WORK ON THE FLY

Qatar Today - - DEVELOPMENT > TAG THIS - BY AYSWARYA MURTHY

QatarTo­day talks to some of the big play­ers in the en­ter­prise mo­bil­ity in­dus­try who tell us about the ex­plo­sive adap­ta­tion of this con­cept and how it is chang­ing the face of op­er­a­tions for com­pa­nies of ev­ery size and in ev­ery sec­tor.

The hand­held de­vice has be­come the cen­tre of our world. We ex­pect it to be our win­dow on ev­ery­thing out­side of our­selves: our fam­ily, friends, com­mu­nity, and the world at large. Work, which had largely been re­stricted to our desk, is also now start­ing to be stream­lined through the palm of our hands. Though it might seem like you'll never again be able to leave your work be­hind, it's ac­tu­ally em­pow­er­ing com­pa­nies and em­ploy­ees in many dif­fer­ent ways. The younger gen­er­a­tion join­ing the work­force are ‘dig­i­tal na­tives' who have quite lit­er­ally grown up with these de­vices and it's a nat­u­ral part of ev­ery as­pect of their lives, in­clud­ing work. The Bring Your Own De­vices con­cept is ex­plod­ing and it's in a com­pany's own in­ter­est to not only adapt to this new work cul­ture, but to en­able it so that it can be done ef­fec­tively and se­curely. Ac­cord­ing to In­ter­na­tional Data Cor­po­ra­tion (IDC), 36% of the or­gan­i­sa­tions in Qatar have al­ready adopted a com­pany-wide mo­bil­ity strat­egy and 22% are plan­ning to do so in the next year. As the coun­try has one of the high­est smart­phone pen­e­tra­tions in the world, not to men­tion ex­cep­tional con­nec­tiv­ity, this is just the be­gin­ning of the story.

As IDC's Pro­gramme Direc­tor for Tele­coms and Net­work­ing in MENA, Paul Black, put it, for a com­pany's chief in­for­ma­tion of­fi­cer, mo­bil­ity is the next tech­nol­ogy fron­tier. “It's no longer a tech­nol­ogy so­lu­tion, it's a busi­ness so­lu­tion.”

The mo­bile-first men­tal­ity

There are three key chal­lenges to mo­bil­ity – ex­ist­ing, le­gacy-based sys­tems, bud­get and vul­ner­a­bil­ity.

Nader He­nien, Re­gional Direc­tor for Prod­uct at Black­Berry, one of the best known Mo­bile De­vice Man­age­ment (MDM) ven­dors in the world, says that when he looks at his list of cus­tomers in the re­gion, there isn't a sin­gle in­dus­try that hasn't em­braced en­ter­prise mo­bil­ity in one way or an other. And the more per­va­sive it is, the more valu­able it be­comes. "When net­work cards were first in­tro­duced, they cost about $2,000 (QR7,280). And ev­ery­one was wor­ried about how they were go­ing to sell those. But they be­gan to re­alise that the more con­nected a com­puter is, the more value it has, as does the net­work. So in­stead of hav­ing 20 smart­phones that are not talk­ing to each other, it's much bet­ter for the com­pany to con­nect these de­vices, al­low­ing them to get more value out of their ex­ist­ing in­vest­ment,” he says.

Citrix's Al­lan Kris­tensen says the need is be­ing felt “across mul­ti­ple in­dus­tries”. He says, “Fi­nan­cial in­dus­tries, pub­lic sec­tor, law en­force­ment, school sys­tems, de­fence, re­tail – there are op­por­tu­ni­ties ev­ery­where to de­ploy and se­cure these apps. Ev­ery seg­ment has a need for it.” As re­cently as last year, a lot of com­pa­nies were still think­ing about how to man­age mo­bil­ity, he says. “Now many of them have al­ready fig­ured it out.”

And it's putting these poli­cies in place which typ­i­cally takes the most amount of time and ef­fort. “Cor­po­ra­tions some­times have to shift their mind­set and a lot of dif­fer­ent peo­ple from IT, se­cu­rity, HR and com­pli­ance need to come to­gether to de­fine pol­icy and strat­egy. But once these are de­fined, it's just a mat­ter of rolling it out,” Kris­tensen points out.

Qatar Air­way's Chief In­for­ma­tion Of­fi­cer, A T Srini­vasan con­curs, “Mo­bil­ity has been a game changer which has helped us solve prob­lems we haven't been able to so far. It has helped us push real time in­for­ma­tion to our em­ploy­ees, many of whom are al­ways on the move: dis­patch­ers, ground staff who han­dle bag­gage, food and fuel, crew, en­gi­neers, me­chan­ics. But first of all, to get to this point, a change of mind­set was re­quired as we learned to deal with dig­i­tal na­tives. We needed to de­velop new skills as well. It was not an easy jour­ney; the de­vice strat­egy took three and a half years to put in place.” He adds that com­pet­i­tive rea­sons were pil­ing on the pres­sure to se­ri­ously con­sider mo­bil­ity so­lu­tions.

