Posts Tagged ‘iPads’

BroadVision Revamps Clearvale Enterprise Social Networking Software

March 14th, 2012

BroadVision’s Clearvale enterprise social networking software will now lets companies create networks on an ad hoc manner in which a mix of employees, partners and customers can participate.

Until now, the BroadVision software has allowed for the configuration of enterprise social networks devoted exclusively to employees, or to customers or partners, but the new capability to create “hybrid” networks will make the product more effective in improving business communication and collaboration, the company said on Tuesday.

The new capabilities are possible through features called Guest, Zones and Conduits. The Guest feature lets administrators add users to a network, but giving them more limited access to content and fewer permissions to perform certain actions, when compared with regular members of the network. Meanwhile, the Zones and Conduits features let administrators create collaborative workspaces that are, respectively, public or private.

BroadVision also added analytics features to Clearvale that are designed to not only measure and track usage of enterprise social networks, but also establish incentives for users to encourage their participation.

The Clearvale upgrade also includes an improved Task feature, integration with Microsoft SharePoint and an updated mobile application for iPhones and iPads.


Enterprise apps find a space on consumer devices

December 30th, 2010

When Apple CEO Steve Jobs formally introduced the iPad in January of this year, he had mostly the consumer market in mind for his much anticipated new product. Nonetheless, the iPad, and similar consumer-focused devices such as the iPhone and Android-based smartphones are increasingly being used for work-related duties.

“The iPhone has hands-down captured the imagination not only of the consumer but of the corporate user,” said Clint Oram, chief technology officer and cofounder of customer relationship management software vendor SugarCRM. Going into 2011, vendors of enterprise software are finding that consumer devices represent an opportunity to expand their reach.

For enterprise software vendors, the idea of developing client software for mobile handsets is not new. But developing for consumer devices, as opposed to devices made specifically for the enterprise market, is a new aspect to their development strategies.

“Enterprise vendors are recognizing more and more that devices don’t matter when you’re accessing an application,” said Rebecca Wettemann, vice president of IT analyst firm Nucleus Research. “If I’m out in the field, I should be able to access information to do my job.”

In a survey of 1,100 of its enterprise customers, mobile connectivity management provider iPass found that 13 percent already have iPads in use — mainly brought in by employees — and 27 percent expect iPads and similar devices to replace the laptop as their primary computing device.

Another poll of 1,600 IT buyers, by ChangeWave Research, found that 14 percent of companies plan to buy employees some form of tablet for work. And, at least initially, organizations seem to be eschewing the typical enterprise-targeted devices from Hewlett-Packard and Research in Motion in favor of devices made for the consumer market, notably the iPad.

Enterprise software companies are heeding the call. IBM developed a client for its Maximo workflow software for the iPhone, allowing repairmen the ability to update their status directly from the shop floor. Sybase released a software package, called Afaria, to help system administrators maintain better control over iPhones and iPads within their domain.

The use of more consumer devices in the workplace represents a sea-change in enterprise IT in general, noted Harry Labana, chief technology officer for Citrix. “IT has been of the mindset of predicting what the user wants, but that fundamental handshake between employer and employee has shifted,” he said.

“The new workforce is more goal-oriented. They know they have to get something done, so they are far more knowledgeably equipped to pick the tools they need,” he said.

What is the advantage of using a consumer device? One is superior usability. A lot of thought has been put into making consumer devices as easy to use as possible. As a result, such devices can make employers more efficient, Labana said.

“If you can make a doctor or lawyer five percent more productive, well, that’s a big payback, financially,” said Chris Fleck, Citrix vice president of community and solutions development.

Usage of these devices varies from workplace to workplace. In many cases, it is the organization’s executives who first get the iPad or Android phone for themselves and ask the IT staff to support it, notes Fleck.

In other cases, the devices are used to make life easier for the mobile employees. The SugarCRM app, for instance, is used mostly by mobile workers to fetch client contact information such as phone numbers, addresses or e-mails from the CRM app back at the office, Oram said.

Citrix has thus far had a million downloads of its Receiver client, available for the iPhone, iPad and the Android. The Receiver software allows users to access their desktop computers, both the applications and the data, although it requires Citrix server software to virtualize the desktop. The client makes life easier for administrators because they don’t have to worry about supporting multiple mobile platforms, Fleck said.

