Launching EMC’s Mobile Support App for Android: An Interview with Peter Hunt

I recently sat down with EMC Customer Service Hero, Peter Hunt, to explore the exciting release of the new Mobile Support App for Android, rolling out later this summer. mobile app logo.PNGTaking the online support experience to a mobile environment is no easy task, and reflects EMC’s commitment to extending self-service capabilities for our customers and partners – anytime, anywhere.

Adding support for Android is the next chapter in the EMC Mobile Support App story. Peter gives us the low-down on how the Mobile Support App can make managing your Service Requests easier, and give you quicker access to online support tools and resources (in the palm of your hand).

Q: So much of our personal and work lives are managed by our mobile devices. As an EMC customer, what are the Top 3 benefits of being able to access your product support information through your phone or tablet?

A: Great question, and thanks for the opportunity to respond!  Much of how mobility continues to transform the work experience is driven by these 3 factors. Adding these together equals a significant increase in productivity:

  1. Location.  Your phone is always with you, wherever you are.  Using apps like EMC Support, you can interact with your service experience in places where traditional computing devices (laptops, desktops) are neither convenient nor practical.  Say you’re enjoying a morning cup of coffee at the bistro of your choice and want to get a head start on your day. Maybe you’re travelling on business and get a call from your manager wanting an update on your service issue, or in a conference room waiting for a meeting to start.  The EMC Support app allows you to stay up to date no matter where you are..
  2. Timing.  You can’t be in front of your computer 24/7, yet you still need quick and easy access to updates on what’s happening with your service experience.  You can instantly gain insight into what’s happening with your EMC service issues anytime you need or want to, without having to boot up a PC and log in to Online Support.
  3. Convenience.  Anywhere/anytime access to your service experience means enjoying the convenience of having your information come to you, literally in your pocket. The EMC Support app brings the latest to you through the device you have most readily in hand – your phone.

We look forward to creating more capabilities on mobile for our customers and partners so that everyone may continue to interact with EMC via this new support channel. android.png

Q: The Mobile Support App is now available for iPhone and will shortly be available for Android. Are there any functionality differences between the apps?

A: In order to optimize our customers’ experience, we have developed both the iOS (iPhone and iPad) and Android variants of the EMC Support app as native app experiences.  As a result, we are able to capitalize on the aspects of the smartphone that are familiar to users of each platform.  For instance, on the Android you have a menu and back hard button that’s part of the phone, and the Android variant of EMC Support takes advantage of these.  On iOS, these functions are typically buttons on the navigation bar at the top of the screen, and we have followed that convention as well on the iOS version of our app.  So, while the functionality of the apps is the same across platforms, the way that functionality is accessed differs.  This was a conscious decision we took in order to provide a fluid, native experience on both platforms.

From our point of view as the software developer, the iOS and Android variants of the app are actually two different pieces of software, written in different programming languages and developed by different teams.  You’ll therefore see releases coming out at different times.  We released the iOS version of EMC Support Version 1 first, since it was ready first! Soon, the Android variant of EMC Support Version 1 will be released as well.  Shortly thereafter, we’ll launch the iOS variant of EMC Support Version 2, which includes the ability to add notes to a Service Request and is localized into 10 languages! Similar functionality will follow on Android Version 2, and so on.

From a strategic perspective, we plan on maintaining parity between iOS and Android versions of the EMC Support app, and the staggered release cadence is entirely based on when the app is ready for consumption by our customers and partners.

Q: How many people have downloaded the Mobile Support App so far? Are you expecting a sharp increase following the release of the app for Android?

A: As of this writing we have had nearly 7,000 downloads (excluding updates) of the iOS version of EMC Support V1.  Based on what our customers and partners have told us we expect a significant uptick in downloads once we release the Android variant.  Not surprisingly, our analysis of our customers and partner demographics reveals a similarity to consumer preferences for these platforms.  Since roughly half our customers with smartphones prefer Androids, we expect the total number of downloads of both variants to roughly double by the end of the year as the Android app becomes available. 

