I’m no developer. As much as I like to write code, I find that my time is better spent understanding our customer requirements and throwing darts at the ‘next big thing’ wheel of fortune that’s pinned on my wall. The segment marked ‘mobile device management’ is hardly readable now, but I’m still not convinced that bring your own device is going to last in the enterprise space.
I am more than happy to be proved wrong, but I can’t see how the benefits of reduced end-user device spend will outweigh the security and management overheads associated with a smartphone free-for-all in the corridors of UK businesses. I’m also convinced that it won’t be long before users having access to smart devices, becomes as much a given as users having access to networks became a few years ago; and we see a shift towards user focused management solutions that serve the individual, rather than the device.
First, I want to be clear on what I understand mobile device management (MDM) to mean for the enterprise market. As things stand enterprise MDM software is either: a policy and configuration management tool for mobile handheld devices (smartphones and tablets based on smartphone OSs); or an enterprise solution for securing and enabling mobile enterprise users’ access to content. Good MDM strategies help enterprises manage the transition to a more complex mobile computing and communications environment by supporting security, network services, and software and hardware management across multiple OS platforms and now sometimes laptop and ultra-books. This is obviously important as bring your own device (BYOD), and now choose your own device (CYOD) initiatives and advanced wireless computing become common in the enterprise space.
However my concern is that many organisations seem to view smart phones and tablets as peripheral to their core device estate and look to bolt-on or standalone solutions to manage them. In my view this is a big mistake and leads to an increased security risk, as well as higher cost of management. Instead, enterprise needs to treat mobile devices as another corporate endpoint, alongside servers, desktops and laptops and look at the benefits of employing a single device management system that allows their support teams to audit, protect, manage and access data across their entire estate.
Most organisations seem to be facing up to the challenge of not only of managing increasing numbers of endpoints, but also an increasing range of operating systems and models; but nobody seems to have cracked it. When it comes to managing and monitoring corporate data across multiple devices the playing field has definitely changed. Data is now highly valuable and includes a huge amount of sensitive information including customer data, personally identifiable information and intellectual property. Data has never been more important to daily business operations and yet it’s growing rapidly in volume. Access to data is therefore more important than ever and more and more users require secure and instant access to that data, their desktops and their work anytime, anywhere, from any device. Therefore businesses are under pressure to enable easy access from various devices including smartphones, tablets and web enabled devices.
In truth I think some IT departments waste their time facilitating that process with many IT support team members acting as gatekeepers to vast amounts of data spread out across large organisations. In reality IT support teams should be facilitators of user access. No wonder research shows that performing global searches, locating company data quickly for compliance or eDiscovery purposes, or quickly retrieving old data or files and quickly accessing business data from any devices outside the office, often crop up on the list of most common business IT complaints. So perhaps it’s time for a new approach to device, indeed data management, and to look for an approach that can transform the user experience to deliver data quickly, easily and securely; at the same time as streamlining backend management.
I may be wrong, but I see a future where we have far more user focused management systems in the enterprise space. I see systems emerging that strike the right balance between asking CIO’s to introduce ‘company rules’ and usage regulations, and giving users the freedom to do what they want, where they want and on whatever device they want to do it on. Bolting on new toolkits to manage each wave of new devices is an inefficient product strategy, most notably when the underlying business requirements aren’t changing. The device that a user does business on, much like the network it will connect to, will become irrelevant. Obviously that’s a bit further down the line but for now we need to treat mobile like we would any other device, and not as a separate category with it’s own set of rules.