This blog post is contributed by Nabeel Ahmad, Mobile Learning Thought Leader, IBM Learning Developer
You may know about eLearning, where
knowledge transfer happens over digital channels. You’ve probably
consumed some form of eLearning, whether watching a YouTube video on
how to replace a bicycle chain or taking an online course in history.
eLearning began with teachers creating digital copies of readings
with no enhancement over the paper version. Educators have learned
much since then, mainly that there are more effective methods than
porting courseware from one medium to another. Yet, the same thing
happened with mobile. It is not imperative to develop learning
material specifically for mobile. However, when the context of using
that material changes as a result of being in a new environment, the
way to deliver that information must also change. Mobile mobile mobile
Mobile devices, to which more than 75 percent of the world now have access (World Bank, 2012
), are quickly becoming the device of choice for both personal and business use. This presents an opportunity for enterprises to deliver learning to their mobile employees. Mobile learning (mLearning) met the same initial fate as eLearning, where digital courseware was ported to mobile devices. Why is this an issue? Three reasons are prominent:
- Time. You often have less time to access information while you are mobile than when you are in the office. While mobile, your free time is not continuous, so you may have 10 minutes, three times in a day, but not 30 minutes at once. eLearning is often designed for longer periods, resulting in a mismatch for the time-sensitive needs of a mobile employee.
- Form factor. Your mobile device is much smaller than your laptop. Delivering information designed to be consumed on larger screens results in a poor mobile user experience. Mobile devices tend to be used more for consuming content, such as watching a video or reading an article, rather than producing it, with the notable exception of sending short messages.
- Context. You are mobile for a reason, and the environment you are in often influences how you use your mobile device. This differs from a stationary office setting where your location often has little bearing on the tasks you perform. When mobile, getting access to just-in-time information that will aid in a decision is valuable.
Why is it important for enterprises to
be aware of mLearning? A growing number of workforces are mobile,
with sellers, consultants, managers and executives being the most
mobile. It is in an enterprise’s best interest to enable mobile
employees to develop personally and have access to resources that let
them do their job better from wherever they are.
IBM conducted a study with Columbia University to better understand
how employees use mobile devices in the workplace. The main finding
indicates a higher interest in access to performance support and
just-in-time information than in traditional courseware whose
teachings may not be applied immediately. While some factors have
changed since the study, including the presence of tablets and
greater user knowledge of mobile devices, others remain constant,
including time, context and, to a lesser extent, form factor.
Are you interested in implementing mobile learning but don’t know where to start? Consider these tips:
- Ask. Feedback is a gift, so ask your mobile users what they would like to have access to. Getting input from the user may increase participation in mLearning.
- Process. Focus on the process you are trying to improve instead of the technology. Beware of the person who says, “We want an app!” Mobile is not the solution to every problem.
- Pilot. Find an interested party and conduct a pilot with them. Outline what success looks like and identify key metrics. Reassess after the pilot to see what worked well.
Mobile learning in the workplace is an opportunity to develop employees and improve productivity. The ones at greatest risk are those who do nothing. Be bold and you will be great.
Nabeel Ahmad helps lead IBM's internal mobile learning strategy, focusing on access to educational and performance support opportunities for on-the-go IBMers. Nabeel is an adjunct professor at Columbia University where he teaches graduate-level courses on Mobile Phone Learning and Social Media for Learning. Follow Nabeel on Twitter at @nabeeloo.
Nabeel is an IBM Redbooks thought leader
This post is contributed by Bas Pluim, Architect, IBM Smarter Mobile Development
Using a mobile device is like going camping with a tent and backpack: The freedom to go anywhere is nice, but it's somewhat lacking in facilities and comfort. One thing I learned from camping is that you can make perfectly good coffee by boiling water in a kettle. You don't need one of those fancy machines. This came in pretty handy at home when there was a power outage last year. Likewise, mobile application development can teach us several things that also apply to web- and desktop applications.
