This week, Stephen Ibaraki,
I.S.P., has an exclusive interview with Brian Vink.
As Vice President of Marketing
of iAnywhere Solutions, a subsidiary of Sybase, Inc., Brian Vink is focused on
establishing the company as the premier provider of solutions that enable
anywhere, anytime access to enterprise information. Mr. Vink’s responsibilities
include driving market share, awareness, opportunities for the company’s
database solutions, management and security solutions, and mobile solutions.
iAnywhere holds the number one market leadership position in the mobile
database, mobile middleware, and mobile device management markets.
Prior to this position, Mr.
Vink served as vice president of marketing for Sybase’s
Mobile and Embedded Computing division and was part of the core
team that helped to establish Sybase’s market-leading position. He joined
WATCOM International in 1989 as a developer on the mobile database project. He
became a product manager for the SQL Anywhere database after WATCOM
International merged with Powersoft Corporation in 1994, which merged with
Sybase in 1995.
is an active member of a variety of industry and community associations
including a board member of the Software & Information Industry Association
(SIIA) Software Division. He
speaks at a variety of industry conferences and events including the Wireless
Enterprise Track at the 2005
Wireless & Mobile WorldExpo held in Toronto on May 18th and 19th.
Mr. Vink holds both a
Bachelor of Mathematics degree in Computer Science and Business from the
University of Waterloo and a Masters in Business Administration from Wilfrid
Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario.
Q: Brian, as an industry
leader in the mobile market, we appreciate you taking the time to do this
interview. Thank you.
A: Thank you Stephen. It’s
my pleasure to talk with you.
Q: Can you bring us
up-to-date on the solutions you implemented at Harvard Medical School? What
proved to be the biggest challenges and how were they resolved? How does this
extend into healthcare organizations in general?
A: A few years ago, Harvard Medical’s IT team, lead by CIO
John Halamka, realized that there was just too much paper changing hands at the
university — from the medical texts, lecture notes and patient records, to the
administration announcements, class schedules and course surveys that needed to
be completed each semester.
So they decided to make this paper-based information
available to students on PDAs, because more and more incoming students were
arriving with devices. But their three big concerns were first, how could they
ensure that the students would be able to use their existing devices; second,
how could their IT team leverage its existing development know-how, which was
primarily HTML; and third, how could they ensure that the solution would scale
effectively as more students and faculty began using it.
After looking at several different approaches, it
became clear that a mobile Web-based application made the most sense since it
solved their first two problems. And the scalability issue was answered after
they looked at iAnywhere’s M-Business Anywhere, which is the same technology
that powers our AvantGo mobile Internet service for seven million registered
The application, which they call “MyCourses,” was an instant
success, and continues to be because 100 percent of incoming students have some
sort of device and the campus has been outfitted with Wi-Fi. It gives students
the ability to securely access critical information anywhere they are. It also
saves the university more than $150,000 a semester on the processing costs
associated with the end-of-semester course surveys, which incidentally, have
gone from a 20 percent completion rate to over 80.
organizations in general, Harvard Medical’s application clearly demonstrates
the benefits of outfitting healthcare professionals, (who are truly the
quintessential mobile employee), with mobile technology. Many of them go 8 or
10 hours without even sitting down, let alone see a desk. We’ve worked with
many other healthcare organizations – the Visiting Nurses Association, Sacred
Heart Hospital in Florida, Duke University Medical School – and the feedback we
get from all of them is not only about how much better they can do their jobs
though paperwork reduction and better access to information, but how much
better they can serve their patients.
Q: What are three other
case studies, which illustrate interesting business models demonstrating
competitive advantage, and the best return on investment when using mobile
A. Case 1:
Department Stores, a 13-store retail empire in South Korea, offers a
sophisticated, high-end shopping experience to consumers. The company's
wireless point-of-sale (POS) application embeds SQL Anywhere, our leading
mobile and embedded database solution, and enables sales clerks to process a
purchase from anywhere in the store using a handheld device. As a result,
shoppers no longer have to wait in long lines at cash registers and so they tend
to shop longer at the stores, often purchasing more products and services.
