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October 02, 2015

ITEXPO Presenter Offers Insight into Mobile Capabilities and Cloud Computing

The idea that we live in a small world is not always reality for those who operate on a national or global scale and need to connect on a regular basis. Whether clients, colleagues or employees are scattered around the nation or around the globe, it can be difficult to manage travel time and ensure effective collaboration and customer care even in the best of circumstances.

Technology has certainly helped and conferencing across audio and video connections introduced a whole new approach that often reduced the need for travel. The challenge, however, has always been to identify effective and efficient solutions that emulate face-to-face conversations and don’t allow technology shortfalls to negate the benefits intended. Solutions have to be simple, seamless and platform agnostic.

At the same time, mobile professionals are relying more on the capabilities they have through their smartphones to access information, integrate with the corporate network, connect with key players and launch conferencing sessions. To do so, the technology supported must perform well in their mobile world and on their device of choice. Such demand created an opportunity for the development of MeetingMogul and MeetingMogul for Enterprise by Folio3.

Adnan Lawai, CEO of Folio3 

Adnan H. Lawai, CEO of Folio3 is set to be on hand for the upcoming ITEXPO in Anaheim, launching in-depth discussions on enterprise collaboration technologies. In a recent interview with TMC’s Rich Tehrani, Lawai shared his insight on Unified Communications today, collaboration services, security for the corporate network, wearable tech, WebRTC, innovations in mobile, capabilities in the cloud and so much more.

Check out his interview in full below.

Have we finally reached an inflection point with Unified Communications adoption? What is driving or hindering the market?

Unified Communications has reached a point where almost all new deployments are featuring some or all parts of the product. There’s no reason for businesses today to not be using IP-based technology to communicate.  As we move toward a more “mobile first” environment, UC becomes the standard, not the exception.  This paves the way for more advanced services to be adopted more easily.  This is not new thinking.  It’s just timing.  As for what’s driving the market, it’s the fact that most of today’s workforce has grown up mobile and digital and they don’t want their father’s calling experience.

How do you feel collaboration software/services are helping workers today?

Collaboration software has focused so far on platforms, not experiences. The solutions prevalent today take their cue from the phone system, or the IP network; that is, they provide a layer of services and users will figure out a way to make them their own.  We need to be looking at specific use cases and experiences. For example, the phone system is used today to conduct business meetings or to talk to doctors. We have deployed a lot of phone systems in businesses and clinics but not built really compelling apps to make the meeting or the consultation with a doctor much more effective using the underlying phone systems.

Collaboration technology needs to focus on how users are consuming all these services. A lot of it is now mobile and literally on the go, and a lot of it involves virtual teams. What do these virtual teams need, both in the moment and after the event to make their lives easier? Companies like Slack and Evernote, which are seeing immense growth and traction, are solving these types of problems. Telehealth apps, which are also seeing immense traction, are solving these types of problems.

Has corporate awareness of security threats increased over the past year?  Have security practices been adjusted as a result?

We’ve seen several highly publicized security breaches in the past couple of years, and enterprises have responded to that.  For MeetingMogul – our app focused on better control of meetings, as well as the other mobile apps we have built recently for enterprises – there is a real focus on keeping everything on the device if possible, and if information has to be transmitted, that it should follow security best practices.

If your mobile device had integrated software that allowed you to separate your business and personal apps, would you use it?  Why or why not?
Yes, I would use it for increased security and trackability and for the ability to wipe my device if it ever got stolen.  This technology already exists, and is being deployed by Symantec, Ironport and others, and is even available for Android now.  This is not a “when will it happen” issue, but an already daily adoption by companies that are security and privacy-minded and guarded in approach.

Our company, Folio3, worked on this technology for a company that’s now part of Oracle, which is now deploying it as part of their Identity Management suite. We view this as not a nice to have, but obviously an essential part of the enterprise mobile security mix.

How is cloud computing shaking up your product/service offerings?
We are using the cloud wherever possible, both for MeetingMogul as well as for other custom apps we build for enterprises. It’s a surprisingly non-trivial and time-consuming process to get a compute/storage instance set up in the enterprise; it’s often a lot easier to just provide a credit card and get an Amazon instance set up.  So even some of our large enterprise customers are doing just that, especially in the early phases of a project when real data is not necessarily flowing through the system.  The cloud is also a boon for collaboration: there are so many services with APIs that you can hook into in order to incorporate pieces of their functionality. From an app-development perspective, it lets you try things out quickly to see what works well.

