SAP Really Can Be Simple and Seamless with Kinvey and Google Cloud Platform – Today

sapmadesimple2In Bill McDermott’s keynote at Sapphire last week, he stated:

Digitization is affecting all businesses and all industries. So how do you make this transition to digital SIMPLE? What does a simple business look like? They are data-driven and seamless. Data is the foundation of every digital enterprise. We have got to solve this problem. 98% of the data in your enterprises is dark, and it’s caused not only a digital issue, but moreover the digital divide has now moved into a data divide and we have to bridge this divide and change the course in your company. The companies that get out early are going to be those companies that have the tools to serve their people and customers and the ones that don’t are going to be playing catchup for a long time.

We agree that digital transformation needs to be simple and seamless and that the companies that execute on this are getting first mover advantage. For most enterprises looking to mobilize SAP now, SAP requires that they undergo a migration to SAP HANA because the reality is most installed base systems were built for the web, not mobile. Typical projects to mobilize SAP applications are hampered by:

  • Protracted development cycles
  • Difficulty integrating mobile-friendly protocols (REST) with SAP legacy protocols (RFCs)
  • High latency times to access SAP (seconds vs. mobile-required milliseconds)
  • Lack of offline operation support
  • An absence of SAP knowledge among mobile developers

Companies using SAP need to start their digital initiatives now — the longer they wait to introduce process improvements and new workflows supported by mobile devices, the more they risk being outpaced by competitors and new market entrants. SAP knows there is high demand, as evidenced by their recent partner news with Apple. But their partnership addresses a very small piece of the market (iOS), requires expensive SAP HANA upgrades, and isn’t available until later this year. SAP customers are in pursuit of simpler and more seamless ways to mobilize their existing SAP data today.

Kinvey’s new capability called Mobile Data Connect for SAP lets organizations get started building mobile apps on SAP systems today at a fraction of the cost and 100x the performance of what SAP can deliver now.  

Mobile Data Connect for SAP is available on Google Cloud Platform and provides an out-of-the-box solution that:

  • Abstracts the complexities of interfacing with SAP from the mobile app developer with SDKs that are available across 13 mobile app development platforms for native, hybrid, and mobile web app delivery
  • Provides pre-built modules for advanced client-side caching, syncing, and encryption algorithms to meet the needs of demanding offline field workforce mobile use cases
  • Equips SAP application owners with a fast, simple, seamless and secure way to make SAP data available to mobile applications
  • Accelerates data delivery by 100X for sub-second, mobile-friendly speeds. Secure cloud caching enables sub-second screen performance of the app, even when the SAP system response is in the 10s of seconds

The entire solution can be up and running in under five minutes and requires no code at all. We know that sounds too good to be true, so we figured you’d want us to prove it. Check out a demo of Mobile Data Connect for SAP in action:

 

The solution runs on Google Cloud Platform infrastructure, delivering the scale and performance needed to support the next generation of mobile use cases no matter what the industry.

As Anubhav Gupta, Director of SAP applications at Bell and Howell and an early user of Mobile Data Connect for SAP, told us, “If you’ve worked with SAP systems as long as I have, you know that it’s no simple thing to extend an ERP system with mobility. With Kinvey, we’ve been able to extend our SAP landscape for new use cases, and the performance has been unbelievable. I went from 14-second SAP data access down to 400-millisecond mobile-friendly data access.”

If you’re an SAP customer and frustrated with SAP’s lack of support for mobility, let us know.

Cognitive Computing is Redefining the Insurance Customer Experience

8587b285-iphone-screenshot-newThe insurance industry is changing: alongside fast-paced digitization of the insurance customer experience, insurers are dealing with changing demographics, unpredictable economic climates, and increasingly capable and crafty people looking to compromise data security.

Yet consumers don’t care. They demand great experiences and aren’t afraid to jump ship when their needs are not met. In fact, according to a survey by IBM, a full 41% of respondents said they had left an insurer because of a poor customer experience. Insurers’ number one priority must be customer satisfaction, or they’re doomed to fail.

As the demographics of insurance customers starts to include Gen X and Gen Y, customer interaction preferences are changing. A surprising number of millenials want to forego in-person or voice interaction entirely: according to J.D. Power, 27% of Gen Y-ers want to interact with their insurers entirely through digital self-service. It’s not just the youngest customer segment that wants this, either – substantial numbers of Gen X-ers (23%), Boomers (12%), and Pre-Boomers (6%) also want digital-only customer experiences.

The big problem here is scale. Though digital experiences provide massive amounts of data that can uncover valuable patterns and insights to help insurers make better decisions about their customers, traditional analytics solutions struggle with the unstructured data and non-standardized semantics these digital channels provide. And organizations can’t afford thousands of employees to sift through and make sense of the data — automation is key to keep operational costs low.

