Smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices continue to be disruptive to the enterprise. Their mere presence in the office is disruptive to the IT department, and their always-on nature can be disruptive to worker attention span. But they also do keep people connected, enhance productivity and extend the capabilities of enterprise applications to the greater world.
And it's for these reasons that CRN presents the annual Enterprise App Awards, which recognize outstanding achievement by developers building mobile apps for the enterprise. Each year, app developers are invited to submit their latest and greatest technology, which CRN editors evaluate based on functionality, suitability to task, ease of use, innovation and potential value to solution providers, their customers and the market in general.
After poring through dozens of submissions, editors narrowed their choices down to three, and will present Appies to these developers at UBM Channel's NexTI Conference on Oct. 30 in Las Vegas.
One of the greatest challenges to today's enterprise IT department comes with the onslaught of devices brought in by workers. Solving many of these BYOD issues is AT&T Toggle, a carrier-agnostic solution for Android and iOS devices that places a wall between the user space, and corporate data and communications.
Toggle supports all major carriers, even though it's developed and sold exclusively through AT&T. On the client, the app launches an encrypted workspace that looks and performs like the smartphone's native desktop, but presents only corporate email and approved corporate applications, just as it might on a company-provided device. All data and communications are protected and can be configured to comply with any corporate policies. Phones can be remotely wiped if the device is lost, stolen or the employee leaves the company. When Toggle is exited, personal apps and data function normally, but cannot access corporate data.
Toggle includes a browser-based, back-end management system that handles users and inventory, client-side app deployment and version control, network access parameters and usage statistics with full reporting capabilities. AT&T's BYOD solution doesn't use virtualization; it's implemented as a native app on iOS 5.0 and iOS 6.0, and on Android 2.2 and Android 3.0; a version for Android 4.0 is in the works as is malware detection capability. AT&T Toggle costs $6.50 per device per month plus a one-time setup fee of $750.
For companies that struggle to ensure that their sales teams are using the most up-to-date materials, FatStax 2.0 is an innovative solution using Apple iPads. Developed by San Diego-based Red Funnel Consulting, FatStax takes all of a company's collateral -- PDFs, PowerPoint or Keynote files, videos, spreadsheets and other documents -- and indexes and converts them to the iPad-compatible FatStax database format.
Sales materials are stored and maintained securely in the cloud, and are beamed to the iPad sales app whenever changes occur. Since they're stored locally, collateral materials can be viewed on-site without the need for a data connection. Salespeople can search by name, SKU or text, and create leave-behinds for buyers simply by bringing up desired documents and tapping the "add to cart" button. Materials can then be emailed to the client for their output of choice. Direct integration with Salesforce and the FatStax marketing automation module allows for seamless tracking and follow-up. Based on number of users and storage needs, FatStax is available in Basic, Professional and Enterprise editions. Per-user pricing starts at $15 a month.
Waze by Waze
Great for commuters, truckers, sales and field service workers and literally anyone who drives, Waze is an innovative approach to crowdsourcing that uses the real-time feedback from motorists to help others find "waze" around traffic jams. From a developer of the same name, Waze for Android and iOS at its core is a turn-by-turn GPS navigation app. On top is a layer linking drivers with a Waze central server that monitors the progress of people using the app. When a slowdown occurs, a pop-up asks if it's traffic-related, and categorizes the slowdown by accident, hazard or other. That intel is fed to the server, which reroutes approaching traffic around the jam.
Waze is the brainchild of Ehud Shabtai, a software engineer with degrees in philosophy and computer science from Tel Aviv University. His original idea was to provide a GPS app that accurately reflected road information relevant to drivers at a given moment. It does all that, of course, and also calculates ETAs, accepts photos of road conditions, delivers spoken turn-by-turn navigation and listens to voice commands. There's even a driver-to-driver chat feature for "getting mail" and "smokey reports" on the road ahead.
The innovative and free Waze app even caught the attention of Apple CEO Tim Cook, who mentioned it by name when he addressed iOS 6 users disgruntled by the company's disappointing new map app.