March 18, 2014

From Designing for Desktops to ‘Mobile First’

(Originally published on Wired Insights)

It’s no secret that smartphone adoption continues to explode with some studies estimating that 22 percent of the global population owning at least one device. That exceeds the 20 percent estimated to own PCs.

This growth trend makes complete sense given that smartphones and tablets now come equipped with computing power comparable to that of a mid-range laptops and desktops. Users are now embracing mobile devices as their primary work and personal computing devices while sacrificing few, if any, capabilities. It is no surprise that BYOD is today’s default expectation in the workplace. This paradigmatic shift is ushering in a new era for how users interact with information on their devices, but its full potential will only be realized if certain steps are taken.

With mobile fast becoming the de-facto computing platform, users are demanding improved user interfaces and experiences, similar to what they have gotten accustomed to with consumer apps. Even with hundreds of millions of dollars being invested in the development of enterprise mobile apps, end-users are still frustrated by their mobile work experience. They are no longer willing to put up with an antiquated desktop experience poorly translated into a mobile environment.

For example, until now, the primary goal of the mobile file sync and share apps has been to enable users to interact passively – to deliver simple access to files. This was, and has been, an important first step to extend access to desktop files from any device at any time. However, widespread mobile adoption is resulting in a convergence of forces including simplified user interfaces, and, most importantly, vastly improved and innovative software design that empowers sophisticated and intuitive interactions which have the promise to redefine how we interact with information.

Historically, users had to be exceptionally well organized to be productive, i.e., they needed to meticulously organize their files. In the new paradigm, the workflow is flipped with files keeping users themselves organized through follow a file, shared link, and folder, automatic insight alerts, and real-time push notifications. All these capabilities provide us the visibility into who, where and when our friends and colleagues are interacting with files.

What should be expected in this rapidly approaching mobile shift? We should expect to see two things.

First, it will be necessary to redefine, but not wholly reject existing structural work models. You don’t want to throw away the baby (or the tub) with the bathwater. Users do not want a completely new way of working -- file systems still have meaning. They want existing tools they use on the desktop to be simplified and optimized for the mobile platform, but with the same reassuring capabilities such as document creation, editing, annotation and presentation across all device platforms.

But within a smaller form factor and screen, simplified experience and progressive disclosure principles must be embraced. In this approach, the app reveals or discloses only the most necessary information in order to make it easy to complete a task.

Second, we should expect to see new or enhanced capabilities emerge which were impossible or poorly implemented in the era of the desktop, but are now reality on the mobile platform. Some of these capabilities already exist, such as voice to text recording -- ideal for content creation. Some are likely to go mainstream in the near future such as geo-location driven features where users can, for example, track or limit file access by location, or receive urgent reminders to approve time-sensitive files, or review a document in real-time with your colleagues using your tablet or smartphone

As mobile devices become further entrenched as the primary computer for the vast majority of the workforce, users are demanding a seamless experience that takes advantage of this unique platform’s strengths. The opportunities for progress and innovation are almost unlimited; from leveraging the inherent portability of the hardware, to respecting the need for simplified design, to transitioning it from consumption to a creation platform to using automation and location to eliminate mundane tasks.

Forward thinking companies will be the ones who embrace this directive and develop apps from a mobile first design principle to capitalize on delivering this new experience without time, location or access limitations.

Varun Parmar leads product management and user experience at EMC Syncplicity by Axway

Resources:

March 7, 2014

The Syncplicity by Axway Go Lite Challenge is now “concluding”

We asked dozens of people within the Syncplicity by Axway team to challenge themselves for 30 days to only take a mobile device to meetings and leave their laptop at the desk. Or at home! The challenge was to experience first-hand what it’s like to rely only on a mobile device for everything from content consumption to editing.

Truth be told, I got a head start. The idea was hatched over the holidays and I started doing it almost immediately, well before our new mobile apps were launched.   

Some of you probably saw my earlier tweets. And probably also saw that after a few weeks I slowed down on my “Go Lite” tweets. It turns out, this was not because I lost interest in the challenge. Quite the contrary! “Going Lite” became so deeply ingrained in how I did my work that I completely forgot I was taking a challenge!

