Complexity Kills so Simplify your Mobile Apps Now

Boston

Migrate Win32 apps with complex user interfaces to mobile apps where each screen is focused on a single task or idea.

The 90s was a time where many developers did their best to create NASA mission control screens. If an app performed ten different functions, they’d see if all those activities could be performed on a single screen. No one ever considered there might be a correlation between those complex screens and the mountain of training manuals and classroom instruction required to make employees productive. A lack of empathy for app users left many employees confused and intimidated by technology. Complexity kills.

You now have a second chance to kill this complexity. In the same way that I want you to break up your large, monolithic Win32 apps into multiple apps, I also want you to do the same for individual screens. Take a look at how many different tasks are accomplished on your complex screens and break them apart into their own screens. Once you’ve created multiple, mobile screens for each discrete function area of a complex Win32 screen, focus on which UI elements you can eliminate. You may find sub-tasks on your new mobile screens that can be further broken out into their own screens. Some designers call this Progressive Reduction. Keep iterating on this process until each screen is easy to understand and has the minimum number of UI elements needed to accomplish a single task.

Improve user productivity by breaking complex screens into multiple, simplified screens to reduce expenses and training requirements by making apps faster and easier to use. What is your company doing to make corporate apps easier to use for employees?

Learn how to digitally transform your company in my newest book, “Mobile Strategies for Business: 50 Actionable Insights to Digitally Transform your Business.”

Book Cover

Click to purchase a copy of my book today and start transforming your business!

Sharing my knowledge and helping others never stops, so connect with me on my blog at http://robtiffany.com , follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/RobTiffany and on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/robtiffany

Reduce Corporate Risk by Updating your Win32 Apps to Run on Secure Sandboxed Platforms

Migrate those Visual Basic, Delphi, VisualAge, PowerBuilder, SQL Windows, JBuilder and Visual Cafe Win32 applications to secure sandboxed mobile apps.

Hope I didn’t leave out your favorite development tools from the 90s. The Mac stagnated, OS/2 didn’t capture market share and the inexpensive, developer-friendly Windows platform benefited. Companies all over the world deployed Windows 3.1 and then Windows 95 and NT. Easy to use, drag and drop development tools meant you didn’t have to have a computer science degree to build powerful apps. Desktop apps of varying quality spread like wildfire.

Apps back then could manipulate the operating system, talk directly to other apps and perform all kinds of insecure, destabilizing functions that gave rise to viruses, trojans and spyware that created chaos for IT and security professionals. Billions of dollars were lost over the decades due to this free-for-all model where apps could access any resource the user could. Modern mobile platforms don’t support this type of nonsense. The modern operating systems used by mobile professionals employ a sandboxing scheme for apps. This protects systems and users by limiting app privileges to their intended functionality and increases the difficulty for malicious software to compromise the platform. Apple and Microsoft go a step further by vetting all the apps that appear in their public stores. Apps can’t launch in memory unless they’re digitally signed.

Reduce risk to your organization by rewriting your apps for sandboxed platforms. What actions is your company taking to secure its apps, platforms and data?

Learn how to digitally transform your company in my newest book, “Mobile Strategies for Business: 50 Actionable Insights to Digitally Transform your Business.”

Book Cover

Click to purchase a copy of my book today and start transforming your business!

Sharing my knowledge and helping others never stops, so connect with me on my blog at http://robtiffany.com , follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/RobTiffany and on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/robtiffany

Reduce Business Risk by Migrating your Legacy Software to Modern, Secure Platforms and Programming Languages

St Louis

Businesses drag their feet when mobilizing line of business apps via legacy software migration thinking it’s cheaper to maintain a codebase than to rewrite.

I get it. Migrating all those apps to mobile seems like eating the proverbial elephant. They cost a lot of money to build, the highly-skilled developers needed to rewrite the code are harder to find than ever, the code isn’t commented and there aren’t any docs. This often leads to IT decision makers putting off these projects, perhaps until it’s not their problem anymore. So why do it?

