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Soon every enterprise will need its own App Store

Digital transformation isn’t just a single wave, it’s a series of them, each one transformational – it’s an environment in which change is a permanent feature.

No one size fits anyone any more

We know every single Fortune 500 firm now uses Apple equipment in their business.

We know that many enterprises now offer their own proprietary apps and business processes, and we also know that incoming technologies such as RPA will continue to transform business practise.

We recognize that, given the choice, most employees will choose Apple kit, and we know those employees who do may be more productive, cost less in tech support and less likely to quit.

We also know that not every task requires the same toolkit, and that the very notion of apps favours development of software to address one single task well, rather than multiple tasks poorly.

Modular everything

Think about your business.

It’s likely you have different business units engaged in different tasks, each one with different resources and varying practical needs. Maps, spreadsheets, presentations, data analysis, field service manuals, passenger manifests, cargo manifests, location detection systems, data analysis, pre-emptive maintenance, warehouse navigation — look around and you’ll find most business needs now enjoy access to an ‘app for that’.

Particularly on iOS.

The problem is that while Apple’s App Store is by far the most secure shopfront for apps, it’s still not perfectly safe (nowhere is).

This has led many companies to white list specific apps while banning use of others in managed environments.

This leads inexorably toward scenarios in which enterprises will begin to create and populate their own internal App Stores.

These will deliver a mix of curated consumer and proprietary enterprise apps giving employers control and insight and employees trusted environments of choice.

Businesses recognise that in an App environment in which even the most secure platform provider is grappling with threats, while other platforms offer slick marketing to hid inherent weakness, it behoves them to put together their own source of truth.

In the form of an enterprise app store.

None of this is new

But Enterprise App Stores will become far more commonplace.

Many already exist.

SAP has its own SAP Enterprise Store, for example, but a recent Gartner report predicts 40% of workers will manage their enterprise apps in this way.

The model will only extend as incoming employees arrive to market with their own technologically sophisticated needs built as a result of a lifetime engaging with digital tools and App Store distribution.

  • These tech-savvy employees will digital tools to be as easy to access as downloading an ‘app for that’.
  • They will want intuitive user interfaces for those apps, will want apps that work together and will not want to navigate through confusing UI elements in order to find the function they need.
  • We already know employees will quit if the tech they use is worse than what they use at home, so there’s an HR need spurring this evolution.

Ultimately, this means enterprise app developers will approach app design from a widget-like approach, splicing business processes up into modules.

This will enable employees — already used to piecing together a bunch of different apps in order to get things done in the consumer space — to adopt a similar approach at work: They will select the specific apps they need in order to transact the tasks their specific role requires.

Some will use more apps, some will use less, but the overall impact will be that the friction of app use will be reduced and autonomy and simplicity should unlock productivity.

Employees will also be equipped to use third-party apps that have passed through the IT support vetting process and have been whitelisted to work across a company network – while enterprises will be able to sandbox emerging solutions for use by authorized employees, enabling agile business users to choose to use new tools that may augment the business need.

This gives employees the autonomy to use what are for them the best available tools for their job (including emerging solutions), while also protecting the business from hack, attack and user security slack.

The impact?

Enterprise app deployment becomes a frictionless user experience, just like consumer App Stores.

iPhone-wielding workers can use the best digital tools for the job, and the collections of apps used by workers can be changed in response to changing needs, nurturing business agility and digital dexterity.

There is a downside to this digital dance.

Not every company has the resources to launch its own proprietary app store, but there are service providers who may fill that gap.

At JNUC I spoke briefly with Setapp CEO, Oleksandr Kosovan. He was there to evangelize the SetApp for Teams service, which offers Mac-based enterprises access to a collection of useful productivity apps for a set fee. The idea is that these apps are curated by his company and enterprises can scale their app deployments to demand.

While this service is only for Macs, it’s no great leap of imagination to add links to enterprise-approved iOS apps and distribution to proprietary enterprise apps to this kind of curated and branded store.

While Kosovan’s is a consumer play with a background in consumer markets, firms like Arxan and others also offer proprietary App store solutions for enterprises.

And it’s possible the good times for this segment of the enterprise services business have only just begun.

Please follow me on Twitter, or join me in the AppleHolic’s bar & grill and Apple Discussions groups on MeWe.

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.





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Salesforce announces new iOS enterprise apps

One year since Apple and Salesforce joined forces to make it easier to use the CRM platform with iOS, the two companies have announced new apps and a new SDK.

Swift, Siri, SDK and more

With around 80% of Fortune 500 companies making use of Salesforce, the move to introduce better iOS support on the CRM platform was pretty much inevitable as enterprise adoption of iOS hit critical mass.

Last week’s JNUC 2019 was a great illustration of just how far Apple has come in the sector, with some of the biggest names in enterprise IT now using iOS, and Apple tech used at every single Fortune 500 firm.

These days, Apple support is an HR issue: You can’t attract new staff if you don’t support the platforms, and you certainly won’t retain them. 

When it comes to Salesforce, hundreds of companies across the globe have used its tools to bring iOS support, including The Home Depot, P&G and University of San Diego.

The importance of the partnership is also reflected in news that Apple CEO, Tim Cook, will join Salesforce co-CEO Marc Benioff to speak at Dreamforce 2019 on November 19 at 1.30pm PT.

So, what’s happening?

What’s new is that Salesforce has redesigned its Salesforce Mobile app and has also introduced the first-ever Trailhead GO learning app for iOS and iPadOS.

It has also introduced a Salesforce Mobile SDK developers can use in order to build and deploy native apps for iPhone and iPad on the Salesforce Platform.