And, that’s why I said the challenge was “concluding”—for me and many of you I know it will now be business as usual. I have no intention of going back.

So what did I learn from my experience?

What I liked the most…

  • It really was “light”.  I know many people carry Macbook Airs or other super light laptops, but not me. As a marketing processional I  still require the processing power and screen real-estate of a 15 inch macbook pro for “power” work. So carrying an iPad to meetings and business trips was a real pleasure.
  • No wires. Ever notice how much time is spent at the beginning of a meeting with people jockeying for table space, extension chords, power strips, etc? It was a real pleasure to just sit down and get started!
  • I could easily present PowerPoints. Just because I didn’t have a computer didn’t mean I couldn’t present a deck. It was easy to do without having to launch multiple apps because of the embedded editor in Syncplicity by Axway for ipad.
  • I could easily collaborate. I could collaborate with files using Syncplicity—including accessing and editing files, taking notes, sharing photos of white boards, and recording audio.  I could also access shared presentations with Webex for iPad, check my email (I know… I am sure none of you check email during meetings.. it’s just me), get text messages for urgent issues, reference websites, log to do’s, etc. I was fully productive and collaborative!

Of course, if mobile devices could replace laptops 100% then laptops would no longer exist.

Here are some things that challenged me…

  • Heavy-duty content creation. Anyone who has seen a Syncplicity by Axway deck knows we take design seriously, and that include animations. Building complicated decks still called for a larger screen, a mouse, and a keyboard. Not to mention movie editing (nobody will ever accuse me of not being hands on!).
  • Heavy-duty multi-tasking.  When creating complicated documents (presentations, documents, etc.) I learned to appreciate the convenience of having multiple windows open on a large screen and being able to cut/paste between documents and apps.
  • Any meeting requiring an enterprise app that is poorly adapted to mobile. I am not going to name names, but if you are an enterprise app its time to create a first-class user experience on mobile. Your users want to do more than access reports and dashboards on their mobile devices. You know who you are. wink
  • Falling trees and other non-workplace hazards. Ok, you might wonder if a tree falling in a forest makes a sound when nobody is around. But, I can assure you that it does when you are working on files right next to where it falls! Even a seemingly small palm tree (see image). So, when you “go lite” and are untethered from your office, cube, or desk just be aware of your surroundings!

The Go Lite challenge showed me first hand how so many “work streams” in our daily routine do can now be done entirely on mobile devices. But that doesn’t mean all of them can.

Some work streams require vendors to take a “mobile first” approach—where vendors need to understand that their user is now most often mobile, and accessing the app on a mobile device, so everything about the app and user experience needs to start with “mobile”.

A growing number of work streams require a “mobile only” approach—the end user is always mobile and requires capabilities that leverage features only available on mobile device (e.g., camera, microphone, location awareness, proximity awareness, touch screen, etc.)

For a growing minority of apps, it’s still acceptable to follow a “mobile also” approach when the primary use case requires the processing, screen, and user input characteristics of a desktop or laptop. But new mobile devices are starting to close those gaps. And, enterprise vendors that are still building “mobile also” apps for mobile users will need to wake up soon!

Thanks again to everyone inside Syncplicity by Axway, EMC, and many of our customers and friends that took the Go Lite challenge. This was as much about learning as it was to have fun. And we hope you did both!

Jeff Schultz
Head of Marketing

Resources:

February 26, 2014   |   by Syncplicity by Axway Team

Go Lite Challenge: 3 Weeks, 3 Insights

Over the past three weeks our Go Lite app masters and device demons have honed their strategies and sharpened their skills. As they’ve leveled up from mobile enthusiasts to Olympian challengers, they’ve gathered a few key insights that they’re willing to share—and here they are. (To learn more about the Go Lite Challenge, click here).

Finally…I can edit Microsoft Office docs
Kharisma (@kkmoraksi) cracked the code on downtime in the field. No more booting up her laptop, finding a WiFi network, and connecting to a VPN just so she can review a sales presentation or edit a Word doc. She’s a free spirit—just her and her iPad rockin’ the Office docs with the Syncplicity by Axway app. The simple ability to review and edit documents has flipped her downtime to uptime, and that has made her way more productive. “I can finally get real work done with my iPad!”

