My Journey and Vision to Presenting at VMWorld 2018

Hello Virtual Friends!

As I sit here on the majestic JetBlue flight to Vegas, I have been pondering what should I write to pass the time as I reflect and prepare for one of the most pivotal moments of my career. I came from humble beginnings that logical should not have me as a key speaker in arguably the REAL Digital Workspace Keynote, sorry Noah! Or maybe not since he won’t be reading this blog post anyways. I should be on Noah’s radar but I’m Jon Towles not Brian Madden.

As I was saying, I came from humble beginnings if you look at my LinkedIN it’s pretty obvious. I was in retail until 2009 spanning 15 years of retail mostly as a retail manager for various companies. I pivoted in very uncharacteristic fashion positioning myself as an expert and TRUE thought leader in the mobility industry just 7-8 years later. Thank god for BlackBerry/Research in Motion for giving some inexperienced “retail person” as I was commonly referred to that one opportunity. As Larry Bird famously said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

I have never been the smartest, strongest, or the best but I built a career in those 7 years completely on working harder and just “wanting it” more than others. I worked with these brilliant people that had something like 10+ years as a principal at Microsoft and somehow kept up with them. Apparently being really good at searching for things gets you somewhere. Anyways, I won’t bore you any longer on how I got to where I am, but I thought it would be fun to discuss the process for those who struggle with these things. I have many friends in the industry (I know I have friends HA HA!) that struggle with creating presentations/speaking/putting their thoughts into some sort of tangible “thing”

Building an Insightful Presentation

So…how did I build a lengthy presentation that people would actually want to read? Let’s show you how the sausage was made shall we? Below, you are going to find my abstract from my dry erase board at home when I first started to think about what people would actually want to hear about. This will give you a nice preview into what my presentation would be about…


So..let’s dig a little deeper shall we?

The title of my talk is “Delivering Secure and Seamless Access to All Your Apps, Devices, and Data”

The first thing you are probably saying is WTF?! What does that even mean? Is this just another marketing presentation about how WorkspaceONE is the cure for all that could possibly ever go wrong in the world ever and it is infallible and this magical construct of perfection?

The answer is HELL NO. Okay, now that we got past that. When I attended VMWorld last year, I decided that I absolutely had to find a way to be part of something special in 2018. The diversity of mobility presentations in their debut at VMWorld in 2017 was a bit underwhelming if we’re being honest. I could sit here a QQ as the kids say or I could be part of the solution. The thing that most people don’t know is that I started writing this blog for two real reasons: (1) I have ADHD and writing things is a tool that people with ADHD use to retain information and (2) several people from VMWare kept asking me if I had a blog and urged me to do so.

Mobility has long been this area that lacks respect. You have companies that refuse to invest in it, management that thinks they’re a parlor trick and not worth of respect, and a lack of training for the few people that manage to call themselves mobile administrators, analysts, or whatever stupid title they think up. Don’t kid yourself if you think you have heard of a stupid title just wait because someone will come up with something more pretentious.

I can promise you one thing, my presentation is going to teach you something at a high-level that you might either be failing to grasp or just haven’t felt comfortable digging deeper on because it’s complicated. The real problem that WorkspaceONE has is that you are asking often inexperienced people to take on technology that is way outside of their comfort level. Just look at the AirWatch Support Teams right now and you will see that even they cant support VMWare Identity Manager. They farm that out to their relatively solid support staff in Palo Alto.

A Small Preview into the Tone of My VMWorld Presentation

So, as I was saying…this isn’t a collection of 6-10 buzzwords that C-Level people can say “I’m really smart because I know what Blockchain is” sorta thing. First, I had to think about what does seamless really mean? I’m not knitting an Afghan so…. Seamless to me means fully transparent. I’m a savant in one way. I can visualize data flow like Neo from the Matrix..


When I think of the concept of seamless as a construct, I visualize a workflow like “ I need to access my pay stub” and start visualizing it….

1. Suzy from Marketing opens her browser

2. Suzy finds the link for WorkDay

3. Suzy logs into WorkDay

4. Suzy clicks on the Payslips App

5. Suzy downloads her Payslip and hopes she has an app on her computer to render it yay!

Anyone who actually understands the term seamless knows that we have a number of steps in this list that sorta suck. I don’t think that WorkspaceONE is this magical “one ring to rule them all” like some people do, but I know how it fits into the end user experience.


Many companies have an intranet with an ITIL like A-Z App Store and that’s awesome, but many don’t. We can capitalize on a workflow that would literally be:

1. Open WorkspaceONE App

2. Select WorkDay

3. Click the Payslip App

4. Open Payslip automatically into OneDrive (also found in WorkspaceONE)

That is what we call seamless. Application access and the end user experience should be truly seamless, organic, and works like a human being thinks. If I have to be all “Beautiful Mind” about it then you have already failed. This gives you a bit of perspective into the true intention of Monday’s session.

Time to Editoralize a Bit

I guess what I am trying to say is simple. Seamless and Secure are not two separate constructs. When you design something correctly, you make everything subtle. The subtle nuances of technology can enable you to just deliver an amazing end user experience that is pleasing to the eye but also checks all the boxes. You can disguise security, integration, authentication, and authorization in this beauty symphony by building things correctly.

We must become less robotic and less tactical to be successful. You are NOT Dalek…but you CAN exterminate poor design


Sometimes we are so consumed with keeping the lights on that we don’t realize we can be better. Good technology always comes down to telling a story by keeping the “details” under wraps. People care that stuff just works. As technologists, we care that data is secure (DLP), clean, and organic. We only have one real chance to get things right so let’s move forward together instead of moving backwards into irrelevancy.

1 thought on “My Journey and Vision to Presenting at VMWorld 2018”

  1. Awesome overview. I’m excited to see your session though daily or will have to be a video later. We should chat about this on a podcast.

    I’ll say hi to Noah from you! 😉

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