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Mobile Expert Interview Series: Sybase's Bryan Whitmarsh

The "sandbox" approach to Mobile Device Management will become the norm.

This morning I was able to catch up with SAP Mentor Bryan Whitmarsh for an interview.  I conducted a video interview with Bryan last year at Sapphire which you can watch here.  Bryan works for Sybase's product management team and reports to Tony Kueh, who I interviewed last week.  Bryan lives in Boise, Idaho (also my fair city), which he has called home since 1992, when he moved here from the Seattle area.

Note: These are not Bryan's exact words, rather my notes from our interview.

Kevin:  What is your role and area of responsibility at Sybase?
Bryan: My title is Mobility Product Management.  Last year I was focused on mobile email, but this year I am working with the platform team on SUP (Sybase Unwired Platform).  It is my job to interpret the market, meet with customers, communicate the road map, both internally and externally, define product requirements and help marketing communicate information about the products.

Kevin:  Bryan, what does SUP mean today, SAP Unwired Platform or Sybase Unwired Platform?
I have seen it both ways recently.  We still call it Sybase Unwired Platform in my team.

Kevin:  What mobile device(s) do you carry?
Bryan: iPhone, Droid, iPad and MacBook Pro.  I also have a laptop for working on Sybase and SAP interfaces that require it.  The laptop sits underneath my MacBook on my office desk.  I am a big fan of Apple products which surprises me.  For many years I was just a Microsoft guy. 

Kevin:  How was the transition from a Microsoft laptop to a MacBook Pro?
Bryan: Amazingly easy!  So easy that sometimes my four year old needs to show me how things are done on my MacBook Pro.  I tend to over think things and Apple is very simple.  I take movies with my iPhone and within five minutes can have great movies uploaded to YouTube.  It is very fast, and has never slowed down like all my Microsoft based laptops did after a few months.

Kevin:  What are your favorite mobile applications?
Bryan: Yahoo's Sportacular (sports updates), Live Strong (fitness app) and two pages of kids apps.  My kids are always wanting to play apps on both my little iPhone, and my big iPhone (iPad).

Kevin:  What mobile technologies are you most excited about these days?
Bryan: Tablets like the iPad and Android.  At first I wondered what niche they might fill between smartphones and laptops, but today I am convinced of the value and power of tablets.  The great battery life for my iPad is also very impressive.  It lasts days!

Kevin:  What were the most surprising developments for you in enterprise mobility in 2010?
Bryan: That 2010 REALLY was the year of enterprise mobility.  Like you Kevin, we have believed every year was going to be the year of mobility for the past decade, but in 2010 it really happened.  People finally understood mobility and "got it!"

Kevin:  What new trends are you seeing in enterprise mobility for 2011?
Bryan: Most enterprises accepting "personal choice" mobile devices.  Many light weight mobile apps are being deployed.  These low cost apps don't need to have massive ROIs, just simple productivity improvements.

Kevin:  What do these trends mean for Sybase's Afaria solution (MDM - mobile device management)?
Bryan: The "sandbox" approach to MDM will become the norm.  The MDM solution will be used, not to control the entire mobile device, but only the enterprise's mobile applications.  These applications will be controlled, managed and secured by the MDM, but the MDM may be set up to ignore the rest of the mobile device which is designated for personal use.  Also, the more mobile device types, mobile operating systems and versions, the more important an MDM becomes to the enterprise. 

Kevin:  What advice do you have for companies now developing their mobility strategy?
Bryan: Plan on supporting your employee's personal devices.  Have a strategy for supporting personal mobile devices.  Develop policies for managing and supporting them.

Kevin:  How are things different in enterprise mobility now than they were a few years ago?

Bryan: In past years we spent all our time trying to convince companies that there was value in mobility.  You no longer have to do that.  Companies already know there is value in mobility.  The SAP clout also helps us with credibility.

Kevin:  Does the large number of new mobile devices, mobile apps and operating systems help sell Afaria?

Bryan: Yes.  If everyone in the world just used RIM products and the BIS server from RIM, few would find the need for Afaria.  However, the more device types, software applications and operating systems that are being brought into the enterprise, the more value Afaria (MDM) has to the enterprise.

Kevin:  What are the biggest challenges companies face when implementing mobility?
Bryan: Change.  Just implementing change and the deployment of a new mobility platform.  Mobility moves and evolves so fast that it will always be changing.  Change is hard for IT organizations and people in them.  They are accustomed to implementing solutions that last 10 years.  Mobility changes monthly.  This is difficult.  IT organizations need to recognize mobility involves permanently changing solutions and applications and proactively plan for this kind of environment.

I want to thank Bryan for sharing his insights with us!

To read more from my Mobile Expert Interview Series click here.

More Stories By Kevin Benedict

Kevin Benedict serves as the Senior Vice President, Solutions Strategy, at Regalix, a Silicon Valley based company, focused on bringing the best strategies, digital technologies, processes and people together to deliver improved customer experiences, journeys and success through the combination of intelligent solutions, analytics, automation and services. He is a popular writer, speaker and futurist, and in the past 8 years he has taught workshops for large enterprises and government agencies in 18 different countries. He has over 32 years of experience working with strategic enterprise IT solutions and business processes, and he is also a veteran executive working with both solution and services companies. He has written dozens of technology and strategy reports, over a thousand articles, interviewed hundreds of technology experts, and produced videos on the future of digital technologies and their impact on industries.

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