Richard Esposito

by Natalie Miller • @natalieatWIS

Leading mobile strategies embrace analytics, Internet of Things: A Q&A with IBM GM Richard Esposito

Published May 28, 2014


It’s no longer enough to base your mobile strategy around one device or a single app. Organizations need to establish competitive differentiators and seek out ways to create mobile strategies that drive innovation and revenue, as well as engage customers and fosters brand awareness.

IBM has gained momentum off its IBM MobileFirst initiative and is poised to help organizations develop a complete mobile enterprise. This year, the tech giant will continue to work with clients to focus on their end-to-end enterprises, while also increasing attention to analytics and the Internet of Things.

Insights Magazine sat down with Richard Esposito, General Manager of GTS Mobility Services for IBM, at IBM Impact 2014 to learn about Big Blue’s mobile vision and how organizations can leverage services to formalize a mobile plan that increases customer engagement, accelerates productivity, and benefits their brands. Esposito is focused on delivering mobile solutions to businesses of all sizes, with specific attention to retail, banking, telecom, automotive, healthcare, government, energy and utilities, and transportation.

In this Q&A, he shares how organizations should examine and scrutinize their own mobile enterprises, from infrastructure readiness to specific app building, including three steps to building a mobile strategy. He also delves into IBM’s mobile vision for the future and what tools organizations can use to realize their mobility potential.

Insights Magazine: What kind of shift are you seeing in your clients as far as their mobile focus?

Richard Esposito: [At GTS, Global Technology Services] we built out a portfolio of services and solutions, and we partner with our software group colleagues and our GBS consulting colleagues to deliver those solutions. Some examples of those solutions would be a mobile infrastructure consulting service to help clients address the challenges around, ‘How do I get my infrastructure ready to become a mobile enterprise?’ And what I would tell you is that three to five years ago it was focused around the device: ‘What do I do with the device? What’s the policy? What’s the security on the device?’ And that’s still somewhat true, but now they’re looking at more than that. They’re focused on, ‘How do I generate new sources of revenue?’ ‘Do I have the right network, security, and applications?’ 

IM: So these are all conversations organizations should have even before they begin to consider what mobile apps to build?

Esposito: Yes, exactly. Some of these conversations are parallel; it really depends on the entry-point dialogue that we have with our client. Some clients may come to us and just say, ‘Can you help me do the device management?’ Sure, but by the way, we do other things as well. We can help you paint the vision on what you would like to do to become a mobile enterprise as a retailer or a banking institution.  We have advisory services to help clients think through their vision, strategy, and roadmap. We believe that it’s our responsibility to help a client think through, ‘What are the right applications? What is your strategy? What is your vision in becoming a mobile enterprise?’ And then, ‘What are the new ways that you generate new sources of revenue through the use of this technology?’ 

3 steps to a robust mobile strategy>>


Esposito gives his advice to organizations looking to build out a complete mobile business strategy:

1. Think big. “You need to create a vision and a strategy,” he says. “It may only be an 18 month horizon, but you have to have a vision and a strategy. You need to know what it means to be a mobile enterprise as a retailer or a banking institution or a healthcare organization.”

2. Start small. Pick a project; pick a set of applications that you can demonstrate the return on that investment. So, really start with a set of projects that will generate some visible return and so start small.

3. Act now. You have to go fast. “As I talk across industries, enterprises are moving forward with some form of mobile initiatives today,” he says.

“It’s simple,” he says of his steps. “That’s what they really need to do, and we can help them do that. We can help them paint the vision, we can help them select the project, and we can help them get started.  That’s exactly what we want to be able to help our clients do.”

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So, the conversation has gone way past, ‘How do I manage the device?’ It really has gone to, ‘How do I generate new sources of revenue? How do I improve the productivity of my employees? How do I connect better with my end consumers? How do I connect better with my business partners and my ecosystem? How do I manage my brand? How do I create a different experience on the device?’ And that’s exactly what we are helping clients solve.

IM: It does seem the conversation is shifting. For companies today, it’s not just about what app to build and then figure out how to build it; it’s about the whole strategy. Can you talk about how your team helps with that vision?

Esposito: Sure, I’ll give you a real example. So, we’re working with a retailer today, which is looking to improve the overall shopping experience of their customers. Today, a lot of people shop online. If Rich Esposito goes online, I might shop for and buy some shirts and some ties, and there’s massive amounts of information from my online shopping. Then when I go into the store, there’s ability for the retailer to use all of that online shopping data about me and my buying patterns and connect that with my in-store shopping. Today we have a solution, called Presence Zone, which brings together that online shopping and in-store shopping.

Let me tell you exactly how that works and what we do. So we work with the retailer and help determine what exactly they would like to do and how they want to change that consumer in-store shopping experience. We’ll develop the applications around that. The applications typically will work in such a way that when I, Rich Esposito, now walk into the store, I will get a push notification that will allow me to opt-in or opt-out of their network. So if I choose to opt-in and I want you to recognize me in the store, that now brings all of that online shopping information available to the sales professional in the store. So they now recognize that Rich Esposito is present in the store. They have some view of my buying preferences. They might provide push notifications to me about sales or discounts on the shirts and ties that I was just buying a little while ago and direct me over to the men’s department. This is great for me because I want to be as efficient as possible when I’m in-store shopping. So, those are the types of solutions that we are bringing to clients. That’s a retail example, but it’s absolutely applicable in banking or healthcare or other industries where you’re able now to bring together this type of location-based technology. We’ll implement the location-based sensors, networks, and the Wi-Fi technology to provide this service.

IM: It seems to me that there could be a lot of business applications for this … a supermarket, for example.

