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Bring Your Own Device (BYOD): #2 The Swift Revolution

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The BYOD revolution was swift, it started and finished instantly. It did not leave any time for the corporate IT to respond or implement policies or take measures. Corporate IT was taken over.

The takeover was not coincidental however, it was an expected result. The mobile phones caught up with the speeds of the notebooks, both in hardware and in mobile connection speeds. Laptop prices fell dramatically. The market for the smart phones increased at the expense of dumb phones with dirt-cheap prices. The shiniest gears sold for sub $200 prices. The budget-constrained corporate IT could not keep up with the rapidly changing environment. Nor it could not support the devices introduced a couple of days ago.

The employees purchased the newest gadgets and began to use them rather than the IT-supported, corporate gadgets of yesteryear. They were right in their own; who on earth would want to use devices that are technologically dead while he already has the newest one in his pocket?

OTA Sync

OTA syncing today is taken for granted for all mobile phone platforms. Before that, the only possible solution was using SyncML.

Employees realized that they can receive their corporate e-mails on their own devices; it was just a matter of purchasing a data plan and then defining yet another email account on the device. In almost all cases, purchasing a data plan just needed a logon to the carrier’s website and making a few clicks and defining an email account needed a few taps. In an infrastructure that uses Microsoft’s Exchange 2010 or later, the new email account meant an over-the-air (OTA) sync of emails, calendar, contacts, to-do lists and notes. Compared to a decade ago, where syncing contacts with a website needed a SyncML capable device, and compared to the near future of syncing contacts in Outlook with a cable, OTA sync was the point of no return.

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On the other hand there was the corporate IT department. BYOD meant a myriad of devices to be managed. The iDevices of the upper management were manageable but a flood of various devices were not. The corporate IT, previously seen as the “Preventer of Information Systems” was drowned. The tools at hand, the support specialists and the variety of the mobile operating systems and their versions were too much to handle, especially with the current budgets. “No, we don’t support that device” was no more than a vague struggle to earn some time to set up an action plan. At this point, it was game over for the IT department. The corporate IT was taken over and was consumerized.

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As Internet connection was the Pandora’s box for the smartphones, the consumerization of IT was for the corporate IT. No longer the IT department could quiet the board with its security or support trumps. If the VP of Marketing could do everything with her shiny new iDevice, and the corporate data is not compromised, how could CIO play his security card? And if the VPs could check in with their flights via their mobiles, why wouldn’t the developers allow them to reach their in-house applications via a tap on the corporate app?

Of course the corporate IT was right in its own: there were lots of devices with varying operating systems to be supported and there were the opportunities for huge productivity gains. There were the security issues and there were the competition that required anytime access to information. There were the network management issues and there were the opportunity for huge savings by incorporating location data to the company’s decision systems. The resources? IT had to do more with less.

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The big guys rushed to assistance: Microsoft embedded mobile device management with its System Center 2012 Configuration Manager, VMWare introduced Horizon Mobile,  Citrix acquired Zenprise. With varying degrees of mobile device support, now corporate IT departments have at least a way to manage the mobile devices. But, this is just the beginning. If Mobile Device Management (MDM) is version 1.0, Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) is version 2.0. And EMM requires thinking on the fundamentals.


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