Welcome to the latest edition of Inside Looking Out. This past week, I had the opportunity to chat with Alan Dabbiere, Chairman of AirWatch, an enterprise mobility management company with a focus on mobile device management. You may have heard of Alan from his days as founder of Manhattan Associates (NASDAQ:MANH), a leading supply-chain execution software company.
We covered a broad range of topics around device management, tablets, security and just general trends on mobility within the enterprise. Check out some of the highlights:
The Enterprise Mobility Foundation: Hi Alan. Good speaking with you again. There’s no question the world of enterprise mobility is hot and growing. If you had to point your finger to one thing, what would you say makes this space so hot right now?
Alan Dabbiere: It’s definitely an exciting time to be in this space. Now more than ever, companies are willing to allow employee-owned devices access to corporate resources. Mobile devices are changing the way people work, shop, communicate… live. They are not just phones, but windows into new worlds and shared experiences with instant connectivity. Innovation is growing at a rapid speed with the creation of new apps, reshaping of business processes, and new uses for these technologies; all levels within the organization are becoming increasingly reliant on their mobile devices.
Tablets serve as concierge devices in hotel rooms, help sales associates on the retail selling floor, and act as lightweight replacements for a pilot’s briefcase of maps; while smart phones collect electronic medical records, assist with product deliveries, and provide key training materials for Army troops. The use cases are endless. To say one thing that is making this space so hot right now? Mobile devices are creating new elements to how we live our lives.
EMF: To what extent should a company consider enterprise mobility management strategic to their business?
AD: It should be very strategic. If your employees rely on their mobile devices to complete or conduct their jobs, then enterprise mobility management is mission critical. Mobile devices are computers with phone functionality – not vice versa. Lose the data from even one device in investment banking, for example, and it can be a disaster. Thanks to Wendy’s, I call this the “finger in the chili” problem. These issues may not happen often, but when they do, they are more than a headache; they are front-page news, a halt in productivity, and expensive to fix.
EMF: So if it is strategic, why would they not just keep all the management tools and operations in house?
AD: Some will. However, building a successful mobile management operation team requires highly specialized individuals who can oversee the entire lifecycle of the device. If a company chooses to keep it in-house, chances are they will still need MDM assistance on some level. Typically, however, companies do not view mobile security and management as a core competence and would rather outsource to someone who focuses solely on MDM. Relying on a SaaS-based solution for enterprise mobility is common and often the best approach.
EMF: The wall blocking IL devices has all but completely broken – meaning people have pushed through. That doesn’t mean that companies and IT departments aren’t still reeling from this. What can they do to improve this situation?
AD: They can stop fighting the inevitable. The Generation Y workforce takes what type of mobility they own very personally—telling them what to carry, is like telling them what to wear. What devices your company allows immediately sends a powerful cultural message to new recruits, customers, and employees alike. Are you a BlackBerry and Dell or iPhone and Mac type of organization?
As a result, IT departments should examine tools that are device agnostic and can protect corporate data while still allowing the use of the device as the employee’s personal phone. In this case, the employee is satisfied while at the company, but if he decides to leave, a “corporate wipe” will make corporate data disappear, but leave the collection of personal photos, emails, and music safely behind.
EMF: Continuing with the IL theme…IL is all about an individual’s choice to choose their own device and platform. Stephen Elop said the mobile market is “a three horse race.” Regardless of the number of horses, how long can this be sustained from an enterprise perspective?
Alan Dabbiere: Forever. The time where we all used the same device or hardware format is over. Companies are realizing this and installing mobility management tools that make it as easy to manage all of the relevant platforms as if they were a single type of device. With the right tools, processes and corporate governance in place, IT can successfully support a multi-platform environment indefinitely.
EMF: What’s the next major disruption in enterprise mobility and mobility management?
AD: These are two different questions. I am not sure if there is a disruption or a continuum in enterprise mobility. Will tablets be the end of the laptop, who knows? I think the laptop is here to stay, but people will continue to have more device formats to choose from and will do more with mobile devices than ever before. It may replace your credit card, your car key, your house key, your hotel key, and your ID.
Mobility management is too new to be disrupted. Given the impact mobility is having on every aspect of our lives, we need new layers of security and management that handle both the employee and employer components of these devices.
EMF: Last question Alan. If you could only give CIOs ONE piece of advice regarding their enterprise mobility plans, what would that be today?
Alan Dabbiere: Get secured now. I would advise them to take a fresh look at their approach to enterprise mobility. For example, imagine a scenario where iPads are being left on airplanes by a senior executive who had just gotten it for the holidays. Someone will end up being the TJ Maxx of mobility, becoming the poster child for the consequences of unprotected data. If the wrong email gets out, you may see a merger or acquisition derailed or a stock trading on illegal information. So many companies still trust that employees will use passwords on devices, yet they cannot enforce common sense policies. This is just a ticking time bomb waiting to go off.
And that’s a wrap. Thanks Alan for taking the time to chat today about your views on enterprise mobility. Do you know anyone who should be a guest here on Inside Looking Out? Drop us a line.