What Apple is saying

“Working together, Apple and Salesforce have helped hundreds of businesses and millions of developers transform the way they work,” said Susan Prescott, Apple’s VP Product Marketing for Apps, Markets and Services in a press release.

“With brand new Salesforce Mobile apps exclusive to iOS and iPadOS, and an enhanced SDK that supports the latest advancements in Swift, Apple together with Salesforce offers customers strong privacy, powerful multitasking and the best user experience in business on iPhone and iPad.”

What’s Salesforce saying?

“With Salesforce Mobile, Salesforce and Apple are empowering sales, service and marketing professionals on the go to deliver game-changing customer experiences, powered by AI,” said Bret Taylor, Chief Product Officer, Salesforce in a press release. “And with Trailhead GO, millions more learners can now skill up for free, anytime and anywhere, to learn in-demand skills and fill the jobs of today and tomorrow.”

What’s new in the Salesforce Mobile App?

Along with a better UI, the now available Salesforce Mobile App now includes an AI called Einstein.

This AI tries to identify patterns, predict outcomes, provide guidance and to support increasingly automated workflows based on the data generated by the app.

The idea is that the AI inside the Salesforce Mobile App can make teams more productive while supporting provision of increasingly personalized customer relationships.

The app also offers support for unique iOS features, including Siri shortcuts and Face ID, so tasks, notes and CRM updates can all be committed by voice alone.

Bridging the training gap

Salesforce has also improved its training offer for users with the introduction of its iOS-only Trailhead GO app, which provides access to Salesforce’s free online learning platform used by millions of workers worldwide.

The app provides anytime access to over 700 training modules including Apple-specific items such as Get Started with iOS App Development.

The app was built on Swift using Salesforce’s Mobile SDK and supports Handoff, Split View and Picture-in-picture modes. You should be able to find it in your local app store.

Developers, developers, developers

Perhaps the most important news is the introduction of an enhanced set of developer tools in the form of the Swift-optimized Mobile SDK.

This adds support for iOS 13, including Swift UI and Package Manager, for easier compiling and distribution of code.

Salesforce claims the SDK will enable over six million developers working with its platform to build and deploy apps for Apple’s mobile devices.

The company hasn’t said if it plans to use Catalyst to unify its Apple apps around iPad apps exported to the Mac, but with Office 365 (and Outlook) available on iOS the temptation must be there. Outlook and Salesforce are close companions, after all.

The new Salesforce Mobile SDK 8.0 with support for Dark Mode and Swift UI is expected to be available later this year, with additional features optimized foriPadOS expected to arrive in a 2020 release.

Please follow me on Twitter, or join me in the AppleHolic’s bar & grill and Apple Discussions groups on MeWe.

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.





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JNUC 2019: For enterprise pros, it’s like the old days of Apple events

MINNEAPOLIS – “This reminds me of one of the old Apple events,” Apple’s one-time product manager of automation technologies, Sal Soghoian said as we entered the opening Jamf keynote speech at JNUC 2019 earlier this week.

I couldn’t help but agree with him by the time the event was winding down.

Enterprise and Apple evangelism

All of the old Apple event ingredients were there: Enthusiasm, knowledge, curiosity, interest, excitement and for nearly all of the 2,500 Mac professionals at this year’s  show, the added attraction about JNUC is that they get to talk how they make their living.

These are professional Mac admins, enterprise IT support staff, enterprise-focused software developers, managers, purchasers, CIOs, CTOs and others who now realize that Apple’s foot print is seriously growing in the enterprise.

Jamf’s commitment to this community and a great selection of partners and speakers (including IBM, SAP, Apple and others) mean that everyone I spoke to across the event was learning, doing business and having a good time. It had a real community “vibe.”

Fletcher Previn from IBM Jonny Evans

IBM CIO Fletcher Previn at Jamf’s 2019 conference.

There were also several big announcements at the show:

  • IBM CIO Fletcher Previn unveiled a wealth of compelling statistics that suggest Mac users are happier and more productive in the office.
  • SAP Martin Lang appeared several times during the event, confirming the success of his company’s huge migration of tens of thousands of Apple devices and promising to use Catalyst to port some of its iPad apps to Mac.
  • Microsoft ran through some of the many recent improvements made in Office 365 (Hint: Use the Ideas button next time you make a PowerPoint), and confirmed that with Jamf Pro it’s easy to use Microsoft Azure to deliver authorization on Apple’s platforms.
  • Jamf talked up Jamf Protect, a unique product that puts the company at the cutting-edge of situational awareness for Macs.
  • And Apple Product Marketing’s Jeremy Butcher discussed some of the security and other enhancements across the company’s platforms, noting that all of the top Fortune 500 companies now use Apple products.

All of these announcements reflect the significant change in Apple’s enterprise credentials in recent years. They also completely justify the vision Jamf founder Zach Halmstad showed when he decided to launch the company back in 2002, when the iPod was still young and then-Apple CEO Steve Jobs had yet to freeze Hell over with iTunes for Windows.

This is a strong community

I was impressed at the vibrancy of this event. I’ve attended literally hundreds of technology trade shows, and (as Soghoian observed) this one has had energy. This energy reflects the focus of the event, but also the growing size of the Apple enterprise market and the fast-growing opportunities show attendees are already seeing in that market.

This energy extends to include the many partners and enterprise/education-focused software vendors who exhibited here. There were quite literally dozens of vendors, which absolutely reflects the difference a few years has made to the Apple-in-the-enterprise story.

Apple has an enterprise business. That business is growing. And supporting that business relies heavily on strategic partnerships between Apple, Jamf, Microsoft, SAP, IBM and other names (big and small) in enterprise computing.

