Two API Healthcare Workforce Management Solutions Win Category Leader Awards

KLAS, an Orem, UT-based research firm specializing in monitoring and reporting the performance of healthcare vendors, recently recognized API Healthcare’s time and attendance solution as well as its staffing and scheduling solution, as "Category Leaders" in the 2012 Best in KLAS Awards: Software & Services report.

A "Category Leader" designation recognizes top-rated vendor products in the Best in KLAS Awards report for each market segment.

"API Healthcare is honored to be recognized in two Category Leader awards this year," said J.P. Fingado, president and CEO of API Healthcare, in a statement. "API Healthcare remains committed to delivering the highest level of service and quality solutions in all aspects of our client relationships. Our unwavering healthcare focus is demonstrated by our unique approach to our workforce management solutions and we are pleased that our clients have recognized this in the 2012 KLAS scores."

Officials said that clients by integrating these intuitive offerings are allowed to elevate quality and performance throughout their organization.

Since 2002, API Healthcare's time and attendance solution has been a category leader year after year and this will marks its 11th year of recognition.

"Speaking from mypersonal experience, API Healthcare is the gold standard," said Valerie Alidina, Human Resource Information System manager for Methodist Health System in Dallas, Tex. "Great partnership, smart, invested people and intuitive software are for me what truly sets them apart from the rest."

KLAS works with more than 20,000 executives from 5,000 hospitals and nearly 3,000 ambulatory organizations annually. This helps it gather direct client feedback on vendor performance.

In related news, for the fifth year in a row, KLAS has ranked 3M (News - Alert) Codefinder Software as the top software product in the medical records coding category of its annual healthcare vendor survey.

Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO Miami 2013, Jan 29- Feb. 1 in Miami, Florida.  Stay in touch with everything happening at ITEXPO (News - Alert). Follow us on Twitter.

Edited by Jamie Epstein

Wireless Broadband Alliance Introduces Wi-Fi Roaming Interoperability Compliancy Program (ICP)

It is no secret that I recently moderated the Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) Wi-Fi event in San Francisco. What I did not mention in my coverage of the event was the sneak peak I and others got of the industry association’s Interoperability Compliancy Program (ICP). This effort, designed to streamline the way WBA members work together on a common set of technical and commercial frameworks for Wi-Fi roaming, is now up and running.   In fact, WBA has revealed that key global players in the Wi-Fi ecosystem including AT&T, Boingo (News - Alert) Wireless, BT, China Mobile, KT, NTT DOCOMO, PCCW, Shaw Communications, Smart Communications and True have confirmed their participation.

The ICP outlines compliancy guidelines for service providers with different support levels. These range from simple integration requirements for roaming partners to delivering support for the latest in session security, to more complex charging models and billing mechanisms required for the implementation of next generation hotspots (NGH).

The problem ICP is addressing is the fragmentation in the way devices connect to and roam on to Wi-Fi networks. It will help operators globally overcome these challenges by working together to align guidelines on:

  • ·Security
  • Data offload
  • Device authentication
  • Network implementation
  • Network selection
  •  Charging models and billing mechanisms

The goal ultimately is for end-users to have a quality public Wi-Fi experience that is easy to use and secure literally almost anywhere they travel—vastly increasing the value of all of our smartphones, tablets and laptops. ICP will make it easier for operators to enter into roaming agreements on the business side of things. 

