You are going to love your new job (probably)

Posted by Vox Mobile on Aug 31, 2018 11:22:48 AM

While most MTL members are excited rising level of interest and adoption of Digital Transformation (DX) projects, some are very concerned about their jobs.

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Topics: Trends, WorkSpaceONE, Digital Transformation

Transformation requires a New Alignment

Posted by Jim Haviland on Aug 17, 2018 1:57:02 PM

Is there a business initiative that would add significant new value or savings to an organization right now that wouldn’t involve technology? We have asked this question at dozens of MTL events around the world with almost unanimous agreement that everything a business sets out to accomplish will require some new tech or new application of old tech.

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Topics: Digital Transformation

Mobility, Transformation and the as-a-Service Model

Posted by Jim Haviland on Aug 6, 2018 11:18:32 AM

Mobile Thought Leaders discussions on the role of out-sourcing, managed services, and more recently, the as-a-Service models of finding help for their initiatives has often been highly influenced by fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) rather than a rationalized approach to deciding whether things belong in-house or other models need to be considered. 

And the bias runs bother ways.  Members often tells stories of a leadership change leading to an executive decision to change direction (either to bring things back in house or to outsource).  What follows is often a disaster or a process twice as long as planned because suddenly a staff used to one model has to shift to another. Or sometimes there is simply a revolt, and nothing moves forward, except perhaps the leadership moving on.

MTL held an MTL Online event to provide some accumulated guidance and experience-sharing on the role of xaaS technology services in supporting mobile and digital transformation initiatives - and the places where in-sourcing or other models may be more effective.

Bob Burkhart is a long-time MTL member and was able to represent the oft-told story of Nationwide Insurance’s mobile-first transformation. Bob and his team had an executive mandate and budget but still faced numerous challenges and made their share of mistakes that provide great insights for the rest of us.

Chad Nordby, joined the panel from Vox Mobile.   His long resume includes a view of technology services on massive scale and global reach, having completed projects that included hundreds of thousands of endpoints and solutions that covered more than 30 countries. These are not the kind of projects where you go it alone.

 The discussion was hosted by the Chief Strategy Officer for Mobile Thought Leaders, Jim Haviland, who travels the world working with MTL members and sponsors on building mobile and digital transformation programs and trying to sort out what goes wrong.

A brief history of IT outsourcing

The panel reviewed the evolution and problems with each of the outsourcing models.  All agreed that no model is perfect or appropriate for all the stages of a company’s growth or, more importantly, through the life-cycle of initiatives.

Figure 1: The evolution of concerns about outsourcing models

Mr. Burkhart pointed out that the xaaS model was an imperative for enabling agility and managing risk when starting out on a new initiative but pulling services back in can be anything but graceful, even when economics or changing needs dictate that it is necessary.  Each panelist agreed that having relatively solid metrics and goals and an agreed-upon approach to the economics was important to managing the process.


When to choose xaaS

There are some specific drivers that make the xaaS approach more beneficial to an organization, specifically:

  • When the risk of uncontrolled costs outweighs the need to cost optimization – especially in early stages when the scale is smaller.
  • When the scale of your project can or will change quickly or in unpredictable ways
  • When you need special expertise or skills (or maybe just some experience).
  • When complexity or unknowns could sink the project
  • When the newness of what you are doing creates anxiety in your organization or there is someone culturally opposed to the change.

As an example, a trucking company recently contracted with Vox Mobile to help deploy a new tablet-based app into their trucks.  There is a deployment schedule with a number of phase-gates for performance and user feedback. At full scale, the configuration, deployment and support operation are significant, but it might take a year to get there.  The value of the solution is significant, especially compared to the difference in cost between what the client calculated they could do it for in-house versus working with someone externally who had done this part many times before. By hiring Vox deployment-as-a-service along with some managed services for infrastructure and end-user support, they can focus on the most important part: the app.


The Problem(s)

How to Decide


You need Risk Reduction and Agility

-       Determine loaded cost

-       Project into the future

-       Bring it back once the risk is gone


You don’t know how much you need

-       Rough calculations of best and worst case

-       Bring it back if it is too small to be efficient aaS


Internal Experience too limited to be reliable

-       What do peers have in place?

-       Start with 3rd parties


You don’t know what is needed for a full solution?

-       See Expertise, is this a new function?

-       Look for the “unknown unknowns”


History or structure make a good outcome unlikely

-       Early in your Digital Transformation

-       Stuck in a “in-source” culture


Nationwide's Transformation

During the event Bob Burkhart shared some of the details of the Nationwide story.  Perhaps most interesting were the themes and lessons that he drew from the 6 years (and counting) of driving mobility and transformation.

  • Minimum Viable Product (MVP) & Iteration work: Nationwide took an agile approach to their solutions, launching new solutions quickly with minimal features and then iterating, adjusting, and adding quickly. This taught the whole organization to think about software and solutions differently and know that they could participate in a meaningful feedback loop.
  • How to get and give feedback: The alignment between IT and the business was only as strong as their ability to understand each other’s thoughts and concerns and to constructively participate in the feedback loop.
  • 3 Keys: Education, Marketing, and Communication: Perhaps the biggest challenge for IT was the realization that the value of their work would not be realized unless they developed skills around marketing to their users, educating on an on-going basis, and developing strong bi-directional communications strategies with other departments.
  • Pain points are not the whole story: Early on, new solutions would often (usually) fall short of all the hopes and aspirations of the stakeholders and users. It was very important to not focus on what was wrong but to educate the business on the process of making things better, together.

