure user productivity.

This post originally appeared on Mobile Business Insights on November 2, 2017. The site is no longer in publication.

My name is Will Kelly. I’m a technical writer and content strategist based in the Washington, DC area. I’ve written for corporations and technology publications about such topics as cloud computing, DevOps, and enterprise mobility. Follow me on Twitter: @willkelly

How to overcome mobility challenges in your digital transformation

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The road to becoming a mobile-first organization isn’t without its business, security and technology challenges. Companies that win at enterprise mobility overcome these challenges through the proper application of technology, policies and processes.

The following are some mobility challenges you may face and how to approach them:

Personal and corporate data on employee devices

Bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies continue to be a challenge, even for organizations that have been at it for a few years.

Getting past BYOD pain points requires a cross-functional team with active participants from the business and IT sides of the house. If you currently offer or want to offer a BYOD stipend, implementing a split-billing solution helps ensure your organization stays on budget and your users get the stipends they deserve, according to VDC Research. Split-billing solutions data can also be set to flow into your mobile security solution to provide data points for common user activities.

The intermingling of personal and corporate data makes data governance a major BYOD pain point. You’ll need to enforce your company’s data ownership policies through user education and mobile content management policies set in your enterprise mobility management (EMM) solution.

Cybersecurity stakes rise

Getting past the cybersecurity pain point requires an arsenal of approaches. You’ll need multi-level security thinking with mobility-focused user security training, security policies and a holistic approach to EMM by integrating threat intelligence, identity access management (IAM), analytics and even endpoint security into the platform to create a holistic mobile security solution for your organization.

Next, step up your anti-malware strategy to keep your corporate devices free from unauthorized software and include the strategy as part of your user security training.

ROI to show business value

Though you should focus on the technology and security challenges of going mobile, you can’t lose sight of your return on investment (ROI) for the move.

Ensuring your mobile initiative boosts ROI requires mapping more of your mobility goals to new revenue or service delivery opportunities. Think more about field sales enablement and helping field employees better serve your customers. Though improving employee satisfaction and productivity is a traditional goal of a mobility initiative, maturing it means aligning with the bottom line of the business.

Work with stakeholders and your financial team to determine how your organization can capture the ROI of going mobile , then give managers the tools and processes to chart it for reporting purposes. According to Business 2 Community, capturing mobile app ROI includes the following steps:

  • Calculating improved user productivity (for example, improving response to customers)
  • Capturing what role, if any, the mobile apps play in the acquisition of customers (such as sales enablement and CRM tools)
  • Analyzing app usage against improving internal collaboration and communications

It comes down to capturing how going mobile improves the bottom line of your company.

Virtual assistants become a security concern

Virtual assistant apps coming to employee phones bring new security concerns. It’s time for your security team to analyze the potential vulnerabilities if virtual assistants are on BYOD devices or part of your mobility roadmap. Your security team should set the appropriate policies and rules to protect your data from potential breaches that could come from these technologies.

Mobile workforce and compliance

If Sarbanes-Oxley, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) or another compliance program governs your business, expect new mobility challenges. It’s not impossible to have a compliant mobile workforce. You’ll need to work with your auditor and third-party security experts to ensure your EMM and endpoint security meet compliance standards.

Limited developer resources

Another challenge that should not be dismissed is mobile app development. For many, all the skilled and experienced developers are all working on billable projects. Overhead projects such as corporate mobile apps fall into the bottom of their priority lists. Though your enterprise app store will certainly provide approved mobile apps, use cases abound where organizations might have to develop custom apps in-house that will be made available through an enterprise app store. However, tight development resources make that a challenge.

Meeting the mobile app development challenge requires taking a simple approach to app development. Look into the benefits of mobile back-end-as-a-service and low-code tools so you can open mobile app development to more junior developers, knowledge workers or power users to extend your list of available developers for mobile app projects.

Though your organization will encounter some challenges, these hurdles will be manageable and your mobile transformation will certainly be worthwhile.

This post originally appeared on Mobile Business Insights on September 28, 2017. The site is no longer in publication.

My name is Will Kelly. I’m a technical writer and content strategist based in the Washington, DC area. I’ve written for corporations and technology publications about such topics as cloud computing, DevOps, and enterprise mobility. Follow me on Twitter: @willkelly

Use MMS provider service desks to boost your enterprise mobility and BYOD initiatives

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Service desks play an intricate role in a company on a day-to-day basis. Providing your employees with the best help desk services from your managed mobility services (MMS) provider can lessen internal issues and improve employee productivity.

Here are some considerations for your mobility provider’s service desk:

Solution provider service desks and your employees

TechTarget notes that because of their mobility expertise, your users can come to your provider’s service desk for a full range of support services, including mobile device acquisition, provisioning and end-of-life services for smartphones, tablets and ruggedized devices.