are completed in approximately 10 seconds and counter time for a customer is
reduced by one to two minutes (compared to the time required for the previous
countertop POS system). Furthermore, customers feel far safer about the
security of their credit cards when they can see the handheld mobile POS device
facilitating the transaction right where they stand, rather than hand their
credit cards to sales clerks who walk to a regular POS counter to complete the
Hyundai has realized a 40 percent reduction in total POS hardware costs and a
30 percent reduction in administrative costs through improved tracking of sales
and more efficient deployment of store personnel.
iAnywhere and partner LogicaCMG provided Britannia
Airways Ltd. with solutions to mobilize its cabin and flight deck crews. The
solution was designed to enable cabin crew and pilots to access a wide variety
of information. This includes email, rosters, health and safety information and
duty free point of sales applications, as well as flight manuals and take-off
performance data via laptops and Casio EG800 PDAs. The mobile solution provides
bi-directional synchronization of data from back-office systems to cabin crews’
PDAs and pilots’ laptops, using iAnywhere’s SQL Anywhere product.
This move opened up the communications channels between
all Britannia employees, as well as providing cost, time savings and process
improvements. By automating the availability of flight manuals, Britannia will
save £50,000 annually in fuel costs. The use of laptops will save the company
£437,000 on administration. Additionally, automating fifty paper-based workflow
processes will save Britannia £500,000 a year. Previously the airline had 600
different forms, of which there could be up to 100,000 copies.
One of our customers, Foremost Insurance Company, has
experienced significant ROI and a $2 million return with their deployment of
Oncontact Software's CRM solution, which includes SQL Anywhere.
Before implementing the solution, Foremost’s home
office would overnight vital 500 -1000-page reports each month to their mobile
sales force. The solution enables the insurer to deploy a local database on a
laptop during the day and synchronize information with Foremost's CRM software
via a broadband or wireless connection at night. The sales force is connected
on the go with the most up-to-date information. In their cars or calling on
their accounts, they have access to the local database when they are offsite; i.e.
they have all of their accounts, phone numbers, addresses, etc.
Q: Some analysts feel that
there are issues that still need to be addressed such as geographic coverage,
bandwidth, evolving standards and so on. What do you see as limitations in
wireless; when and how will they be addressed?
A: The goal of new mobile and wireless
technologies is to harness the power of mobile applications for workers for
whom access to a desktop computer is not practical, as well as to develop
entirely new applications not previously possible. The optimal combination of
device, network and application design will make or break your mobile
While issues such as
limited bandwidth and limitations of geographic coverage are often at the top
of the list, additional barriers to adoption will remain, even with better
bandwidth and improved coverage. Mobile device battery life and memory
capabilities, as well as the lack of keyboards or small-windows can hinder
adoption and usability. Additionally, easy-to-use applications are lacking.
iAnywhere’s unique Always
Available architecture helps mobile users overcome the challenges of today’s
mobile and wireless environment.
Always Available computing means that users can access key
data, applications and Web content quickly and easily on their mobile and
remote devices all the time – whether they have a “live” connection to a
network or not. With application data and business logic stored on a mobile
computer or device, workers can access information and use their applications
offline, then synchronize changes when a network connection is available or
when the need for time sensitive data requires it. Since a modem is not in
constant use, Always Available applications preserve battery life on the device
while minimizing network connection time and costs.
Q: Can you illustrate what mobile computing will look like in 2010?
A: Just as mobility has significantly changed consumer
lifestyles, it also has the ability to transform the enterprise. Over the past
few years, with mobile email and deployment of applications, some companies,
both large and small, have mobilized critical business information and
delivered it to the point of action in real-time. The next step in extending
the enterprise will take us beyond e-business to a new world of opportunity and
changing business models.
Enterprises will rethink
core business processes — this most advanced phase occurs when wireless data
becomes accessible at points of customer interaction. At this point, an
enterprise completely transforms its business processes, resulting in great
competitive advantages. Due to large data sets and many transactions, this will
be complex, but the impact will be worth it with tangible ROI.
