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

I’ve Got a Cheat Sheet to Help Migrate Your Win32 Apps

New York

There’s a cheat sheet to rapidly and cheaply migrate Win32 desktop apps to touchable Windows laptops, convertibles and tablets.

If your Win32 migration path happens to take you to new, touchable PC hardware running more recent versions of Windows, I have a nice shortcut for you. One of the great hallmarks of Windows over the years is the notion of long-term, backwards compatibility so that customers can continue to use their apps through successive versions of the operating system. This is why your Visual Basic 6 app “just works” on Windows 10. This is good news and is why global business still runs on Windows. In our mobile-first world, you should be looking to make those Win32 apps less dependent on a mouse and keyboard by pivoting toward touch-first interaction. If you don’t have the time, money or resources to rewrite those apps for the new Windows Runtime, I have a book for you titled, “Keeping Windows 8 Tablets in Sync with SQL Server 2012.”

The strategy of this book allows you to keep using your existing codebase while making some easy changes to the UI. If you want to give your users an immersive experience, there are a number of screen elements you can modify or eliminate that will do the trick. It’s also important to dramatically increase the size of the fonts and every UI and navigation element so they’re touchable and readable from any angle. This is such a big topic that I wrote whole a book on the subject. Go check out this book on Amazon if this scenario applies to you.

Improve user productivity and reduce company expenses by migrating to modern Windows platforms through simple UI modifications to existing apps that leave business logic intact. How quickly is your company migrating it’s legacy apps from the 90s?

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

Convert Your Confusing Win32 Apps to Touch First Mobile Apps

Philadephia

Migrate confusing Win32 apps with tiny controls to touch first mobile apps with large fonts and UI elements while including gesture support and proper spacing.

The advent of a mouse connected to every computer gave users a pixel-precision pointing device. Coupled with ever-growing computer monitors and higher resolution screens, UI elements got smaller and smaller. This wasn’t a problem until mobile devices with their small screens became popular. The developers that crammed lots of small buttons and data grids on big PC screens brought those bad UI habits to mobile.

At first, these new mobile developers got away with it because personal digital assistants (PDAs) like the Palm, Handspring, Zaurus and Pocket PC used a stylus with plastic, resistive touch screens. Until the touchable iPhone was released in 2007, many smartphones used a stylus as a replacement for the mouse’s precision pointing. This facilitated tiny, touchable UI elements that were hard to see.

When developing today’s mobile apps (native + web), touchable UI elements like buttons must be finger-friendly and at least 44 x 44 pixels in size. To prevent the “fat-finger” problem, they must also be at least 20 pixels apart from each other. This will vary based on screen size and pixel density. Implementing responsive design principles is also a must. UI elements must scale smoothly to different smartphone and tablet screen sizes and support gestures like swiping. They must also reorient themselves when a device shifts between portrait and landscape and implement “hamburger” menus to conserve screen space.

Improve user productivity by creating touchable apps that are easy to use to get employees up and running while reducing training requirements and expenses. What is your organization doing to improve app productivity?

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

Make your Apps More Personal and Contextual or Risk Losing Customers

Awaken those one-dimensional, client/server applications to all the sensors found on mobile devices that make them richly personal.

The desktop apps of the 90s could really only sense mouse clicks. While they could communicate over dial-up modems, those apps were unable to discern the world around them until smartphones arrived and became the most personal computing platform ever. Sensors helped make smartphones disruptive and they will do the same for all the apps you’re migrating:

  • Barometer: Apps can detect elevation or changing weather conditions
  • Camera: Apps can take photos, videos, scan 2D/3D barcodes and authenticate via facial recognition
  • Microphone: Apps can respond to commands via Apple Siri, Microsoft Cortana, or Google Now
  • Accelerometer: Apps can measure steps, switch from portrait to landscape, respond to device position, and control in-app, game or drone behavior
  • Magnetometer/Compass: Apps know direction
  • Gyroscope: Apps can detect movement
  • GPS: Apps know where you are and how to get you where you’re going with maps
  • Proximity: Apps change behavior when your phone is close to something
  • Bluetooth: Apps can pair with other devices, stream audio and respond to beacons
  • Wireless radios: Apps can connect to anything
  • Fingerprint scanner: Apps can authenticate users biometrically and authorize purchases

Improve user experience by taking advantage of sensors that help employees and customers complete tasks more quickly. What is your company doing to enrich its mobile apps?