Of course, as we release increasingly-capable versions of both apps, the added utility should drive even more downloads.  For example, some customers who have told us that while the ability to view their service requests on their smartphone is handy (Version 1), they would be more likely to download the support app if they could update their service requests as well (Version 2).  So, we expect a big bump in downloads as the demand of Android users is met, followed by both organic growth and spikes as we release new versions with added capabilities.

peter snap.PNGQ: Currently, the app is only available in English. Are there plans to make it available in multiple languages?

A:Yes!  Both the iOS and Android versions of the EMC Support app will be localized into 10 languages (English, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, Korean and Italian). This is important both to support our commitment to a global customer and partner base and to simplify the use of the app for people who are conversant in languages other than English.

One difference worth noting between our localization strategy for EMC Support on iOS vs. Android is that following the initial release of EMC Support 1.0 on Android, we will follow shortly thereafter with a localized version based on Version 1 (read access only) for Android.  We are planning on calling that EMC Support for Android V1.1.  That release will be followed by Version 2 for Android, which will retain the localization delivered in V1.1 but will add the ability to add notes to an SR. For iOS, since Version 1 is already available and Version 2 is about to come out, localization will be present beginning in Version 2.

For both the iOS and Android variants of the EMC Support app we are localizing the prompts and controls and we will also pick up date and time formats from the phone’s preferences (e.g. mm/dd/yy vs. dd/mm/yy and 2:00PM vs. 14.00). That said, we do not translate the data that comes out of the CRM system, so service request notes will be shown in whatever language they are stored as in our system.  This will bring the mobile apps into alignment with the localization available via Online Support on the web.

Q: How exciting! Speaking of the CRM system, we all know service requests can contain sensitive information.  How secure is the EMC Support app?apple.png

A: Security of our customers’ and partners’ information is a cornerstone of everything we do, and the EMC Support app is no exception.  The security of the EMC Support app and it’s data is entirely self-contained, meaning it does not depend on any settings or features of the phone’s operating system. 

I’ll describe the major security oriented features of the EMC Support app:

·   First, in order to access the app users must authenticate with their credentials, the same ones used to access Online Support.  This authentication enables the app to understand who is using it, and to ensure that users can only see service request information that they should have access to. 

·  Second, all application information stored on the phone is encrypted, and the encryption key itself is not stored on the phone (a hash of the key is used to enable access to the data on the phone). 

·  Third, all communication between the mobile app and EMC are done using secure, encrypted protocols.  

Finally, repeated attempts to access the app without proper authentication result in the app resetting itself to “initial installed” status, with all application data and preferences (including user id, password, application PIN code and all SR data) being erased from the phone. We use industry standard encryption and, prior to release, the app undergoes inspection by two 3rd party application security audit firms, as well as by EMC’s internal Global Security Office.

Q: How does the EMC Support App differ from the EMC Mobile App? Is there a reason to download both?

A: The two apps are quite different.  EMC Mobile primarily presents mobile access to a curated repository of information about EMC Products. This includes white papers, manuals, and read access to the EMC Community Network (ECN) forums, among other content. Generally the intended audience for EMC Mobile is practitioners who either have or are considering investing in EMC products; the information is easily available through a simple yet sophisticated interface on an iPad.  The EMC Support app is aimed specifically at EMC customers and partners who would like mobile access to their service requests on a smartphone.  Customers and partners would benefit greatly from both apps, and I would strongly recommend installing both.

Q: Where can I go to learn more about the EMC Support App and download the right version for my device?

A: There are a number of resources available for people wanting to learn more about the EMC Support app. The best way to learn about the app though is to experience it, by downloading it from iTunes (for the iOS version of the app) or from Google Play or the equivalent resource in China, for the Android version of the app. Both versions of the EMC Support app are available absolutely free.

Android links will be published once the Android version launches later this month.

To find out more information on the iOS variant EMC Support app, check out the following:

Holly Anderson 

Principal Program Manager, Social Media & Community Strategy

CS Innovation

Follow us on Twitter @EMCsupport

Holly Anderson

About the Author: Holly Anderson

Holly Anderson is an award-winning, multi-platform communications expert with 20 years’ experience leading corporate communications and social media strategy for global online marketing and support.