In addition, as WBA points out, “By promoting and advocating a common set of requirements and procedures for Wi-Fi roaming, carriers will better understand how to integrate their networks to support roaming. The WBA is making a tool available to its members called ‘Wi-Fi Roaming Compliancy Check’ to be used by operators to promote their compliancy and roaming capabilities in the community.�

Shrikant Shenwai, CEO of the WBA, added: “With public Wi-Fi emerging as a key component of operators’ offerings, it has never been more essential for the WBA to encourage interoperability and collaboration within the Wi-Fi community. Our new ICP provides a framework for operators to assess their own network capabilities and make it easier to create bilateral Wi-Fi roaming agreements. The program’s guidelines help Wi-Fi providers plan for future network enhancements and introduce new products and services. The ICP helps players across the Wi-Fi ecosystem work together to deliver a more simplified roaming experience. By encouraging our members to go that extra mile to expedite interoperability, consumers worldwide will benefit from a far superior connectivity experience wherever they are.�

It should be noted that ICP is being managed by the WBA membership which consists of nearly 100 organizations that include the leading Wi-Fi mobile and broadband network operators and media players from around the world. It addition, the WBA has released its Wi-Fi Roaming Guidelines, a guide to help operators develop a Wi-Fi roaming business based on the WBA framework – WRIX – Wireless Roaming Intermediary Exchange.

As the list above illustrates, in order to make your experience and mine seamless, e.g., have public Wi-Fi access wherever it is available with simple access and a consistent highest quality experience, there is a lot of work in the background that has to be accomplished. The good news is there is a solid framework for a path forward. The better news is that as can be seen from those who are already on board and those whom are likely to quickly follow, this is an industry effort with a lot of support and momentum which means there is more than just hope that wherever we may roam Wi-Fi is going to be a high-performance broadband capability we can rely on. 

Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO Miami 2013, Jan 29- Feb. 1 in Miami, Florida.  Stay in touch with everything happening at ITEXPO (News - Alert). Follow us on Twitter.

Edited by Jamie Epstein

Mi-Co Set to Achieve 25 Percent Growth in Revenue from 2012

December 20, 2012

Mi-Co (News - Alert) recently announced that it anticipates a 25-percent growth in revenue, as 2012 has gone as expected. Mi-Co is a specialist in software solutions that enable enterprise strength data capture using Windows, iOS and Android (News - Alert) devices.

In a statement, CEO at Mi-Co, Greg Clary, PhD, said that, "It has been gratifying to see the change in market perception over the business value of Tablets to the Enterprise. We've been in this market for 13 years, and mainstream adoption of Tablets for business data capture is now happening in a big way and Mi-Co's superior, flexible mobile-forms technology is certainly benefiting customers.�

The company specializes in the development of mobile-forms platforms, "Mi-Forms," which incorporate a robust set of cross-platform e-forms and workflow solutions for enabling easy and accurate data capture for the enterprise. Mi-Forms solutions deliver an intuitive user experience of easy electronic forms (e-Forms) design, support for faster onsite data collection, centralized form and workflow management, and complete backend system integration.

A number of enterprise customers, including the USDA, Sutter Health, NC Department of Agriculture, Children's Hospital Boston, and the United Nations Food & Agriculture Organization among others have all successful deployed mobile data collection solutions from Mi-Co for a number of mobile devices such as iPads, Windows 8 Tablets, Digital Pens, Notebooks and Smartphones.

The company is also ready to release a new version of its solution, featuring advanced support for Windows 8 Tablets, including the Microsoft (News - Alert) Surface, in addition to introducing upgrades for apps on the iPads, Android Slates and HTML5 Web apps.

Mi-Co has been specializing in the development and commercialization of enterprise mobile forms for Apple (News - Alert) iOS, Android and Windows mobile devices. Mi-Co's Mi-Forms mobile forms software has been deployed across various industries, including healthcare, field service, construction and manufacturing, finance, and government agencies. 

Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO Miami 2013, Jan 29- Feb. 1 in Miami, Florida.  Stay in touch with everything happening at ITEXPO (News - Alert). Follow us on Twitter.

Edited by Braden Becker

Rotten Apple Pops Kickstarter-funded Portable Power Station from Edison Junior’s Bubble

If you have read the biography of Steve Jobs you know he was a big fan of the Beatles, particularly John Lennon who after the group dissolved had a big hit single with a song (and album with the same name, “Power to the People.� Thus, one would trust that Jobs might have a little bit of heartburn from the fact that it was none other than Apple that literally popped the bubble of Edison Junior, the technology product design laboratory behind the Kickstarter-crowdfunded Portable Power station POP. This as Lennon would have noted is bad karma in action.