Seriously…I can do all this on an iPad?
Christina (@camacho1277) loves her iPad mini. And now she uses it for pretty much everything—webinars, file sharing, note taking, expense management, editing Word docs, and everything in between. Once she set up her iPad with WebEx, Evernote, Concur, Syncplicity by Axway, and a couple other key apps, she was good to go. So where’s that gotten her? Organized. More organized than ever. No more loose papers or sticky notes trailing behind her, “everything is in one place and it travels with me.”

Mobile multitasking is double the fun
What’s better than one mobile device? Two mobile devices, of course. If you ever need to do two completely different things at once—like look something up on the internet while editing a document—Leonard (@leonard_chung) has figured out the secret to mobile multitasking for you. “I’ve got an iPad and a smartphone…what’s keeping me from using them both at the same time?” With two screens, two keyboards, and two internet connections, it’s doubly easy to do twice as much.

Keep these three tips from our Go Lite team in mind:

  1. Use the new Syncplicity by Axway mobile app for editing Microsoft Office documents—you’ll love it.
  2. Load up your mobile device with all of your key apps and watch yourself get unbelievably organized.
  3. Break out that second device and get your multitasking on.

Live. Share. Learn.

Do you have some life changing advice for mobile enthusiasts? We’d like to hear your Go Lite insights!

February 18, 2014

InfoSec professionals - Do these help in securing Mobile Collaboration?

Ike got security.

"If you want total security, go to prison. There you're fed, clothed, given medical care and so on. The only thing lacking... is freedom."                                   
- Dwight “Ike” Eisenhower

With mobility screaming freedom, clearly, “prison” is not an option for your content. Information security, today, is more complex than ever. Complexity leads to brittleness resulting in less security, not more.  Instead of exacerbating the problem by walking you through hundreds of security controls we have in place, like many others, we plan to share with you three specific things we do differently that help you achieve more security. These are in response to the questions that we have heard you ask time and again, in a myriad of ways. 

I know my users love Syncplicity by Axway but:

  • Can I control where my content is stored without impacting UX?
  • What happens to security of my content once it leaves my shores?
  • Easy for users great. But is it easy for me – the IT guy?

Stop by our booth #2521 at RSA Conference:

  • See our responses to the questions above, in action
  • Tell us what you think
  • Sign up and take Syncplicity by Axway for a spin

RESOURCES

February 12, 2014   |   by Syncplicity by Axway Team

Connect, Reimagine and Transform with Syncplicity by Axway at Microsoft SharePoint

EMC Syncplicity by Axway will be exhibiting at the upcoming Microsoft Sharepoint Conference in Las Vegas, March 3rd through 6th at the Venetian Hotel and Resort. 

The theme for this year’s conference is “Connect. Reimagine. Transform”. The event will bring together IT pros, executives and developers to hear about the roadmap and new features from SharePoint, Yammer and Office 365. The agenda will be loaded with cutting edge content, hands-on labs, workshops, discussions, showcases, and networking events.  President Bill Clinton will deliver the keynote address.

Throughout the event, we will be on-hand to meet with you and share our enterprise-grade file sharing and mobile collaboration solution.  Syncplicity by Axway is dedicated to enabling mobile collaboration and secure access to content repositories without creating new silos.  

To find out  how EMC Syncplicity by Axway and EMC Isilon power your SharePoint strategy stop by our Booth #1630 and grab a waterproof case for your iPad.  

EMC Syncplicity by Axway Sponsors the Metalogix Best of Breed Showcase 

The program is designed to bring the top SharePoint solutions, technology, partners and industry influencers together to drive innovation and inspire SharePoint deployments.  The winners will be announced March 5th at the Best of Breed Showcase Gala.  Register to join Syncplicity by Axway for an evening of fun at the Gala.  

If you’d like to talk to one of our sales professionals at the conference, email us at sales@syncplicity.com to set up an appointment.

