BYOD-ready mobile SharePoint with Azurati SharePoint2Go

Video demonstration of Azurati SharePoint2Go, a secure HTML5 cross-platform mobile SharePoint solution.

Contact Azurati via http://www.azurati.com for more information about how you can deploy mobile SharePoint as part of your enterprise mobile or BYOD strategy.

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Nielson Norman announce 10 best Intranets; mobile still lagging behind

Nielson Norman Group, a leading Intranet design and consulting firm, have just published their annual top 10 Intranets study; an annual review of the top 10 corporate intranet sites from companies around the world.

Nielsen Norman’s top 10 best designed intranets for 2013 are:

1. Acorda Therapeutics, Inc. Biotechnology USA
2. American International Group, Inc. Insurance USA
3. AT&T Telecommunications USA
4. Hager Group Manufacturing Germany
5. Luzerner Kantonalbank AG Financial Services Switzerland
6. ONO Telecommunications Spain
7. Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) Governmental Agency Saudi Arabia
8. Swiss Mobiliar Insurance and Pensions Insurance Switzerland
9. WorkSafeBC Workers Compensation Board of British Columbia Canada
10. XL Group Plc Insurance Ireland

Interesting points to note from the report are that, according to Nielsen Norman, over 70% of corporate intranets are built on a Microsoft SharePoint platform, and mainly due to the fact that corporate intranets take a very long time to develop and perfect (an average of 26.5 months or 2.3 years), mobile enablement of corporate intranets is seriously lagging behind other new features, like Social Collaboration.

This means that many corporate intranets are failing to address the needs of a growing number of users who want to be able to access corporate information and knowledge on mobile devices.  Gartner estimates that by the end of 2014, 70% of enterprises will have implemented a BYOD strategy and the corporate intranet is one of the most obvious enterprise resources that should be made available on mobile devices.

The report lists common mobile barriers as being:

  • Security concerns
  • Difficulty of choosing a platform
  • Lack of resources to create and maintain mobile builds
  • Uncertainty about whether to implement a full feature set with a good mobile user experience or an app for particular tasks

Creating mobile SharePoint intranets
As with all things software, there will always be the debate as to whether one should build and develop a bespoke solution, or whether a commercial off-the-shelf solution would make better commercial sense. The same will undoubtedly be the same when you come around to considering mobile-enabling your SharePoint-based intranet.

Azurati SharePoint2Go_compared_with Standard_SharePoint

Our (biased) counsel, would be to refrain from custom development of mobile interfaces with SharePoint.  It is a fairly well known issue that Microsoft has not done a good job with the standard mobile templates that ship with SharePoint.  Even with SharePoint 2013, developers are dissuaded from branding and customising the standard mobile templates that ship with SharePoint.  In addition, new mobile templates need to be developed for each form-factor that is released, which can lead to prohibitive on-going costs of maintenance and support.  That is why solutions like Azurati’s SharePoint2Go solution is able to deliver mobile enabled SharePoint that will work seamlessly on any mobile device in five minutes.

Not only does SharePoint2Go deliver an instant cross-platform mobile solution for SharePoint intranets, it also includes over 15 options to authenticate your mobile users securely; with everything from forms-based authentication to 2-factor built in to SharePoint2Go’s administrator wizards.

SharePoint2Go your way
If your SharePoint intranet is heavily customised with value-adding functions that make your desktop version of your intranet a productive experience (like company news, people finders, document repositories, management dashboards, etc.), SharePoint2Go can be extended by developers to create mobile versions of custom SharePoint web parts – we call them V-Parts.  V-Parts can be designed to be used within the mobile SharePoint interface, or as stand-alone full-screen mobile applications that can operate in offline mode as well as online.

As an HTML5 mobile application that is accessible via the mobile device’s browser, SharePoint2Go will work with feature-parity on any mobile device, no matter what the market throws at you; making it the ideal solution to complement your enterprise mobile or BYOD strategy.

Find out more
If you are looking to mobile-enable your SharePoint intranet and you are looking for a solution that:

  • is built with enterprise security in mind
  • will work on any mobile device or form factor, with feature-parity, and will therefore complement your enterprise mobile or BYOD strategy
  • will not require costly internal development teams to develop and maintain your mobile environment, or costly Mobile Device Management (MDM) solutions, get in touch with Azurati.

