"We've reduced handling in the different stages of the app lifecycle by two to three hours."Stephan Niewöhner, Project Manager Mobile Applications, CLAAS KGaA mbH
MobileIron is helping the international agricultural machinery manufacturer CLAAS to automatically publish and update mobile apps, using incapptic connect´s mobile release automation technology. Therefore, the departments that initiates and uses the apps can publish and implement new ones, and maintain existing ones, without outside help. This makes it more cost-effective for CLAAS to handle new and existing apps.
More than just one of the world's leading manufacturers of tractors and harvesting technology, the CLAAS group has also pioneered the use of mobile digital processes. Mobile business apps play a key role in all of the company's departments: there are nearly thirty apps in use, largely initiated by the departments themselves. "Around 2,500 people are using our main apps on their iPhones and iPads," says Stephan Niewöhner, Project Manager for mobile applications at CLAAS KGaA mbH.
The group operates some 3,000 mobile devices on MobileIron's Enterprise Mobility Platform, of which 2,500 are running iOS, 500 using Windows Phone 8.1, and a small number with Windows 10.
The platform has been managed since 2012 by Cologne-based mobile IT specialist EBF GmbH, using its hosted core model. This includes 24/7 helpdesk services, second-and third-level support from EBF specialists and administrator support.
The MobileIron platform provides CLAAS with a solid foundation for the company's mobile devices, apps, and data from unauthorized access and ensures compliance with administrative guidelines. Business-critical data transferred between mobile devices and backend systems are securely encrypted.
Zero Tolerance for Business App Downtime
Niewöhner emphasizes that the apps are essential to day-to-day operation of CLAAS' employees and distributors. "They're not a digital bonus that we can do without if necessary. They need to be fully operational at all times."
This requires considerable maintenance effort and this task can no longer be handled manually. The users receive fully functioning apps and the background processes to get updates into MobileIron are only seen by the developers, app owners and IT experts in the various departments of CLAAS.
Rafael Kobylinski, founder and CEO of incapptic Connect GmbH, explains the challenges of this apparently simple task. "Before you release a new app version to MobileIron, you have to collect information such as its description and the latest screenshots, get hold of the app binaries, check that all this is correct and complete. You also have to sign the binaries with the company's certificate. One mistake and the app may suddenly stop working and key business processes get disrupted."
This time-consuming process demands considerable expertise, and there is a lot of room for error. Large numbers of emails flow back and forth between internal or external developers, the IT department and the department planning to use the app, and this can create misunderstandings.
Departments Can Publish Their Own Apps
CLAAS no longer publishes mobile apps manually. Instead, new ones are launched, existing ones updated and certificates renewed automatically at the click of a button. The barrage of emails as well as expert knowledge is no longer necessary, for example to sign iOS applications for distribution. Regular, non-IT business users can be empowered to publish, deploy, and maintain the apps their own.
The app release automation process is managed by incapptic Connect, available as a hosted or on-premise solution.
"This web-based solution publishes proprietary and third-party apps much more quickly, frequently and easily," says founder Rafael Kobylinski.
It is suitable both for testing and production, and offers clear qualitative and quantitative benefits summarized by his colleague, Chief Customer Officer Thiemo Scherle: "You don't need development know-how, and there's no need to go back and forth making corrections with the developers. Outside developers don't have to use the company's enterprise certificate, and you're automatically warned when provisioning profiles and certificates are about to expire. Also, each app is automatically uploaded to the MobileIron catalog."
Outside Developers Have Access
"The incapptic Connect software is fully compatible with MobileIron's platform. And it's the first platform that automatically publishes and updates apps," Kobylinski says.
CLAAS's Stephan Niewöhner adds: "When I first came across the incapptic Connect product at a conference, I was immediately impressed. We contacted the company soon afterwards, and implemented the system as an add-on to MobileIron in three days. I'd estimate we're saving two to three hours on each app update."
In-house and outside developers can securely access the solution, conveniently running on a Mac Mini in CLAAS's data center.
Niewöhner is certain that incapptic Connect would pay for itself even if no new apps were added to the almost thirty already in use. But this is hypothetical anyway. "We expect to continue generating new apps. Our departments come up with new ideas for mobile business processes on a daily basis."
CLAAS's internal and external developers won't run out of work anytime soon; the company's production department is currently in the process of rolling out new apps.