These vendors aren’t in the business of consumer computing; instead, they offer sophisticated solutions designed to appeal to the needs of Fortune 500 firms, SMBs, school districts and more. This is reflected by the kind of problems the vendors try to solve.

To illustrate this, here is a short (incomplete and randomly chosen) selection of the many exhibitors attending the show:

Code 42

Code42 is most widely known for its CrashPlan online backup product, but it has pivoted on that solution to also offer powerful protection for corporate data assets. The basic premise: after an employee leaves a company, it becomes possible to monitor file activity in order to detect and investigate suspicious use of external media, USB sticks, browsers or cloud services in scenarios in which that employee might try to take intellectual property or other confidential company data when they depart. This matters because 60% of the 40 million people who changed jobs last year say they took data with them.

Diamond Assets

Diamond Assets offers a service that tracks the resale prices of an enterprise or an institution’s tech assets, which means companies looking to upgrade their infrastructure enjoy granular insight into the second user price of any equipment they need to replace –  and can sell at that price. This kind of insight helps manage budgets more effectively.

SetApp

SetApp, curates compelling collections of apps from multiple developers, making all these apps available for a monthly fee. This model helps business users take control of what apps are installed across their fleet, making budgets easier to manage while also giving employees flexibility to choose tools that meet personalized needs.

Torii

As SaaS enterprise app provision expands, larger firms find themselves handling relationships with multiple service providers while having very little insight into what services employees actually use. Torii aims to meet this need by providing its own way  to manage all those SaaS solutions, enabling better insights and budget control.

Electric

The future of tech support isn’t going to be completely automated, but it will be AI augmented. This is why vendors such as Electric provide Slack chat-based support for networks, applications and devices. The idea here is that by outsourcing mundane tech support problems, IT departments can focus on the bigger challenges.

Kitcast

Services to help leverage existing tech investments were also on display at the show, including the extremely user-friendly Kitcast digital signage solution that works with Apple TV. With a clear user interface and a variety of useful templates, it makes it easy to turn any screen in your company into a presentation or marketing tool.

JumpCloud

JumpCloud is a powerful directory-as-a-service offering that acts as an authoritative identity provider for Mac, Windows, Linux, networks, apps, infrastructure, file servers and more.

Up next: Seize the opportunity

There are so many ways to see what’s happened here.

Apple is now indisputably an enterprise company, and (in the U.S., at least) if you combine iOS with macOS to account for Internet traffic share, you’ll find that Apple is now more widely used online than Windows.

In part, this is driven by the demographic of users.

New employees coming into the jobs market today are more likely to have used an Apple product than they are to have used a Windows machine. This is driving firms to provide BYOD schemes and user choice so they can better recruit new employees — Apple provision has become an HR challenge.

Feeding this enterprise need is a strong and growing business for all parties able to play a part; I certainly overheard an array of business arrangements being made during the show.

Across at least the past decade, Apple has painstakingly built partnerships, developer tools, and complementary platforms – all with this outcome in mind. And Microsoft has remained a strong partner during much of this time.

The result? At JNUC, Jamf demonstrated a solution that lets you use Touch ID on your iPhone with Azure to unlock your Windows PC.

This new Apple enterprise reality is built into the DNA at JNUC. To my eyes, the show has become a unique event that pairs some of the best parts of Apple events of yore with the kind of enthusiasm you get when everyone is in a growth market.

Planning ahead? JNUC 2020 takes place in San Diego.

Please follow me on Twitter, or join me in the AppleHolic’s bar & grill and Apple Discussions groups on MeWe.

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.





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Windows 10 November 2019 Update: Key enterprise features

It’s almost time for the next big Windows 10 update. Code-named “19H1” (for 2019, first half), the release is expected to arrive in May as version 1903, with “May 2019 Update” as its official name.

At first glance, there doesn’t appear to be a whole lot that’s new in the May 2019 Update. But several of these “little things” could affect the way you use a Windows 10 PC daily for work, or how you manage PCs in your office.

[ Further reading: How to handle Windows 10 updates ]

Here are a handful of useful features that have shown up in the previews of the May 2019 Update over the last several months. (Please note that Microsoft may decide not to include some of these features in the final release.) In addition, we’ve called out a few other new Windows 10 features that are not part of the May 2019 Update but that business users and IT admins should know about.

(See the subsequent pages of this story for key enterprise features introduced in earlier Windows 10 feature updates.)



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Apple is changing the world of enterprise IT

I spoke with the CEO of one of Apple’s most recently announced enterprise mobility partners, Sunil Patro, founder and CEO at SignEasy, to learn more about Apple’s commitment to enterprise technology – and the growing importance of India to the tech economy.

Apple is an enterprise company

Apple’s focus on enterprise computing is intensifying, much to the surprise of the old guard in IT, for whom Macs, iPads and iPhones will always be “toys,” despite their proven effectiveness in the real world.

I believe it was the iPad that really drove Apple into the enterprise; that trickle has become a flood and it means you’ll find Apple platforms in most businesses today.

SignEasy was recently named an Apple mobility partner. Among other things, this means Apple’s enterprise developer relations worked with the company to help SignEasy become a better app for enterprises.

Sunil Patro SignEasy

Sunil Patro

“We have deep respect for how Apple works with partners to ensure users are always given the best experience on Apple platforms. Their focus on beautiful product experiences trickles down to everything that they do, including this program, which makes us doubly honored to be a part of it,” Patro told me.