For starters, your employees will be significantly more productive running your apps on the mobile devices they actually use. Since work is not a place to go but a thing to do, employees can get their jobs done from anywhere. Millennials won’t be chained to a desk and they’re going to use the devices they like best. Face it, those Win32 apps are never going to run on someone’s iPhone and your new generation of employees haven’t ever heard of Windows 95. Not changing is a non-starter as you’ll just miss out on younger talent entirely.

Another good reason migrate all these apps and systems is because they’re running on outdated hardware and software. It goes without saying that this infrastructure has far surpassed its end of life (EOL) and there is absolutely no support coming from the original vendors of the computers, operating systems, software and development tools. I’m actually not 100% correct on this point. There are some giant technology vendors that charge tens of millions of dollars per year to support old systems that reached EOL without migrating. In the end, migrating is significantly cheaper and it rescues your valuable intellectual property from fragile, unsupported, failing systems.

There’s a more ominous reason to migrate your apps. Most data breaches are due to running unpatched, out-of-date, and therefore unprotected software. This includes:

  • Software written before PCs were pervasively open to Internet attacks.
  • Apps that don’t require authentication.
  • Apps that don’t encrypt data at-rest or data in-transit.
  • Apps written before established secure development lifecycle procedures.
  • Un-patched software.
  • Software oblivious to buffer overflows or SQL injection attacks.
  • Software and services built with the assumption that they would always be “inside the firewall” and therefore protected.
  • Apps that don’t follow “least privilege” principles.
  • Apps that don’t work with modern sandboxed operating systems.

This older and often unattended software is putting your company at risk. Individual and state-sponsored hackers are attacking the software of companies all over the world. Valuable intellectual property and sensitive customer data is being stolen daily. Company executives are getting fired. You absolutely don’t want this to be your priceless intellectual property or your customer data. This is a fast ticket to losing your competitive advantage as well as the trust of your customers. Oh, and you might be looking for a new CEO and CIO.

So what’s the game plan?

  • Catalog all your Win32 and Web 1.0 apps and assemble a v-team to take ownership of them.
  • Send out surveys to all your employees to find out who’s still using which apps.
  • Utilize asset management discovery software that scans the company network searching for apps running on Windows, Macs and servers.
  • Pull the plug on apps that don’t show up in a survey or via asset management scanning.
  • Listen carefully for screaming employees and turn those apps back on. I expect you’ll find a good percentage of those apps aren’t used anymore.
  • Eliminate the next chunk of apps by seeing if employees can use a new or different process to accomplish certain tasks. Your business and processes may have changed so much over the years that some of these apps aren’t relevant.

When rewriting the remaining apps, focus less on the code and more on data sources, workflows, user interfaces, performance and latency. I’ll talk later about new ways to connect to data and build new apps. It’s more important to reverse-engineer the way employees perceive these apps to work than how the existing code actually makes them work. This provides a good opportunity to stealthily update business cases.

Reduce risk to your company by migrating unsafe, unsupported, end of life software to modern, secure platforms and programming languages. How rapidly is your company de-risking its exposure to legacy business applications?

Learn how to digitally transform your company in my newest book, “Mobile Strategies for Business: 50 Actionable Insights to Digitally Transform your Business.”

Book Cover

Click to purchase a copy of my book today and start transforming your business!

Sharing my knowledge and helping others never stops, so connect with me on my blog at http://robtiffany.com , follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/RobTiffany and on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/robtiffany

Reduce Business Risk by Using Employee Smartphones and Multi-factor Authentication to Secure Corporate Resources

Minneapolis

The perception that employee smartphones are a security liability is misplaced. They’re a multi-factor authentication security asset.

It’s clear the things we’ve done in the past to stay secure are no longer sufficient. The pervasive use of usernames and passwords to authenticate with every kind of system on the planet is breaking down. Passwords aren’t strong enough and no one can remember them all. Some companies require something called two factor authentication in order to access their computer systems. This dramatically increases security because you’re required to have something like a smartcard and know something like a PIN in order to gain access. The downside is that everyone has to have a smartcard with cryptographic information on an embedded chip as well as a smartcard reader plugged into a PC to make this work. How likely is it that everyone on a global scale has this kind of gear? Not very.