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

Improve Employee Productivity by Moving your Win32 and Web 1.0 Apps to Mobile

Pittsburgh

It’s time to migrate the millions of Win32 and Web 1.0 apps that currently run global business to mobile.

Global businesses are run primarily by Windows applications built in the 90s. While apps were created for DOS, the Apple II, OS/2, Sun Workstations, Win16, NeXT, SGI and the Mac in the 80s and early 90s, most were migrated after Windows NT/95 arrived. Y2K taught us COBOL on mainframes are still around. The larger mega-trend stemmed from low-cost PCs coupled to a graphical operating system working with minimal RAM and slow processors. Combined with drag and drop GUI development tools, a perfect storm took over the world of business. The resulting Win32 apps drove a tidal wave of productivity and innovation. Companies still have thousands of them in use today.

Something else happened in the 1990s. A giant network of networks called the Internet, combined with Tim Berners-Lee’s World Wide Web, to create the next technology revolution. Web servers arrived and businesses created static web pages to establish a presence on the web and start marketing to customers. The Intranet was born with internal-facing web pages used to disseminate information to employees. Server-side data processing gave rise to Web 1.0 apps that didn’t have to be deployed to employee desktops the way Windows apps did.

The Win32 and Web 1.0 apps are still with us and must urgently evolve to fit in a world where untethered people expect to flexibly work anytime, from anywhere with mobile devices instead of desktops.

Improve user productivity by migrating legacy apps and websites to the mobile devices employees and customers actually use. What is your organization doing to unchain its employees from desktop apps?

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

Improve Employee Productivity at your Company by Implementing a Hybrid Identity Strategy

Detroit

Identity and Access Management is key to facilitating employee access to corporate and 3rd party resources from any device on any network.

Most of you are well-versed at entering user names and passwords to access social media and banking sites from your desktop browser. Based on the identity you provide; you’re given access to those sites. Some of you in the corporate world might know what it means to join your computer to a Domain. Your company has you do this so you only have to enter your credentials once, while getting access to multiple servers. This is called single sign-on (SSO) and it uses a directory service.

With people moving to myriad mobile devices and enterprise workloads moving to the cloud, the SSO technologies of the past require retooling. To make this work in a heterogeneous world, security tokens using Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML) that work with any operating system are needed. A Secure Token Service (STS) is employed to issue tokens to clients on behalf of a secure software service.

Today, you need a cloud-based directory service to manage users, groups and roles. It must provide hybrid identity by synchronizing with on-premises directories so users can seamlessly authenticate whether they’re inside the corporate WLAN or roaming on mobile data networks. Additionally, it must provide users with SSO to apps and services residing in other clouds. Finally, this service must support multi-factor authentication (MFA) which requires something a user has (a phone), something they know (a PIN) or something they are (biometrics) to secure corporate resources.

Reduce risk and improve user productivity by restricting corporate access to those employees with credentials found in cloud and on-premises directories. What is your company doing to provide secure access to its business systems from 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 Risk to Your Business by Ensuring Your EMM Package can Block Malicious Apps

Omaha

To prevent malicious apps from attacking corporate assets, get an EMM solution that disables app stores while blacklisting and whitelisting apps.

Despite what you’re thinking, malicious apps may be one of the biggest threats your mobile enterprise will face. You might believe that device encryption, the use of a PIN to logon and utilizing a VPN to connect to your corporate network means your safe. You’re not.

Within the security envelope your device has created, a rogue app could still drive a truck through your VPN tunnel and attack internal assets. Users routinely download apps without paying attention to the list of permissions and capabilities the app is asking for. They can’t be bothered. What could possibly go wrong with the simple drawing app that somehow needs network access and the ability to read your contacts?

While it’s the job of your company’s mobile COE to vet apps used by employees for work, it’s good to have a backup plan. When performing due diligence on EMM packages for your company, make sure blacklisting and whitelisting are supported to prevent users from downloading objectionable apps. Additionally, EMM packages must prevent rogue apps from launching in the event an employee has already downloaded it. To ensure employees can only use a curated, internal enterprise app store, the ability to disable access to public app stores may also be a requirement. Clearly, this flies in the face of BYOD and some employees may reject having this functionality on their device. Containers may be better in some cases.

Protect corporate systems and reduce risk to your company by blocking apps containing code that can inflict harm. What is your organization doing to protect itself from malicious apps unwittingly downloaded by 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 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