1. Security is more than passwords
Entering long, complicated passwords like Qre56Z!ko8a22 with a full size keyboard is bad enough, but on a mobile device, it's twice as hard. Plus, there is no good place to stick that little yellow memo with all your passwords to the screen. Instead, mobile applications make increasingly use of other information for authentication, such as the network ID and geographic location. For example, a nurse working in the Emergency Room (ER) can access a patient's record on a tablet without a password, because the tablet is connected to the hospital's Wifi and is physically located within the ER. But when that same nurse takes the tablet to the coffee shop across the street, he has to enter a password before gaining access to any patient information.
Desktops and laptops typically do not provide a geolocation for an application to use. But there are other options, such as verifying the user's IP address, and checking the time of day. Not every application is used 24x7 world wide. For example, a web application to schedule court appearances would typically only be used within one country, during regular business hours. That doesn't mean the application should be unavailable at midnight, and a lawyer on vacation abroad should still be able to schedule a case. For those users, an elegant solution is to use a second method of authentication. After entering an ID and password, the user must also answer a security question ("What was the make and model of your first car?"). Some web sites already do this when a user authenticates for the first time from a different computer, which can be detected through the absence of a permanent cookie.
2. Laptops get stolen too
According to a study by McAfee and the Ponemon Institute
, close to 5% of smartphones are lost or stolen every year. With a typical life span of just over two years, the cumulative chance a phone going missing is almost 9%. More than half of these phones have no protection at all, and only one in five has local storage encryption. It's no wonder security is a major concern for businesses trying to adopt mobile devices.
But the numbers are almost as bad for laptops. A study by Intel in 2010
showed that the chance of a laptop being stolen during its three year life is around 7%, with 70% of them lacking basic precautions such as encryption, back-up and anti-theft technologies. A laptop has a lot more storage than a smartphone, which means a single incident could be disastrous. Mobile devices deserve some leeway, given that they're relatively new and the challenges associated with using a personal device for company business. But these excuses don't apply to laptops. It's mind-boggling that security hasn't improved in this area.
3. You don't need to see that
One advantage of a small screen is that developers are motivated to limit the amount of information to display. If a data attribute is not essential to the task at hand, it is simply left out. And while accidental, this approach has also improved data privacy. It wouldn't hurt to apply this principle to other applications as well. Some of the administrative applications I've seen appear to be a cross between a spreadsheet and a teenager's bedroom. Fields are stacked haphazardly on massive data entry forms, using a one-size-fits-all approach. Sensitive data regarding finances and family members is placed right below the question on whether you'd like to receive the company newsletter. Just because we can cram everything onto the screen doesn't mean we should.
4. You don't need to see all of them
A good friend
of mine has owned an iPhone since they first came out. He probably has accumulated several thousand pictures over the years. Whenever he wants to show you a really funny photo from a couple of years ago, the conversation stagnates as he furiously scrolls through screen after screen of thumbnails. If screen swiping was an Olympic sport, he'd win a gold medal every time. To his credit, he does always find it, and the photo is usually funny enough it was worth the wait. Regardless, mobile devices are not good at handling large volumes of data. Even the most humble laptop will eat a spreadsheet with 28,000 rows for breakfast, but give most smartphones a bad case of indigestion. Better search features such as type-ahead have helped developers limit the amount of data to return, which is also beneficial when the device has a slow data connection.
A positive side effect of limiting the number of records that can be accessed is security. Even if the device falls in the wrong hands, records can only be accessed one at a time. By contrast, some web applications allow users to dump the entire database and download it as a spreadsheet. Application designers should not only consider which data elements a user should have access to, but also think about volume. A call taker answering questions from clients only needs to access one record at a time. On the other hand, the financial analyst computing the average profit per policyholder does need all the records, but probably doesn't need sensitive items such as birth dates or social security numbers. The step-up authentication described under point (1) can also be used here. Whenever you want more records than is normal, answer a security question first.
5. The more, the merrier
The best mobile applications are the ones that are dedicated to a single task. Do one thing, and do it well. Unfortunately, there is a lot of desktop software that does a lot of things poorly. These so called "productivity suites" are usually bloatware by consensus: A bunch of features crammed together because nobody told the customer they couldn't have everything. Mobile apps on the other hand are entirely task based. If I want to look up someone's phone number, I get a phone number. I don't get someone's social media page with their latest Tweets and Pinterest photos carelessly strewn around their contact information. This doesn't mean there shouldn't be consolidation. Deep inside the corporate Cloud, you still want a single (federated) database and centralized business logic. But it is perfectly acceptable to have multiple applications that access the same data and services if it helps people be more productive.