Your provider will escalate user issues and requests as necessary to the appropriate service tier, such as the following:

  • Tier 0 for self-service web portals
  • Tier 1 with a 24/7, 365-day service desk for how to questions and issue resolution
  • Tier 2 with escalated support beyond the skills and expertise of Tier 1
  • Tier 3 acting as an escalation point for Tier 2 issues

The help desk should provide your company with weekly or monthly reporting about help desk issues, resolutions and trends. Such reporting is one way to ensure your MMS provider is meeting your service-level agreement. Like with any other managed services provider, details of the reporting and SLA are standard parts of the contract negotiations. The help desk can also play an integral role in the development and management of your BYOD policies, so don’t forget to invite team members to your corporate BYOD initiative.

Enterprise mobility — let alone mobile security — is challenging to track for many people. Your provider’s help desk can serve as a direct liaison between your mobile carrier and your users. The VAR Guy notes your provider can assist with the billing issues that can occur when your company is running a growing number of devices that suck down data and minutes, not to mention roaming. MMS provider expertise also extends to putting in the tools and processes to manage your mobile expenses to reduce billing issues.

Benefits of MMS provider help desk services

The following are some benefits of using an MMS provider:

  • Access to mobile security expertise the average company can’t bring in-house because of fluctuating workloads, budget constraints or the tight market for mobile security expertise
  • Insights into enterprise mobility and BYOD best practices
  • Wireless network troubleshooting
  • Hardware troubleshooting and lost or stolen device assistance
  • Knowledge base of help content often available through a self-service portal for users
  • Incident support coordination with enterprise mobility management and other security providers
  • Automation of mobile operating system and app updates

Ultimately, the MMS provider service desk plays a major role in enterprise mobility and BYOD because it’s on the front line, serving users through all facets of the enterprise mobility life.

This post originally appeared on Mobile Business Insights on August 30, 2017. The site is no longer in publication.

My name is Will Kelly. I’m a technical writer and content strategist based in the Washington, DC area. I’ve written for corporations and technology publications about such topics as cloud computing, DevOps, and enterprise mobility. Follow me on Twitter: @willkelly

How to select the right hybrid integration platform for your mobile app strategy

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Your mobile app strategy should play a part in selecting the right integration platform to support your digital transformation. It’s about aligning your platform requirements — and in turn digital transformation — with your current and future mobile workforce. Here’s how to evaluate your current and forthcoming needs and the steps to take for a more seamless platform integration.

Evaluating a platform

According to TechTarget, you should keep elasticity at the top of your integration requirements. This allows you to shrink or expand your development platform to fit your organization’s requirements. Whether it’s starting small and building out as part of a digital transformation or accommodating seasonal surges, elasticity means paying only for the capacity you use.

Evaluating an integration platform to support your mobile app strategy needs to be a team activity — you don’t want the IT department to handle it alone. Here are some examples of how to bring in teams to support an evaluation:

  • Business users such as analysts and other knowledge workers can evaluate no-code or low-code solutions in the platform. Better yet, get them live on an evaluation to put together some mobile apps that link back to their team’s data.
  • Developers can evaluate the API and other development tools available as part of the platform.
  • Cybersecurity experts from your security team can evaluate the security features of the platform.
  • System administrators can evaluate the monitoring and management tools of the platform.

Mobility at its core is fluid, so supporting a mobile app strategy means having an agile platform. If your organization is moving from more traditional platforms, having elasticity and a holistic evaluation from a cross-functional team is necessary to give you the best feedback.

Introducing integration platforms into back-end processes

Going mobile-first or introducing bring your own device (BYOD) into your enterprise represents a fundamental shift in how your business users and knowledge workers perform their daily jobs. Part of that shift is migrating some or all of your legacy applications to the cloud in a secure manner so that your back-end processes won’t skip a beat.

Some of these back-end processes might be well-documented with employee training backing them up. However, you might also find back-end processes that are part of a department’s oral history where the steps are passed down from employee to employee. Then again, you might uncover back-end processes that employees keep to themselves for reasons of job security or because their managers and coworkers never bothered asking about them.

Once you get a grasp as to what back-end processes you are enabling for mobile, choose a small departmental-level process — especially one that gets you an enthused participant in your integration. The last part is important because you want to foster a champion for your integration as part of a next-generation business process.

Work with the department stakeholders to redesign their back-end process for mobile. For example, if you select a form-driven process, your redesign will need to capture the steps of the process and how to redesign it for cloud and mobile.

While you redesign your first legacy app, you should also examine the back-end technologies that power it. The integration platform will offer new front-end development tools and user experience (UX) that will enable your developers to build next-generation mobile apps that tie into your back-end data.

Fitting an integration platform into your mobile strategy

The best way to fit in a new platform is when you are first authoring your organization’s mobile strategy. However, because you often don’t or won’t have that luxury, you’ll instead be updating your strategy.

