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-by Dan Turchin, chief executive officer and co-founder of Aeroprise

Industry Must Channel Prius and not Schick.

The mobile software industry has failed us all. If you've been reading this blog, you know how strongly I feel about the importance of improving the mobile user experience. That's why we started Aeroprise nine years ago. Using mobile applications should be more like driving a Prius or using an iPod - things we're good at because we love doing them - and less like shaving - something we hate but get good at because the alternatives draw blood. When designing software for handhelds, the end-user experience is all that matters and yet as an industry we've consistently ignored it.

 

Need proof? There are more than 4.1 billion mobile subscribers. And 6.7 billion people. Phones are quickly eclipsing PCs as the primary computing device. Mobile data usage is soaring while PC shipments plummet. 70% of corporate employees spend more than 50% of their time away from a PC (source: IDC). And yet... a sliver of a percent of all spending on enterprise applications will be for mobile solutions this year.

 

Talk to any CxO to confirm it's not for lack of demand and it certainly isn’t the weak economy (in fact, the reverse is true). They'll tell you that within 18 months, any application that's not available on mobile devices will be obsolete. So where's the rub? Talk to any subset of five mobile enterprise app users and you'll see it first-hand.

 

Too few love them and too many are merely proud to know how they work. That must change. If the same principle applied to driving we'd be Emerson Fitipaldi at Speedway by commuting to work accident-free. To meet expectations, mobile business applications can't be about wireless technology and the experience can't be about who can figure them out. They must be about business benefits like improved productivity and real-time collaboration.

 

Vic Gundotra, Vice President of Engineering for Google's mobile and developer products, points out in an interesting guest post on TechCrunch: "...for the first time ever, half of all new connections to the internet will come from a phone in 2009." The post focuses on mobile data from a Google perspective but the themes are universal: "users appreciate well-written software, but ease of use and on-device navigability are critical preconditions for usage." Case in point (from the same post): Google Earth had more activations the day it launched on the iPhone than on any other day in its history because the iPhone App Store makes it easy to find and try it. It’s no secret what’s missing and yet we can’t expect different results until we change our approach.

 

Touch screens aren’t keyboards, wireless networks aren’t always available, and mobile devices aren’t PCs. But when their real value is unlocked, they do things like geo-locate and make voice calls that make them better than any PC ever will be. I'm biased but I think our approach to end-user personalization, presence-awareness, and automatic device optimization are leading the industry in the right direction. Even so, I’m the first to admit we have a lot of work to do. More on what lies ahead in future posts but rest assured, those nicks and cuts will heal soon.

 

The postings in this blog are my own and don't necessarily represent BMC's opinion or position.
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-by Dan Turchin, chief executive officer and co-founder of Aeroprise

Turns out these days the way to a CIO's wallet isn't through a diagram with clouds or a CMDB or a quad-core anything - it's through a BlackBerry.

We have a customer that was acquired recently by a large technology company. As a result, they're in the process of integrating IT systems and considering which applications stay and go. For a global IT organization with more than 350,000 employees, that's no small project. In fact, they issued an RFP for a new ITSM system months back and have entertained a steady stream of suitors since then. I'm an outsider but from what I've heard several things haven't surprised me about the process (and one has).

 

Vendors are savvy and differentiate themselves based on analyst ratings, customer success stories, after-sale support, and global reach. No surprise there. What surprised me is that with the exception of one feature, product enters the discussion infrequently. Why? ITSM products are so similar these days that going through the alphabet soup of ITIL this and SLM that is a waste of time. The one feature that comes up in every discussion is – you guessed it – wireless.

 

There was a time when wireless was heated seats and an extra cup holder. Now it's the steering wheel and engine. Not just an essential part of the sales pitch but the difference-maker that distinguishes strong from weak products, whole from partial ones. It turns out these days the way to a CIO's wallet isn't through a diagram with clouds or a CMDB or a quad-core anything - it's through a BlackBerry.

 

For this particular customer, wireless means productivity and a lot more. They've narrowed the field to two players, based almost solely on the strength of their mobile solutions. The vendors without a solution at all were easy to eliminate. The ones with immature or incomplete solutions sent the message that they're not innovative and don't see where the market is headed. According to the customer, vendors that lead with the strength of their mobile solution have the "it" factor. The others, not so much.

 

Customers need to feel confident that vendors meet today's basic requirements and, more importantly, get where computing will be tomorrow. Call it a tip. Call it a warning. Call it whatever you want. All I know is I’ve seen the future of enterprise software and PCs are asleep at the wheel.