Join the conversation on Twitter with #SPC2014

RESOURCES

Syncplicity by Axway "No Silos" Strategy Primer
Rich Mobile Access for Enterprise Content Stores like SharePoint

February 4, 2014

Syncplicity by Axway Attends the 2014 RSA Conference, San Francisco


Syncplicity by Axway is thrilled to be attending the 2014 RSA Conference in San Francisco, Feb 24th through 28th, at the Moscone Center in San Francisco CA.

The theme for this year’s conference is “2014:  Share. Learn. Secure”. The conference promotes the sharing of ideas and the development of relationships that can lead to great advances and innovations. The agenda is packed with presentations on all aspects of security including sessions on mobile security. Don’t miss Stephen Colbert one of the many keynote speakers. 

Stop by our booth #2521 to hear how Secure Sync and Share can empower collaboration while ensuring security requirements are met. Learn more about:

  • Hybrid Cloud for compliance to data residency and security concerns
     
  • Embedding security into files with Integrated Rights Management
     
  • BYOD enablement with SSO, robust policy enforcement and MDM integration

You are invited to join Syncplicity by Axway for an evening of fun at the OneLogin top-secret SpeakEasy at the Manor West, February 25th.  A password is required but we’ve got you covered. Register at http://oneloginprohibitionparty.splashthat.com/
 

If you’d like to talk to one of our sales professionals at the conference, email us at sales@syncplicity.com to set up an appointment. 

January 28, 2014

Beauty and Brains:  The New Syncplicity by Axway Mobile Apps

It’s official! The new mobile workforce has arrived but is still waiting for a mobile experience that untethers them from the PC. They no longer see mobile as the replacement for desktop, but see mobile as more than the desktop.  The wait for a transformational UX that delivers for the mobile workforce ends now with the new Syncplicity by Axway apps for iPad and Android.  

We are launching these apps with the theme “Beauty and Brains” because we believe they set the gold standard in our industry (and even amongst our consumer-oriented competitors) for mobile design, user experience, intelligence, and end-user productivity.  
 
Beauty. The new apps are aesthetically stunning, with completely redesigned icons and a layout devoid of clutter.  They are also functionally beautiful, featuring a new navigational paradigm, contextual menus, and even contextual visuals (notice the “time of day” sensitive Home Screen greetings, and that’s just a start!). 

Brains. We’ve re-thought the notion that a mobile file-sharing app should just present a desktop-like GUI, and instead are ushering in the next wave of mobile collaboration by truly leveraging the power of the mobile devices. The apps put your most active files and folders front and center to save you time, and they bubble up notifications so you can send reminders and stay productive with a single tap of the finger. Our new Syncplicity by Axway Insights™ use predictive analytics to completely eliminate common and mundane tasks. 

There are literally hundreds of improvements that make this a giant leap in productivity. 

But don’t take our word for it, try them yourself! 


Here’s what has us so excited about these new apps…

Immersive Design and User Experience

  •   Enjoy a beautiful, 100% native user interface optimized for your device 
  •   “Sheet-based navigation” on the iPad makes it very easy to find content inside deep folder hierarchies
  •   Tap-and-drag gesture to copy files between folders
  •   The home screen experience offers personalization and quick access to relevant information
  •   Access key features through innovative tool bars and contextual menus
  •   Mark folders and files as “favorites” to gain automatic offline access via the industry’s only mobile “push” synchronization
  •   Follow files, folders, and links to stay informed when content changes with our newly designed Activity Feed (Android only)


Enhanced Mobile Access and Editing

  •   Securely open Microsoft Office documents (Word, Excel, and PowerPoint) and PDF files right inside the Syncplicity by Axway app
  •   Edit Microsoft Office documents right inside the Syncplicity by Axway app  (Business and Enterprise Editions only)  
  •   Deliver Microsoft PowerPoint presentations with transitions and animations directly from your mobile device


Easy and Secure File Sharing

  •   Share files with Shared Links (All Editions) or with optional password protection and restricted recipients using Secure Shared Links (Business and      Enterprise Editions Only)
  •   Track shared file download activity (All Editions) including location-based information (Business and Enterprise Editions only) 


Increased productivity with Syncplicity by Axway Insights™

  •   Automatically send files to meeting attendees without having to type their email addresses
  •   Get notified on the most active folders in your account    Get notified when a user has not downloaded a shared link and send an email reminder from the    notification