While se­cu­rity is, and should re­main, a con­stant con­cern, it is not as big a road­block to­day as it was a cou­ple of years ago, thanks to ro­bust se­cu­rity so­lu­tions that are con­tin­u­ing to emerge. “There are mul­ti­ple mod­els in mo­bil­ity that de­liver dif­fer­ent lev­els of se­cu­rity de­pend­ing on the cor­po­ra­tion's need,” says He­nien. "The high­est de­gree of se­cu­rity can be en­sured with cor­po­rate-pro­vided de­vices which are se­cured by the com­pany and dis­trib­uted to em­ploy­ees. Then comes the COPE model; Cor­po­rate Owned and Per­son­ally En­abled which, in ad­di­tion to giv­ing you ac­cess to your

work, also al­lows you to check your per­sonal e-mail and so­cial net­work. The idea is to make this de­vice your pri­mary one.” Fi­nally, the most pop­u­lar BYOD model. “This is when I bring my de­vice and my com­pany en­ables it for en­ter­prise. "Some­times several of these mod­els can be used in tan­dem for dif­fer­ent func­tion­al­i­ties. For ex­am­ple, some of the more sen­si­tive in­for­ma­tion can be ac­cessed by des­ig­nated apps and de­vices only, to ease the process of man­ag­ing the de­vice and wip­ing out in­for­ma­tion in case of loss or theft, while other less critical func­tions can be done from the em­ployee's own de­vice.

Which­ever model a cor­po­ra­tion might pre­fer, con­tain­ment is the key, ac­cord­ing to Kris­tensen. “A big part of any MDM ven­dor's work is to pro­vide a se­cure com­mu­ni­ca­tion chan­nel which pro­tects data at rest and tran­sit,” he says. But at the end of the day, the right ed­u­ca­tion is what will keep your data safe, ir­re­spec­tive of where it sits. “The devil is in the de­tails,” He­nien says, “No one walks into the front door any­more. It's the back door or lit­tle cracks that are left open. It's im­por­tant to keep cor­po­ra­tions and in­di­vid­u­als up­dated about pri­vacy, data reg­u­la­tion and the lat­est threats so that even if some­one man­ages to at­tack you, they'd get only the least amount of in­for­ma­tion or cause min­i­mum dam­age. The re­cov­ery must be fast and you should be able to get back to fight­ing stance as soon as pos­si­ble.”

In­for­ma­tion and speed

What drives mo­bil­ity fore­most is the abil­ity to get the right in­for­ma­tion to the per­son con­cerned with min­i­mum time and has­sle. Srini­vasan ex­plains how this phi­los­o­phy is chang­ing the face of some key op­er­a­tions at Qatar Air­ways. “Though we are still in the early stages of im­ple­ment­ing mo­bil­ity so­lu­tions, we have al­ready rolled out about 1516 apps – both pro­pri­etary and third party. Some of these have trans­formed op­er­a­tions which were for the last 30-40 years done solely on pa­per.”

For ex­am­ple, through a na­tive app now avail­able on de­vices pro­vided to the flight crew, “in­for­ma­tion about fre­quent fliers, pas­sen­gers with spe­cial needs, com­mer­cially im­por­tant pas­sen­gers, etc is au­to­mat­i­cally down­loaded onto the de­vice when the flight doors shut”. When there is an in­flight en­ter­tain­ment sys­tem or seat mal­func­tion, the crew can just take a pic­ture and re­port the prob­lem right there. “These are all op­por­tu­ni­ties from a pure cus­tomer ser­vice plat­form”, he says.

Re­cently the air­line an­nounced the roll­out of QLOUD, an app that pro­vides real time and de­ci­sion-rel­e­vant in­for­ma­tion to the pi­lots. “Over 500 pi­lots have al­ready em­braced the new tech­nol­ogy with 500 more set to be­gin us­ing QLOUD over the next few weeks. All 2,500 Qatar Air­ways pi­lots are ex­pected to be us­ing the QLOUD sys­tem by Septem­ber this year,” a state­ment re­leased by the com­pany said. The app equips the pi­lots, any­time and any­where, with in­for­ma­tion re­gard­ing their sched­ules, flight plans, maps, weather in­for­ma­tion, de­tails of the crew they are fly­ing with, dis­patch briefs, op­er­a­tional doc­u­men­ta­tion like flight man­u­als that of­ten eas­ily run into thou­sands of pages. “Any weight that we can take off

the plane would be ben­e­fi­cial,” Srini­vasan re­minds us.

De­vices and re­lated apps are also now ex­ten­sively used by main­te­nance en­gi­neers to re­place their pa­per man­u­als and to req­ui­si­tion parts. “Ini­tially we had a prob­lem with the de­vices be­ing used by the ground staff. Once the bat­tery tem­per­a­ture reached 6065 deg C, which hap­pened a lot, the de­vices would stop work­ing. We had to work with the man­u­fac­turer and ven­dors for al­most two years to sort out the prob­lem and en­sure re­li­a­bil­ity,” he rec­ol­lects. "You can't re­place pa­per in critical ser­vices un­til you are en­tirely sure of their re­place­ment's re­li­a­bil­ity.”