Cognitive computing will be the game changer that unlocks this potential. Through solutions that can understand natural language, learn and build knowledge, and communicate more naturally with customers than programmatic systems, organizations can create customer experiences that automatically engage with the customer, discover insights and understand customer needs, and make cost-effective, appropriate decisions for the customer — without requiring an expensive human-based process on the backend.

Kinvey partner VirtusaPolaris has already built a ready-to-go, prepackaged mobile app that leverages cognitive computing to redefine the insurance customer experience. Sara is an insurance risk advisor app and personal assistant that helps customers find the best insurance policy for their needs. Check out Sara in action:

Want to explore how cognitive computing can help your organization out-innovate your competitors and provide your customers with the digital self-service experience they’re requesting? Kinvey and VirtusaPolaris are hosting a joint webinar with Forrester analyst Ellen Carney, an expert on strategies, technologies, adoption trends, and best practices of property and casualty, life, group, and health insurers, on June 7. Sign up here.

Sign Up for the Webinar

Three lessons for the enterprise from Xamarin Evolve 2016

evolve2016We recently saw the fourth installment of the largest cross-platform mobile conference in the world, and the excitement in Orlando was palpable. Straight off the high of the Microsoft acquisition, over 1,500 developers, industry leaders, and Xamarin experts came together to discuss all things Xamarin and the future of mobile apps.

It was good to hear that even at a developer conference like Xamarin Evolve, the enterprise got a shout-out in the keynote. Nat Friedman observed correctly that if you want to build high-quality apps that will transform your business, you need an intelligent cloud to power these experiences. So let’s dig into what that means in real life by exploring three common themes that kept coming back throughout the sessions and across the vendor booths.

First, you need a mobile backend that is easy to spin up, easy to scale and easy to manage. Companies like Kinvey, Couchbase and Microsoft all provide a backend for your mobile app, but beware: The devil’s in the details, not all of them are a true mBaaS stack offering fully managed mobile backend services. The session on Azure App Services showed that Azure’s “App Service” is configuration wizard on top of Azure’s infrastructure-as-a-service, where the developer manually has to choose web server tiers, code up an ASP.net backend, and configure a SQL Server database for storage. In contrast, Kinvey’s fully managed mBaaS platform comes with a turn-key secure API, storage backend for data and files, integrated engagement features such as push notifications and the ability to use no-code connectors to third-party data and auth systems, all managed by a full-time devops team that takes care of availability and scaling for you.

Second, the ability for the app to be able to function offline was a common theme across many of the technical sessions at Evolve, and across the many vendors in the exhibition hall.

By the way, going offline is the easy part. Coming back online is where the magic happens. Which records need syncing back? How do you prevent the app pulling down the full dataset over and over? How do you resolve conflicts when multiple parties, both online and offline, edit the same record?

It was striking to see how much attention across the conference was dedicated to offline functionality. Various vendors all implemented the same requirement with different client-side implementations. Couchbase allows you to code a client-side map-reduce to enable offline querying, while Kinvey’s new “v3” SDKs –available not just for Xamarin but also for native iOS, native Android as well as various javascript-based hybrid platforms– feature a simple to use “datastore” object type that can be configured in various ways: as a full offline sync for field-technician use-cases where the workplace has no network at all, with a delta-sync based on on-the-fly last-modified-time comparisons to reduce network traffic for when those technicians come back online; or as a cache to accelerate repeated fetches and to support the app’s continued responsiveness when you step into an elevator for a minute or so.

And finally, the mBaaS platform needs to be connected to your (often on-prem) data and authentication systems. Where Evolve exhibitors such as Zumero focus on specific systems like SQL Server, Kinvey has a growing list of no-code connectors to many enterprise authentication and data systems, including connectors to cloud-based systems such Salesforce, ADFS and Sharepoint365, and connectors to on-prem systems such as Oracle, SAP, SQL Server and Active Directory. On top of that, Kinvey provides a generic REST connector as well as an option to run your own javascript connectors inside a Kinvey-managed PaaS.

Kinvey is the only mBaaS provider that provides all three features critical to an enterprise mobile strategy: a turnkey mBaaS platform that doesn’t require you to think about individual components such as databases, PaaS platforms, webservers; an easy-to-use SDK that includes intelligent offline sync for Xamarin and many other mobile development platforms; and a rich set of connectors to enterprise data and authentication systems such as SAP, Oracle, Sharepoint, Salesforce, and more.

Kinvey Launches Xamarin 3.0 SDK Early Adopter Program

Our Xamarin 3.0 SDK Early Adopter Program is now open for registration. This new version of the SDK features enhanced offline operation and new flexible and granular data sync policies to support field service and other app use cases that lack good network connectivity for extended periods of time.