 

The postings in this blog are my own and don't necessarily represent BMC's opinion or position.
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-by Dan Turchin, chief executive officer and co-founder of Aeroprise

 

Ever look around when phones need to be powered down before takeoff? I call it the Airplane Test. Great way to take the pulse of the handset market. Of course, fliers aren't representative of the overall phone-using population when it comes to mobile habits but they're not a bad cross-section of business users.

 

On today's flight from Houston, for the first time feature phones failed the test. Incredibly, of the ten devices in my field of view every single one had a keyboard and not one was made by the top three global handset manufacturers (Nokia, Motorola, Samsung). A few years ago, smartphones failed the test (in fact, a few years ago the lady next to me failed it - "What is that?" "Uh, a BlackBerry, ma'am." "How does the person on the other end know what you're typing?" [Awkward pause.]).

 

These days, the friendly skies look more like the neighborhood Fry's. Between Kindles, smartphones, and iPods, the plane has become a thumb gym full of treadmills for digits. The only thing notably absent are laptops. And when they're out it's to watch DVDs or use PowerPoint. Wireless data is evolving: first, it infiltrated schoolyards. Now airplanes. Next cube-ville. Mark my words.

 

Take the Airplane Test and let me know what you find. Next up: I've hatched a plan to convince the FAA there's no scientific basis for the 10,000-foot ban on electronics. When was the last time an itty-bitty book light took down a 747?

 

The postings in this blog are my own and don't necessarily represent BMC's opinion or position.
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-by Dan Turchin, chief executive officer and co-founder of Aeroprise

Dour news got you down? Here's how one company is using wireless applications to save $100 million.

It goes without saying that we're all affected by the economic downturn - psychologically if not financially. I'm most interested in how our customers are using wireless to cope with it. Last week, the Director of IT at a major federal IT services company said Aeroprise is the cornerstone of their plan to save $100 million this year by increasing service levels and cutting dispatcher headcount.

 

It turns out all these years they've staffed a large call center with hundreds of dispatchers who mostly relay information to and from the field. In the past, technicians left in the morning with a stack of paper and a pager. They'd dutifully visit customers, chicken scratch notes on dispatch reports, and eventually enter resolution details into Remedy or (more often) rely on underpaid dispatchers to (hopefully) do it for them.

 

Sure, they'd receive pages if something urgent happened but they couldn't take action in the field, didn't have the details they needed even if they wanted to, and (according to my friend the IT Director), "spent about half their time re-doing work someone did already or phoning around asking for more information." One day, the senior contracting officer noticed dispatching costs going up while call volume was going down - and had an epiphany: eliminate the middle man. How? BlackBerrys + Remedy.

 

They’ll be using Aeroprise to turn ordinary smartphones like BlackBerrys into real computing devices that will eventually replace laptops. They’re starting with Remedy trouble tickets and change requests with plans to move into other applications later. Mobile employees will collaborate with each other, take ownership of and work requests from create to resolve, and managers will monitor health-of-business issues with real-time alerts and dashboard reports.

 

Shame that it took financial Armageddon to get there but it did. You see, in better times, nobody scrutinized utilization percentages or wait times or even service levels. Nobody asked if there's a better way of doing things. I guess necessity really is the mother of invention. I'll write more when we know how this plan worked. Whatever happens, I'm rooting for them and not just because it helps Aeroprise.

 

Even in historical context, wireless is on a short list of technologies - like the printing press, cotton gin, and steam engine - with the unique ability to not only improve productivity but fundamentally change the nature of work. What is most exciting to me is none of us understand even 1% of its transformative power - yet.

 

Let me know how mobile applications are helping your business and if you don't mind I'll share your story in an upcoming blog post.

 

The postings in this blog are my own and don't necessarily represent BMC's opinion or position.
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-by Dan Turchin, chief executive officer and co-founder of Aeroprise

 

Interesting article in today's Mercury News about how applications are redefining mobile devices. It's largely consumer-focused but we in the enterprise community know business apps are worth more social currency than even the coolest phone-lighter-parlor trick-app. According to the article, "[today's apps] herald a new era in the allure of mobile devices — the phone is no longer a fashion statement but a digital bag of tricks." Hard to believe not long ago things like voicemail and ring tones were enough to differentiate devices.

 

The postings in this blog are my own and don't necessarily represent BMC's opinion or position.

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