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SOTI’s Two Decade EMM Journey


March 13, 2015  


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The world of mobility was in a very different space 20 years ago when enterprise mobility management software vendor SOTI Inc. was first formed. Back then, its eventual revenue lifeline would be Pocket Controller Professional, a consumer product that contained core technology pieces that in one form or another are still in use today.

It is a success story that Carl Rodrigues, the founder and chief executive officer of the Mississauga, Ont.-based company never tires of talking about. In 1995, he was a software consultant and “hired hand” who decided it was time to try something new and build an actual product.

Working out of the basement of his home, Pocket Controller Professional, a device that handled remote control of mobile devices, morphed into Pocket Controller Enterprise, which in turn was eventually renamed MobiControl that would evolve into the flagship product that remains as relevant today as it did then.

In an interview with the Financial Post published last year, he explained how MobiControl came about: “While working on PDAs, I was frustrated at having to tap the screen one character at a time. So I figured out how to attach a keyboard and see the screen of the device on my desktop. What really happened was that I had built a technology for remote control of mobile devices.”

Today, SOTI is a major player in the Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) market with upwards of 14,000 enterprise customers and “millions of devices managed worldwide.

“What is playing out on the modern stage is not new to us,” says Rodrigues. “We have been able to live this journey once before. It is different this time, but also there are similarities.

“Enterprises are now trying to leverage the capability of mobility. The next stage is offence – what can I do with these devices to become more productive, what can I do to gain more market share as a business? How do I change my business to leverage the benefits of this new technology?

“As soon as they start thinking about that, all the desktop apps are slowly, but surely, going to morph on to the mobile devices and there will be new and different apps that are possible because of mobility. Now your office is your mobile device.”

The changing landscape was certainly on Roula Vrsic’s mind, SOTI’s chief marketing officer, in January during an interview with Connections+ from a conference in New York City on the day version 12 of MobiControl was launched.

Features of V12 include:

  • Elimination or minimization of common mobile device deployment and management tasks, allowing “zero-intervention provisioning,” policy administration and the ability to assign configurations over-the-air based on a broad range of criteria or LDAP attributes. This saves businesses up to $100 per device in provisioning costs, the company claims.
  • Device provisioning and remote support for Zebra Technologies peripherals.
  • Enhanced support for Apple, Kyocera, Lenovo, Sony, LG, Samsung, Zebra Motorola APIs, as well as Windows Phone 8.1.
  • Over-the-air device configurations for e-mail, Wi-Fi, VPN etc. at a granular level based on various criteria including device properties, custom attributes and data, and more. This takes the burden off IT as users can now enrol their own devices quickly with zero IT intervention through a simple URL, the company says.
  • An updated user experience that optimizes device management across operating systems using advanced profiles and policies.

“With mobility quickly becoming the nerve centre of IT, total cost of ownership is “”key because mobility is being used in every area of the business,” she said. “It has certainly moved well beyond BYOD. Lines of business are looking at it to drive efficiencies.

Vrsic pointed to American Airlines, an organization that was part of the V12 beta program and has 40,000+ Android and Apple
mobile devices in use including iPads, barcode scanners and
Zebra printers. (see photo above.).

The airline is using MobiControl 12 to manage all aspects of its mobility strategy, be it in the air or on the ground. “They are trend setters in terms of how they are leveraging mobility today,” she said. “I don’t think there is one area of their operation that is not mobilized at this point.”

It also did not take the company long to release another upgrade.

At the recent Mobile World Congress 2015 in Barcelona, Spain, SOTI announced support for Google Android For Work and Samsung KNOX 2.4 and launched V12.1 of MobiControl.

Android for Work creates a secure Work Profile to isolate and protect data and manage the flow of work information, Google says, adding that “people can use approved work apps right alongside their personal apps while IT administrators can manage
business data on all Android devices.” Meanwhile, Samsung KNOX allows companies to secure both employee and company owned devices by creating a secure container for corporate email, files, and apps while still allowing employees to have personal apps and data on the device.

In a release issued on March 2, SOTI said Samsung devices enrolled in a BYOD program can be configured so that IT only has access and control of the secure workspace, ensuring privacy of user data.

It added that devices such as the new Samsung Galaxy S6 can be enrolled with a split billing policy and configured so that cellular data
usage for enterprise content is billed separately from personal
data usage.

In a blog entitled Android Gets Down To Business  SOTI said security and privacy can reside together: “End-users will be happy to know that there is virtually zero access to their personal data. And corporations and businesses can breathe easy and be assured that all corporate data is housed within a separate and secure workspace via profile separation, enhanced data security and that cannot be accessed by personal apps.

“Productivity and efficiency are key factors to the enterprise’s success and ability to grow. Employee productivity is enhanced by enabling secure access to corporate resources for Android, empowering the end-user to continue using a device they’re already accustomed to with the full support of the IT department. Also, IT can fully manage what applications are available inside the workspace without impacting the native experience for employees.”

According to the company, the added layers of complexity stretch well beyond the capabilities of IT today, and basic
EMM offerings do not fulfill the requirements needed to provision,
manage, secure and provide report support tools when everything is an endpoint.

“If not leveraging the right tools to manage mobile users, processes and endpoints; however, mismanaged mobility deployments can siphon intended profits and ROI due to significant TCO, negatively impacting on adoption, your bottom line and your business.”


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