MobileIron, one of the world’s leading enterprise mobility management (EMM) providers, is helping the German technical services company synfis Service GmbH to go mobile. synfis, based near Hanover, serves the banking, retail and medical sectors, and recently switched from BlackBerry to MobileIron’s EMM platform.
For the past 30 years, more than 350 customers across Germany have relied on synfis for deployment of cash- and non-cash-based electromechanical devices in banking, trade, medicine and maintenance, as well as fault correction, relocation and dismantling of these devices. In addition, synfis handles approximately 100,000 service and support calls per year.
Throughout Germany, these service and support visits are increasingly managed using mobile devices which, in addition to offering standard e-mail, calendar and address-book functions, are used mainly by in-house and field sales staff to share information about customer orders internally. This includes notifications, fault reports, status information and details of processes and orders carried out. The devices have completely replaced PCs and notebooks.
From BlackBerry to MobileIron
“We’re constantly working to minimize the time spent on on-site administration,” explains Kai Pfeiffer, synfis’ head of process and IT management. “Our staff should devote as much of their time as possible to getting the job done, and it should be carried out at the same level of quality regardless of who’s doing it. We want to enable them to work entirely on mobile devices throughout the work process.”
The company has a long tradition of using mobile technology. It began using BlackBerry devices and management tools, along with many other companies, in 2006. But it has experienced growing problems with the BES 10 and BES 12 systems in recent years, and was looking for a more modern and effective EMM platform.
Pfeiffer says the key selection criteria were as follows:
- A production system with a history of proven long-term reliability
- First-class technical support
- Cross-platform management
- Flexible license terms
- Wide-ranging support for partner apps
Based on this list, Braunschweig-based mobile IT specialist LINEAS recommended the MobileIron EMM platform. It carried out a live demonstration, which received a positive response from synfis, followed by a test installation. LINEAS trained the administrators, helped to bring the first iOS devices online and integrated synfis’ proprietary service app into MobileIron’s AppConnect container solution. LINEAS also drew up guidelines in collaboration with synfis’ mobile IT specialists and organized the distribution process for the new devices, consisting mainly of iPads and iPhones.
Platform Independence Was Very Important
synfis has been using the MobileIron EMM platform since March 2016. Pfeiffer says the benefits have included the following:
- Clear separation of business and personal data (IT manager Kai Pfeiffer)
- Real-time configuration and management, including seamless integration with Apple’s DEP1 and VPP device enrollment and volume purchase programs, and with Active Directory and LDAP (Administrator Christian Pollex)
- Simple device and user management (Administrator Saeed Keivani)
- Platform independence and rapid distribution of software and updates (App Developer Daniela Nasiri)
In addition to the technological advantages, staff at synfis are very positive about the fast, reliable support they have received from LINEAS and MobileIron on implementation and operational issues.
The remaining BlackBerry devices will continue to be managed on the BES server for the time being. “In the medium term, we’re planning to migrate them to iOS or Android and MobileIron,” Pfeiffer says. “And further down the road, we want to stop being dependent on a specific operating system. MobileIron has also been a very good choice in this respect.”
This platform independence was an important factor in synfis’ choice of products. The MobileIron platform works with all mobile operating systems on the market, and can manage all of them via a central console. It was also particularly important for app development purposes: synfis uses the Appcelerator cross-platform development tool, which enables apps to be written on an open-source basis.
synfis Plans to Use Mobile IT to Set New Standards in Service
Smartphones and tablets are now synfis’ primary devices. These use the in-house service app to manage central processes and are supported by apps such as Teamviewer Meeting and Remote Desktop.
The following are among the processes running on the mobile platform:
- Fault notification and processing and job status: Accepts, processes, suspends and closes jobs
- Feedback generation: Creates service tickets, sends these to customer and in-house team and generates maintenance and inspection protocols
- Customer data management at device level: Inventories devices, adjusts and transmits data in real time
- Materials and stock management, requests and orders: Documents and sends notification of goods received and shipped, orders materials and transfers item records between warehouses
- Information exchange between in-house and field sales staff and customers: Sends jobs to employees, shares internal and external comments, images and appointments based on customer orders and provides details of problems with jobs
- Service center requirements: Provides assistance from the support team, retrieval of existing purchase orders and creation of IT requests including transmission of priorities, text, images and log files
- Complete time recording: Logs employee work hours, driving time and working hours with agreed service times for customers
- Internal data: Provides a view of article descriptions and item storage (warehouse system), as well as approved file structures
Pfeiffer says the advantages of the EMM platform are already very apparent:
“We have fast, simple, real-time data sharing, accurate and standardized time recording, and simple, standardized order processing. We also save time on producing paperwork after the event.” These benefits have resulted in faster response times, easier onsite operation and improved overall quality of service. “Our mobile IT project has already achieved some of our most important goals by setting service standards in our sector and making us stand out from our competitors.”
1Apple Device Enrollment Program (DEP): The Apple DEP server allows system updates to take place via the EMM system, and does such things as setting device activation blocks and overwriting existing ones.