TMC CEO Rich Tehrani has wrote a lengthy blog about how tech start-up superstar Jamie Siminoff got his brainchild funded to the tune of $139,170 using crowd-sourced funding champ Kickstarter which became a product realized quickly in the form of the POP portable power station. 

Rich called POP “a winner.� Yes it is, and now was, for obvious reasons. He correctly stated that we all need a portable universal charger that is capable of charging multiple devices. Let’s face it; the bane of our electronic existence is worrying about running out of battery. In fact, we all have experienced the no battery or nearby outlet experience more than once. There are few bigger aggravations than having no juice in the middle of creating a critical presentation, being unable to send or receive vital e-mail, or in an emergency being unable to make a call.   

Well a not so funny thing happened on the way to user relief being in sight. Because of Apple it will not be in hand. 

Why?

Rather than paraphrase it, below is the letter Siminoff sent to backers that Jand posted to the POP Kickstarter page.

Letter to backers of POP from Jamie Siminoff, CEO of Edison Junior

To all of our loyal backers–

I’ll never forget the moment when our campaign passed the $50,000 goal and our dream of powering dying batteries became tangible.  Our promise was simple: provide a portable charger that was capable of charging ALL of your devices including the anticipated iPhone 5, which at the time, had yet to be released.

When Apple officially announced the move to Lightning we determined the best course of action was to incorporate two Lightning chargers, and two 30-pins (along with the four micro-USB’s).  After applying to Apple (which is now required for Lightning), we learned that they are no longer willing to approve a product that uses the Lightning charger alongside any other charger (including their own 30-pin – seriously).  Just like that, POP could no longer fulfill its true promise.

As we struggled with Apple we realized that Kickstarter did not have a mechanism for refunding everyone their money.  Since we are not willing to compromise and build a crappy product, refunding the money is the only acceptable thing to do.

This sparked the idea that crowdfunding of physical products needed a place that was built around the intricacies they present, so a few weeks ago we launched our own crowdfunding site, Christie Street.  Built from the ground up around product, Christie Street is designed to handle needs that can arise from products – such as refunds – in order to prevent compromised products from being delivered.

In order to process your refunds efficiently we are going to set you all up with Christie Street accounts, and there, you will be able to process your refunds.  Since payment processing has little to no room for error, we still have some final testing to do before we can send out the instructions, so the plan is set for mid-January.  Conversely, had we manually sent out the refunds to all 1,000 backers the process would probably have gone longer.

Providing full refunds means we will have to absorb a hit for both credit card (three percent) and Kickstarter fees ( five percent) totaling over $11,000.  Today we asked Kickstarter for the 5% fee they collected based on the circumstances, however regardless of their decision YOU WILL RECEIVE 100 percent OF YOUR MONEY BACK.

We don’t believe in selling a substandard, compromised product that only satisfies the needs of a few backers, as that was not our promise.  So we can’t thank you enough for your incredible support and awesome feedback – we hope to collaborate again with you soon.  If you have any issues please email me directly.

All the best,
Jamie

P.S. If you know anyone at Apple please send them coal for their stockings, on behalf of us :)

Power to the People?

The fact of the matter for all of us who have owned laptops, early cell phones and now smartphones and tablets it that there are days when it seems the manufacturers’ hook into all of us is not even those nice ecosystems built around iOS and Android but rather the one built around power chords and power supplies. Why is it, for example, that every time I have changed phones I need a new power source that plugs into the wall, one for the car and now at least the one that does sync and allows me to charge my phone from my laptop also plugs into the wall? These things are expensive to purchase, and likely carry hefty margins. 

For all of you Apple users, there is no need to expound on this issue since you know all about Apple power.  In fact, someone might wish to rework the iconic fist (see below) that grew out of the protests of the 1960s and has been adopted by various groups of all political persuasions since, and rework it to send all of the manufacturers a message.

