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Mobile Expert Interview Series: Sybase’s Tony Kueh

I met Tony Kueh (pronounced Koo-ay) from Sybase’s product management team at TechEd in Las Vegas last year.  He is a long time Seattle native, now residing in California.  This week he accepted my invitation to be interviewed.

Note:  These are not Tony’s exact words, rather my notes from the interview.

Kevin: Tony, what is your role and areas of responsibilities at Sybase?
Tony: I am the product manager for enterprise mobility which includes SUP and Afaria.  I report to Raj Nathan, who is the interim head of the mobile applications group and EVP and CMO at Sybase.

Kevin: What mobile device(s) do you have and carry?
Tony: An iPhone, an iPad, a Droid and a MacBook Pro.

Kevin:  A Droid?
Tony:  Yes, for those occasions when I really don’t want to be disconnected.

Kevin: Is that all?

Tony: I also have a laptop running Windows 7 and a Netbook, but my son uses the Netbook now.  My iPad replaced the NetBook.  I also have a desktop at home for editing and a Microsoft Media Center.

Kevin: What are your favorite mobile applications?
Tony: The iPhone camera app, Qfolio (tracking stocks), Google Maps, DropBox (basically a cloud-based USB drive for personal storage and shared folders), Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Skype (he uses this a lot when traveling overseas), Google Voice, Webex Mobile client, etc.

Kevin: What are you tasked with at Sybase?
Tony: Driving mobility into the enterprise.  Mobile innovation is happening rapidly in the consumer space.  My job is to help drive that kind of innovation in the enterprise space.  In 2011 we are focused on finding large customers that are early adopters willing to jump into mobility and really challenge us.  We want to help them mobilize and document their successes.

Kevin: What mobile technologies are you most excited about at this time?
Tony: Mobile payments, NFC (near field communications used for mobile money and e-wallets), LTE (long term evolution – *see footnotes), the FaceTime app on the iPhone 4 (consumer version of tele-presence) and augmented reality.

Kevin: What were some of the biggest mobility surprises for you in 2010?
Tony:  The success of the iPad and now additional tablets.  In 2009 we were all really excited about NetBooks.

Kevin: What predictions or new trends do you anticipate for 2011?
Tony: Android will become more enterprise ready and Sybase is working to help them.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see Google launch a program or campaign around an “enterprise” version of Android.  I think LTE and 4G will have a very rapid adoption rate.  Consumers’ data usage is growing so fast and is so important to mobility.

Kevin: What advice do you have for companies formulating an enterprise mobility strategy?
Tony: Companies need to think outside the box.  They need to think from the outside in.  They need to think about what is needed by the mobile user and what is possible in a world of mobile devices and mobile workers.  They should NOT focus on simply extending traditional ERPs out to mobile devices.  Mobile is so different.  It should not be just another IT project that goes through a traditional IT committee.  It needs to be discussed in a different context.  [Kevin Comment – My interpretation of this discussion was that mobility can transform the way business is conducted, sales are made, marketing is designed, customers supported, etc., so this is not just an IT project.]

Kevin: What are the biggest risks to mobility today?
Tony: Social networking applications and mobile application hacking.  People are too trusting of social media and mobile applications.  It is too easy for a person to download a mobile application that is dangerous.  Mobile applications, from bad people, can grab all of your smartphone data and send it offshore without your knowledge.  Mobile applications are constantly asking for approval to access data.  People will become complacent and not realize what they are approving.  You cannot trust all developers or all cool mobile applications.  This is a big and growing problem.

Thank you Tony for sharing your time, insights and advice!

*Long Term Evolution (LTE) is the project name of a new high performance air interface for cellular mobile communication systems.  It is the last step toward the 4th generation (4G) of radio technologies designed to increase the capacity and speed of mobile telephone networks.

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