To find out more about Azurati’s SharePoint2Go solution for mobile-enabling Microsoft SharePoint and to request a free 14 day trial, contact info@azurati.com or visit www.azurati.com.

New year; new enhancements for Azurati’s enterprise mobility solutions

The development team at Azurati would even have impressed Santa’s Elves this Holiday season with the raft of new exciting innovations and enhancements that they have managed to roll-out to support our secure, cross-platform mobile enterprise proposition.

Today, we are excited to announce a number of new innovations that have not previously been available to any enterprise mobile users, which we hope will boost the adoption of HTML5-based mobile applications in the enterprise:

Azurati Mobile Portal
The Azurati Mobile Portal provides a new way for enterprise users to access HTML5-based mobile applications securely from any mobile device.  With the Azurati Mobile Portal, enterprise users are able to authenticate themselves once and then use the Mobile Portal interface as an HTML5 mobile application launchpad, enabling mobile apps to be launched with secure single sign-on.

Azurati Mobile Portal for HTML5 mobile applications

The Azurati Mobile Portal is great for both IT and the mobile user community because it provides a secure environment to access HTML5 mobile applications that can be centrally controlled (without needing expensive Mobile Device Management solutions).

HTML5 mobile applications are published to the Azurati Mobile Portal via the Azurati ASAP mobile application platform.

Azurati Apps
Azurati Apps are HTML5 applications that can be developed as cross-platform mobile applications from the ground-up, or as cross-platform mobile versions of existing enterprise software applications.

What’s more, for the first time, Microsoft SharePoint users who frequently access custom developed Web Parts in SharePoint, can create specific full-screen mobile applications from Web Parts that can be accessed via the Azurati Mobile Portal.  Examples of these may be Staff Contact lists, Product data lists, Company news and discussions, etc.

Azurati Apps

Azurati Apps can be developed to support Dynamic Offline access so that mobile users can continue to work and be productive even when Internet connectivity is lost.

Enhancements to Azurati V-Parts in SharePoint2Go
Azurati has made a number of enhancements to our V-Part architecture that now makes it easier than ever to convert custom developed SharePoint Web Parts and access them via Azurati’s cross-platform mobile SharePoint solution, SharePoint2Go.

If you find that the true value in SharePoint is not in its out-of-the-box feature set, but in the custom developed Web Parts and SharePoint apps (like Staff contact lists, project task lists, company news, BI reports, sales pipeline data, etc.), then for the first time, you will be able to continue to use these functions

Live editing of documents from SharePoint2Go
A common request from Azurati customers was the ability to edit documents from SharePoint2Go.  Up until now, this has been technically complex because of the fact that SharePoint2Go is a mobile web application.  However, we are pleased to announce a new capability that will allow live editing of documents from SharePoint2Go using Microsoft Office Web Apps on iPads.

The following screenshots show how this works (click images to view enlarged view):

1. Select document from library

Azurati doc live edit 1

2. Select Edit Document

Azurati doc live edit 2

3. Edit document in Microsoft Web Apps (this requires a valid user licence for Office Web Apps)

Azurati doc live edit 4 4. Save document

azurati doc live edit 5 5. Document edits are saved back to SharePoint2Go

azurati doc live edit 6

SharePoint2Go On-Premise deployments
We are pleased to announce also, that we are now able to offer On-Premise deployments of SharePoint2Go in addition to our standard Microsoft Azure Cloud option.  Enterprise customers who feel that they are unable to make use of Cloud-based services may install the Azurati SharePoint2Go server on internal servers behind the corporate firewall.

More information about Azurati
If you are considering HTML5-based mobile applications as part of your enterprise mobility strategy or if you would like to understand more about any of these announcements and Azurati’s HTML5 enterprise mobility solutions, please contact us via www.azurati.com.

Mobile SharePoint to complement your BYOD or COPE mobile strategy

According to a recent poll by Azurati, access to mobile SharePoint is seen to be one of the most critical must-have mobile enterprise applications for organisations who are looking to deploy enterprise applications to mobile users as part of a BYOD or COPE (Corporately Owned, Personally Enabled) mobile strategy.

Social Collaboration, workflow approvals and BI dashboards also scored highly amongst those who responded.