I would have liked to have had a POP. Right now to mitigate against my smartphone going comatose at the wrong time, I have a PowerStick and a pocket full of connectors. Problem is, it takes a while to charge and gives you just enough time to get your business done and find an outlet. It will not charge your laptop.

If there is a silver lining in this story, it is that as one might expect from such a creative mind, Jamie Siminoff has figured out a way to make lemonade out of lemons. He has identified a real need, i.e., getting people refunds on investments made from crowdsourced sites. Christie Street is surely needed but lets hope not too often and that the Edison Junior refund ends up holding the refund record for a long time.

 Too bad for all of us that Apple would not let him make Apple Juice.  

Edited by Jamie Epstein

The Fiscal Cliff Dive for RIM? Fiscal Q3 2013 Earnings Say it was Close but Not Quite a Dive

Research in Motion (RIM) reported its fiscal Q3 2013 earnings today, and the company appears to us to more or less be on stable footing as it heads into its launch of BlackBerry 10 and its new devices in January 2013.

RIM did post a very modest small net gain - the result of a tax benefit. But this time around, it managed to lose just over one million subscribers, falling back to a total of roughly 79 million users. That’s not a trivial loss of subscribers, but the total subscriber base nevertheless remains substantial, leaving RIM with ample opportunity to sell it its new devices when they become available at the end of January 2013.

As for the numbers themselves, total revenue for fiscal Q3 2013 came in at $2.7 billion – a decline of 47 percent, which nonetheless matched the consensus analyst forecast. RIM says it shipped only 6.9 million BlackBerry smartphones and 255,000 PlayBook tablets in Q3. Net profit actually came in at $9 million or $0.017 per share, due to a tax break. Without the break, RIM says, it would have lost $114 million for the quarter or 22 cents per share.

The numbers managed to beat consensus analyst estimates that had forecast a loss of 35 cents per share.

As always, even a loss is a good thing if it beats estimates - in after-hours trading as we write at about 5:15 pm RIM's stock price is up $1.01, or about 7.15 percent, at $15.13. Anyone who bought in at the year's low of $6.22 per share is doing well.

Interestingly, the company reported that it now has $2.9 billion in cash in hand, a gain of $600 million from the prior quarter. Just as interesting - and completely unexpected is that gross margins in the quarter actually rose from the prior quarter’s 26 percent to 30.4 percent.

The consensus estimates anticipated gross margins of 27 percent.

The steep 47-percent decline in sales, at any other point in time, would have essentially spelled the end of RIM. But RIM, as the entire world now knows, is launching its new smartphones and the BlackBerry 10 operating system on January 30, 2013. The promise of that launch – which unfortunately manages to miss the entire 2012 holiday season – likely kept large numbers of users at bay. Why jump in during Q3 with new toys coming just down the road?

In its previous report for fiscal Q2 2013, the company managed to surprise a lot of the financial community and us as well, when it reported an unanticipated surge in subscribers to 80 million and a smaller than expected loss.

We are looking forward to the launch of all the "new stuff" as the launch day - which at one point seemed so far down the road as to appear like a hopeless endeavor for the company - finally arrives. The new devices and new operating system may have a measurable and positive impact on that report even though generally it will likely prove to be another quarter in which RIM reports a loss due to the launch coming at the end of the next quarter.

Thorsten Heins, RIM's CEO, was upbeat on the earnings call, and notes that he and his management team have been on an enterprise road show and are receiving excellent and highly positive feedback. Heins also made it clear that RIM's future rests on recapturing the enterprise.

We wish RIM well, and look forward to the next earnings call and report. The important thing then won't be any reported loss - all eyes will focus on initial sales of the new toys and the new operating system. RIM's future, however, rests entirely on the hardware. If the new devices deliver a huge user WOW, RIM should do well and begin to head towards areal recovery in 2013.