“More than half of our business customers use SignEasy on their iOS devices, and we expect that number to grow as we leverage our new status as an Apple mobility partner,” he explained.

Integration matters.

Consumer-friendly apps for business pros

In today’s enterprise environment, it’s not appropriate to balkanize user experiences, offering different UIs across different platforms. What works on one device needs to work the same on other devices.

“Today’s business software solutions need to be optimized to work equally well on a mobile device, laptop computer or desktop computer. It also needs to integrate with other software solutions and systems at work where the exchange of data and files are as seamless as possible,” he said.

Design matters, too.

It’s not enough to have poorly designed solutions that work equally badly across platforms, the implementations need to be up to consumer standards — even for internal enterprise provisions.

“Poor design just doesn’t fly anymore,” he said. “With the proliferation of SaaS and ease of high-quality app development, consumers and businesses have innumerable options for digital solutions. Great design and user experience has become one of the biggest criteria that software can compete on, and more often than not becomes the deciding factor for a buyer because the end user demands it.”

Apple’s winning message

It seems clear that Apple’s enterprise appeal has always been, and continues to be, the attempt to provide superior user experiences. This gives it an advantage in a more digital economy.

“Apple wants to increasingly deliver more value to enterprise users because of their belief that the user should benefit from the same experience and delight that he or she is used to on their iPhones and iPads at work,” Patro said. “Since they are one of the biggest consumer brands in the world, many of the enterprise users come across the iOS experience first in their personal lives.

“So these users automatically become the champions in their workplace for carrying their business tasks using an iPhone, iPad or Mac on the go. That’s why you will see programs like ‘Apple at Work’ being promoted in Retail Stores, Channel partners and also online on their website.”

Digital transformation, boosted productivity

I asked about other rising technology implementations, such as Robotic Process Automation (RPA).

Patro admitted that his company is seeing tremendous adoption of RPA — customers come on board to use SignEasy as a SaaS solution for one department, and then learn the value of using the the company’s APIs to create business-wide solutions to provide automated or simplified processes across their business.

“We have customers like Rappi who on-board thousands of restaurant partners every month on their website and they have eliminated the repetitive and mundane human work involved in getting the

SignEasy SignEasy

SignEasy is designed to automate workflows involving legal and commercial contracts.

signed by automating that workflow using SignEasy. In another example, we have customers like OnBlick with a SaaS solution for customers who simplify the HR processes required for compliance and onboarding of new employees,” he said.

Like many tech giants, Apple is becoming increasingly active in India, where SignEasy’s development center is based.

The importance of India

“Bangalore is also home to Apple’s app accelerator in India, the very first to open anywhere in the world, where Apple’s team works directly with app developers to build solutions on its platforms,” he noted. “This is a strong acknowledgement by Apple that it recognizes the skill that exists in India, especially for developing solutions on its platforms.”

He explained a little about how the tech industry is evolving in India, where demand for skilled and experienced developers is high.

“India is one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, with the tech industry being one of the biggest contributors. India is also the largest off-shore destination for IT services, so technology skill-development is a big focus for the country.”

India is also investing in the industry: “Programming is being inculcated at the grassroots level, with kids learning to code in schools of all sizes and in the smallest of towns,” Patro explained.

I’ll be reporting extensively on Apple technologies in the enterprise in this week as I’ll be at JAMF Software’s annual JNUC event, the world’s largest event for Apple pros in enterprise IT. To keep up with news from this event, please follow me on Twitter, or join me in the AppleHolic’s bar & grill and Apple Discussions groups on MeWe.

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.





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Introducing Project Cortex: The future of enterprise knowledge gets a big boost at Ignite

Today, at Microsoft Ignite 2019, Microsoft unveiled Project Cortex (final name to be announced in the first half of 2020), a new service in Microsoft 365 that uses AI to shape organizational data and organize it into shared topics like projects and customers. This announcement represents a glimpse into the future of knowledge management software – a big step in a vision that began in the 1990s when enabling technology first started to address this critical organization need.

Project Cortex: the realization of a vision of knowledge management software

Twenty-five years ago, I was the director of knowledge management at a global consulting firm. Our key goal was to make sure that as an organization, we knew what we knew and delivered that collective knowledge and experience to every client engagement. We relied on a collection of people activities (communities of practice), processes (a culture that encouraged knowledge re-use and a promotion culture that required the demonstration of knowledge leverage, not just revenue generation), and enabling technology (a collection of Lotus Notes databases that were frustratingly difficult to search – but were the best that we had at that time).

We recognized that people and their knowledge were our greatest assets and we invested in as many approaches as possible to help use technology to support expertise location and leveraging existing work and prior experiences. And we did a pretty good job back in 1995. Still, even with a culture that valued and rewarded knowledge re-use and the many programs and initiatives that we promoted to enable knowledge transfer, it was hard to get people to keep their expertise profiles up-to-date and to integrate the variety of knowledge assets, sources, and locations that we had – spread out over 9,000 people and multiple cities and countries.

We did have a vision, however, for a solution that would integrate our structured knowledge in a variety of databases and solutions and our less-structured knowledge in documents, and deliver that knowledge when and where our consultants could use it – on any device – to make better recommendations to our clients, to find expertise in any part of the company, and to make sure that we weren’t reinventing the wheel on every engagement.

Today’s announcement from Microsoft showcases a service that can make that vision a reality.

Project Cortex, a new service in Microsoft 365, turns content (structured and unstructured) into a knowledge network, delivering relevant knowledge to people across an organization through topic cards and topic pages. According to Microsoft, “the service brings innovations in smart content ingestion, to analyze documents and create sophisticated content models; machine teaching, to allow subject matter experts to teach the system how to understand semi-structured content; and knowledge retrieval, to make it easy for people to access the valuable knowledge that’s so often locked away in documents, conversations and videos.”