Are channel partners keeping up with the latest products and services or is more training required?
First we’re finding that more services are being purchased directly, especially in the era of Shadow IT.  Often the channel partners only sell what they feel IT will buy.  But more and more, the buying of new services is being done at the department level.

As for training, we’re finding that in the case of our apps – which are designed with the user experience first and foremost -- training isn’t needed as the apps are so intuitive. Look at Apple. You don’t need a manual to use an Apple product, so they stopped printing them. We have the same approach, which eliminates the learning curve or need for training.

Samsung Mobile is making a direct move into the enterprise market with its latest line of corporate-centric devices.  Can Samsung successfully take the corporate market share that once belonged to BlackBerry or will the enterprise mobile market remain entirely fragmented?
I think the enterprise market will remain fragmented, primarily because interoperability is easier than it used to be, and because we are living in an increasingly BYOD world.  For devices, success in the enterprise will be driven to a large extent by success in the larger consumer context.

What, if any, wearable tech products do you use?  How do they make you more productive?

I have tried out the Fitbit Surge and the Apple Watch.  Beyond health and fitness tracking, which frankly is the biggest use I see for these devices right now, I think reminder-based actions is the biggest use case for making people more productive.  For example, the MeetingMogul Apple Watch app gives you a reminder if you have a call coming up, and then dials you right into a conference call with just a tap.  Receiving and answering super-short messages from your various systems without having to pull out your phone is another great use case.

We have a customer called Hiplink Wireless, which works with hospital staff and first responders to enable them to respond quickly to alerts and reminders using wearable tech. I know all of this can be done with your smartphone, but I do believe it’s a subtle but powerful user experience shift.

Will wearable tech become a major enterprise technology?  What will drive or hinder adoption?
It does have the potential to become a major technology, but it will really depend on identifying those compelling use cases.  Something like Google Glass could be extremely useful where hands free is a requirement or a big advantage, for example when delivering vaccines to animals, in the surgery or clinic, or when handling packages. It will start in niches where the most compelling use cases are identified, and then move to a broader audience.

WebRTC went through a very significant hype cycle.  Will its use cases and adoption live up to that hype?
As with any new technology moving toward standards adoption, the hype always precedes the growth.  More and more, WebRTC is finding its way into apps and being deployed by more services.  In some cases, it’s not to simply replace SIP or the PSTN, but to enable new services, features and opportunities.

We’ve yet to really see what can be done with WebRTC and likely won’t until the standard is in place, which causes the larger, better-funded and more entrenched companies to roll out the ideas that at this point are lab experiments that can scale.

What technology has had the greatest impact on your ability to perform your job in the past year?  Explain.
Collaboration and communication technologies were the most impactful for me. I get a lot of my work done on the phone, much of it internationally, and Google Voice and Skype have been absolute lifesavers.  Collaboration software has been steadily becoming better and more widely adopted, which increases its usefulness. I have found myself slowly moving from Microsoft Office to Google Docs; this way I can access things on any device and at any time, it’s free and most people I know use it.

What technology has had the greatest impact on your personal life in the past year?  Explain.

I have really enjoyed using the fitness-tracking capability of the Apple Watch and the Fitbit devices.  Seeing how my fitness evolves over time with or without effort gives me the motivation to stay on top of my exercise routine.

What innovations do you expect to see in the business communications world in the next year?

I expect much tighter integration of different collaboration types: voice, video, instant messaging, offline messages, tasks that are focused on specific experiences found in the business world: the internal meeting with remote participants, the sales call, the support call, telehealth, etc.

What are you looking forward to at ITEXPO Anaheim?
Beyond the learning that comes naturally from the panel, it’s the networking with others in the industry that I look forward to.  That, and finally meeting Rich Tehrani, who I have been a fan of for some time.

Why should attendees come to your session/visit your booth?
I am expecting a really thought-provoking discussion on enterprise collaboration technologies.

Edited by Kyle Piscioniere

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