Enterprise Grade Mobile Security Controls and Policies (Business and Enterprise Editions only)

  •   Restrict users from opening files outside of Syncplicity by Axway
  •   Require users to set additional passcode for access to Syncplicity by Axway


Additional Resources

  •   View our Product in Action videos to see short feature snippets in devices
  •   Watch a longer demonstration video here
December 30, 2013

In Enterprise Software, Digital Disruptors Can Be Your Guide

Originally published in InformationWeek on December 19th 

Enterprises can take a key lesson from game-changing tools like Flipboard and Nest Thermostat: Disrupt but don't break.

I continue to be amazed by the rapid pace of innovation in virtually every technology market. Every time you blink, it seems there's another startup taking on the old guard. 

Conventional wisdom in technology is that you need to abandon the existing order when faced with a new bright and shiny product. However, as someone who has worked with both startups and global leaders, I know it cannot be an either/or approach. Scrapping years or decades of investment in infrastructure is foolish, and the innovators who are winning are building their breakthrough tools on top of proven technologies. Two great examples are products I use and love: Flipboard and Nest Thermostat.

By nature, Nest and Flipboard improve upon existing products instead of trying to replace them. For example, instead of creating its own content from scratch, Flipboard compiles content that already exists into a format based on users' preferences. By the same token, the Nest Thermostat makes no attempt to re-engineer an entire heating/cooling system. Instead, it offers a smarter thermostat that integrates with the heating/cooling infrastructure that's already in place.  

With the enterprise technology space becoming more competitive by the day, you may be asking how we can apply this model to enterprise technology. Let's dig a bit deeper into the Flipboard and Nest strategies to find out.  

Flipboard reimagines existing content
Flipboard recognized that while there is an almost unlimited quantity of content available online, consumers spend a huge amount of time skimming through dozens of sites and hundreds of pages to get to the content that interests them. 

So, Flipboard developed breakthrough mobile apps, a polished user interface, and a curated reader-driven content strategy to pull in readers. This formula allowed the company to continue innovating while adding hundreds of thousands of users along the way.

One issue the company needed to address was content producers' desire to maintain a distinct brand and form relationships with readers. That's why Flipboard pays such close attention to format and look and feel with features like customizable layouts and user interfaces that adapt to your device. That way, they can keep both the content producers and the readers happy. 

Nest makes the system smarter
Nest had the breakthrough insight that, while the actual delivery mechanisms for residential heating and air conditioning systems were working well, human errors and inefficiencies of traditional thermostats were leading to wasted energy and rising heating and cooling costs.

Nest came up with an elegant and simple solution that worked and has continued to release new versions of the thermostat and its software, improving its simplicity and user friendliness. Nest has also continued to develop products beyond its initial market beachhead, including a smart smoke/carbon monoxide detector, which is a logical extension that naturally appeals to those who own or are interested in the Nest Thermostat.

It's clear that Nest has made it a priority to know its customer base: the homeowner. Homeowners are making the purchase decision and need to be convinced of the product's value. So, Nest offers rebates, proof of energy and money savings, and the option to easily control the product through your mobile device.   

Enterprise technology: How does it fit the mold?
As Flipboard and Nest show, new technologies don't need to reinvent the wheel. This is even more important in the enterprise, where companies have invested millions of dollars in their IT systems.

Take Splunk, for example. IT groups need analytics on all the critical systems they manage to better understand how they are performing. Rather than require IT admins to provide logs in a standard format, Splunk designed its system to import files in any format directly from the systems IT manages, and developed a dashboard of insights and alerts. It fundamentally changed IT operations without completely starting from scratch.

On the other hand, most cloud file storage solutions have taken a different approach. Every company has a system for managing its files and information, but new technologies such as cloud, mobile, and social tools have changed the way users share and access data. In response to these major technology trends, popular new tools for file sync and sharing, like Box and Dropbox, are creating new information silos that are not integrated with existing file systems. While these services are easy to use, you must drag the files you want to share into a proprietary cloud one by one.