That challenge I mentioned about getting people to keep their profiles up-to-date is going to get some enhancements, too. Project Cortex will automatically augment the Microsoft 365 “people profile” with information from Project Cortex to dynamically associate expertise to individuals without harming any humans by asking them to keep their profile up to date!

Enabling knowledge networks in Project Cortex will take some training of the engine. But, in general, very few humans have to be harmed in the process of getting successful outcomes in the context of where you work. Project Cortex is designed work deliver knowledge in context – what you need, when you need it, in the flow of your work in the apps you use every day. This doesn’t mean that you don’t need to apply metadata to content. (As an Information Architect, I am pretty much required to say this, but it’s totally true – AI and human curation are much better together!)

There are plenty of cases where it’s really hard to extract metadata from humans – think about how hard it is to get people to update their profile data, even when they know they should – which is where the power of Project Cortex comes in to play. “Project Cortex in Microsoft 365 applies AI to empower people with knowledge and expertise in the apps they use every day. Cortex automatically organizes content across your teams and systems to connect topics like projects, products, processes and customers.”

Project Cortex is currently in preview with select customers. It is expected to be generally available in H1 2020. Pricing plans have not yet been announced, but it will be a premium experience for Microsoft 365 (which probably means that it could be included in the higher-end licenses or as an add-on to lower-end ones – but this has not yet been announced).

How it works

Here is an oversimplified explanation of how this all works. Project Cortex includes an ingestion engine where you effectively train the AI model based on your content. This includes internal content from SharePoint and file shares as well as external systems and other repositories. It automatically creates topic pages and knowledge centers based on this content. Topics can be enhanced by authorized editors and, most importantly, if you do not have permission to see the content curated by the topic – or even the topic itself – you will not see it.

This is key: Project Cortex respects all the permissions you have applied to your content and systems. Topic pages are based on the elegantly simple wiki-like pages in the modern SharePoint experience. Topic summary cards deliver knowledge from topics in the context of where you are working – across Outlook, Microsoft Teams and Office. If you are already leveraging SharePoint in Microsoft 365 for your intelligent intranet, using the topic cards will be a familiar experience. And if you aren’t using SharePoint in Microsoft 365, I have just one question:

Why not?

The metadata that’s applied to content – by AI or by experts – is managed in an updated Managed Metadata Service (MMS) that’s been extended to support tagging content across Microsoft 365. Managed metadata allows you define common terms in a taxonomy, including synonyms and multilingual support, to allow for precise tag definitions. Organizations that have used MMS taxonomy will be able to mine those tags to recognize topics in their content.

Here are some screen shots that demonstrate just some of the experiences in Project Cortex. Learn more in Microsoft’s blog post about Project Cortex.

project cortex in email Microsoft

Project Cortex connects topic cards to relevant terms in email.

project cortex in sharepoint page Microsoft

Project Cortex connects topic cards from within pages in SharePoint.

project cortex topic card Microsoft

Project Cortex automatically generates topic cards that an authorized user can enhance and adapt.

project cortex knowledge centers Microsoft

Project Cortex creates knowledge centers that users can explore independently.

project cortex web parts Microsoft

Project Cortex web parts allows Topic editors to easily enhance the automatically created topic pages.

But wait, there’s more …

Project Cortex is the next generation for knowledge management and while it’s getting a lot of attention in Orlando this week, it should also generate some buzz at KM World in Washington, D.C.  Chris McNulty is flying from Ignite to KMWorld in Washington, D.C. to deliver a keynote to my tribe of KM practitioners from across the globe.

Today is only the first day of Microsoft Ignite. There are more announcements and blog posts to come. Stay tuned to this blog. But if you can’t wait, you can participate in all of the action live by tuning in to Microsoft Ignite remotely. Every session is being recorded and will be available for streaming. Check out the Microsoft Tech Community for more information about how you can participate in the action from wherever you are.

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.



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Apple’s Catalyst will help bring Macs to the enterprise

With the launch of macOS Catalina, the promised wave of iPad-derived Catalyst apps has begun with a twinkle at enterprise Mac deployments.

Catalyst is a work in progress

Having toyed a little with some of these apps, I think it’s fair to describe Catalyst as a work in progress. While it makes it easier for developers to migrate iPad apps to the Mac, there are some inconsistencies. But it looks like Apple is aware of these and is committed to meeting those challenges.

Todd Benjamin, macOS product marketing director, says Apple is listening to developers and users and promises to provide them with “additional resources and support to help them create amazing Mac experiences with Mac Catalyst.”

In other words, Apple is committed to evolving the tools it provides.

Future improvements are likely to include the addition of more AppKit APIs to Catalyst, enabling developers to create more complex and nuanced apps, so the future looks good. It just needs building.

5 Catalyst apps to explore today

Apple has created a Mac App Store section where it is profiling select Catalyst apps, though not all such apps are included. (If there is an iPad app you use that would be useful on a Mac, you should check with the app developer to see whether they plan to make it available on both platforms.)

Anecdotally, I think many developers are waiting to see what the first ports are capable of before committing valuable resources – so they’ll be keen for user feedback to help them decide when, or if, the time is right.

Meanwhile, here are a smattering of Catalyst apps that may come in useful to iPad/Mac using enterprise professionals.

1. GoodNotes 5

GoodNotes 5 is a brilliant note taking app that lets you create notes on your iPad as if you were working with digital paper. It also offers a powerful iCloud-based document management system and notes are searchable using OCR.

