Just recently, I have been reading an increasing number of articles about mobile management technology (MDM, MAM and MIM). Seemingly this is a luke warm to hot set of topics of the moment as more and more vendors begin to get in on the action and heat up the namespace.
It’s a really interesting topic to me, as over the years the typical IT organization has been somewhat focused on controlling the delivery of the corporate application set down to each of us as users to our PC devices. There are a plethora of tools available (we will not go into the specifics right now) to deliver these applications, each of which with its own set of merits and drawbacks. The organization continued to then spend countless dollars on ensuring that we as users did not bring anything outside of this set of applications to the party, since their goal was to control us and what we could use. Twelve years ago, I worked for an organization that was very successful in selling software solutions that could prove that the user population were not able to introduce other applications to said party since obviously that was just plain bad news, of course affecting user business productivity negatively. It was widely acknowledged back then that anything that a user was trying to bring in to the organisation had to be a game or worse, a virus masquerading as a game. Either way, user productivity would be hampered and the IT team would have to spend yet more time cleaning up the PC and applying more protective wrappers to further ‘enhance’ usability.
Fast forward twelve years and we now have a very different user population with IT being a core part of their DNA. The next generation workforce (Generation-Y) have been educated with IT as a core part of the syllabus that is used throughout their education from an early age, rather than it being a separate subject that is taught for 30 minutes a week, being only of interest to the geeks. A great example of how progression is taking place is that of my own children; who at the ages of 3 and 5 can drive tablet devices and smartphones with ease, before they have mastered the art of reading and writing – these guys are going to be examples of the next, next generation (Gen-Y++)…
As the new generation join the workforce, they bring with them their smartphones and tablets together with their social networking prowess, which not only breeds new ways to do business but brings a whole new level of fright to the IT – PC’s are no longer the be all and end all….. These guys are as familiar with the PC technology as the IT team (and more advanced on the mobile technologies) who now find themselves at risk of continuing to try to control the new application sets that the users are able to bring into the enterprise with ease. For example, there is little to no chance that the IT team can possibly be familiar with each and every available application that the user population can use in order to conduct their daily duties, given the sheer number of available applications available today in the plethora of AppStores across multiple form factor / device operating system matrices.
The IT organisation can either continue to force policy of what a user can use to perform their daily activities or they can make use of the advanced IT education and help the users be more productive, thus delivering better business value into the enterprise, thus adding to the bottom line in a profitable manner. Ask yourself the question, which CIO would be the most popular?
So, this is where the MDM and MAM technology come in; more tools to manage what the devices can actually do once they are inside the enterprise. Many vendors are now in this space with more entering on a weekly basis. However, I am not so sure this is an entirely sensible model to follow any longer and my rationale is simple; the user population is unquestionably getting smarter, they are able to accomplish more by making use of the technology that they can use at home already. They just need to get on with it in the workplace unhindered, although there must be high level policing / auditing. Preventing their use of their preferred applications is going to slow them down, thus they will be less efficient, resulting in less profits made. Now, I have worked in enough government and high security environments to know that one size does not fit all, and that security is a highly important part of many enterprises.
However, isn’t THE key piece of information in any enterprise the very DATA that is being generated by the employees? To that end controlling the access and security of the actual data strikes me as being WAY more important than worrying about whether a user can access the latest copy of Angry Birds or Draw Something on the company dime. My next post will discuss some of the ways that employees and enterprises think about data and how this comes together with mobility technology and the workforce.
Until then, ask yourself this, “Has the IT department finally caught up on business strategy as the realization of the importance of the ACTUAL DATA that the employees create is the business value?”