MWC15: Enterprise Mobility Roundup

The team at Centrify was excited to be at Barcelona last week, which hosted the 10th annual Mobile World Congress (MWC) event. This year the weather was beautiful with a lot of sun, and that provided the perfect setting to pontificate about the future of the mobile industry. In this blog, I present a summary of the themes and my observations from the lens of enterprise mobility.

“Business IoT” vs “Consumer IoT”

This year the money in IoT is clearly in the industrial projects. IoT is being viewed as a great enabler to re-architect business processes and revenue models at several companies in a variety of industry verticals. Accenture had some cool demonstrations to tell the story on how the integration of complex physical machinery with networked sensors and software is creating an “Industrial Internet of Things” for smart shipping, smart building and digital manufacturing plants. Point being, a single business IoT prIoToject can sometimes overshadow revenue streams from several consumer IoT initiatives. Consumer IoT didn’t make a big splash like it did at CES last January. There were no drones, robots, or humanoids running around. Several device manufacturers launched wearable products such as watches and sensor bands – but none that will storm the industry. Huawei gets my vote for the best watch launch at MWC. This year’s wearable launches suggest that technology companies are finally “getting it”– people actually want to wear them. More and more of the products unveiled at this year’s MWC look less like clunky hunks of metal scaled down to wrist-size, and more like fashionable accessories that you’d actually want to wear to the office or the gym.

Security & Privacy

With security breaches increasingly being a regular cadence in the “post Snowden era,” this year’s MWC saw the rise of mobile security as a hot topic for both businesses and consumers. Silent Circle aims to address the issue of a more secure mobile experience with its Blackphone product and advanced OS+ secure app system — Silent Suite and Silent Meeting — to assuage users’ fears over mobile security holes. The products are intended for both corporate as well as personal use. This year, the company unveiled Blackphone 2 – and the 7-inch Blackphone Plus tablet, an upgrade to its software and a couple of new secure apps. Finland-based Jolla teamed up with security solutions company SSH Communications Security to create Sailfish Secure to address the security needs of government officials, businesses and consumers. AVG previewed its Invisibility Glasses, designed to protect one’s identity from facial recognition software, by embedding infrared lights into the frame around the eyes and nose.

Mobile Identity and the case for multi factor authentication (MFA)

One of the most important trends in the past 3 years is the adoption of mobile technology for identity management — the mobile device is the ideal identity device. It integrates authentication directly with the apps that need it; it’s a natural second factor; it’s ubiquitous and you notice within minutes when it’s lost or stolen; and a mobile phone’s built-in cryptography provides smartcard-grade authentication.

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Incorporating multiple factors of user authentication has really taken off with the rise of mobile security. Samsung finally obtained parity with Apple on a touch versus swipe based fingerprint technology in its new Galaxy S6 devices. Qualcomm took it a few notches higher by using sound waves to measure fingerprints. This has a number of advantages, such as the ability to read fingerprints despite water or lotion, and flexibility to detect through glass or metal. ZTE launched retina-scanning technology in its Grand S3 smartphone, which scans blood vessel patterns on your retina. Fujitsu did better with its IRIS scanning tech on a prototype phone that uses an infrared camera and infrared LED module to scan individuals’ iris patterns.

Separation of Work & Personal Mobile Spaces

This year saw many device and software vendors offer solutions making it more straightforward to split work and personal use of mobile apps, voice, SMS and data. Google released the much-anticipated Android for Work program a week before MWC and had many of its EMM partners demonstrating their support of the features. Blackberry polished its WorkLife offering that offers a new way to precisely distinguish between work use and personal use of an iPhone, Android or BlackBerry smartphone by introducing separate new phone lines
managed and paid for by the enterprise on the personal employee owned device. Screen Shot 2015-03-10 at 1.03.53 AMBlackberry added support for Samsung KNOX devices, so enterprises can choose to pay for all employee usage within the KNOX container, or they can select specific work applications to be billed to the company. Silent Circle launched its BlackPhone 2 device with a new feature called Silent Spaces that was built with enterprise customers in mind, and allows users to set up different profiles for their professional and personal life.