In ad­di­tion to apps for pas­sen­gers to help them with their tick­ets, fre­quent flyer pro­grammes and duty free shop­ping, many non-es­sen­tial apps have been vol­un­tar­ily cre­ated by de­vel­op­ers and em­ploy­ees after of­fice hours, he says. An ex­am­ple of this is souQ, avail­able on the QA en­ter­prise app store that in­forms em­ploy­ees about the var­i­ous dis­counts they can re­ceive at es­tab­lish­ments across the city.

Yet an­other critical sec­tor that is em­brac­ing mo­bil­ity is oil and gas. “They are ob­vi­ously very se­cu­rity con­scious and we work on mul­ti­ple lev­els with them to pro­vide the high­est lev­els of se­cu­rity and con­trol,” Henein says. But it's all worth it, he ex­plains, cit­ing a case study. “Imag­ine an oil rig in the mid­dle of the desert where a drill bit has been dam­aged. You can't go to the hard­ware store and buy it. They cost hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars and weigh a tonne; they have to be req­ui­si­tioned. The engi­neer on the field picks up his de­vice and records a re­quest which goes se­curely through the sys­tem. After the nec­es­sary au­tho­ri­sa­tions have been ob­tained, it goes di­rectly to the ware­house, which packs it onto the back of a truck and sends it along.” This is a per­fect ex­am­ple of mo­bil­ity that con­nects peo­ple, in­for­ma­tion and process in ad­di­tion to keep­ing it se­cure. “We don't want any of this to be­come pub­lic,” Henein re­minds us. “You don't want it to be known that your rig isn't work­ing, or even where your rig is lo­cated and what you are drilling for.”

Go­ing mo­bile in MENA

“Com­pared to Western Europe, North Amer­ica and some parts of Asia, which are more than 50% strong in en­ter­prise mo­bil­ity, the Mid­dle east mar­ket varies from 30-50%,” says Sherif Hamoudah, Head of Tele­com for SAP MENA. “This is partly be­cause pro­duc­tiv­ity gains haven't been re­alised and many com­pa­nies are hesi- tant to mod­ernise some of their cus­toms.” But he is op­ti­mistic, and is par­tic­u­larly ex­cited about the prospect of its use in the health­care in­dus­try.

The push from the tech­nol­ogy sec­tor in ad­di­tion to the need to stay ahead of com­peti­tors will fuel this trend. Re­cently, Eti­salat in the UAE part­nered with SAP to de­liver a range of en­ter­prise mo­bil­ity ser­vices and so­lu­tions to busi­nesses of all sizes in the coun­try. The tele­com com­pany will build and of­fer cloud-based and on-premises mo­bil­ity man­age­ment so­lu­tions (us­age of mo­bile ap­pli­ca­tions, con­trol of mo­bile de­vices, se­cu­rity and com­pli­ance re­quire­ments, as well as the man­age­ment of the over­all en­ter­prise mo­bil­ity strat­egy), based on SAP's plat­form of­fer­ing com­pa­nies “a lower en­try cost for en­ter­prise-grade mo­bil­ity man­age­ment with faster time to mar­ket”. Ini­tia­tives like this will bring mo­bil­ity within the reach of small- and medium-sized en­ter­prises; it has hith­erto has been the do­min­ion of large cor­po­ra­tions. Other fac­tors that will en­able this prac­tice in the re­gion are high smart­phone pen­e­tra­tion, a grow­ing tablet mar­ket and govern­ment sup­port.

But mean­while the next gen­er­a­tion mo­bil­ity so­lu­tions are al­ready here. BYOx (Bring Your Own Ev­ery­thing) takes BYOD one step fur­ther, to en­able em­ploy­ees to use their own apps, tools, cloud and ser­vices. “En­ter­prise Mo­bil­ity Man­age­ment ser­vice is just one com­po­nent of what's re­ally needed in an en­ter­prise. Build­ing the mo­bile stack is one in­gre­di­ent,” Hamoudah says. "From ser­vices and gad­gets to ap­pli­ca­tions and li­cences, it will in­creas­ingly be about not just the de­vice or the end point.”

"Mo­bil­ity has been a game changer which has helped us solve prob­lems we haven't been able to so far."

A T SRINI­VASAN Chief In­for­ma­tion Of­fi­cer Qatar Air­ways

"It's im­por­tant to keep cor­po­ra­tions and in­di­vid­u­als up­dated about pri­vacy, data reg­u­la­tion and the lat­est threats so that even if some­one man­ages to at­tack you, they'd get only the least amount of in­for­ma­tion or cause min­i­mum dam­age."

NADER HE­NIEN Re­gional Direc­tor for Prod­uct, Black­Berry

"Cor­po­ra­tions some­times have to shift their mind­set and a lot of dif­fer­ent peo­ple from IT, se­cu­rity, HR and com­pli­ance need to come to­gether to de­fine their mo­bil­ity pol­icy and strat­egy."

AL­LAN KRIS­TENSEN Citrix

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