Macnica is a fully franchised semiconductor distributor with expertise in design services, IP, applications support, and logistics. The company provides services and high value-added products such as semiconductors, network-related devices, and software to major domestic and international manufacturers of electrical and electronic devices.
Macnica wanted to empower its employees to stay productive outside of the office, so the company distributed iPhones to enable users to access PIM apps such as email and calendar, as well as business files from Box, a cloud-based content repository. The goal was to ensure employees could seamlessly connect to apps and content without having to go through multiple security and authentication steps on their devices. To meet these requirements, Macnica chose the MobileIron enterprise mobility management (EMM) platform to accelerate, secure, and manage their iPhone deployment.
The Challenge: Improving Workflow and Time Management
According to Yoichiro Yasumochi, a manager in the Information Planning Division of Macnica’s IT Management Department, "It was very stressful not to be able to approve workflow or check other peoples' schedules from outside the company. Managers in particular had to carry their laptops home with them at night, on weekends, and also on vacation in case their approval was urgently required."
To improve the internal communication and approval process, the company needed to allow employees to address high-priority tasks quickly and without having to carry around a laptop. iPhones were the perfect mobile solution, but Macnica needed a platform to secure and manage the devices. In addition, because Macnica uses Office 365 for email, a separate groupware for workflow, and several products for other corporate processes, they needed an EMM platform that allowed IT to manage these apps from a single console.
The Solution: MobileIron Enables Secure Access to Mobile Data
Although email and calendar were part of the initial iPhone app initiative, the company wanted to provide richer business apps to enable mobile users to manage more business tasks.
"The limitation on the applications that we could use were a significant problem at our company,” said Hiromi Tokota of the Information Planning Division of Macnica’s IT Management Department. “We wanted users to be able to select the best tools for their job."
Another concern was how to make better use of the iPhone. Tokota explains, "If you rely on specific applications for everything from startup to password input, it is just as much trouble to use an iPhone as it is to use a PC, which is not ‘smart’ at all. Users want the convenience of one-click authorization and the ability to click to sign the authorization immediately after opening a web page.”
With the deployment of MobileIron in 2014, Macnica dramatically improved the iPhone user experience and business productivity. The company initially launched MobileIron Tunnel, an iOS per-app VPN that allows organizations to authorize specific business apps, including internally built and App Store apps, to access corporate resources behind the firewall. With Tunnel, iPhone users can access applications such as Box, Salesforce, Office 365, Lync and the Outlook Web App by establishing an automatic VPN connection when the app is launched. This met a crucial requirement for Macnica: the ability for users to securely access a variety of business apps from an iPhone without having to reconfigure anything.
MobileIron Automates Device and App Configurations
In December 2014, Macnica began integrating MobileIron’s EMM platform with Macnica Networks, a fully owned subsidiary of Macnica and a distributor for MobileIron. Together, they completed 90 percent of their corporate-owned smartphone integration in about one month. Soon they will extend this program to employee-owned devices.
The MobileIron platform not only simplifies the enrollment process for end users, it makes common configuration processes easier for internal help desk and external partners as well.
According to Tomomi Ishikawa in the Information Planning Division of Macnica's IT Management Department, “Everyone is impressed by MobileIron’s user-friendliness as well as its intuitive UI and control features. For example, when we are looking up device serial numbers, or verifying whether settings distributed by MobileIron have been applied to a device, we can find the necessary information without a deep on-screen drill down. This reduces the steps needed for the operation. With fewer steps, we don't have to spend as much time creating employee user manuals."
In addition, settings that used to be configured manually by mobile administrators can now be delivered automatically by MobileIron, significantly reducing workload and time spent on kitting. And simply by completing the MobileIron check-in, internal phone lists and wireless LAN configurations are delivered automatically, which simplifies maintenance.
The greatest advantage for the end user is the ability to access internal systems from an iPhone without having to change the existing business infrastructure. Managers in particular appreciate the convenience of authorizing workflow easily from a mobile device and being freed from the need to carry around a laptop. There has been an increase in requests from employees to add applications that they are currently using for operations.
“We plan to gradually increase compatible systems to increase onsite operational efficiency. Other MDM products often require additional licenses, but with MobileIron, internal systems are connected with the MobileIron Sentry gateway which only requires a web browser. It has been extremely useful,” said Tokota.
MobileIron Tunnel secures access to Office 365
MobileIron has played a critical role in providing easy and secure authentication for business apps which had previously been a significant barrier to enabling a mobile workforce. Macnica uses MobileIron Sentry and Tunnel to securely authenticate users to an on-premise Identity provider for O365 mail and Box Cloud drive.
Currently Macnica uses iOS mobile devices, but the company plans to add Android and Windows devices in the future. Yasumochi says, "With the MobileIron multi-OS platform, Macnica can deliver the scalability to support more users and devices and the flexibility to respond to the changing needs of our mobile employees.”