There is a limitation to the Catalyst version in that while you can write with an Apple Pencil in GoodNotes on your iPad, you can’t do so on a Mac, where you must use a mouse, trackpad, or your (somewhat ironically) your iPad running in Sidecar mode.

However, the introduction of Mac support for the app should be useful to any mobile professional who may use their tablet to take notes on the road, then sit down at their Mac to tie all the information together. It costs $7.99.

2. Crew

This is a very useful app if you are managing teams. Crew is already in real-world use at some Dunkin Donuts, Planet Fitness, Wendys, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut franchises,

Crew seems particularly focused on retail deployments and includes management, messaging, engagement and scheduling tools. As the developers behind Crew explain it: “Crew is the first communications app designed specifically for the millions of workers who don’t have ready access to effective communication technology on the job.”

The move to make the app available on Macs absolutely reflects the growing use of Macs in enterprise IT. You can begin using the app for free, but you’ll need to pay for additional features.

3. Jira Cloud by Atlassian

A brilliant project management app, Jira Cloud is capable of scaling up to handle very large teams and is packed with tools and features to make task and project management as easy as those complex tasks can be.

This means you can handle multiple tasks, receive messages and notifications and collaborate on files, customize workflows and monitor things like customer feedback, service levels and project time.

It’s the kind of application project managers can live inside and now works just as well on a Mac, iPad or iPhone. The app is free to download but the service itself costs from $10/month.

4. Post-it

A lot of users seem to like the Post-it app for macOS. It lets you work with images of real notes captured with your camera, as well as virtual notes. This makes the app useful for brainstorming and the digital notes can be arranged, refined, organized and shared with teams, or exported to applications and cloud services.

It famously took the company just one day to port the iPad app to the Mac. And while it’s possible that more sophisticated note taking and brainstorming apps are available, this is also a great example of a distinctive brand finding a unique way to build business relevance in a digital age. Here’s the app.

5. Four Zoho apps

India’s Zoho Corporation has gone for Catalyst in a big way, introducing four apps: Sign, Invoice, Expense and Inventory. Each one links up to the relevant parts of Zoho’s cross-platform business-focused management toolkit, but is focused on the task.

Zoho Sign, for example, makes it easy to sign and share documents in a number of ways, including through cloud services, while Zoho books is an easy-to-use online accounting solution that streamlines bookkeeping and expenses/income tracking.

Zoho clients include (among many others) Amazon, Hyatt, L’Oreal, Suzuki, Netflix and Renault, so it is fair to see the decision to make these apps available to Macs as a reflection of how Apple’s solutions are now in wide use across enterprise IT.

You can download the apps for free, but you’ll need to invest in a Zoho account.

Coming soon

These first few enterprise-flavored apps may not change the world overnight, but I think their existence demonstrates how Apple is moving to amplify Mac adoption in the enterprise on the back of the success of the iPad.

I also believe that enterprises with their own proprietary iPad apps may want to take a look at the early iterations of Catalyst apps as they assess the benefits of introducing Mac versions of those apps to the increasingly Apple-centric world of enterprise IT.

Please follow me on Twitter, or join me in the AppleHolic’s bar & grill and Apple Discussions groups on MeWe.

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.





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Apple’s Catalyst will help bring Macs to the enterprise

With the launch of macOS Catalina the promised wave of iPad-derived Catalyst apps has begun with a twinkle at enterprise Mac deployments.

Catalyst is a work in progress

Having toyed a little with some of these apps it seems fair to describe Catalyst as a work in progress.

While it makes it easier for developers to migrate iPad apps across to the Mac, there are some inconsistencies, but it looks like Apple is aware of these and is committed to meeting those challenges.

Todd Benjamin, macOS product marketing director says Apple is listening to developers and users and promises it will provide them with “additional resources and support to help them create amazing Mac experiences with Mac Catalyst”.

In other words, Apple is committed to evolving the tools it provides

Future improvements are likely to include the addition of more AppKit APIs to Catalyst, enabling developers to create more complex and nuanced apps, so the future looks good – it just needs building.

5 Catalyst apps to explore today

Apple has created a Mac App Store section where it is profiling some selected Catalyst apps, though not all such apps are included.

If there is an iPad app you use that would be useful on a Mac, you should check with the app developer to see if they plan to make it available on both platforms.

Anecdotally, I think many developers are waiting to see what the first ports are capable of before committing valuable resources to the task – so they’ll be keen for user feedback to help them decide when, or if, the time is right.

Meanwhile, here are a smattering of Catalyst apps that may come in useful to iPad/Mac using enterprise professionals.

Brilliant note-taking: GoodNotes 5

GoodNotes 5 is a brilliant note taking app that lets you create notes on your iPad as if you were working with digital paper. It also offers a powerful iCloud-based document management system and notes are searchable using OCR.

There is a limitation to the Catalyst version in that while you can write with an Apple Pencil in GoodNotes on your iPad, you can’t do so on a Mac, where you must use mouse, trackpad, or your (somewhat ironically) your iPad running in Sidecar mode.

However, the introduction of Mac support for the app should be useful to any mobile professional who may use their tablet to take notes on the road, but then sits down at their Mac to tie all the information together. It costs $7.99.

A useful team management solution: Crew

This is a very useful app if you are managing teams. Crew is already in real world use at some Dunkin Donuts, Planet Fitness, Wendys, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut franchises,

Crew seems particularly focused on retail deployments and includes management, messaging, engagement and scheduling tools.

The developers behind Crew state: “Crew is the first communications app designed specifically for the millions of workers who don’t have ready access to effective communication technology on the job.”