Integration can be key to your time to market and ability to innovate, according to SIIA. Time to market isn’t just for external mobile apps anymore. Those same principles still apply to releasing internal apps to your own business users. When you are introducing an integration platform to mobilize one of your back-end processes, you have a powerful tool to wrangle business users’ attention — if you can rapidly iterate on mobile apps to meet their requirements, integrate feedback from internal pilot projects and bring along your internal users.

Mobile app strategy and platform synergy

Your mobile strategy isn’t meant to be an extension of your new or existing online strategy. That translates into building mobile apps with your platform of choice to provide a more intimate experience for users than just another website, according to Business 2 Community.

Today’s integration solutions — in particular, rapid mobile app development (RMAD) and low- or no-code solutions — enable developers and sometimes even empower users to create mobile apps with low-code tools. This means it’s even more important for your strategy to map out guidelines for mobile app development so these new citizen developers make full use of the platform.

Selecting the integration platform that fits best with your mobile strategy means a selection process and perhaps pilots and proofs of concepts. It ends with updating your mobile strategy to ensure your new platform is best positioned to serve your enterprise.

This post originally appeared on Mobile Business Insights on June 5, 2018. The site is no longer in publication.

My name is Will Kelly. I’m a technical writer and content strategist based in the Washington, DC area. I’ve written for corporations and technology publications about such topics as cloud computing, DevOps, and enterprise mobility. Follow me on Twitter: @willkelly

How to ensure mobile app security through teamwork, processes and training

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Improving mobile app security is key to keeping your company’s data secure inside and outside the office. Making such improvements requires the work of multiple teams including app developers, IT security and business users.

Here are some tips to improve and optimize your mobile app security:

Send your developers to app security training

Lifewire notes one fundamental investment you should make to improve your organization’s app security is sending your developers to security training that covers secure app development practices. Your development team can then create security strategies and processes as part of your app development lifecycle.

If you rely on citizen developers with low-code tools to develop your mobile apps, you’ll need to deliver security training to them as well. Work with your IT security team to set up mentoring and training around app security. You should also check with your low-code tools vendor to review its security documentation and see whether it offers any security training.

Bake security into your development process

Today, mobile app security starts on the first day of development. Back in the day, QA testers and the security team didn’t worry about testing app security until the final stretch before release. New realities of agile development, DevOps and employees’ desire to have a more consumer-friendly app store experience have changed the way teams develop, test and deploy mobile apps.

According to CSO, it also requires the right skills and tools to develop and secure a mobile minimum viable app, which has the potential to lower the attack surface against your corporate-developed apps.

The following are other ways to bake in mobile app security from the very beginning of a project:

  • Make app security considerations nonfunctional requirements
  • Conduct a threat modeling analysis
  • Write user stories full of enterprise and OS specifics

Use mobile application management and an enterprise app store

Mobile application management (MAM) needs to be in place to secure all the mobile apps across your corporate devices. MAM should also serve corporate-approved apps for bring-your-own-device (BYOD) initiatives.

There should be a curated enterprise app store at the end of your DevOps toolchain to serve up the latest versions of your corporate mobile apps. Today, MAM solutions and enterprise app stores will let you set priority-based rules for app updates across your user community so you can respond to routine updates and, more importantly, critical patches. You also want to set policies to let you erase selected apps from a corporate mobile device.

Protect app data in transit and at rest

There’s a risk whenever your mobile app exposes data in transit across the internet, your network or at rest. Typically, enterprises secure data in transit using encrypted connections such as HTTPS, SSL or FTPS for protection. Data at rest resides in encrypted storage on the mobile device. You should set data encryption on devices through your enterprise mobility management solution.

Lock down your mobile endpoints

Implementing cloud-based mobile endpoint security may not be considered a mobile app security measure, but it does detect malicious behavior in applications. The behavior might come from man-in-the-middle attacks, side-loaded applications or other risky behaviors.

Use SSO for app authentication

Chances are, your corporate mobile apps open up access to all sorts of confidential and proprietary information. As such, you need a single sign-on (SSO) authentication solution to secure employee access to your apps.

Harden your mobile operating systems

Your security team should be conducting periodic reviews of your mobile operating systems as part of your mobile security strategy. The review should include the vendor’s operating system, application programming interface and security documentation.

Medium to large businesses, government agencies and higher-education institutions should consider creating their own checklists for hardening mobile operating systems.

PC Authority reports hardening Android security includes the following tasks:

  • Restricting the side-loading of apps
  • Using encryption
  • Setting granular app permissions
  • Using a virtual private network
  • Installing security software

Your security and app development teams should review any documentation your mobile device vendor has that covers best practices for hardening operating systems.

Developing true app security at your enterprise is possible, but it takes collaboration with many groups across the organization.

This post originally appeared on Mobile Business Insights on October 3, 2017. The site is no longer in publication.

My name is Will Kelly. I’m a technical writer and content strategist based in the Washington, DC area. I’ve written for corporations and technology publications about such topics as cloud computing, DevOps, and enterprise mobility. Follow me on Twitter: @willkelly