Less than 30% of the U.S. workforce sits at a desk. Field workforce mobilization is a hot use case for many industries including logistics, facilities management, manufacturing, pharma, food service, and others. More than just accessing the right data at the right time, mobile features allow field workers to optimize their schedule, receive on-site instructions, capture data, take pictures, use dictation, and complete transactions while on the road in real-time. Contextualizing the user experience increases both field service and back office operational efficiency while improving overall customer service.

Kinvey’s Xamarin SDK allows developers to build cross-platform apps that can work with data completely offline, and synchronize that data on-demand with their backend systems once good connectivity is restored.

Our Xamarin SDK has supported caching and offline data storage since the beginning in v1.0. The v3.0 SDK enhances these capabilities by providing more granular options with simplified APIs that provide streamlined setup to support a richer user experience with little to no effort. To support caching and offline data storage in your app, all you need to do is select the type of data store (shown below) you wish to use based on your app’s use case. The SDK will handle the configuration of your storage, policies, etc.

DataStoreType(s) options:

  • You want a copy of some (or all) the data from your backend to be available locally on the device and you’d like to sync it periodically with the backend: use DataStoreType.Sync
  • You want data stored on the device to optimize your app’s performance and/or provide offline support for short periods of network loss: use DataStoreType.Cache
  • You want the data in your backend to never be stored locally on the device, even if it means that the app cannot support offline usage: use DataStoreType.Network

Should your app use case require more control over how data is managed, we have even more granular and flexible configuration options provided in the 3.0 SDK.

Synchronization

The sync and push APIs allow you to to synchronize the data on the device with the backend.

Calling the sync API on a datastore kicks off a bi-directional synchronization of data between the SDK and the backend. First, the SDK pushes local changes to the backend. Subsequently, the SDK pulls data in the collection from the backend and stores it on the device. You can provide a query as a parameter to the sync API, to restrict the data that is pulled from the backend.

The push API initiates a uni-directional push of changes from the device to the backend. It differs from sync since it does not retrieve any data from the backend. You can call push on a Sync or a Cache datastore. You can also retrieve a count of entities modified locally and pending a push to the backend.

Delta Set Caching

The SDK implements a mechanism to optimize the amount of data retrieved from the backend. When you use a Sync or Cache datastore, data requests to the backend only fetch data that changed since the previous update. We call this mechanism “Delta Set Caching”.

Delta set caching is enabled by default on all Sync and Cache datastores for improved data delivery performance.

Get started today

Securely mobilizing corporate data for field workers is no longer an option – it’s a requirement to compete. Supporting mobile use cases that require offline operation and data sync is hard. Why waste your time developing the caching and sync plumbing? By using Kinvey, you can focus on designing your app experience and be assured that the mobile platform is there to support your needs.

Our Xamarin 2.0 SDK is available in our Dev Center today. Contact us to enroll in the Xamarin 3.0 SDK Early Adopter Program.

High Expectations, Impossible Deadlines: Building a Mobile Prototype…In One Month

NS-screensThis article was originally posted on the Venado Technologies blog.

The Challenge

A customer came to us in the middle of November and told us about an opportunity to show one of their business units how current mobile technologies could be used to solve a business problem quickly and efficiently. “No problem”, we said. “How fast do they need it?”, we asked. “Before the end of the year”, was the response!

As we went through the usual excuses of; “what about Thanksgiving and Christmas”, “our developers are busy on other projects”, “we don’t have a design document”, “we don’t have a database”, services, etc., etc., etc. The customer said they need it by the end of the year and wanted to know if we were up for the challenge, or not. Of course we are up for the challenge! Sign the agreement and let’s get started.

The Objectives

Visibility was the key. The business unit had contractors and employees who were getting work done the old fashion way, with paper and e-mail. However, the dispatchers had no visibility into the activities of the techs once the work orders were sent out. In some cases they were finding out about problems that were preventing the tech from accomplishing the work long after the due date. The nature of this client’s business was such that if their technician’s job isn’t done on time, it could cause catastrophic results.

