“Imagine a mobile device: It’s like an empty container that you can do anything with. It’s like a computer that you buy at the store.”
That’s how Willem Bagchus approaches enterprise mobility for United Bank. Indeed, mobile devices become whatever the Bank needs—from an executive’s secure, mobile inbox to a kiosk at a bank branch. Watch Willem speak with VMware TV about the Bank’s forward-thinking approach to mobility.
Q: How did you get into technology, and what’s kept you there all these years?
Willem: I’ve always loved building things. When I was a child, I saw these remote control boats. I knew I wanted to build stuff, so I got a degree in electronic engineering. As part of studying electronics, you study computers. I ended up getting really good at that. They called me “Dr. Digital” in college. My job to pay my way through college was computers, and that just evolved into the career I have today.
Q: How did you get to United Bank?
Willem: United Bank is a regional bank—we’re in six states, including Washington DC. United Bank started in 1839 as the Northwestern Bank of Virginia, and since 1987, we’ve grown with 30 acquisitions to be the nearing $20 billion valuation we are today. We have about 130 branches and about 2,000 employees right now. Our AirWatch deployment is about 300 devices. We deploy that mainly to our executive team who is in the business of helping to build the Bank. I got to the Bank because I was working as a sales engineer for a software company, some software that United Bank also uses, and among my travels they said, “We’d like you to join our team.” That was an offer that I thought was right for the time, and boy, am I glad to join the team.
Q: What led to rolling out an enterprise mobility management (EMM) solution?
Willem: The interesting thing about being in technical services at United Bank is we like to vet the different technologies that are available and how that can advance the Bank’s needs and priorities. I joined in 2010, and mobile devices have been important as far as the advancement of people working outside the bank—taking documents with them, visiting customers and what have you. We’ve been an AirWatch customer since 2011. What led us to that, at the time, is AirWatch mobile device management. It started off with just a few functions, and AirWatch has since grown quite a bit with more things that you can do. Once you have that platform with AirWatch then you can build upon it, and that has grown with us and our needs. What drew us to AirWatch, of course, is AirWatch has been a leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant. We needed a company that would be with us for the long term. AirWatch has proven to be not just a good leader but also a company that was easy to work with and helped us with whatever needs came up at United Bank.
But mobile phones have evolved from just phones. These are mobile computers, almost fully functional, and some people, we envision even within two years, will be exclusively on a mobile device.
Q: How are you reimagining how mobile might change a workflow within a bank or change the way an executive does their job?
Willem: Originally, the big thing on mobile phones, or even pagers for that matter, was, “Wow, I can send messages back and forth.” And now we can email. It started off as a need to have email on my phone, which was really a heck of a competitive advantage already for us, and that’s where we started. But mobile phones have evolved from just phones. These are mobile computers, almost fully functional, and some people, we envision even within two years, will be exclusively on a mobile device. We’ve demonstrated here at Connect, and in other conventions, that some people operate exclusively with tablet devices, not even a desktop computer. It’s the evolution of how people will do all the work that they do within a much smaller form factor. And because they’re smaller, you can put them in all kinds of different nooks and crannies and do different, specific functions, managed all by AirWatch and provisioned, and that’s what makes it possible.
Once you have that platform with AirWatch, all these other services are possible, and it grows with us. We don’t have to do it all at once, and we have flexibility of doing it, whether it’s in the cloud or even on-premises.
Q: As mobile devices move outside the corporate network, your protected fortress, and you want employees to be productive, how are you keeping them secure? What AirWatch security features are you using to achieve that?
Willem: That’s exactly where AirWatch comes in. Imagine a mobile device: It’s like an empty container that you can do anything with. It’s like a computer that you buy at the store. We use AirWatch to not only take ownership of the device but also to manage it. We know where it is. We can put security on it. We can containerize data. Because of that, we can also push out applications. We can make this a very specific device. We’re building a branch in Alexandria, for instance, that’s going to be an advanced technology branch. Kiosks and iPads are going to be a big part of it. Then on top of that, an executive, he’ll need email. A technical services rep, he’ll need access to some of our internal applications. We need access to the different Wi-Fi networks that are available throughout our branches, and we don’t want people always logging in (“What’s the password again?”) because we’re going to deploy certificates. That’s yet another function. This illustrates what I mentioned earlier: Once you have that platform with AirWatch, all these other services are possible, and it grows with us. We don’t have to do it all at once, and we have flexibility of doing it, whether it’s in the cloud or even on-premises.
Q: Others are about to embark on their own journey. What advice would you give them as you think about some of the lessons you’ve learned along the way?
Willem: The biggest thing I’d say right now is simplify your approach to begin with. Start small start with one need, and work on that because everything else is possible once you do that. Sometimes you say, “Well, we need everything. We need the whole smorgasbord. I went to Connect so enamored with everything I saw.” But if you try to do it all at once, it’s going to end up getting stuck in the mud because if you have one sticking point, then everything will stay on the shelf. On the other hand, if you find one most important need, you push that through, and that will pave the way to everything else getting down. You do this project successfully, then you can push out different projects. Email is a natural starting point, but not everybody has that as their focus.
Read more about United Bank’s enterprise mobility journey: