The summer is passing all too quickly in the Northern Hemisphere, but welcome back to the latest edition of Inside Looking Out. We had the opportunity to sit down last week with Rob Greer,Vice President, Product Management Enterprise Mobility for Symantec Corporation….you know, the folks (arguably) best known for their Norton AntiVirus product, and a whole host of other security and management products. We covered a broad range of topics, including mobile application management, mobile security, and of course…BYOD. You can check it out below.
The Enterprise Mobility Foundation: Hi Rob. Great to speak with you again and welcome to Inside Looking Out. Let’s jump right in to it, shall we? What’s exciting you the most these days around enterprise mobility?
Rob Greer: It brings back memories of the 1990’s when the Internet changed the way companies conducted business. The velocity of change was fast, new business models emerged and a new platform for commerce was born. Enterprise mobility, whether we like it or not, cannot be ignored. Daily, new gadgets and apps are being released on operating systems foreign to the traditional enterprise. Every IT leader I speak with is struggling with how to apply the traditional IT norms to the world of mobile. Bottom line, I love the fact that every customer has an opinion on enterprise mobility and each wants a sounding board for defining a means to enable productivity without compromising protection. Any time a topic has unanimous interest, I can’t help but get excited.
EMF: Obviously, there has been a lot of talk and hype around BYOD. Is BYOD going to gain or lose popularity? Why?
RG: Right now, there is absolutely no doubt the topic of BYOD is hot in the boardroom. Why wouldn’t it be? Execs helped drive this trend when the iPhone, and subsequently the iPad, hit stores. BYOD is a symptom of a more transformative trend – the evolution of the endpoint and the way we share and access business information. Many companies are banking on a world in which employees have multiple device types – both company-owned and personally-owned. WinTel devices are no longer the only game in town even for company-owned devices. Many companies are enabling users to choose from a pool of company-owned devices rather than making the full jump to a BYOD program. Certain classes of devices and apps will always be contained to corporate-owned assets to maximize security and compliance. While specific roles in a company that primarily consume data – like sales in many industries – don’t need a full-featured operating system and apps to be productive. They simply need quick access to the things that matter – email, CRM, expense management and enablement materials. The Bring Your Own (Device, App, Data, Cloud, etc.) hype will continue for the foreseeable future as IT leaders wrestle with how to capitalize on the productivity of enterprise mobility reality without putting their organizations at risk.
EMF: BYOD makes me think of Frank Sinatra’s “I Did It My Way.” Is this sustainable in the workplace?
RG: Most IT leaders are not panicking over BYOD. They have tasked their HR, legal, compliance and information security teams to identify practical and sustainable approaches to “saying yes” to BYOD. Most companies recognize the employee morale, productivity and CapEx benefits of such a program. They also understand that certain classes of devices, apps and data don’t lend themselves to such a program. Personally, I see the BYOD hype as a forcing function to the definition of a complete program for protecting devices, apps and data regardless of device ownership.
EMF: The other big buzz is around the Cloud services for personal use. We recently saw IBM block iCloud and Dropbox. How are personal and private clouds going to coexist in the context of enterprise mobility?
RG: Ultimately, organizations need the assurance that company data does not end up in unauthorized and unaudited locations. A lot of innovation is being funded on Sand Hill Road and within the R&D labs of large technology companies to address this issue. The industry is seeing this in the form of user/app access management, mobile device management, mobile application management, file sharing, and mobile app virtualization innovations popping up daily. I believe organizations will address this challenge by investing in content–‐aware control points that link enterprise credentials with relevant apps and data PRIOR to sensitive data finding its way outside of the enterprise. For this approach to be viable, the user experience must not be negatively impacted. In other words, it must be transparent.
EMF: Thinking back to the first question when we asked you about what excites you, there’s no question that the pace of change and innovation in enterprise mobility is at a break neck pace. How can –‐ or better yet, should – IT departments handle that rate of change?
RG: First off, there is no need to panic. The fact is that enterprise IT organizations have gone through similar disruptive transitions in the past. Many of the companies serving the enterprise mobility market are start–‐ups looking to plug unmet needs created by Apple and Google platforms finding their way into the enterprise without permission. As with any emerging market, IT leaders should expect consolidation. Therefore, if working with technology start–‐ up vendors in this space, enterprises should get their feet wet by making small tactical purchases before standardizing across the enterprise on a technology platform that might go away.
EMF: But it’s not just about the pace of change, but also the size of those changes…look for example at Google’s acquisition of Motorola. Do you see the scale of change being a challenge for IT managers?
RG: Predicting the future is not a perfect science, not even close. Acquisitions will continue to happen at a heightened pace. Business-minded IT leaders will hedge their bets by making decisions that simultaneously benefit employees, customers and shareholders. In other words, they will not optimize for a single variable. Their decisions will be deliberate and take into account both the short-term and long-term.
EMF: OK – we’ve covered a bunch of topics here today. If you had to give one final “Net Net” recommendation to someone as they are planning their mobility strategy, it would be…
RG: Enabling enterprise mobility requires a mindset change. The device is a commodity; protecting the information and identities is what really matters. Mobile Device Management (MDM), although necessary, is not enough. Enterprises should insist on identity, app, data and file sharing controls that solve the real need: optimize productivity without compromising protection. Furthermore, the user experience should not be compromised in the process.
Well there you have it. Thanks Rob, for taking the time to chat with us about your views on enterprise mobility. Do you know anyone who should be a guest here on Inside Looking Out? Drop us a line.