Providing mobile SharePoint access to users securely on multiple mobile devices is a challenge if you are looking to exploit the native templates and functionality in SharePoint.  Here are some of the reasons why you might want to consider licencing a vendor-developed solution, like Azurati’s SharePoint2Go®:

Authentication
Enabling mobile users to authenticate across the corporate firewall to access internal applications, like SharePoint, is often the single biggest challenge that IT teams will face.  Azurati makes authentication and secure access easy, because we have done all of the hard work for you and provide 15 options for enterprise customers to set up secure authentication to their SharePoint environment in a simple Wizard interface.

Azurati also supports multiple methods of authentication, allowing options like federated profiles (so users can use their standard Active Directory credentials, or they can log on using external authentication providers, like their Window Live ID, Google or Yahoo accounts.  This option is often useful if you are thinking about providing mobile SharePoint access to external stakeholders or temporary staff).

Cross-platform and form factor support
Azurati’s SharePoint2Go solution guarantees to support any smartphone or tablet on the market, including devices like Windows Surface RT tablets, Amazon Kindle Fire tablets and the upcoming Blackberry 10 range of devices, as well as standard mobile platforms like IOS, Android, Blackberry and Windows Phone devices; making Azurati your ideal BYOD partner.

You can customise the standard mobile templates that ship with Microsoft SharePoint, but they require extensive specialist developers to create specific templates for target mobile platforms and form factors, which will need to be updated as new devices emerge on the market.

Branding and UI customisation
Microsoft’s latest guidelines are for SharePoint developers to not customise the SharePoint interface.  For those companies that have invested significant time and money in their corporate identity and brand and who wish to extend that identity to mobile SharePoint users, Azurati’s SharePoint2Go solution will allow full branding and UI customisation to truly make your mobile SharePoint yours.

Support for mobile WebParts
It is rare these days to find a SharePoint implementation that does not include some elements of custom developed components, or WebParts.  WebParts often make SharePoint come to life as a corporate Intranet platform or ECM platform by providing views and access to functionality like Staff contact lists, company news and events, weather, advanced search, recently edited documents, BI/Management reports and dashboard, Sales pipeline data, etc.

You should ask a simple question:  if your users make use of custom developed WebParts in the desktop version of SharePoint, should all or some of those WebParts be made available to mobile users?

There is of course one major challenge here.  All mobile SharePoint solutions on the market (including the native mobile option from Microsoft), with the exception of Azurati, can only display standard SharePoint features (like documents, news, list data, calendars, tasks, etc) to mobile users.

Azurati allows custom developed WebParts to be transformed in to mobile WebParts, or V-Parts®, as Azurati calls them.  V-Parts can allow custom WebParts to be used interactively within the SharePoint2Go solution on any mobile device. V-Parts can also be developed to operate in dynamic offline mode, so you can continue working even if you do not have internet connectivity.

Special offer for SharePoint Conference 2012 delegates
If you are currently attending the SharePoint Conference 2012 in Las Vegas, you may qualify for a 30% discount on SharePoint2Go licenses if you purchase SharePoint2Go for your users before 31 December 2012.  All you have to do is send us a photo or scanned image of your conference pass (like the one shown below) to qualify:

If you are thinking about deploying mobile SharePoint, this is a great opportunity for you to do so at a great discount.

For more information about Azurati and SharePoint2Go, the secure cross-platform mobile SharePoint solution, please visit www.azurati.com and request a free 14 day trial.

How inclusive is your BYOD policy?

When companies say that they are going to implement a Bring your own device (BYOD) policy, allowing employees to use their own personal devices (smartphones, tables and even laptops in some cases); what do they actually mean?

What exactly is covered in your BYOD policy, and what is not?  For instance, do you say that you support BYOD, but then exclude certain devices; and what do you expect your staff to be doing on their personal devices when they are using them for work purposes?

Sometimes it can be seen to be an easy and logical decision to declare an all-out Bring Your Own Device policy.  After all, your staff will undoubtedly thank you for allowing them to use their (usually) newer and higher-spec devices and your Finance department will laud your capital expenditure cost-cutting prowess; but if you suspect that your users will want to use their smartphones and tablets for more than checking email and making voice calls (on phones), then there are clearly a raft of additional factors to consider.

Let’s take these points one by one.

What do you mean by BYOD?
If BYOD means for you that an employee can bring any personal device in to the workplace and use it for business purposes, then great.  However, that is not the interpretation that many companies actually have.  What they really mean is you can bring your iPhone/iPad, and Android device, and possibly a Blackberry device; but probably not devices like Microsoft Surface RT tablets, Windows Phone devices, Google Chromebooks, Amazon Kindle Fire HD tablets, Apple MacBooks, etc.?  The truth is that many BYOD regimes are not all-inclusive and companies are compelled to exclude certain devices because enterprise mobile strategies are not always aligned with BYOD policies, meaning that mobile apps and management infrastructures are often not able to cope with BYOD.