There is clearly value in these new solutions, but a better approach is the Nest and Flipboard method: Incorporate new capabilities such as user-friendly mobile apps, hybrid cloud storage options, and newsfeed-like streams on file changes, but integrate them with existing corporate file servers, security standards, and compliance regulations.

Continuous innovation has been key for both Flipboard and Nest, whether it's in well designed mobile apps or a constant cycle of hardware and software updates. Established industries and processes like heating and cooling systems, the publishing industry, and enterprise IT exist for a reason: They are effective solutions to real problems. If new ideas don't fit within the existing frameworks, they can cause more disruption than they are worth. Instead, be like Nest, Flipboard, and Splunk: Disrupt, but don't break.

Related Links 

December 23, 2013

2014 Predictions

2013 was an amazing year for enterprise IT—the pace of innovation is higher than it has ever been and there is no sign of any slow down. In my view, 2014 is going to be a pivotal year in the transformation of enterprise IT.  Here are just a few predictions of what I see happening in enterprise software in 2014.

1.    100% of Enterprises Will Adopt Hybrid Cloud Storage

It’s a flawed approach to believe that a "one size cloud fits all” approach is appropriate, particularly in the enterprise and specifically for cloud storage. According to a survey that will be published in early 2014 by ESG, a leading analyst firm, 97% of IT professionals who have already deployed an online file sharing solution in the cloud are “extremely” or “somewhat interested” in on premise storage options. In 2014 hybrid cloud will emerge as the de facto choice for organizations that don’t want to and can’t afford to treat all applications and information equally. 

2.    If 2013 Was the Year of Enterprise Software, 2014 Will be the Year of the Enterprise User 

Mobile consumer apps have trained people to not just want, but demand a great user experience. One victim of this movement will be the death of feature-bloated apps. Instead, there will be a relentless focus from enterprise software vendors on simplicity of design and function. Those companies who fail to embrace this imperative will be left behind. 

3.    Users Will Demand the Power of Predictive Insights

We’ve heard a lot about the impact of predictive analytics on the enterprise and how they inform data-driven strategies. Now, the next leap in predictive analytics will be user driven. For example, content creation and collaboration will move from simple access and editing to automating of mundane tasks. Imagine you’ve just completed a meeting in which you created an elaborate whiteboard diagram that you want to share with all the meeting attendees. Predictive insights will prompt you to automatically email the photo of the diagram to all the people listed in calendar invite, eliminating time from a simple but low-value process. 

4.    “Backup & Recovery” Evolves to “Continuous Protection and Availability”

In a mobile world, where users work on multiple devices, any time and anywhere, the notion of desktop backup and recovery is not enough. True protection of business-critical files requires that files are backed up the moment they are modified no matter what device is used to perform an update. And if a device is lost, stolen, or malfunctions, a user should be able to pick up any other device and keep working without missing a beat -- and without needing to recover from a backup first.  

5.    If Left Unaddressed, the U.S Tech Talent Shortage Will Become a National Disgrace 

Congress will be forced to find a solution to the H-1B visa issue that continues to slowly eat away at the long term competitiveness of U.S. tech companies. We need to treat Silicon Valley and other technology centers as growth engines and give them the badly needed talent they require to fuel their innovation.

6.    Diversity Will Finally Get the Attention it Deserves 

We need to dramatically increase and diversify the technical talent pool within our country and initiatives such as Code.org, an organization dedicated to expanding participation in computer science education, and Code For America are examples of programs headed in the right direction. The emergence of Marissa Mayer and Sheryl Sandberg as high-profile technology leaders will also help drive more girls into technical and business careers, creating a far larger and more diverse technology workforce. 

7.    The Tech “Bubble” Will Burst But Won’t Take Out Everyone

It is not 1999. The tech industry has regained its footing and many ideas and innovations being invested in today are delivering long-term value. That said, there is considerable irrationality in the market as well, with some company’s valuations not being in line with core business fundamentals.  For enterprise customers, financial stability and laser-focus on enterprise needs matters in the long term.  “Land grabs” can generate a lot of early market hype, but when it comes to enterprise-scale deployments the landscape can change very fast.  

What are your predictions for 2014?

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The Syncplicity by Axway Team Authors

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