Coca Cola's Mobile Strategy: It's the Real Thing

Niamh Madigan

John Leabeater, Lead Technical Analyst, Coca Cola Bottling Consolidated (CCBC) joined the Enterprise Mobility Exchange to share exclusive insight into CCBC's mobility initiatives, and to give his views on the rapidly evolving enterprise mobility market.

Enterprise Mobility Exchange (EME): Do you have a mobility strategy already in place?

John Leabeater: We do have a mobility strategy in place depending on the device we employ. We both have a one to two year mobile device strategy as well as a three to five year mobile device strategy, and again it's based on the device choice and the particular role that we're fulfilling with that device. For consumer devices that strategy is shorter - one to two years - and for enterprise rugged devices or durable devices per se we have a three to five year strategy.

EME: How has the consumerisation of IT effected how you pick and choose devices for your workforce?

John: Consumerisation of IT is not a new concept. If you recall, in the early 2000s the Palm operating system washaving to be dealt with by enterprises such as ours. I spent a year learning how to programme Palm only to find in 2004 a massive migration away from Palm to the Microsoft PC operating system. So that said this is nothing new. In fact, what we're probably talking about is the enterprisation of a consumer change in expectations. So our employees are coming in and they're expecting a faster device, easier to use, the pinch and zoom capabilities of things of that sort and so what we've done is enterprise those capabilities within the newer device choices where it makes sense within our enterprise - nd we can go into details about that - but basically consumer devices fit very well in areas where we[re doing calendar, contacts and email. They also fit very well with sales and point of sale roles, and on the manufacturing and supply chain roles those tend to stay in the durable recognised form factors and tend to be a more three to five year platform.

EME: What would you say was the biggest challenge in your current mobility initiatives?

John: The biggest challenge is educating our business users on what this change means for them and being able to say to them we're willing to accept the newer consumer devices at a later point in time, but for now we need to adjust a number of different things - first policies.

Policies had to be adjusted for the use of consumer devices, and we'll probably discuss this a little bit later, where basically security is one of our main concerns. The other thing we need to educate the business users on is the cost involved because we've found that consumer devices are not necessarily a low cost option. It is not simply a choice of choosing one low cost option and being able to replace it two or three times over the three year lifespan of that solution, but being able to justify the return on the investment for the added expense of using a consumer device on the field. We found also that helpdesk calls, for example, are not necessarily reduced by the use of a consumer device; in fact they increase. So all these considerations are important to educate the business and what this means for them and IT then begins to function as a consultative service to help the business understand that the consumerisation supposedly of IT is really more the enterprisation of a new user experience and expectation and we're more than happy to deliver to them within certain parameters that we need to establish.

EME: What do you feel the supplier community can do to help you overcome these challenges?

John: We spend an extensive amount of time with our OEMs to help them understand, both on the software side and on the hardware side, our expectations for them. In fact, we've spent sometimes ten sessions with them explaining to them that the user expectations have changed and they need to adapt their solutions to those user expectations. We've hit the gas hard on things such as swiping and pinching and zooming and better key manipulation, larger screens, smaller weight and both form factors. All these things need to be looked at by the OEM and unfortunately for many OEMs, particularly in the durable and rugged form factors, it takes them a long time to change their philosophy of business and architecture to adapt to the customers, such as ourselves, needs. We found that by and large nearly all of them have been very receptive though it may take them some time to adapt their back ends to our new expectations. Nevertheless we have always found them very collaborative and it's something that, by the way, as far as vendors are concerned, the customer must take ownership of that relationship. If the customer does not take ownership of the relationship with our vendors and OEMs, then vendors and OEMs are going to go down a path which is precisely opposite of where we think we need to be going, particularly in regard with consumerisation.

EME: Do you have a BYOD policy in place in your organisation and, if so, how do you manage the increased security risks?

John: Yes, we do have a BYOD policy, but first let me say this, that BYOD came up from behind us. In other words we didn't establish a BYOD policy and then see an influx of BYOD devices; we saw the influx of Android and Apple devices into the enterprise and saw these users come in and begin to use Cloud services, begin to use our exchange architecture without permission. So as a result we had to sit back, take some time and discover ways in which we could better work with our users to adopt the newer technologies where it made sense and where it did not did clearly state that they were in violation - and I'll give you an example. For example, the user brings an Android phone in and he may begin to receive his corporate email over that Android phone. We hear about it, we turn around and we say, now, you know this is against our security policies. Yes, but I really feel this makes me more productive. So we went back, we looked at our policies and we said where does it make sense for us to change our security policies to allow the use of calendar, contacts and emails for users out in the field? And we found there was very minor adjustments that needed to be made and as a result both of us gained; it was a win-win situation. We got an average of 53 minutes a week, for an average employee, work out of them before and after their normal work hours by using a consumer device for calendar, contacts and email. We also found two that was a win situation for them. For example, if they have a commute time of an hour back and forth to work every day, they were able through voicemail or other means to be able to communicate and make decisions using that mobile device because we made a policy change and as a result I think both of us were happier because it's a net win for them as well because they're getting something done even though they're not on the clock, which was a huge win not only for us, but for them being able to take care of work items after work.

EME: Do you use a mobile device management solution and, if so, why?

John: We do. Traditionally we had been using a point of contact mobile device manager, which means basically we had to go out and touch every device that we needed to provision and sometimes that would take us up to three months of taking our IT people out of their office and sending them out into the field to provision those devices by hand.

The three things we did to manage the mobile device management strategy that we previously had, because previously we had to go out and touch every device on the field and this sometimes would take us up to three months for a simple change, we then adopted a solution from AirWatch by which we were able now to do three things. The first thing we were able to do was remotely provision changes to devices. This was a huge efficiency gain for us. No longer did we need to go out, get in a car, travel to a branch, take 15 devices out of the field, hand touch and provision each one of them and then send them back out again. So remote provisioning saved us a large amount of time in travel and expenses for provisioning new updates.

The second thing it did for us was remote helpdesk. There is a huge gain in time and efficiency on our helpdesk staff by being able to use our remote control, for example. Being able to remotely go into a device and see what the user's struggling with and being able to fix it from that point.

And the third thing we were able to do is a certain degree of asset tracking. Being able to track thousands of assets that are employed in the field is very difficult, there's a huge shrinkage that we have to deal with on an annual basis and all that was mitigated by the use of the third point which was asset tracking.