Similar to the way that
Internet computing has evolved into being part of the IT backbone, I believe
that by 2010 mobile computing will become simply one of the considerations IT
addresses for every project. That’s the philosophy that iAnywhere and our
parent company, Sybase, call the “Unwired Enterprise.” The Unwired Enterprise
is where information flows freely within an organization, whether your workers
are inside the office or on the road. An Unwired Enterprise breaks down IT
barriers — information silos, incompatible technologies, hard-wired connections
— and delivers critical information and applications to employees, partners,
and customers anytime, anywhere. An Unwired Enterprise is more efficient, more
productive, and better able to capitalize on new opportunities and the changing
dynamics of the market. This is where I envision mobile computing headed in
2010 – tied intrinsically to enterprise computing as a whole rather than the
separate thought process that it is today.
Q: What have been your top
three challenges since 1989? Why are they included on your list and how did you
A: 1) An initial challenge
in the early 1990s was to convince customers that it was not only possible, but
also an advantage to have a database on a laptop computer. Prior to that, no
one was thinking about taking mobile data on the go. Data was reserved for IT
to manage within the four walls of a corporate data center. Now, a decade
later, customers want to take data with them on even the smallest PDA and
mobile phones. The understanding of the power of mobile data has shifted completely.
2) Helping customers to understand
the difference between mobile and wireless. A mobile solution extends
enterprise information to workers who do not have access to a desktop computer,
while wireless technology is simply one of many methods of data transmission.
Customers need to weigh the costs and benefits of real-time access. Depending
on their needs for timely data collection and retrieval, continuous wireless
connectivity might not be required at all. While a financial trading
application likely would require real-time wireless access, most applications
such as sales and field force automation don’t require an instant exchange of
information. Hourly updates or even nightly updates through either a wireless
connection or wireline option (such as a docked PDA) would be sufficient.
3) Helping customers to see
through the hype of 3G and the promise of ubiquitous, high-speed wireless
coverage everywhere. We encourage customers to architect their applications to
address the realities of today’s wireless networks, which include bandwidth
constraints, unreliable coverage, high cost and the presence of numerous
competing network standards with varying coverage areas, costs and business
organizations to be successful today by developing Always Available mobile
applications that balance the benefits and limitations of current mobile
technology. We help customers to build Always Available smart client
applications that leverage local data storage and periodic synchronization, and
help to increase application performance and worker productivity. Since a modem
is not in constant use, Always Available applications also preserve battery
life on the device while minimizing network connection time and costs.
Q: Provide a history of
your career milestones and important lessons you learned.
A: I started my professional career in IT and
worked on a variety of projects that were mainframe-based. At that time,
personal computers were still relatively new; however, I was really intrigued
with the potential of the PC and how people were using PCs for a variety of
departmental applications. This led me to begin working with WATCOM, a small
company that evolved out of computer research at the University of Waterloo
that was developing database software specifically designed for the PC.
Once the WATCOM product
came to market, I found that I was drawn to the customer side of the business. This
meant everything from taking technical support calls to talking to customers
who were interested in purchasing the software. This transition really affected
the rest of my professional career, and allowed me to become a credible
advocate for the customer to our development team, since I had gained a unique
view of our technology from the perspective of the customer.
Although WATCOM was
achieving steady growth, acquisitions by Powersoft and ultimately Sybase gave
us significant access to additional sales channels and as a result our revenues
increased substantially. I learned how important channels and partners were to
an organization’s ability to increase sales and market share.
My interest in enabling
channels and developers with our solutions led to my focus on marketing. One of
the keys to our success was getting in the design phase of our partners’ product
life cycle. This often meant that you needed to have a relationship with that
customer for a long period of time – from the initial development to the ultimate
deployment of the product. My feeling was that the long-term health of the
business depended on ensuring these relationships were forged and cultivated.
Having established a strong partner base, I have learned that loyalty goes both
ways, and that we were truly able to develop competitive differentiation with
our partnerships in a market where differentiators are so often measured by
Q: Describe your work with
the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA) Software Division.
A: I work with
the SIIA Software Division, primarily focused on addressing the business development
needs, including addressing evolving business models, providing members with
strategic information on trends and business issues, and creating a robust
networking system for the software industry. As part of this group, one of the
first initiatives that I focused on was the development of a mobile enterprise
working group to orchestrate and promote the viability and solutions being
developed for enterprise users of mobility solutions. The group was created to
be an international constituency and provide advocacy, education and outreach
for issues relevant to the industry. This group was one of the first industry
groups created specifically for the requirements of the enterprise mobility
market and helped raise awareness of the needs and requirements of software
providers in this space.
