Monday, May 18, 2015

BYOD is dead, long live device independence and proliferation

The advent of smartphones started a small experiment for senior management; it has now become mainstream. Explosion of smartphones in the enterprise driven by economical choices and increasing convenience has seen Progressive IT departments adopting a controlled and open attitude towards providing access to information on the go. Solutions have evolved with app-ification of many processes and business opportunities and Cloud based offerings. BYOD is no longer a 4 letter word, it’s reality for enterprises and CIOs.

Reluctant IT organizations are being pushed and forced into acceptance to define a framework on how to weave BYOD into the company fabric. Reality of yesterday which revolved around unmanaged devices, multiple platforms and form factors, and security of corporate data appear to be excuses now. While the starting point for most enterprises has been MDM or Mobile Device Management, additional solutions are equipping enterprises to create a secure and managed ecosystem for employees and partners.

The next few years will see a shift towards BYOD for most enterprises who are deploying mobility solutions of any kind. This is largely driven by the need to push information to stakeholders though newer use cases are emerging with sales force, distribution and approvals. There is also a pull exerted by various parts of the enterprise who are beginning to realize the time value of information. The challenge is not security anymore, it is managing the upsurge in expectations driven by the fact that someone has already done it somewhere in the world.

Is there a balance between complete freedom to totally restricted world ? There is no formula by size or industry type or even geography that provides a generic universally acceptable answer. Each enterprise will have to find its own equilibrium depending on need and benefit; my belief is that information enabled employees are likely to take better decisions or create newer opportunities in comparison to staff that live with enforced restrictive policies. Wearables open up new opportunities for the savvy technophiles.

The world is getting bipolar with mobility divided into 2 camps – Android and iOS. Stealthily a third alternative is emerging which offers comfort of the known and familiar to IT folks: Windows ! IT knows how to manage this platform while others intrusively came in from the consumer employee. I believe that this trend will be the saviour for IT giving them a platform that they know how to manage. Interestingly new innovation with dual boot devices with Windows and Android are just around the corner.

Some people may ask, what about the Blackberry as a device or platform ? Should we stop thinking about it ? There still are remnants of this in some enterprises. Should they stay in focus ? Predictions have a bad way of turning around and biting you; so if they do offer something critical that others don’t (which I am not sure of unless it is specific to your business), move them off. It is easier to manage one less technology than keeping it lingering around. In the near term I don’t see any merit in continuing with them.

The future belongs to an empowered enterprise where every person has information on demand available on his/her fingertips on a device of his/her choice. Ubiquitous and seamless access activated by secure channels that are MITM (Man In The Middle) and MOTB (Man On The Browser) attack proof; apps are obviating the need to create adaptive websites and compromises in user experience. Enterprises should explore a way to use Apps to provide secure transactional capabilities to employees while running off a public or private cloud.

New devices will continue to challenge IT; drive with policy which is adaptable and allows for induction of new environments. Put them to work in a lab before they start knocking on the door asking for permission to connect. Invest in tools and technology that allow you to manage the devices by exception and policy; that is easier to execute than creating an exception every time something new turns up. You will have limited time and capacity, use it wisely. Finally take a stand if it comes to a crunch; after all when things break only your neck is on the block !

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