The move to make the app available on Macs absolutely reflects the growing use of Macs in enterprise IT. You can begin using the app for free, but you’ll need to pay for additional features.

Project management powertool: Jira Cloud by Atlassian

A brilliant project management app, Jira Cloud is capable of scaling up to handle very large teams and is packed with tools and features to make task and project management as easy as those complex tasks can be.

This means you can handle multiple tasks, receive messages and notifications and collaborate on files, customize workflows and monitor things like customer feedback, service levels and project time.

It’s the kind of application project managers can live inside and now works just as well on a Mac, iPad or iPhone. The app is free to download but the service itself costs from $10/month.

Reminders for the rest of us: Post-it

Everyone seems to like the Post-it app for macOS.

It lets you work with images of real notes captured with your camera as well as virtual notes. This makes the app useful as a brainstorming app and the digital notes can be arranged, refined, organized and shared with teams, or exported to applications and cloud services.

It famously took the company just one day to port the iPad app to the Mac, and while it’s possible that more sophisticated note taking and brainstorming applications are available, this is also a great example of a distinctive brand finding a unique way to build business relevance in a digital age. Here’s the app.

A wave of apps from Zoho

India’s Zoho Corporation has gone for Catalyst in a big way, introducing four apps: Sign, Invoice, Expense and Inventory.

Each one of these apps links up to the relevant parts of Zoho’s cross-platform business-focused management toolkit, but is focused on the task.

Zoho Sign, for example, makes it easy to sign and share documents in lots of ways, including through cloud services, while Zoho books is an easy-to-use online accounting solution that streamlines bookkeeping and expenses/income tracking.

Zoho clients include (among many others) Amazon, Hyatt, L’Oreal, Suzuki, Netflix and Renault, so it is fair to see the decision to make these apps available to Macs as a good reflection of how Apple’s solutions are now in wide use across enterprise IT.

You can download the apps for free, but you’ll need to invest in a Zoho account.

Up next:

These first few enterprise-flavored apps may not change the world overnight, but I think their existence demonstrates how Apple is moving to amplify Mac adoption in the enterprise on the back of the success of the iPad.

I also believe that enterprises with their own proprietary iPad apps may want to take a look at the early iterations of Catalyst apps as they assess the potential benefits of introducing Mac versions of those apps to the increasingly Apple-centric world of enterprise IT.

Please follow me on Twitter, or join me in the AppleHolic’s bar & grill and Apple Discussions groups on MeWe.

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.





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7 Apple presentation secrets enterprise workers need

Apple’s competitors hate the company’s slick marketing, but enterprise workers should try to follow the path of distilled simplicity to help get their own messages across.

Seize the day

You have 90 seconds to capture your audience’s attention.

Practice your presentation, thank people who helped make it happen and try to be authentic and genuine. People always react better to authentic people. To the extent that authenticity has itself become an art form.

Don’t waste (other people’s) time

How often do you find a presentation slide shows so much information you don’t take any of it in? Apple doesn’t do this.

Almost every announcement I have seen tells me that when it wants to get its message across it focuses on one number (large font) and one description (small). And boosts the impact of the slide with an eye-catching high-quality image and short and punchy lists. Keep it short. Keep it simple.

A picture really is a thousand words – and video takes this to a different level.

Waste people’s time (for a reason)

There’s something else Apple knows.

Think about Apple’s marketing boss, Phil Schiller, who showed an incredibly crowded slide during the most recent iPhone 11 keynote. It contained so much information, not least news of Apple’s U1 (UWB) chip, which Apple still hasn’t told us much about.

The result? By hiding it in plain sight, Apple generated lots of speculation and publicity for a feature it has so far told us hardly anything about.

This is a great way to provoke publicity, but can also be used to hide things you need to disclose but don’t want to explain – put what you want to share on a crowded slide, focus on one item on the slide and click through to the next slide before people catch on.

Take people seriously

Presentations are like any other product. They can’t just be thrown together at the last minute (well, they can, but tend to be less effective) – so if you have the time it pays to iterate until the message you are sharing is distilled to its essence.

This kind of focus makes a difference in any business, including presentations. Why does what you want to say matter, who too, and how can you explain it better?

Apple’s former iPod VP Tony Fadell told Walter Isaacson ‘Steve Jobs once told me, “If you need slides, it shows you don’t know what you’re talking about.”’

“People who know what they’re talking about don’t use PowerPoint,” he also said.

Go deep. But don’t forget that it once took Jobs eight years to buy a sofa.

Build narrative, tell stories

Contextualize.

Why does your story matter? What does the statement you are making mean in context? Is it larger than or smaller than something people already experience every day?

The idea is that not only must every part of your presentation flow to the next, but that you also provide people with just enough information to put the data into context using ideas they already understand. Apple does this a lot.

I think one of the best examples of this was Steve Jobs, who introduced the original MacBook Air as being thinner than any other computer, before showing an image of the Mac in a brown manila envelope to drive his point home.

That single image sold a lot of Macs.

Just like the image of Steve waving the iBook through a hula hoop while remaining online created every Wi-Fi coffee shop and launched the move to wireless Internet. And sold Macs.

Be visual

Write your presentation. Then go through it in order to find out if anything you are trying to say can be expressed with an image. Ideally an image to help fix the claim inside the mind of the audience, along with a verbal statement to contextualize and explain it.

Keep it short!

Want more ideas?

I still think The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs by Carmine Gallo is a good place to start.

Please follow me on Twitter, or join me in the AppleHolic’s bar & grill and Apple Discussions groups on MeWe.

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.





