Bringing mobile into the enterprise: Tips from 6 experts

by Kyle Alspach

Executives from Samsung, Staples, Symantec and three Boston area firms spoke in Cambridge Tuesday evening about the opportunities and challenges of enterprise mobility.

The Boston area firms are three venture-backed companies involved with mobile technology — mobile app management firm Apperian of Boston, mobile app analytics and marketing firm Localytics of Boston and Verivo Software, a provider of app development and deployment tools based in Waltham.

The panel took place during Ascent Venture Partners’ B2B IT Forum, held at the Microsoft NERD Center.

The backdrop to event is that time spent on mobile devices, using apps and the Web, now rivals the time spent on the Web via PC browsers.

Ascent partner Matt Fates recalled that successful Boston area startup Third Screen Media took its name from its involvement with mobile platforms. Third Screen was “an appropriate name at that time,” he said. “Now it would have to be called the primary screen.”

The six panelists, moderated by Chris Hazelton of 451 Research, discussed what that shift may mean for enterprises’ workforces and customer bases.

A few main points from each panelist:

  • Bernd Leger, VP of marketing at Localytics. The focus for enterprises must be to satisfy the users of mobile technologies, whoever they may be. Many consumers download apps and then only use the app once, Leger said, “and there are the same challenges on the enterprise side. You have to put users at the center of your efforts.”
  • Cimarron Buser, VP of business development at Apperian. For enterprises which are exploring mobility for the first time with their employees, start by “building something which may not be mission critical, but is fun.” An example might be providing employees with an app that allows them to order food from the cafeteria.
  • Ken Daniels, senior director for strategic alliances in enterprise mobility at Samsung. The focus for enterprises should be on questions such as whether the apps will be for internal or external use, and what platforms they’ll be using it on. “Remember that when you’re building an app, people will actually have to use it,” he said.
  • Steven Levy, CEO of Verivo Software. Enterprises should “aim low” when they first begin with mobile technology. By starting with something simple, an enterprise can iterate without a lot of repercussions and learn a lot in the process.
  • Swarna Podila, senior product marketing manager at Symantec. Start by identifying how the technology can be used to increase productivity. Also important is identifying regulations that may impact the use of mobile technology for corporate matters and formulating a bring-your-own-device policy.
  • Prat Vemana, director of the Velocity Lab and global mobile strategy at Staples. Whatever mobile apps the enterprises chooses to build for its employees or customers, it’s crucial to make the apps easy to use. Most people are already trained to use their mobile devices for consumer apps which have a high ease of use, and they “expect their enterprise apps to be on par.”

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