Why should you not be able to allow any device in the workplace?  I hear you say.  These devices all use operating systems that support internet browsing and local applications and if you are embracing the concept of Consumerisation of IT, then it would be entirely logical to allow an employee to use their latest Christmas present gadget in the workplace.   A true BYOD policy should be all inclusive and IT should allow users to bring any connected device in to the workplace and expect to be able to work securely on it for work purposes.

For those of you who do want to embrace the principle of BYOD, but who are struggling with being able to execute an effective an non-restrictive policy, perhaps you should look more widely at your company’s goals and strategies for embracing mobile devices and solutions; which brings us on to the next point.

What will employees be expected to do with their personal device in a work context?
If you expect your staff to do more than use smartphones for voice calls and to pick up corporate email, then you will almost certainly want them to be able to work productively when working on a smartphone or tablet.  One of the on-going debates about mobile applications for enterprise users is whether BYOD also goes as far as Bring your own Apps.

There will undoubtedly be some apps, like Office productivity tools or web conferencing that make little impact on corporate IT security policies, but if mobile users need to have mobile access to secure enterprise systems, that is another issue.

Authentication and security are major issues to get a handle on if mobile users are expected to access corporate systems across the firewall.  So too is the state of readiness of corporate applications for mobile use.  Enterprise applications like Microsoft SharePoint, for instance, have woefully poor mobile user interfaces as standard.

Corporate IT departments need to think about how mobile users can gain secure access to enterprise systems, content and data

Should you consider a native application or HTML5 mobile app strategy?
This is one of those ‘how long is a piece of string’ questions and the answer will depend on the type of mobile enterprise application, who the intended users are likely to be and what devices they are likely to use.

As the table below shows, the best way to guarantee that your enterprise mobile applications will be compatible with your BYOD policy will be to implement mobile web applications; but in reality, native mobile applications will continue to be used for certain types of applications and target user groups:

Pros Cons
Native mobile Apps
  • Rich functionality
  • Offline access (for some apps)
  • Good for apps designed for individual users or work-groups
  • Difficult to deploy across the enterprise
  • Ensuring apps are correctly updated can cause governance issues
  • App developer may not support all mobile platforms, which may limit your ability to implement BYOD
  • Some apps may cache or save content and data on the mobile device, which should be reviewed alongside your mobile security policy
HTML5 Mobile Web Apps
  • True cross-platform mobile device compatibility
  • Feature-parity of app functionality across mobile platforms
  • Instant deployment of mobile apps and solutions to users
  • Updates for cloud-based services are applied instantly to all users
  • Potential for zero-footprint (no content or data left on the device)
  • New generation of HTML5 apps can support offline working
  • Good for mobile apps that will be used by large numbers of users
  • Users generally require an internet connection to use apps
  • Apps are accessed via the mobile device’s browser
  • Apps may not be able to take advantage of device functionality, although newer generation mobile web apps are able to do so
  • Speed and response times may be slower if accessing app over a poor connection

The newest generation of mobile web applications can behave just like native apps.  They are accessed via home screen application badges/icons and, although they are accessed via the mobile’s browser, they look and behave almost exactly like their native mobile app cousins, but with all of the advantages of being a web based application, like cross-platform compatibility, strong security, and the central purchasing, deployment and updating of licences; without having to necessitate an investment in costly Mobile Device Management (MDM) infrastructures.

How does Azurati support all-inclusive BYOD?
Being a leading HTML5 mobile enterprise application and mobile development platform vendor, Azurati fully supports and endorses all-inclusive BYOD programmes through its mobile enterprise applications and solutions:

1. SharePoint2Go® Secure cross-platform mobile Microsoft SharePoint, allowing mobile users to access SharePoint content, data and custom web parts on any mobile device
2. Azurati Mobile Portal™ Secure mobile container that acts as an application launch-pad for HTML5 apps that require authentication and enterprise-class security.
3. Azurati ASAP® HTML5 mobile enterprise application development platform for developing secure cross-platform mobile web applications.