If the devices themselves disappoint, well…

Edited by Braden Becker

West Positioned in Leaders Quadrant by Gartner

Conventional thinking will not encourage business growth. Ordinary PBX (News - Alert) will not provide the accessibility, mobility and productivity tools that a company needs to improve.

A company’s communications infrastructure must make use of the cloud in today’s demanding business environment.

And the companies that provide these facilities get due recognition. West Corporation has recently announced that Gartner, Inc. has positioned the company in the Leaders Quadrant of its “Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications (News - Alert)-as-a-Service (UCaaS), North America.�

West Corporation provides a complete unified communications platform which consists of network management, enterprise voice, conference and collaboration, messaging and presence, and client applications integration solutions. The company seeks agility in supplying UCaaS solutions and the ability to rapidly introduce new products to market.

West provides best-in-breed telephony and conferencing cloud infrastructure, along with proprietary and partner collaboration and messaging tools.

With a suite of cloud-based, on-demand services, VoiceMaxx allows an enterprise to change and shape their use of communications technology. This consists of complete PBX functionality, state-of-the-art enterprise and personal call management tools, and major edge UC features.

“West considers its positioning in the Leaders Quadrant by Gartner (News - Alert) confirmation of our vision, and a result of our operational and service excellence,� said Todd Strubbe, president of West’s Unified Communications business segment. “Our placement demonstrates that we are achieving what we set out to accomplish and differentiating ourselves from the competition. It is gratifying to be acknowledged as a market leader and justifies West’s ongoing commitment to transform the ways in which businesses communicate.�

Recently, West IP Communications (News - Alert), a subsidiary of West Corporation and provider of cloud-based communication applications and services, upgraded its ControlMaxx cloud-based contact center solution. ControlMaxx provides numerous queue management, call routing, recording and reporting, and performance monitoring functionality.

It has been designed from the ground up to support the integration of communications into business processes.

Looking to grow your channel opportunities? Then be sure to attend Channel Vision Expo (CVx), collocated with ITEXPO Miami 2013, Jan 29- Feb. 1 in Miami, Florida.  Stay in touch with everything happening at Channel Vision Expo. Follow us on Twitter.

Edited by Braden Becker

Apple’s Patent on ‘Pinch-to-Zoom’ Feature Invalidated

December 19, 2012

By Robbie Pleasant, TMCnet Contributor

Apple (News - Alert) is known for fiercely defending its patents, to the point of online mockery. In this case, however, it looks like it’s not holding on to one, as the USPTO has invalidated its patent on the “pinch-to-zoom� feature.

The feature in question is pretty simple. On a touch screen, one can zoom in or out by making a pinching motion on the screen. It’s commonly used in iPads, iPhones, and other such Apple products, but now it seems it won’t be the only one with the rights for it.

Image via fastcodesign.com

Apple made 20 claims of patent infringement for this feature, which is listed under US Patent No. 7,844,915. When Samsung (News - Alert) attempted to bring about a new trial for its ever-continuing struggle against Apple, the court re-examined the patent and property. Apple, of course, requested an injunction against various Samsung products, but Judge Lucy Koh denied both the motion for a retrial and the injunction request.

For its decision, the USPTO cited a variety of other features and filings that were made to do the same as the “pinch-to-zoom,� thus taking away Apple’s sole claim to it. While this may not necessarily turn the tide in favor of Samsung, it’s certainly not a bad sign, as all but two of its products were found to infringe on the patent being invalidated.

It’s unlikely that Apple will let this go without a fight, but it still has other accusations against Samsung, most notably the shape of devices and the slide-to-unlock feature, so this is far from over yet. Apple and Samsung will continue their post-trial hearings, before Judge Lucy Koh issues her ruling on motions from both parties and a judgment on damages. Nothing is finalized quite yet, but it’s no small step either.