Q: Which has proved to be
the most valuable: undergraduate studies, graduate studies, work experience,
A: I have a unique perspective on this question.
I did my undergraduate studies at the University of Waterloo and was enrolled
in the cooperative education program. What this meant was that I was able to
couple work experience with my undergraduate education. In addition to helping to fund my schooling,
I continue to believe that I was able to experience the benefits of what I
learned in the classroom immediately in the “real world”. I couldn’t imagine I
would have had the same educational experience without the work experience that
went along with it.
Later, when I decided to pursue a Masters in Business Administration
from Wilfrid Laurier University, I had been in the work force for a number of
years. I decided to do my graduate studies on a part-time basis over four
years, while still working full time. Although this was a very busy time in my
life, once again, I cannot imagine having an educational experience independent
of work experience. After working in the software industry during the day, I
found it refreshing to go into the classroom in the evening and interact with a
variety of colleagues from a diverse set of industries and get very different
perspectives on business approaches.
Although I am hard-pressed to say that any individual experience was
more valuable, I feel that the combination of experiences I had in parallel
gave me a unique perspective.
Q: Are there any other
important considerations we haven’t discussed for mobility?
A. Yes. Secure wireless data and device management is something
all enterprises must consider as part of their mobility strategy. Devices on
the front lines face a vulnerable computing environment, where security
exposure is large, the risk of intrusion is high, and security controls are
inconsistent at best. Frontline security management meets these challenges with
a comprehensive, policy-based, enterprise-level security solution that
integrates systems management and security features. It is designed
specifically with the frontline environment in mind, protecting data, devices,
applications and users where threats of security breaches are at their highest.
Mobile device security solutions provide the ability to
keep a mobile user in touch and up-to-date with critical enterprise information
without transferring an undue burden of responsibility. A mobile infrastructure
should deliver centralized control over critical security functions including:
user authentication, data encryption, anti-virus administration, software
version control, data syncing, automatic backups and emergency data lock-downs.
iAnywhere holds the number one market leadership position in the mobile device
management and security market with our Afaria technology.
Q: If you were doing this interview, what would
your number one question be and how would you respond?
A: I would say the question
would be: how do you achieve
leadership in a fast growing, competitive market like mobility?
my opinion, the three keys to success are:
1. Developing great
technology – In an emerging market like mobility, there is no substitute for
technology innovation. Products need to be continually evolving to address fast-changing
needs and emerging standards, networks and devices. This is an area that has
been iAnywhere’s strength since the beginning. Our engineers pioneered many
technologies that are now core to solving mobile enterprise challenges today.
For example, our technology portfolio includes the industry’s first mobile
database for laptops, the first mobile management solution, the first database
synchronization solution for mobility, the first mobile Web platform and the
first handheld database.
Establishing great partnerships – As is common sense in
any aspect of life, you can go a lot further with the help of your friends. In
the mobility world, with the fast pace of emerging standards, networks and
devices, it is crucial to recognize that the company you keep plays an
important role in the leader you can become. In the case of iAnywhere, our
partner channel is one of our biggest assets. We have established strategic
partnerships with the industry’s leading mobile device, wireless network, and
platform vendors, and work closely on joint development and marketing efforts.
We also have built an amazing channel of more than 1,000 application partners
for whom leveraging our technology has become a key element of their success.
We have built this loyal channel through many years with the philosophy that
empowering our partners to be successful will drive our own growth as well.
Making your customers successful – This may seem like a
“no-brainer” but is actually the toughest challenge of them all. Making your customers
successful goes well beyond simply closing the sale. Our job doesn’t end there.
It also includes providing ongoing resources – such as quality technical
support, educational webcasts and seminars, technical newsgroups, and, of
course, continued technology innovation. I tell my staff that no matter what
their day-to-day role is, ultimately the job of everyone in the company is to
ensure customer success. We have created numerous programs, (ranging from
customer marketing activities to customer advisory boards), to help take the
pulse of our customer community on an ongoing basis. As with partners, success
with customers is a two-way street: a happy customer is your best advocate.
Q: Brian, thank you for
taking the time to do this interview and sharing your accumulated wisdom with
A: Thank you, Stephen! It was good to have the opportunity to
speak with you today.