It makes you wonder if there’s some kind of device carried by almost every human on the planet that could substitute for a smartcard? Seek out cloud and on-premises systems that work with devices to implement modern security features like multifactor authentication. Now when an employee enters their corporate credentials, the system will call their phone and require them to dial in an additional PIN to prove it’s actually them who’s trying to access corporate resources. A bad actor who may have stolen your credentials won’t have your phone to answer the call or know your PIN. It’s also unlikely they’ll have your face or fingerprint if you’ve enabled biometric security.

Reduce risk to your business by having employees use their smartphones to prove their identity when attempting access to corporate resources. What is your company doing to secure its business-critical resources?

Learn how to digitally transform your company in my newest book, “Mobile Strategies for Business: 50 Actionable Insights to Digitally Transform your Business.”

Book Cover

Click to purchase a copy of my book today and start transforming your business!

Sharing my knowledge and helping others never stops, so connect with me on my blog at http://robtiffany.com , follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/RobTiffany and on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/robtiffany

Reduce Business Expenses by Deploying Mobile Middleware in the Enterprise

Vancouver

Mobile middleware provides intelligent aggregation of backend business data while reducing duplication of field data entry.

Requiring employees to connect to multiple backend systems, one at a time, to complete their tasks is wasteful. Furthermore, forcing each mobile app to aggregate disparate data from ERP, CRM, supply chain, and others places results in high latency and is prone to security flaws. Wouldn’t it be nice if an app could make a single connection to an on-premises or cloud-based server to transparently exchange data with multiple backend systems?

Mobile middleware systems make this complicated task a reality. Through the use of adapters that interface with a variety of backend packages, databases, message buses and other systems of record, mobile middleware acts as an intermediary. Just the right data from a combination of systems can be aggregated for seamless synchronization by a mobile app that only has to deal with one server. Since the mobile app isn’t tightly-coupled to any of those backend data sources, they can be modified or swapped out.

This architecture also benefits anyone who has had to enter redundant data into multiple backend systems. Now, the mobile app sends captured data just once and the middleware takes care directing copies of certain data elements to other systems. Field workers no longer have to return to the office at the end of the day to perform duplicate data entry.

Improve user productivity and cut costs by reducing overtime work through the elimination of unnecessary employee tasks. Which mobile middleware systems is your organization putting in place to optimize its processes?

Learn how to digitally transform your company in my newest book, “Mobile Strategies for Business: 50 Actionable Insights to Digitally Transform your Business.”

Book Cover

Click to purchase a copy of my book today and start transforming your business!

Sharing my knowledge and helping others never stops, so connect with me on my blog at http://robtiffany.com , follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/RobTiffany and on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/robtiffany

Reduce Corporate Expenses by Mobile-Enabling Existing Business Systems with REST APIs

Portland

Mobile-enable backend business systems by wrapping them with REST APIs that speak the same language as any device, browser or app.

Most backend business systems organizations have deployed over the last several decades have absolutely nothing common. They all speak different languages via myriad binary and text wire protocols. They typically don’t talk to each other and they don’t talk mobile.

This is a big problem in today’s mobile-first world because CIOs expect data from any of their backend systems to be delivered to any device, thus empowering their employees.

Companies are faced with difficult choices ranging from replacing the old systems with new, mobile-friendly ones, rewriting custom systems, upgrading to newer versions if they exist, or moving workloads to the cloud. Many companies are unable to make any of these choices for the same reason they haven’t upgraded their Windows apps from the 90s. Limited budgets.

A lower-cost alternative is to leave these working systems in place but create a RESTful API wrapper around them. You basically encircle these systems with commodity servers or cloud gateways that map proprietary APIs to mobile-friendly APIs. This mapping can be accomplished via code or through connectors or adapters. Now all your existing systems will be able to communicate bi-directionally with any mobile device and more easily interface with customers and business partners. Think of this as mobile SOA.