Esposito: It would be a really great idea for supermarkets or even shopping malls. Malls are absolutely interested in this. Keep in mind, a shopper has the option to opt-out. You can choose to deselect being recognized as you walk into the store. But, through the sensor-based technology they can still determine that a person is in that department and they can now begin to identify traffic patterns. Knowing how many people actually walk through the men’s department or how many people walk through the household department is a benefit to businesses because now they can deploy sales professionals to those departments at the right time given the traffic patterns. Then they can start to understand linger time, which is important for a retailer, to determine how long people linger around a particular display.  This generates a wealth of information for a retailer, and that’s just one example of how we are engaging clients. This is beyond device management. It really is, for them, thinking through, ‘Who is their consumer and how do we help create a unique and different experience for the consumer to make them want to come back and do shopping in a different way?’

IM: Are there security implications? What is IBM doing to address security concerns?

Esposito: We have a whole security services division within IBM. We think of security in a number of different dimensions. Certainly from a user perspective—‘Do I have the security of my information? Is it private? Is there security around me as an individual, my social security number?’—all those types of things. Absolutely we have services around that. Then there is security around the policies for the enterprise. So I need to make sure—my applications, the data, the device, the network, the full infrastructure—we have security around that as well. And IBM has services on that also—we have application and development testing services. We have a team of security subject matter experts, who test the security of a mobile application before it goes into production. They will really test this device, really stress test it. Try to really determine whether or not the application or any of the data can be breached. That’s a great security service we offer today for our clients because they want to make sure that those mobile applications are secure before they provide them on the device.

So, security, I think, is always a concern. Every time I talk about mobility, clients bring it up. There’s huge concern about security and privacy, and I think it is evolving over time, but we definitely have a set of services to help our clients address those concerns.

IM: So, where is IBM’s mobility focus for the rest of 2014?

Esposito: We recently announced a set of services, and we talked about one, which is our MobileFirst Infrastructure Consulting Services, which helps enterprises evaluate their existing mobile infrastructure environment, identify gaps and build a comprehensive mobile strategy and roadmap that meets their business and technical needs. Using industry-specific points of view, IBM guides the journey, focuses clients on approaches that are specific to their business and recommends solutions that achieve the client’s service management, cloud and workplace objectives.

We also announced IBM MobileFirst Application Platform Management Services. With apps emerging as a key growth area for their business, enterprises are creating their own developer communities. With these new services, IBM will help clients build, configure, and fully manage their developer community’s app dev environment, supported by both software and a skilled team of experts.

Full details on IBM MobileFirst services>>


IBM’s MobileFirst portfolio of services also includes:

IBM MobileFirst Managed Mobility Services, which provides enterprises with scalable, secure, reliable and flexible management of their mobile infrastructure and wireless endpoints. With these services, IBM helps clients reduce the risk, complexity and cost of managing their bring-your-own-device (BYOD) and corporate device programs while freeing up the client’s IT resources to focus on core business needs. Leveraging technology from its acquisition of Fiberlink, IBM has enhanced the offering with Mobility as a Service (MaaS) as its primary-go-to-market focus, leveraging MaaS360 and an ecosystem of IBM business partners, to deliver cloud-based solutions.

IBM MobileFirst Device Procurement and Deployment Services allows clients to simplify the selection and ordering of devices and install the client’s tailored platforms, apps and service components. Devices can be shipped directly to employees and include services for ongoing secure management, customer service and predefined refresh cycles with disposal or repurposing.

MobileFirst Network Services enables customers with a deep understanding of resources required to deploy a secure, scalable and reliable network infrastructure to support the unique demands of their mobile business. As a result, clients can identify the new unique components and design considerations that must be taken into account to establish a secure mobile enterprise. For example, customers can pinpoint what type of mobile security is required to sustain the increased network traffic volume generated by mobile apps and data.

MobileFirst Collaboration Services provides a suite of productivity solutions including email, instant messaging, voice and video that enable mobile employees to exchange information, locate experts and become more productive. Clients can benefit from design, implementation and managed services to help them stay connected and perform business transactions from any mobile device, anywhere. As a result, employees become more collaborative, creative and effective, driving growth, customer loyalty, cost reductions and higher employee satisfaction.

Mobile Virtualization Services enables clients to leverage virtualization technology to design, implement and manage distributed end users. Using this service, end users can access platform independent, hosted applications and full client images.  This comprehensive offering includes assessment, design and implementation and managed services delivered on premises. Devices included in this service include laptops, workstations, tablets and thin clients.

IBM Smart and Embedded Device Security helps enterprises secure their emerging mobile applications and enables device manufacturers to address concerns around safety, stability, service cost and intellectual property protection of smart and embedded devices. IBM uses threat modeling, source code analysis and penetration testing of device and application, including firmware and kernel module security, to identify and fix vulnerabilities. This enables the client to prevent hackers from gaining root access to their devices and increases the integrity and availability of their security services.

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Going forward, clients are looking for additional services, such as analytics services and machine-to-machine services.

For infrastructure analytics services, we will provide a dashboard of key indicators to help clients manage, monitor, and analyze components of their infrastructure to support mobile applications such as network up-time, application usage, or even device battery consumption. For machine-to-machine services, almost anything with an intelligent chip, like a meter, or an automobile, in which we can create, extract, and analyze data to provide insights, can be useful for an enterprise. These services will be incredibly valuable for clients.

We have now a full portfolio of services to help our clients to become a mobile enterprise, meaning that they will be able to engage with their end customers with a differentiated experience, build mobile apps that matter, protect their infrastructure, and transform their business to drive new sources of revenue.

Find out more information about IBM mobility services.



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