A conversation with Bob Sutor, Vice President of IBM WebSphere Foundation / IBM Mobile
We asked the Vice President of IBM Mobile and member of the IBM Academy of Technology to discuss the trends in mobile computing and the advantages of these trends to businesses today. Sutor talks about the biggest challenges that organizations face when building a mobile enterprise, and how they can get started on the right path, including using security controls and standards, to achieve business value from mobile enterprise technologies.
Smart SOA & BPM: What trends do you see in regard to mobile technologies and use of these technologies?
Bob Sutor: The biggest trend is the usage itself: consumer and enterprise use of mobile is increasing rapidly. According to IDC, smartphone vendors were expected to ship more than 450 million smartphones in 2011, compared to the 303.4 million units shipped in 2010. That's nearly a 50% increase.* Another trend is the so-called Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) movement, where consumers purchase smartphones and tablets, and then want to use them in their work environments. This opens up opportunities for cost savings and efficiency for CIOs, but can be scary because of the security concerns.
Smart SOA & BPM: What advantages do these trends bring to organizations?
Bob Sutor: My mobile phones (I have an Apple iPhone and an HTC Android smartphone) are each more powerful than the laptop I had 10 years ago, albeit in smaller form factors. This means that I can conduct business any time of the day, and anywhere that I can get cellular or WiFi service. So with mobile, my work has come to me, versus the other way around. Another advantage is the quality of the user interfaces. A device that incorporates voice, video, texting, email, calendars and access to social networks, all taking advantage of graphics and touch screen technology, can make someone much more productive and efficient. It's also causing mobile app developers to rethink traditional ways of implementing business processes. So with this we are getting innovation and we're taking advantage of social business on mobile to get our work done.
Smart SOA & BPM: What are the biggest challenges organizations are facing in integrating mobile technology into their businesses?
Bob Sutor: Apps and security. While there may be hundreds of thousands of apps in app stores and marketplaces, how many of them are truly useful in making our working lives more productive? There are many good ones, and the apps are evolving as people get more experience with mobile, but I think we're still in the early phase of understanding which apps can be successfully used by tens of thousands of people for business. I do believe IBM is helping lead that evolution, particularly with products like Lotus® Notes Traveler that give you secure access to your organization's email, calendar, and contacts. As to security, we must protect access to our corporate systems, applications, and data. We must also ensure that any confidential data that is on the phone or tablet stays away from those who should not have it.
Smart SOA & BPM: What can businesses to do maintain security controls?
Bob Sutor: Businesses need to start with management of the devices and the applications on them. A secure device starts by being a managed device. A product like IBM Endpoint Manager for Mobile Devices (currently in Beta) can ensure that proper security policies are in place on phones and tablets, that passwords are strong enough, that applications get updated when necessary, and that a device can be wiped if lost or stolen. Mobile security extends enterprise security, so organizations need to have solutions that can manage security threats, prevent data loss, and do access and identity management, to name just a few capabilities. IBM has an end-to-end vision for what a mobile platform should be. That vision includes management and security, not only what is necessary to build, run, and connect apps on the many devices that are out there, but also the corresponding applications in data centers.
Smart SOA & BPM: What role do standards play in building a mobile enterprise?
Bob Sutor: The best way to make a heterogeneous collection of phones and tablets look more homogeneous is to use standards. We've all proven the value of open standards with the web, and the huge societal and commercial value it has brought. HTML 5 is a very promising set of standards that will help enable the next generation of mobile web applications. Other applications may be of the hybrid variety, though those will still use HTML 5 standards. Even if a developer creates a native mobile app to take complete and full advantage of all the device features, standards like XML and those for security play a critical role. Incidentally, IBM has been an industry leader in driving open standards since the mid-1990s, and currently co-chairs the W3C HTML 5 working group.
Smart SOA & BPM: How can a business get started with mobile technologies?
Bob Sutor: On January 31, IBM announced that it had signed a definitive agreement to purchase Worklight, a mobile application platform company. I encourage people to visit worklight.com, read the white papers, watch the videos, and try out the demos. IBM also announced Endpoint Manager for Mobile Devices on January 31, and your IBM software Sales Representative can give you more information about our full portfolio of mobile products and solutions. These include products like IBM Cognos® for analytics and IBM Connections for working with your business social network.
*"IDC Forecasts Worldwide Smartphone Market to Grow by Nearly 50% in 2011(link resides outside of ibm.com)," International Data Corporation Press Release, March 2011