by Brian Katz on December 6, 2012 · 3 comments

I’ve had the chance to be on stage a couple of times in the last month and one of my favorite things to ask is how many people work at companies that have a policy for BYOD (Bring your own device). In both cases about 60% of the room raised their hand. I then asked how many of those policies forbid BYOD…and I had between 10 and 20% of the room keep their hands up. I then asked the last question, the one that makes everyone laugh (especially if there are IT people in the room), how many of the people in the audience either bring their own device to work or know someone who does…invariably the answer is extremely close to 100%. Whether it is allowed or not, almost every company has some form of BYOD going on, even when they have said no to it.

The issue here is that many of these companies have a policy in place that used to be adopted by the military, “Don’t Ask and Don’t tell!” If you brought your own device in, don’t ask IT how to set it up to use network resources and certainly don’t tell anyone in power that you have it. These companies suffer from Ostrichitis, they keep their head in the sand without looking at what is really going on. Yet these same companies will stand up and talk about how they have enabled BYOD in the company and how it has certainly helped them become mobile enabled.

They then call all the different consulting firms and ask what to do. They need a strategy to move forward because those firms have already told them in print and every time they turn on the TV or open a magazine that the only way for them to succeed is by going mobile. They start to get advice, and look at what they can do. IT gets involved, if they weren’t already and as they are conditioned to say no they are already against using mobile anyway. This is despite the fact that some people in IT already use their iPads to do their work and solve problems remotely. IT is painfully good at suffering from Ostrichitis.

At no time does the business actually sit down and articulate what they actually want to do with all these people who are planning to take the company ‘mobile’. These companies are stuck in the old way of doing things and forget that their mission is to help the business stay in business and get their jobs done more efficiently and easier. The whole secret anytime you are working with the business is to realize that you aren’t in the IT or security fields, you are in the business enablement field. How do you actually enable the business to do their job and do it better than they used to.

The secret is understanding that having mobile devices isn’t the same as being mobile enabled. When you have a mobile enabled business, your employees are doing their jobs when they need to, where they need to, and using the right tool (device and app) to make it easy to get the job/task done. Mobile enablement isn’t about having a smart phone or a tablet. It’s about having the right tools. A smart phone or a tablet even in the right place isn’t itself a tool. You need to build apps that can be used on these devices. In reality, when you practice mobile enablement you are building a mobile ecosystem around your users that allows them to meet the business strategy of the company. The ecosystem is designed to allow them to be more flexible and agile in their jobs and to enable them to be more productive in helping the business meet their goals.

Mobile is about much more than bringing a phone or a tablet into a company, it’s about enabling your users to use tools that make everything easier or faster. This doesn’t mean that they need to supply the tools themselves. People don’t bring their own devices into work because they want to spend their own money on the tools that they need. They bring their own devices into the workplace because they think it will allow them to be more productive. They look for apps that will allow them to get around the pain points that have been built into the modern enterprise crapplication ecosystem. A company that is mobile enabled is already tackling these issues head on and is providing tools that allow the workers to do this. They may allow BYOD in the enterprise but most of them don’t need to. They have been paying attention to their users all along and understand that their mobile strategy is part of their business strategy. When they see a user going around the provided tool, they look to improve it by focusing on the user needs and making sure they get met. All it takes is remembering that having mobile devices doesn’t mean you are mobile enabled. (For you formula people Mobile Devices != Mobile Enablement)

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Ernie Huber December 6, 2012 at 10:55 am

Great post Brian

It is a little of the shiny ball syndrome….oooh look at
that, I have to have that, so what will you do with it, uhhhh……..
Hey, now I want………

It appears that many companies are just jumping on the
bandwagon and saying we have to have a BYOD policy because everyone else has

I agree, connecting and securing access is not enough if your
employees don’t know what they are going to do next.

If you stay focused on employee productivity and efficiency
the use cases will be obvious (and abundant) and the ROI discussions will just fade away.


Brian Katz December 7, 2012 at 1:55 am

Great way to distill it down Ernie and I whole-heartedly agree. Work on enablement and helping people to get there…having mobile present doesn’t mean it’s useful


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