Of course, developing for consumer devices can pose additional challenges for enterprise software companies, particularly if they wish to work with Apple, which controls which applications can be deployed on its devices.

“Apple has some room for improvement,” in getting more enterprise applications for the devices, Oram said. “The deployment process is a little challenging if you are thinking about a one-off customized application.”

Application vendors should also try to take advantage of some of the native capabilities of these devices, added Wettemann. For instance, smartphones and tablets have geo-location capabilities that can pinpoint the user’s location. Such a feature could be harnessed in enterprise applications as well.

Despite these limitations, it is clear that many of tomorrow’s consumer-oriented devices will find a place in the workforce as well.

The devices such as iPads “really have transformed into business tools,” Fleck said. “They are allowing a lot of people to leave their laptops at home.”


Business intelligence software maker takes iPads over laptops

September 12th, 2010

MicroStrategy, a business intelligence software maker, has deployed 1,100 Apple iPads to executives and sales personnel to conduct critical job-related tasks. The company said it expects to 700 more iPads to be deployed soon.

MicroStrategy is one of the largest business users of iPads to go public about its deployment. Most other businesses that have talked about iPad use have around 100 users to date.

MicroStrategy said it is running some applications that can run on both the iPad and iPhone, while others are designed to fully take advantage of the larger 9.7-inch iPad touchscreen. For example, the some of the latter applications help sales personnel easily show off videos or live demonstrations to customers during face-to-face meetings, said Mark LaRow, senior vice president of products.

Apple has wisely made it possible to import and export documents, spreadsheets and presentations in the Microsoft Office formats of Word, Excel and PowerPoint, which are almost universally used by businesses large and small, he noted. “Apple is breaking the mold for mobile computing,” LaRow gushed.

From the end-user perspective, one of the biggest advantages the iPad has over a laptop is its instant-on capability. “People don’t wait two minutes for it to boot like with a laptop,” he said. “It’s instant on, and that’s a big deal.”

But instant-on is far from MicroStrategy’s major justification in using the iPad.

LaRow said its total cost-of-ownership should prove far more prudent for the iPad than for laptop computers.

In fact, LaRow said that the company compared the TCO of iPads and laptops and the result was “wildly in favor of iPad.” Microstrategy typically spends about $1,000 a year to support each laptop over a three-year life, including software licenses, maintenance and hardware. By comparison, the company concluded that the iPad would cost just $400 a year, though it is expected they will last only two years, he said.

While some attorneys using iPads must still rely on desktops or laptops for long document creation or editing, LaRow said he and others in his company find that using a Bluetooth keyboard with the iPad is working just fine for creating long memos. LaRow is also using a Bluetooth mouse supplied by Apple when he sits to use the iPad.

LaRow said the iPad could be very useful for “anybody who stands up on the job,” such as a worker using clipboards or a warehouse manager.

MicroStrategy developers are also working to create iPad versions of its popular BI tools that could be used by insurance claims agents, customer service reps and retail sales workers, he said.

The company has offered versions of the BI tools for BlackBerry devices for three years. Sales of those tools are growing modestly, but the upcoming BI software products for iPad and iPhone are drawing “gigantic interest,” he said.

Internally, MicroStrategy executives are able to use the iPad or iPhone to quickly review routine requests for worker expenses, purchase orders and more by using a custom-built application called Corporate Request Center. The managers can easily reject, approve or send the requests back for more information.

The approval process is a little quicker via an iPad, but mainly it is more convenient for users since the iPad can go almost anywhere. “Before, that was done only on a desktop, but as a workflow tool, using the iPad and iPhone has meant a big boost in productivity because you can use it wherever you are, when you have a spare moment,” LaRow said.

E-mail access is probably the biggest function of the iPad, he said.

LaRow hopes to take advantage of video chat and collaboration capabilities in a next generation of iPads. He also hopes Apple adds the ability to input commands by voice. improving on the capability now offered by some third party tool makers.

“Video chat and collaboration on documents would be a great enhancement. If you watch people using iPads at work, they often sit shoulder to shoulder pointing at something on the same screen. If you could extend that experience so it’s no longer shoulder to shoulder that would be good,” LaRow said.

While MicroStrategy didn’t intentionally choose iPads to be devices that workers would use in their personal lives, LaRow said the company has found “when everybody brings the iPads home, the kids grab them” for access to games, videos and more.
In essence, workers “like to use it … it’s more engaging,” he concluded.


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