Welcome to the latest edition of Inside Looking Out. This past week, I had the opportunity to chat with Evan Kaplan, President and CEO of iPass. I originally met Evan a few months ago at an industry conference and was quickly struck by how lucid his opininons on general IT and enterprise mobility were. Given his schedule, I was finally able to get some time with him this past week to talk about a broad array of topics, including the iPad and mobility strategy.
The Enterprise Mobility Foundation: Hi Evan. Thanks, for taking the time to speak with me today. I know you’re busy, so let’s jump right in. There’s obviously been a lot of talk in the last few months about the growing trend of individually liable devices. Is corporate liability “dead”?
Evan Kaplan: Hi Philippe. It’s nice to speak with you again. I don’t think corporate liability is dead. First, I think it important to understand that there are many types of liability associated with a smartphone including financial, regulatory, compliance, privacy and legal liability. In industries with stiff regulatory and compliance considerations, it will be more likely that stronger controls and corporate liable smartphones would be the norm. In less regulated industries, the company may negotiate the rate on the employee’s behalf, and manage compliance, but financial liability will be the responsibility of the employee. And many companies will adopt a hybrid approach and will choose to assign liability based on the role that the employee plays within the organization.
No matter the model, enterprises need to define a well thought out liability strategy upfront, since every function and level of a company, not just road warriors, is affected by the plan. And at the same time the strategy needs to encompass securing data –since regulatory, compliance, privacy and legal liability all play a role and it is the data on the phone, not the phone itself that needs to be managed.
EMF: Is there a difference to you between mobile outsourcing and managed services for mobility?
EK: I don’t see this as any different from what we see in other categories like security. Outsourcing and managed services are different models and strategies to meet the needs of the business. Outsourcing typically means exactly that – full responsibility for the enterprise mobility service, including the people and processes, are managed by the outsourcing provider. Managed services assume that the provider manages elements of a service or certain end-to-end processes are ‘out-tasked’. A SaaS or platform as a service model is a very effective model for delivering mobility as it reduces the capex load and adds a more predictable opex model along with a self service, rapid provisioning capability. Companies can buy the service and the in-house IT and procurement team can manage it without having to maintain servers, software and licenses.
EMF: We always talk about “enterprise” mobility, yet rarely about mobility for the SMB market. Are they the same or are there notable differences in your mind?
EK: I think the definition of SMB (fewer than 500 employees) is too broad. I usually use the criteria; does the organization have an IT department? If the answer is yes, I categorize them as a Small Medium Enterprise (SME), and I believe that SMEs have similar needs to large enterprises. Small, medium and large enterprises –that have an IT department — tend to have global workforces and need to support multiple carrier relationships around the world, have more applications to support and have the challenges of scale and compliance to deal with. SMBs that don’t have an IT department on the other hand have similar challenges of getting connectivity, ensuring security is not compromised and containing or avoiding expense traps like roaming fees, but they tend to procure these services in a different way and rely on a service provider who can take on the task of an internal IT team in many cases.
EMF: When Apple announced a couple of months ago the iPhone 0S 4.0, the big enterprise news was the multitasking, the device management and the improved security. Do you think the iPhone is now truly ready for the enterprise?
EK: Whether we think it is ready or not, the iPhone is by default an enterprise device. In our recent survey of mobile workers we found that 18 percent of mobile workers list their iPhone as their mobile device of choice; and 54 percent of BlackBerry smartphone users would switch to an iPhone if it was supported by their company. And I just read in All Things Digital that four out of ten iPhones sold are to business users. What 4.0 delivers is a big step forward in reducing the barriers for IT teams to broadly support iPhone usage.
EMF: Speaking of Apple, where do you see the iPad fit in the enterprise? How will it be different from the iPhone in your mind in terms of mobility management?
EK: If you have ever had your laptop screen crushed on an airplane, you’ll appreciate the iPad. I have an iPad, and I get a lot of use out of it when I travel. For the business traveler it offers a lot of benefits: the battery life is ten hours, it is instantly on, has super fast application response, and the typing works pretty darn well… Add in-flight Wi-Fi, and the iPad is pretty compelling. It uses the same operating system as the iPhone, so it follows managing it will be similar. And, honestly I think there is a big market for multi-use devices, those that can be used for both work and play when you travel.
It also isn’t currently considered a laptop by the TSA, so it doesn’t need to be taken out of the briefcase, making for a faster trip through the security line, something any frequent traveler can appreciate.
EMF: What’s the next big wave for enterprise mobility?
EK: And the walls came down… the next big wave in enterprise mobility will be around openness. Openness is driven by demands for customer choice and flexibility. Hardly a week goes by without another vendor or industry announcement. We are seeing the unlocking of devices and opening of operating systems, like Android, opening of development platforms like the Open Mobility Foundation, and the opening of networks like community and ‘free’ networks. In the not too distant future enterprises will be able to mix and match with a choice in devices, networks and services to meet their business and employee needs.
EMF: One last question Evan. With all the flux in the market, what one piece of advice would you give to an IT manager?
EK: I would advise an IT manager to put the idea of cost base erosion squarely in motion. What I mean by base erosion is the concept that each year there will be new networks, new devices and the need for more bandwidth – all driving mobility costs higher. In negotiating contracts, IT should be looking at starting with a total mobility budget, and eroding it over a period of time… The IT manager needs to be thinking, “how can I negotiate a short term contract with my carrier, take advantage of changes in the market, and get my cost structure to decrease every year. “
The trend toward openness in the mobility market is giving enterprises a huge opportunity to get carriers to compete for their business, and avoid lock-in. With competition comes the ability for enterprises to continuously renegotiate rates with their service providers, and at the same time maintain the same level of service and features. The market is changing so quickly, and the companies that successfully implement base erosion will find their mobility spend decreasing, not spiraling out of control.
Well, there you have it. Thanks Evan for taking the time to speak with me today. If interested, you can connect with Evan via LinkedIn here. Do you know anyone who should be a guest here on Inside Looking Out? Drop us a line.