Your Role is Changing (not going away)

All the panelists shared stories about the shift of internal roles, away from “keeping the lights on” to analysis, solution design, and program management.  xaaS-model services tend to be the richest with mineable analytics data and the very best services provide data-driven, actionable insights. In general, the staff that used to just keep projects going can shift their attentions to making them better.

 Figure 2: Usage patterns of apps helped one company shift to development investment from laptop refresh

The real change for MTL members is that they feel that they are moving up the value chain.  They are more engaged with users closer to the places where IT creates value. There are less and less jobs where you can contribute without digging in and understanding the business well enough to provide guidance and protect it from risks.

 Figure 3: Analysis of authentication requests helped improve user experience

Hear the full conversation and gain access to the content here: 


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Topics: Trends, XaaS, Digital Transformation, as-a-service

Device-as-a-Service finally reaches maturity

Posted by Jim Haviland on Jul 6, 2018 1:27:41 PM


Much of the risk and hassle of enterprise mobility that Mobile Thought Leaders (MTL) have talked about (complained about) over the past 7 years has involved the challenges of managing and securing the hardware throughout its lifecycle.  We talk about security but the projects fail, run over budget, or create embarrassing situations when devices get stuck or fall through the cracks in the life-cycle.

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Topics: Apple DaaS

MTL Online 2018 Mobile Strategy Research Reveals the Value of UEM

Posted by Jim Haviland on Jul 6, 2018 9:49:52 AM

Mobile Thought Leaders gathered for an MTL Online event to review the findings of the 2018 Strategy Research.  The report itself has been out for a while and has been the focus of many discussions at MTL Live events and elsewhere.  Some of those discussions were represented by a panel including Vox Mobile’s Harjot Sidhu joining from Vancouver, British Columbia, VMware VP Jeff Mitchell, in Atlanta and Jim Haviland joining the discussion from Hollywood.  

The panel talked through all five of the themes that were teased out of the research study and presented in the whitepaper, which is available here:

The research report weighs in at 28 pages that you might not find the time to fully consume and the webinar presentation touches many of the highlights while also providing some very recent examples of how mobility programs, technologies, and priorities are shifting.

1. Mobility and Digital Transformation are a strategic priority for most organizations

Not surprisingly, most MTL members that completed the research study thought that their organizations were taking a strategic approach to mobility and that digital transformation was part of the focus, though the specific meaning of digital transformation varies widely.  The MTL panel focused on the parallel maturing of organizations’ approach to mobility with the maturing of one of the central technologies in mobile programs, the MDM, EMM, or now UEM. Unified Endpoint Management (UEM) continues to evolve quickly but as it continues to be the central approach to managing device deployments, access controls, and security monitoring for all devices - mobile, laptops, tablets, etc, it is also a far more strategic tool.  Both Harjot and Jeff offered stories of organizations who were able to transition from supporting their initiatives with EMM to using this infrastructure system to provide valuable feedback on usage patterns, work processes and security usability leading to significant improvements to business process, satisfaction of workers, and even elimination of redundant hardware. This suggests a very different role for IT, moving away from managing infrastructure to finding ways to use technology to enhance the business and interpret the data to provide new insights as we see in the next theme.

2. Business Lines Sidestep IT to address specific mobile needs

The research paper provides support for the notion that as most of the planet now carries a smartphone, most of the workers know that there should be apps for the things they do at work.  That along with the fact that IT has been asked to do more and more with less and less forever has lead to a situation where IT can be seen as more of an impediment to innovation than a partner in transformation. The panel offered examples or organizations moving from trying to reign in rogue projects and shadow IT to taking a posture of offering tools and systems to make department-funded and focused projects easier to implement, more secure, and with far less financial and organizational risk.

3. With personal mobility a foregone conclusion, other infrastructure and technologies are gaining focus.

Along with the new roles IT is playing, new systems and processes are taking the focus.  The security mechanisms for new apps and cloud systems require new methods of threat detection, including app testing of both internal apps (that may be full of security holes from developer-inserted tools or APIs) and external apps that contain code from shared libraries that may contain exploits that are initially hard to detect.  This requires new approaches to monitoring and access. The panel discussed the increasing importance and sophistication of Identity and Access Management (IAM) and the layers of governance decisions that can make the organization safer while also making access easier for workers. Automating “situational awareness” is key and getting easier as all the tool mature to meet the new challenges.


4. Security and support are high IT priorities, but tackling them is getting more complex…oh and there’s no budget

Budget challenges continue to force tough choices in IT and security organizations.  CIOs know they have real threats throughout the organization, but they are forced to make calculated risks and invest only where the threat feels imminent.  The panel offered hope both in the advancement of artificial intelligence tools for identifying and responding to new threats in real time but also in a broadening awareness amongst all stakeholders of the changing nature of security and the very real requirement that individual actions and awareness are key to success and increasingly evident in organizations.

5. Enterprise mobility is being advanced by small, incremental steps, yet offering big returns.

Thought the panelists disagreed as to how much of the work happening in organizations are big steps or small advances, all agreed that returns have become easier for organizations to recognize and that no one questions the need for more apps and digital transformation though there is still much debate on the degree to which an organization should invest, the path to better outcomes and how to calculate the ROI.

The full report is available below.


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Topics: Mobile Strategy

About this blog:

Enterprise mobility and digital business have transitioned from being an interesting set of technologies to being an essential aspect of productivity enhancements, customer engagement and breakthrough innovation.

The Mobile Thought Leaders community is committed to helping professionals working with, or responsible for, enterprise mobility and digital transformation programs keep pace with emerging best practices and advanced case studies by networking with their peers.

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