Mobile applications are changing the way traditional software works. Overall, I think this is a good thing. When you're going camping in the woods, you quickly discover that items such as an electric razor just aren't worth the weight. And you can actually survive for a week without an espresso machine, panini grill or electric can opener. Less is more.
Bas Pluim is an architect for the Development Support Team, which provides cloud computing services to development and test teams. His focus is on mobile solutions using IBM Worklight. Bas is also a member of the IT Specialist certification board, and helps maintain the ITS Wiki. Follow Bas on Twitter at @baspluim.
Bas is an IBM Redbooks thought leader
This post is contributed by Mick Landers, IT Architect, IBM Global Technology Services Mobile Enterprise Services
The IBM GTS Mobile Enterprise Services team has provided
mobility services for its customers for over ten years. The initial
focus was on providing a managed BlackBerry Enterprise Service but in
recent times emphasis has switched to a managed service for mobile
platforms like Apple iOS and Google Android.
The GTS team
supports many of the popular Mobile Device Management (MDM) products
in the marketplace – installing, configuring and managing these
products on an on-going basis for customers. So of course while
individuals in the GTS Mobile Enterprise Services team may have
particular favorites in the MDM product space, the global team,
through its Mobility Center of Excellence, has the capability and
experience to deliver a managed mobility service regardless of the
MDM product in question.
With the release
of IBM Endpoint Manager for Mobile Devices earlier last year,
the GTS Mobile Enterprise Services team has been in the unique
position of being able to compare the IBM product with the other
products in the marketplace, based on years of practical experience
deploying and running those MDM systems. Through participation in the
early IBM Endpoint Manager for Mobile Devices beta programs, GTS has
helped prioritize recent updates to the product – focusing on
managed service delivery.
However there are some unique features
of the broader IBM Endpoint Manager “platform” that the MDM
product uses to its advantage – and these features give the GTS
team an additional edge in service delivery. A couple of examples include MDM
Platform Updates and Custom Fixlets.
MDM Platform Updates
A typical MDM scenario occurs when a
new version of a mobile platform appears in the market, such as Apple
releasing a new version of iOS. Sometimes this means an update to an
MDM tool to support that new version. For the GTS Mobile Enterprise
Services team this means liaising with the MDM vendors, receiving
notification of the required product update and then coordinating and
scheduling that update across all of the customers affected by the
change. For some MDM systems the updates have included SQL scripting
patches and manual updates to files – all error prone and time
IBM Endpoint Manager has a
unique approach with its ability to subscribe to sites that deliver
content automatically from IBM content-delivery cloud-based services.
This effectively means automatic updates to the product with little
or no administrative actions. The administrator will see a
notification in their console telling them that the Mobile Device
Management site has been updated. It includes a link to a web page
detailing the new content. The update might include a new mobility
dashboard, updates to an existing mobile action or support for a new
The popular MDM systems supported by
GTS provide a fixed set of features – typical things like security
policy definition, application management, reporting and compliance
management. If the product does not support a particular use case
that is important for the client, then this usually means an
enhancement request to the MDM vendor which may get implemented in
some future release.
The IBM Endpoint Manager platform in
comparison allows the development of custom capabilities quickly and
easily. An administrator can copy an existing component and edit it
to suit their needs or simply write a completely new component from
scratch. As GTS moves forward with deploying IBM Endpoint Manager for
Mobile Devices this will be a key capability used to deliver the
right features to customers in a timely manner.
These are just some of the platform
capabilities that give the GTS services team great confidence in
deploying IBM Endpoint Manager for Mobile Devices - a mature and
extensible technology platform that has automated update processes,
removing a maintenance headache that is seen with many other systems,
allowing the team to focus on delivering a comprehensive mobility
service to customers.
