Did you know that this year, we will be celebrating the 10th anniversary of the first BlackBerry smartphone? That’s right — white collar enterprise mobility will, for all intents and purposes, be celebrating its 10th anniversary.
While in the grand scheme of things, 10 years is not a very long time, no one can disagree that there have been tremendous changes in enterprise mobility — particularly in the last six years — during this time period. Ten years ago, few people had heard of mobile device management (MDM) and certainly few, if any, had considered the notion of bringing your own personal devices to work. That would have been madness!
And yet today, in early 2013, all we seem to do is talk about MDM, the consumerization of IT (CoIT), and increasingly mobile application management (MAM), as we collectively try to reach the holy grail of protecting sensitive corporate data in the context of a society that expects not just BYOD, but access to all forms of data, applications in the cloud and the ability to interact with friends, colleagues, customers or prospects via social media outlets.
My head is spinning just thinking about it all — particularly the implications of doing one part without doing “the other.”
What I mean by this is that for so long (I know…it’s all relative), the industry was focused on MDM. Just recently (meaning over the last three or four years), the discussion has shifted to also include MAM. Then just this past summer, the Yankee Group publishes a bold research note entitled “MDM is Dead. Long Live EMM!” where enterprise mobility management (EMM) not only includes MDM and MAM, but also mobile security, wireless expense management, mobile operations management, help desk and the actual procurement of the devices. It’s basically an entire lifecycle — from cradle to grave — approach to handling mobile technologies within the workplace, and it makes a lot of sense.
That said, I can’t help but think that EMM, for all its merits, is a reactive mindset. Just think about the last word: management. Management is all about control and reigning things in before they get too out of control; hence, why there have been so many painful debates and discussions around the pros and cons of BYOD.
I believe — especially if you think mobility can become a core differentiator for your workplace — that we need to move from this reactive approach to one that is far more proactive. My rationale is: In the totality that is EMM, we are missing the most fundamental part of mobility — the apps.
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It’s the mobile apps (not the devices) that make our employees more productive, and yet, nowhere in MDM/EMM/BYOD discussions do we truly talk about mobile application development and the strategic importance of those apps as business accelerators. Yes, we talk about managing the apps and their data, but there is the inherent presupposition that the app exists and that it does what it’s supposed to.
I see a model that extends well beyond the reactive nature of EMM to one that proactively takes on all facets of technology to ensure that the business can truly be mobile. To me, that is a mobile platform — not just one mobile operating system (or two), or one app or one backend system, but being able to access all the backend data your company needs via amazing mobile applications (that your company has built) on an employee’s device(s) of choice thereby making them that much more productive regardless of time or location, all while ensuring that the corporate data is secured.
Did I mention that this is all cloud based so that your organization doesn’t need to waste time setting it all up?
That, is a platform for the mobile workplace.