For further information about Azurati, visit: www.azurati.com

Azurati webinar: Transforming your SharePoint Intranet to support mobile users

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Vodafone recently published the results of an internal test involving 100+ staff members who were given tablets to work with.  The test showed that the following three applications were used most often by tablet users:

• Corporate email
• Intranet (SharePoint)
• Social Collaboration

The use of mobile devices in the enterprise is increasing as companies permit multiple mobile devices as part of enterprise mobile or BYOD strategies.

Mobile is key to boosting Intranet user adoption and user engagement.

Is your business ready to support mobile working?  Does your SharePoint-based Intranet address the needs of your mobile staff.

If you are responsible for your corporate Intranet or SharePoint environment, you should attend this webinar to find out how you can transform your SharePoint Intranet instantly into a secure cross-platform mobile Intranet with Azurati’s SharePoint2Go.

Register RIGHT NOW.

 

Date          Wednesday 24 October 2012
Time 14:00 London

15:00 Paris

09:00 New York

08:00 Dallas

 

 

 

 

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Has your enterprise mobility strategy matured beyond providing access to mobile email?

Let’s face it, most of us think about enterprise mobility or BYOD, or even COPE (Corporately Owned, Privately Enabled) as the new way to give an employee the right to use a smartphone or tablet to access corporate email and to use smartphones as … phones.

While email consumes a huge portion of our working lives, it is the ability to access core enterprise systems, that hold corporate content and data, that really make us productive.

Why then, is there so little debate about accessing enterprise applications on mobile devices as part of a corporate mobility or BYOD policy?  Some may argue because enterprise systems have not been designed to be used on a small tablet screen, or smaller smartphone screen; and they would be right.

Then there is the issue of authentication and security.  While many companies sanction the access of corporate email via the native mail clients on iPhones, iPads, Android devices, Windows Phone, etc., there is quite rightly a reticence to be so cavalier about opening up access to core enterprise systems to users on mobile devices.

What applications are candidates for mobile conversion?
Beyond providing access to corporate email on mobile devices, there are a number of enterprise systems that could or should be considered as candidates for ‘mobilization’.  These may be applications that support field-based staff or staff who travel frequently and who need to remain connected to the business when they are not in the office, like CRM systems, Microsoft SharePoint, enterprise social collaboration tools or BI reporting dashboards.

Mobile optimization of enterprise applications
Some enterprise software vendors have already created mobile app versions of their solutions – SAP Sybase is one of the leading players in providing development platforms to do this.  However, there are many more business critical and line of business applications out there that should be made available to mobile users, but are not because they cannot be accessed or cannot be used on a mobile device.

Azurati recently launched a rapid application development platform, called Azurati ASAP® that is similar to SAP Sybase’s mobile development framework, but allows developers to rapidly create secure cross-platform mobile applications from existing enterprise applications.

Azurati also sells a cross-platform mobile SharePoint solution, developed on the Azurati ASAP platform, called SharePoint2Go®.

Sorting out the authentication and security issue
For many companies, enterprise mobility begins and ends with authentication.  It is relatively common for external access to corporate systems to be blocked and will remain so.  For others, there may not have been a compelling reason to open access to corporate systems via the internet; until now.

The explosion in mobile device use is driving the requirement to allow access to corporate systems from these devices.  It is important to note however, that a member of staff trying to access your systems on a tablet or smartphone is essentially the same thing as an external user, as far as security is concerned.

Make sure that the mobile application vendor or solution provider you choose to work with, is able to work with your preferred method of authentication and gaining secure access to your environment.

Supporting your enterprise mobility or BYOD strategy
Announcing a multi-device mobile strategy or free-for-all BYOD policy may be one thing, but if you don’t just mean to allow access to corporate email and voice calls, then you need to ensure that the mobile application solution(s) that you decide to work with are able to support your mobility strategy.

If you decide to standardise on iPads that may be fine; but if you have a more open mobile device policy it is important to check whether your mobile enterprise applications can be accessed as well on an iPad as on an Android smartphone, Windows Phone or Blackberry with a consistent user experience and parity in functionality.

About Azurati
Azurati is a leading enterprise mobile application software vendor, specialising in mobile enterprise applications that can be accessed securely on any smartphone or tablet.

Azurati’s two product offerings are:

  • SharePoint2Go: a secure cross-platform mobile SharePoint solution
  • Azurati ASAP: a rapid application development platform for transforming enterprise applications into secure cross-platform mobile applications

Visit www.azurati.com for more information