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Here’s why there won’t be a quick enterprise blockchain revolution

While billions of dollars are being spent on blockchain, and that spending is expected to grow exponentially over the next five years, the distributed ledger technology will never spark a technology revolution in the enterprise where preference always favors centralized control.

“I don’t think we will ever see a revolution in the enterprise,” said Avivah Litan, a vice president of research at Gartner. “No one wants to give up authority. Think about it. It goes against an enterprise’s ability to control their own destiny. Full, complete blockchain is about no central authority. It’s just peer-to-peer.”

Litan was among analysts discussing tech trends shaping the future of IT and business at Gartner’s IT Symposium/Xpo 2019 this week. Among the hotter topics was blockchain, which currently is sliding into the “Trough of Disillusionment,” from which it won’t begin to emerge for at least another two years.

The 2019 Gartner, Inc. Hype Cycle for Blockchain Business Gartner

The 2019 Gartner Hype Cycle for Blockchain Business

Still, enterprises are eagerly exploring blockchain, according to Gartner, because C-level executives and IT managers see it as something truly innovative. And they’re trying to figure out how to use it, regardless of whether they actually need it.

“We have come across many companies who really want to explore blockchain but don’t have appropriate use cases for it,” she said. “It’s hard to tell people they don’t have a real use case for it. The users don’t really understand what blockchain does or doesn’t do. They just know they want to use it.”

Blockchain Gartner Hype Cycle Gartner

It will likely take another nine or so years before blockchain becomes fully scalable technically and operationally, according to Gartner. “Blockchain technologies have not yet lived up to the hype and most enterprise blockchain projects are stuck in experimentation mode,” Litan said.

By 2021, 90% of current enterprise blockchain platform implementations will require replacement within 18 months to remain competitive, secure and to avoid obsolescence, according to Gartner.

For blockchain to reach its potential as a distributed ledger for global business-to-business transactions, five things need to happen:

  1. Smart contracts must become simple to code and test to ensure they don’t have bugs and can be ported across various blockchain platforms.
  2. Smart contracts must be able to easily integrate with legacy enterprise systems, e.g. data “oracles” or APIs that connect blockchain to external data sources.
  3. Blockchain interoperability must become standardized so various platforms, such as Hyperledger, Ethereum, R3 Corda and others can communicate with each other.
  4. Blockchain must scale to compete with current financial transactional networks  that can handle thousands of operations per minute.
  5. Privacy services based on zero-knowledge proof concepts and private key management must also mature and develop methods that allow users to recover lost pass codes.

Private key management is seen as the Achilles’ heel of blockchain technology, Litan said, referring to the fact once a user loses their private key they no longer have access to the data, cryptocurrency or other assets connected to the latter.

A number of companies and consortiums are currently working to solve the private key problem as well as the scaling issue.

When blockchain’s core-enabling technologies and use cases evolve and mature, the result will be significant benefits for enterprises, including blockchain and IoT integration, decentralized web apps and blockchain user interface technologies and blockchain managed services.

Managed services today include Chainstack, IBM’s blockchain cloud, and Mangrovia’s Blockchain Solutions. The services allow organizations that lack technical expertise and infrastructure to support their own blockchain applications running in the cloud.

Also key to blockchain’s success will be its evolution into a combination of a permissioned or private platform and an open, public ledger. That, Litan said, will enable enterprises to communicate privately and behind the scenes on a permissioned ledger, while also enabling a public-facing application that allows users to securely view transactions.

Hadera Hashgraph is one example of a “hybrid” distributed ledger. The startup is a competitor to both permissioned blockchains such as Hyperledger and public platforms (such as Hyperledger Fabric & Sawtooth, R3 Corda, and others) and their commercial providers, which include AWS, IBM, Microsoft, Oracle.

At its mainnet launch in August, the Hadera Hashgraph claimed it could outperform both public blockchains and traditional financial and business networks.

Hadera Hashgraph is very important. It’s not a blockchain, but a blockchain equivalent with a lot of investment from different parties that want a more scalable architecture.

“There is no direct equivalent to Hedera Hashgraph today,” said Martha Bennett, a principal analyst at Forrester Research. Hedera has garnered support from telecom players and tech vendors, even those that have their own blockchain services. Indian tech giant’s Tata Communications, IBM, Deutsche Telekom, and FIS Global, which acquired WorldPay earlier this year, are among 10 companies on Hedera’s governing council.

Another hurdle for blockchain is regulatory oversight, which has increased over the past year since social networks, such as Facebook, announced plans to create blockchain-based financial networks over which its Libra cryptocurrency can be exchanged or used for online purchases.

Multi-national regulatory pushback against Facebook’s move to create a cryptocurrency payment network is slowing the project and caused supporters such as Visa, Mastercard and PayPal to back away. Last week, PayPal announced it was pulling out of Facebook’s Libra Alliance, the governing counsel for the blockchain initiative.

“These companies are at the mercy of regulators,” Litan said. “They don’t want to annoy them or do anything against them. It just shows you how threatened governments are by cryptocurrency and by Facebook.”

By 2023, blockchain will be scalable technically, and will support trusted private transactions with the data confidentiality required, Gartner’s 2019 Hype Cycle for Blockchain Technologies forecasts.

The developments are being introduced in public blockchains first. Over time, permissioned blockchains will integrate with public blockchains and start to take advantage of those improvements while supporting the membership, governance and operating model requirements of permissioned blockchains.

“When the technology is scalable and easy to use and you just write your application and you don’t care about your backend, then you’ll see a digital transformation for use cases like track and trace… or cross-border payments – where no one’s in control,” Litan said.



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