Reduce business expenses by extending existing workloads to mobile devices rather than replacing those workloads with new solutions. What is your company doing to empower every employee with any device?

Learn how to digitally transform your company in my newest book, “Mobile Strategies for Business: 50 Actionable Insights to Digitally Transform your Business.”

 

Book Cover

Click to purchase a copy of my book today and start transforming your business!

Sharing my knowledge and helping others never stops, so connect with me on my blog at http://robtiffany.com , follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/RobTiffany and on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/robtiffany

Reduce Business Risk by Utilizing Open Mobile Internet Standards

San Jose

The mobile Internet communicates with HTTP(S), follows an architectural style called REST, serializes data as JSON & compresses with GZip and Deflate.

These different standards weren’t mashed together by a working group. They represent a grass-roots phenomenon that transformed how the Internet communicates.

Data traverses the globe through routers and firewalls via the Hypertext Transfer Protocol HTTP(S). While standards bodies worked for years to create the simple object access protocol (SOAP), the representational state transfer protocol (REST) emerged from a Phd dissertation. REST used the basic verbs of HTTP including GET, POST, PUT and DELETE, to pass messages and call remote procedures across heterogeneous systems.

You probably remember the XML craze in the late 90s and early 2000s. This way of formatting data was self-describing and worked with any system. Unfortunately, it was quite verbose and therefore not as efficient across slower, wireless data networks. Luckily, the slimmed-down JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) data format came along and gave us a better and smaller way to serialize data. To further shrink data traversing the Internet, GZip and Deflate represent universal ways to compress everything. HTTP/2 is a game-changer with improved speed and multiplexing. Protocols like OData are based on REST/JSON and are found in many recent technology platforms. You should care about this stuff because it works with any browser, device or server.

Reduce risk to your business by betting on open standards to support all devices rather than taking dependencies on proprietary technologies you don’t control. What is your organization doing to eliminate vendor lock-in by moving from closed to open standards?

Learn how to digitally transform your company in my newest book, “Mobile Strategies for Business: 50 Actionable Insights to Digitally Transform your Business.”

Book Cover

Click to purchase a copy of my book today and start transforming your business!

Sharing my knowledge and helping others never stops, so connect with me on my blog at http://robtiffany.com , follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/RobTiffany and on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/robtiffany

Reduce Business Risks by Creating a Corporate Mobile Center of Excellence

Create a corporate mobile center of excellence to create processes, establish governance & develop a matrix of supported devices.

Your transformation must begin with your people!

Despite the growing maturity of mobile technologies in the enterprise, most organizations have been unable to put the governance in place needed to make mobility work well for employees and employers alike. When BYOD users don’t know the rules for using their devices at work, it’s the same as having no rules at all.

The most important step you can take is to create a mobile center of excellence (COE) comprised of employees from most of your different business units and IT. This team will create processes that make the best use of your technology:

  • Creating a matrix of supported devices that meet the company’s app, security and management needs
  • Creating a document that spells-out all mobile policies and procedures
  • Defining how telecom expenses will be covered via stipends or reimbursements as well as international roaming policies
  • Performing due diligence on the selection of app development, backend integration and device management packages
  • Defining wireless LAN, WAN and cellular standards as well as negotiating plans with mobile operators

Establishing a Mobile Center of Excellence will not only reduce risk to your company by clearly spelling-out what your employees can and cannot do, but it will also improve employee productivity by eliminating all the “guess work.” What steps is your organization taking to assemble relevant stakeholders to build a mobile COE?

Learn how to digitally transform your company in my newest book, “Mobile Strategies for Business: 50 Actionable Insights to Digitally Transform your Business.”

Book Cover

Click to purchase a copy of my book today and start transforming your business!

Sharing my knowledge and helping others never stops, so connect with me on my blog at http://robtiffany.com , follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/RobTiffany and on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/robtiffany

Mobile Strategies for Business is Now Available

Book Cover

I’m pleased to announce that my newest book, “Mobile Strategies for Business: 50 Actionable Insights to Digitally Transform Your Business” is now available.