Edited by Amanda Ciccatelli

» More TMCnet Feature Articles

Aspect’s Applications Foundation Platform Selected by Experian

Aspect (News - Alert) Software, a provider of customer contact and enterprise workforce optimization, has unveiled that its Applications Foundation platform has been selected by Experian, a global information services company. With the solution, Experian plans to provide its agents with an adaptable, single access interface for critical and actionable data.

With Aspect’s Applications Foundation platform, the companies can create a tailored, differentiated approach to their customer engagement challenges. They can adapt and create innovative business processes that optimize resource productivity and effectiveness. Moreover, the solution allows them to develop customized applications utilizing packaged functional components, and reduce the complexity of customer contact infrastructure and data.

"Experian works with large amounts of customer and client information every day so making the information easily accessible and actionable is essential for our agents to assist consumers," says Lee Lundy, senior vice president of Consumer and Client Services, Experian, in a statement. "The interactive application has empowered our agents by giving them greater visibility to individual metrics, intraday task change and schedule management.""Organizations like Experian understand that in order to deliver exceptional customer and client experiences, they need to have all contact center functions and team members tightly integrated with the data and information that fuel excellent customer experience," says Chris Koziol, president and general manager, Aspect. "Experian's application, based on our interactive tiles technology, enables a 'bring your own experience' empowerment to agents and supervisors, or any knowledge worker, which can show a clear, positive impact on productivity and bottom-line results."

In other news, Ordina N.V., a provider of consulting, ICT, and application outsourcing services, recently signed a cooperation agreement with Aspect Software, Inc, a supplier of software for multi-channel contact centers and workforce optimization, to implement and integrate Aspect software with Lync Server at contact centers. This integration will enable contact centers to cooperate via integrated communications platforms such as Lync.

Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO Miami 2013, Jan 29- Feb. 1 in Miami, Florida.  Stay in touch with everything happening at ITEXPO (News - Alert). Follow us on Twitter.

Edited by Amanda Ciccatelli

Continental’s Driverless Car Qualifies for DMV License and Plates in Nevada

This week, Auburn Hills, Michigan-based Continental, a global automotive systems supplier, received approval from the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to test autonomous vehicles—also known as self-driving, or driverless, cars—on the state's public roads.

After completing driving demonstrations on December 18 in Carson City, the DMV's Autonomous Review Committeeapproved Continental's safety plans, employee training, system functions and accident reporting mechanisms. Now, Continental will receive its testing license, as well as a special red license plate featuring an infinity sign, to represent the car of the future. The plate is designed to be easily recognized by law enforcement and the public.  It will only be used for licensed autonomous test vehicles. 

Continental will be the second company to receive the special plates, following Google’s autonomous reviewand approval last May. No other state licenses self-driving vehicles for testing.

The development of products and systems for automated driving is one of Continental's key long-term technology strategies. "Over the last few weeks, we on the Executive Board have considered the strategic and budget planning for our five divisions for the coming year in great detail. For our automotive divisions, this planning includes all of the necessary elements that need to be implemented, step-by-step across the board, so that fully-automated driving becomes reality by 2025," said Dr. Elmar Degenhart, chairman of the Executive Board.

He added, “At Continental, we will be investing billions overall in research and development over the coming years…to help smooth the path to the mobility of the future.…As a system supplier, we are perfectly positioned to develop and launch series production of solutions for partially automated systems for our customers by 2016. We will be able to develop the first applications for highly and ultimately fully automated driving, even at higher speeds and in more complex driving situations, ready for production by 2020 or 2025."

Hands-off driving at 80 mph

From a technological point of view, automated driving represents the evolution of driver assistance systems. From 2016, partially automated systems may, therefore, be assisting drivers in "stop –and-go" situations on the freeway —but only at low speeds of up to 20 miles per hour.

When truly hands-off navigation becomes available in 2020, drivers will be able to use the time they would ordinarily spend at the wheel for other activities, such as ordering Christmas presents online. However, even with the optimum level of automation, the driver must be able to take control of the vehicle at all times.