Mick Landers is a mobility offering architect for IBM Global Technology Services Workplace Services. He develops reusable managed service offerings for the Mobile Enterprise, focusing on Mobile Device Management and Mobile Application Platform Management. He also engages in mobility bids and proposal responses and solution design for IBM customers. Follow Mick Landers on Twitter at @landersm.
Mick is an IBM Redbooks thought leader.
By Scott Nordstrom, WebSphere Application Infrastructure Marketing Team Lead
Who doesn’t love to play games? What about a game that helps technical professionals learn new skills and technology? Code Rally
, IBM’s latest social programming game, does just that. It helps developers explore game design, Java programming, web technologies, mobile, Agile, and more -- all in a fun and challenging way. Plus, it uses IBM’s latest collaborative web and mobile development technologies – WAS Liberty Profile and WorkLight.
Based on design concepts involving artificial intelligence and game theory, Code Rally
challenges your abilities to think ahead and manipulate controls on your vehicle as you compete with your fellow racers. You can race on one of our cloud-hosted tracks, on your own system, or bring the game into your own environment and host it on a server, racing against others.
However you choose to get in the game, I know you will enjoy the experience.
Scott Nordstrom is currently involved in shaping the Developer marketing strategy for IBM Mobile. Previously within IBM,, Scott worked within the marketing organizations for WebSphere and Rational shaping the Cloud, Application Server and Connectivity and Integration marketing strategies as well as a Product Line Manager launching Rational Software Analyzer. Previous to joining the IBM, he held business development and corporate strategy roles at BMC Software and various senior management roles for software Start-up Company’s in Austin, Texas.Follow Scott Nordstrom on Twitter
This post is contributed by Miku Jha, Product Line Manager for the IBM Mobile Foundation Product Portfolio
2013 is the year of mobile enterprise apps. Gartner
listed Enterprise App Store as one of the key tech trends for 2013: 10 Tech trends for 2013
. By 2014, there will be more than 70 billion mobile app downloads from app stores every year. It is time we paid attention to MAM: Mobile Application Management or conceptually, managing and secure these apps that access the most valuable asset of an enterprise: the data.
The usage pattern of enterprise apps is changing, as the following graphic shows:
With the growing number of mobile enterprise apps and changing usage patterns, enterprises need to shift from the draconian security approach of locking down the entire device to a more granular approach of securing specific apps. This is where MAM comes in as a set of tools and technologies to address the growing app-level security and usage concerns.
Here are the questions that a CIO/Security group would ask before approving the enterprise wide BYOD policy:
- What’s your strategy for third-party apps? How do you secure third-party apps without access to the source code?
- Can you selectively wipe the app when the device is lost or stolen?
- Can you enforce passcode policy compliance across all app types including custom apps, third-party apps and public apps?
- Can you ensure that any data/content accessed by the apps does not go beyond the organization’s control?
- How do we get active app feedback, reviews and ratings for the developers?
MAM is not just a glorified app store
MAM is not just an enterprise app store or a client app catalog. MAM is a super set of tools and technologies to address application-level security and management. The key domains of a comprehensive MAM offering are illustrated in the following graphic:
The core MAM functionalities offered across these domains are:
Practical examples of MAM from a security point of view
- Application-level policy enforcement
- Runtime policy/security updates on apps (done using app wrapping and SDKs)
- App deprovisioning
- Ability to remote wipe an app and its related data
- Secured container to run apps
- Application analytics
- Integration with MDM (mobile device management) to do remote wipe, selective removal of app, and so on
- Reports on app usage and device usage
- User authorization and authentication
- Multi-factor authentication: Use app wrapping to enforce multi-factor authentication on third-party apps or generic apps
- PIN authentication: Prohibit offline use and allow access to corporate data only if user is securely connected to the enterprise network
- Geofencing: Restrict app usage based on specific geographic locations during specific periods
- Data-at-rest encryption: Discover and encrypt data specific to an app as opposed to having to encrypt all the data on the device
- App-level VPN: Force an app to use a secure VPN connection to the corporate network. This secures data in motion.
MAM is a natural extension of capabilities for both MEAP (Mobile Enterprise Application Platform) vendors and MDM vendors who are quickly adding mobile application management to their portfolio:
You need MAM capabilities regardless of your MDM deployment As you consider MAM in your mobile strategy in 2013, don’t make this false assumption: If I have an MDM solution, I don’t need MAM. You need both for a healthy mobile enterprise strategy.