In order to achieve the goal of better visibility, the customer needed to have a mobile application that could deliver work orders, in priority sequence, to the field workforce and collect the necessary data, in real time, about the work activities in the field. Visibility is a two-way street; the users needed improved insights into the work so they could be more effective. Therefore, the application would need to provide them the ability to view locations on a large map, view site details on a detailed map view, and report back to the office any details or problems about the job. Further, all of this would have to be done while tracking the status of the work order, viewable by a manager in an office in real time, on a web based dashboard.

work-order-template

The Team

We immediately brought our team together including:

One experienced mobile application developer focused on building screens
One experienced mobile application developer focused on functionality and application processes
One UI/UX designer
One database/services expert to work with our mBaaS partner and handle database set up
One web developer to build the web dashboard and widgets

The Tools

The Backend

We selected Kinvey as our mBaaS platform, allowing us to utilize their data store for the database and pre-existing services for user administration, location services and more. Kinvey also provided us with a solution engineer to help with the project and stood up an instance of the platform within 24 hours. A testament to Kinvey’s ease of use is that we had a successful implementation with limited preparation time, insufficient resource availability and a team lacking experience with the product,. Kinvey also allowed us to build the mobile application, first connected to Kinvey, with the ability to easily connect to production data sources and services in the future if the application were to be migrated to a production environment.

NSdashboard

The Front-end

Xamarin.Forms was used on the mobile side to build the app, which the client requested on iOS. Using Xamarin.Forms allows us to quickly build the app while mitigating any risk of mobile platform changes throughout the app’s lifecycle. If the client ever needed the application to work on Android or Windows Phone, we can protect their investment with up to 99% of the code being shared among all three platforms.

NS-screens

The Solution

The solution was built in thirty-one calendar days, through December! This included a fully functional, native iOS mobile app, a web-based management dashboard for dispatchers, and a high performance backend to pull it all together in real time.

Wrap up

The expectations for mobile are greater than any enterprise technology in our time. Business leaders, customers and end users alike have an insatiable appetite for business productivity improvement through mobile. To accomplish the goals of today, we can’t use the methods of the past. We must take advantage of every tool in our bag with the latest methods and strategies.

Venado employs our Enterprise Mobile Stack which is a collection of tools, combined with our methodology, aimed at giving large enterprises better results for their investments in mobile. Creating this “app factory”, capable of producing enterprise-grade applications in less time, provides the agility and supportability modern IT teams need to keep up with their business customers.

Leveraging this approach to mobile app development is what allows us to achieve extraordinary results for our clients. It’s not about just building an app…it’s about having a strategy to build apps at scale. Venado Technologies and our global team of mobile experts can help you achieve outstanding results in your organization as well.

Digital Transformation in Energy Management: Congratulations to Deepinder Singh

On April 14th, Deepinder Singh, CEO of 75F, received the Technology Inventor award at the Titans of Technology ceremony hosted by the The Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal.

We congratulate Deepinder for this achievement. 75F has been customer of Kinvey’s since the beginning and we are proud to back such a Technology Titan driving digital transformation in the energy and utility field.

75F is an innovative building automation system that makes light commercial buildings more comfortable and energy efficient. 75F harnesses the Internet of Things to make smart HVAC devices that are self-optimizing to make people more comfortable while dramatically increasing energy efficiency.

75F transforms the thermostat’s status from a ‘dumb device on the wall’ to a smart control system that goes beyond simply regulating temperature and provides comfort in every room using dynamic airflow balancing via smart vents.

75F overview

At the heart of the 75F system are its Smart Algorithms and the Kinvey Mobile Backend as a Service (MBaaS) solution. Dynamic Airflow Balancing™ is achieved with three Internet-connected devices that work in harmony to sense, analyze, and control airflow. As a result, air flows only where and when it is needed so temperatures are comfortable and energy is saved. Online data portals enable facility managers and contractors to access remote controls, data, and diagnostic tools.

Visit the 75F website for more information on this innovative IoT solution: http://www.75f.io/.

Announcing the HIPAA Compliant mBaaS on Google Cloud Platform

kinvey-hipaa-graphic-textToday we are excited to announce a HIPAA compliant instance of Kinvey on Google Cloud Platform. With dramatic increase in mobile app usage by patients, physicians, and consumers, intense pressure for healthcare organizations to reduce costs while improving outcomes, and increased HIPAA regulatory oversight and fines, we’re seeing increasing demand for cloud-based mobile solutions. Our HIPAA compliant mBaaS was created to address these needs.

Our new solution provides healthcare providers, payers and pharmaceutical and life sciences companies with a secure, compliant and complete platform for all of their mobile and responsive web apps. Given that it’s delivered as a fully-managed service, running on Google Cloud Platform, customers can focus on delivering their apps instead of building, managing, securing, and patching infrastructure – significantly reducing IT CAPEX and OPEX costs and dramatically reducing app time to market. Kinvey ensures adherence to all aspects of the HIPAA Security Rules, and will sign a Business Associate Agreement with customers to cover the Kinvey service and underlying infrastructure.

Kinvey on Google Cloud Platform is available today! Sign up here.

Google also has a blog post with some more information about this new collaboration between Kinvey and Google — check it out.