Mobile Strategies for Business is the first book to clearly explain how executives can digitally transform their organization through a simple, step-by-step process.

The mobile tidal wave has permanently transformed the consumer world and now it’s washing up on the shores of the enterprise. This drives the need for an enterprise mobile strategy to mobilize existing applicationsmodernize infrastructuresbuild new apps for employees and customers, and bring order to your environment via enterprise mobility management. Mobile Strategies for Business guides you through this transformation and drives positive outcomes including reducing expensesimproving employee productivityincreasing revenueboosting user engagement and reducing risk.

Based on the top 50 most important enterprise mobility concepts spanning four major topic areas, Mobile Strategies for Business is the first book to clearly explain how to digitally transform your business through a simple, step-by-step process.

You’ll learn how to address the following organizational challenges:

  • How to transform IT infrastructures that are wholly unprepared to deliver on the promise of Mobile and IoT for employees and customers. Learn how to enhance performance, scalability, bandwidth and security to support today’s mobile and cloud workloads.
  • How to reconcile the convergence of the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) phenomenon and the need to keep corporate data secure. Learn how to support the flexible work styles of your mobile employees while keeping everything safe.
  • How to migrate the millions of out-of-date, insecure and unsupported desktop and Web 1.0 apps that currently run global business to run on modern mobile platforms. Learn how to unchain your line of business apps and web sites from the desktop and move them to the mobile devices your employees actually use.
  • How to rapidly build mobile enterprise apps that run on any platform and work with data from any backend system. Learn how to mobile-enable your existing systems and data to empower your mobile employees and reach out to your mobile customers.

Back Cover

Mobile Strategies for Business is a project plan and an implementation guide allowing your organization to digitally transform so it can ride the mobile wave to employee and customer success. Along the way, it builds a future-looking foundation that prepares your organization for successive technology tidal waves that will impact your business, workforce and customers.

What is your organization doing define and execute on a mobile strategy? It’s time to empower your mobile workforce.

Click to purchase a copy of my book today and start transforming your business!

Sharing my knowledge and helping others never stops, so connect with me on my blog at http://robtiffany.com , follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/RobTiffany and on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/robtiffany

Tom Hanks Brings a Typewriter to the iPad

Hanx Writer

Your days of typing into a soulless word processor are at an end now that Tom Hanks has brought the typewriter into the 21st century with his Hanx Writer app to the iPad.

I thought I was the only one that missed the feel of my old IBM Selectric typewriter with the golf ball typing element. There was absolutely no substitute for the feedback you received when pressing a key and feeling the golf ball spin and hammer the correct letter into your piece of paper. The sound, vibration, and feedback was inexplicable and unequaled in the computer age. The metal keyboard for the original IBM PC is the only thing that came close.

Hanx Writer

Apparently, actor Tom Hanks feels the same way and has never given up on traditional typewriters.  His typewriter collection is reported to exceed 200 of the wonderful machines. Hanks’ uses typewriters daily to write screenplays and type notes to friends and colleagues. He commissioned app designer Stuart Wesftphal of Hitcents to create an app that faithfully brings the thwack sound of metal stamping paper and the ding-clunk-fripp of reaching the end of one line and starting a new one. You start with the Hanx Prime Select and can do in-app purchases of the Hanx 707 or Golden Touch.

Ernest Hemingway Typewriter

This app isn’t a gimmicky nostalgic toy. It really works and I’m hoping it will bring an end to the current silence found in coffee shops. I’m going to try it for the next chapter of the novel I’m working on. Looking forward to annoying people around me with the wonderful clickity-clack that drove some of the greatest works of literature. Yes, that’s Mr. Hemingway typing on his iPad next to you while drinking a Mocha.

Sharing my knowledge and helping others never stops, so connect with me on my blog at http://robtiffany.com , follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/RobTiffany and on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/robtiffany