- MobileIron introduced app wrapping and secure app tunnel (AppConnect and AppTunnel)
- Symantec added app wrapping and app SDK via the Nukona acquisition and recently launched its App Center Ready program for ecosystem development
- Good Technology acquired AppCentral for enterprise app store and app wrapping
MDM is about managing, provisioning and securing the device. This is needed when you want to offer device-level protection such as device tracking, remote wipe, IT policy enforcement, compliance and monitoring of employee devices.
However, with the ever-evolving BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) landscape, where the device may be employee-owned but not essentially corporate-managed, a growing focus is on application-level protection and data security.
MDM helps you with securing the device, whereas MAM helps you with securing the information residing on the device or accessed from the device. An enterprise needs both device-level and app-level protection for a comprehensive mobile security strategy.
If you get confused with the ongoing debate between MAM and MDM, remember the thumb rules:
- MAM doesn’t replace MDM.
- MDM alone doesn’t compensate for MAM needs.
- MAM and MDM are complimentary since they approach security and protection from different angles, and both may be needed for your BYOD initiative to be successful.
- Both MAM and MDM can coexist based on your needs.
Be sure to consider the application-level protection and needs of your enterprise and respond “Yes” to “Got MAM?” in 2013. Miku Jha has deep understanding in Web, Mobile, Virtualization and enterprise technology and is currently involved with shaping product and strategy for IBM Mobile. Previously, Miku led World Wide Technical Sales Enablement at IBM. Miku comes to IBM from Worklight Acquisition where she was a Senior Solutions Architect. Prior to Worklight, Miku has held multiple roles in Program Management, Product Management and business planning at VMware where she was also instrumental in the launch of VMware’s ﬁrst generation Mobile Virtualization solution. She holds an MBA from Cornell University and Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from Mumbai University.Miku is an IBM Redbooks thought leader
Even if you're not a big tennis fan, you may be interested in IBM's showcase of technology that runs the Grand Slam events (Australian Open
[currently running as I write this], Roland Garros/French Open, Wimbledon and US Open) each year. While the operational story is a good case study in Big Data and Smarter Analytics, two big themes for IBM, application development, as usual, is behind the scenes, "serving up" some really cool stuff: mobile and web apps.......oh yeah, BUILT with Rational (and other components).
- So many platforms, so little time! These native mobile apps were built before portable tools like IBM Worklight (part of the IBM Mobile Development Lifecycle Solution) give the huge benefit of writing one core set of code to run on all platforms giving you a big productivity boost!
- Get 'r' done! In the above item 1, there are different development teams that build the native mobile apps and the website. When you have different teams, possibly in different locations, possibly even outsourced, you absolutely need to coordinate and collaborate (and I'm NOT referring to sending emails and spreadsheets and documents and slides, but rather a more structured, professional way of collaborating and communicating to work at the speed of business). This project chose Rational Team Concert (also part of the IBM Mobile Development Lifecycle Solution).
- Give the user the quality they deserve! If all apps were 5-star quality, there may be no need to gather agile requirements/user stories, design for quality and test (testing doesn't create quality, it simply verifies the quality that you've built so far). In this mobile frontier, mobile app testing is also a new frontier, with few tools as compared to desktop GUI or web-based testing. This means most of us are left to manual testing, which can be a laborious task, not just in the testing itself, but in the design and management of the testing and results (I typically see out-of-date spreadsheets, documents getting emailed around - YUCK). Rational Quality Manager can help (oh yeah, ALSO part of the IBM Mobile Development Lifecycle Solution.
- The mobile app isn't standalone - there's a web service behind that curtain! One of my favorite topics is Good Design is Good Business. This project also uses Rational Software Architect (RSA and the included Rational Application Developer component) to construct the website and services. SOA is still alive and well, and often the back-end of the mobile front-end and Rational and IBM's SOA solutions are second to none. And let us not forget Rational's contributions to UML - this project takes advantage of UML capabilities in RSA to shorten the time it takes to communicate application architecture (more in the story itself).