On the freeway, a fully automated vehicle will independently drive at 80 miles per hour. But when the vehicle reaches the desired exit, for example, the driver will have to take control, even with this high level of automation.

When fully automated systems become available in 2025, they also will still be limited to driving on the freeway. However, if the driver fails to respond to a demand to take control, the vehicle will return to a safe state by itself, i.e. by braking and stopping on the hard shoulder.

Today’s technology

Continental's current automated vehicle can accommodate multiple driving scenarios. Using four short-range radar sensors—two at the front, two at the rear—one long-range radar and a stereo camera, the vehicle is capable of cruising down an open freeway as well as negotiating heavy rush-hour traffic.

Taking advantage of Continental's sensor fusion technology as part of the ContiGuard safety concept, the vehicle is able to track all objects as they enter into the sensors' field of view. The object information is then processed and passed on to the Continental Motion Domain Controller to control the vehicle's longitudinal and lateral motion via signals to the engine, the brakes and the steering system.

The equipment in Continental's automated vehicle differs from the customized sensors and tailor-made actuators in other automated vehicles. The vehicle, which has logged more than 15,000 miles, is built primarily with equipment that already is available in series production. Continental's short-term goal is to relieve the driver of tedious and monotonous activities, such as driving on highways with minimal traffic or in low-speed situations like traffic jams. 

 

Moving ahead

"Earning this license represents an important intermediate step towards automated driving for Continental," said Christian Schumacher, head of Continental's Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) Business Unit. "Continuing our research and testing in the most challenging environment– public roads— under the highest safety standards, will allow us to continue to assess and develop our highly automated vehicle. This vehicle demonstrates what modern technology can do to provide a safer, more comfortable drive."

"We are proud that our state is serving as the platform for automated testing and licensing. Nevada's steady climate, varying terrains and driving conditions offer an excellent opportunity for more companies, especially automotive organizations, to take advantage of this autonomous driving opportunity," said  Troy L. Dillard, director of the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles. “Automated vehicles, such as the one Continental is testing, illustrate the extensive research and development occurring within the automotive industry and embody the future of a vehicle equipped to make the driving experience safer and more enjoyable."

Edited by Amanda Ciccatelli

New Version of SAP’s Afaria Mobile Device Management Platform Hits the Street

SAP has now introduced another new version of Afaria. Afaria has been around for a very long time, and came into SAP's hands through its acquisition of Sybase in 2010, which in turn acquired Afaria through its own acquisition of XcelleNet back in 2004. Xcellent itself was founded back in 1986 and introduced Afaria in 2000, just as BlackBerry devices and mobile email was taking off.

Fast forward to today and we have many mobile device management (MDM) vendors "evolving themselves" into becoming mobile application management vendors (MAM). Recently Citrix acquired Zenprise exactly to participate in the evolution. Meanwhile, others in the space, such as independent and privately held MDM vendor MobileIron are looking to do the same thing. As the enterprise world focuses less on the device itself it focuses much more on the mobile app, hence the need for the evolution. Don't get us wrong - there is still plenty to be done by enterprises on the MDM side of things, but MAM is the future (a future that is happening today).

Now SAP comes along with Afaria and is also in need of making the evolutionary leap. SAP being SAP it won't simply evolve into MAM - rather, it is evolving Afaria into an "enterprise mobility management" (EMM) platform, which SAP sees as more of an all-encompassing umbrella term (and a differentiator of sorts that aims to be bigger than MAM, though in fact MAM and EMM essentially refer to the same thing). The short story is that Afaria needs to now be able to manage those mobile apps in addition to those mobile devices.

New platform enhancements focus on deepening enterprise integration and distribution capabilities to manage and secure large numbers of disparate BYOD devices (of course) and to address the growing use of enterprise mobile apps. For the latter, SAP will deliver new app and self-service portal designs to provide familiar, consumer-like app portal experience in the enterprise.

