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BYOD 2.0: The Applications (R)Evolution

You know the expression “Well if you can’t beat them, join them”?  That’s a little how I feel like today.  As I have mentioned a few times recently, I keep getting bombarded these days with questions and discussions around trends in the Bring Your Own Device conundrum.  Those of you who know me know however that I won’t just “Join them” – I need to take my own contrarian twist to the matter.  And here it is…

We all know that BYOD is here to stay for the foreseeable future…there’s no end in sight.  What’s the key lesson that we should collectively have learned?  It’s not about saying no, but instead empowering user choice in such a fashion that the organization can sleep comfortably at night knowing that all its highly sensitive information is protected and secured on the employees’ device(s) of choice.  OK, that should settle the whole issue around whether or not organizations should allow employees to bring in their own device(s) to the workplace.  (For the record, I’m sure it won’t, but I can always be hopeful.)

I think it’s a generally accepted conclusion that 2011 was THE year for enterprise mobility.  I know, I know…we’ve been saying that (hoping for it) for quite some time, but we need only look at the sales numbers of companies such as Apple and Samsung (just to name two) to see that mobility has truly come into its own…and that the very nature of the consumerization of mobility has meant that mobility is firmly implanted (entrenched?) in the workplace.

OK 2011 is/was the year of enterprise mobility.  Many (including myself) believe that 2012 will be the year of the mobile application – specifically in the enterprise.  We’ve already seen the massive numbers around number of apps downloaded, the recently achieved milestone of 1,000,000 mobile apps available in public app stores and we need only look to our left (or right) to see just how many applications people have on their devices (a lot).

So if 2012 is the year of the mobile enterprise application, I wonder if we’re going to learn our lessons from how we have been handling devices and parlay that into a smarter approach for handling mobile applications.  From the discussions I have been having so far with vendors and end-users, I’m not so sure of that.

The net net of the discussions I have been having is this:  how can IT managers easily push out applications to their employees.  Sounds like a very reasonable question, right?  It’s all about apps and we’re going to want to do more and more things on our mobile devices for both personal and professional reasons.  So why is it that I feel the hairs on the back of my neck standing up?

My concern is a glass half-empty one (I feel like Eeyore from Winnie The Pooh fame).  When I hear about people wanting to push apps out to their employees, I can’t help but draw similarities to the “good old days” when IT departments mandated which kinds of devices people would use – specifically speaking about BlackBerrys and Windows Mobile devices…you know, the ones that have fallen out of favor recently.

I can see a scenario in the not too distant future where the corporate mandated applications will fall out of favor with users and they will look for their own alternatives of choice.  This will create Pandora’s box from a risk management perspective.  So far, some organizations have been taking a middle of the road approach, where some applications are deemed obligatory, but others are simply offered as options…that makes a lot of sense to me, but will it be enough?  What happens when a crop of users are so fed up with the SharePoint system and its associated mobile app that they choose to use DropBox or Box.net in stead?

Oh wait…that’s already happening…

2 Comments

  1. Posted December 13, 2011 at 17:56 | Permalink

    There are some good points made here. However, I believe whether or not an app is pushed out by a company or selected by an employee from a public app store should have little effect on the safety of corporate data. I think the real issue is that companies are trying to do too much with a single solution: MDM. MDM is very important, but it shouldn’t be the end all, be all of an organization’s mobile strategy. As a Symantec employee, my stance is that a more strategic, in-depth approach is needed to truly secure data going to, resting upon and coming from mobile devices. In short, organizations should not only be looking at how to secure and manage the devices, but also the data itself. As such, solutions such as DLP and encryption should be in use as well. In this way, regardless of the app an employee is using, the data itself remains secure and only goes where it’s supposed to.

    Brian Duckering
    Symantec

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