With this latest release of Afaria SAP aims to reduce complexity and support the growing mobile workforce by helping ensure that all data stored and transmitted through any legitimately provisioned mobile device is protected and secure. It will allow businesses to gain greater control and insight into a wide range of devices and apps, remotely back up and delete data should a device be lost or stolen, and will deliver fixes, upgrades and updates to mobile users in a seamless way that makes it easy for the mobile user to deal with.

Many SAP Customers, Lots of Afaria Opportunities

SAP has more than 197,000 customers globally. Most of these companies are now moving quickly to deliver mobile solutions, and SAP is able to accommodate them through Afaria. We won't elaborate on them here, but Afaria delivers a great deal of functionality - old Sybase sales folks used to refer to it as everything and the kitchen sink. Sybase used to try to sell Afaria as a complete and holistic package - which for many customers dating back to 2008 - 2010 tended to be overkill. Sybase consequently had a hard time selling it.

SAP opens many new doors for the complete Afaria end to end package, but it looks to make it easy for SAP customers to adopt Afaria - which is easily scalable to the typical Fortune 500 SAP customer, but also downscales nicely to SAP's smaller customers. SAP provides a large variety of incentives, which in turn seeds Afaria within SAP's world and gives it a very large playing field. It also tends to lock other MDM/MAM solutions out of SAP customer ecosystems.

Take the UK's Hillarys Blinds Ltd. for example. "As the leading UK window covering provider for the country’s 63 million residents, we strive to offer premier customer service, which is the key to our success,� says Julian Bond, head of information, communications and technology for Hillarys. “With 1,000 advisors spread across the UK, our ability to remotely manage their devices and connect them to our core processes at any time and from anywhere is key."

Bond continues, "Mobile applications built on SAP Mobile Platform and SAP Afaria help us maintain our market-leading position and more important, they allow us to keep our promise to the customer in terms of installing the right product on the day promised. We fully expect the latest release of SAP Afaria to greatly extend our reach and mobile capability.�

What's New

The latest version of SAP Afaria will provide the following features for enterprises:

·         Enterprise Integration

o   Deeper directory integration will provide connection to multiple disparate directories for authentication and assignments which aim to provide trusted policy set up and simplify user on-boarding for distributed systems. The distribution of data stored in directory values is planned for use with policy configuration to streamline the onboarding of BYOD devices.

o   Enhanced email access control and device remediation provide greater scalability and security for large organizations that have multiple enterprise access control components in a distributed landscape.

o   Expanded PKI certificate management is planned to provide granular and secure control over the management and delivery of certificates.

·         Application Management

o   App portal enhancements simplify the user experience by providing a familiar landscape that can be branded to a company while increasing mobile worker efficiency by guiding and instructing users how to leverage the most beneficial mobile applications that apply to their role.

o   New API for SAP Afaria and app policy features are planned for “zero-touch� setup so administrators can create and securely deploy apps without users needing to enter most app setup information, for example, server address, domain or, user name. This is planned to help significantly reduce help desk calls and create a more pleasant onboarding experience.

·         IT Services for BYOD and Enterprise Devices

o   Self-service portal updates are planned to simplify the interface used by mobile users to onboard and manage their devices as well as enable organizations to build their own custom interface.

o   Broad Samsung SAFE support for Android devices with planned additional email and security capabilities.

o   iOS enhancements are intended to provide increased jailbreak detection and support for regions of the world where jail-broken devices are prevalent; increased iOS configuration and application management capabilities are planned.

Notes Sanjay Poonen, president and head of Mobile Division for SAP, “As the industry moves beyond MDM to EMM, we believe that our customers resonate with our vision to connect over 1 billion devices, which puts us in the best position to future-proof their investment with the most expansive mobile platform in the industry. Afaria easily scales up to meet the needs of our largest customers, and to bring them fully into today's EMM world.�

We hope to report back in more detail once we are able to speak directly to more of SAP's large Afaria customers.

Edited by Amanda Ciccatelli