What does it take to go mobile? I talk to a lot of people about mobility and I am invited to many webinars. There is a lot of focus on BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) these days, as everyone is talking about it. We seemed to have moved away from what mobile really means and more towards “how we can sell you on our latest product as it supports BYOD”. Then we have the debates on whether we should be doing BYOD or COPE (Corporate Owned Personally Enabled) and how do we manage the devices. We have forgotten that it’s not a question of management but enablement.
Enough is enough. It’s time we take our collective heads out of our bums and start focusing on the real issues. Mobility is about nothing more than enabling your consumers to do their jobs. It’s time to realize that your employees, that many of us affectionately (sarcasm) refer to as users are also your consumers just as your customers are. They need to consume data and use it in ways that allow you to be profitable and keep moving forward.
So, mobility is about enabling your consumers. But what does that mean? It’s about providing people with the right knowledge and the right tools at the right time and in the right place for them to act upon it, as they need to. If we start with the premise that your job is no longer a place you go but what you actually do, we start to get a clearer picture of mobile. Mobile is the way we turn data in its pure form of 1 and 0s into information and then knowledge for the consumer. It’s about allowing your employee to answer their phone when they’re not at their desk, while at the same time giving them the knowledge to solve the issue they’re being called about
We have this tendency to get stuck on the trivial things. We want to talk about devices and how to control them, or what’s the best device/OS out there. We spend hours talking about the differences between Android and Apple, or whether we should allow Microsoft to play in our sandbox. We feel the need to debate whether BlackBerry might be dying and what to do with those devices that are still in our ecosystem.
The more ‘enlightened’ of us have started to talk about managing apps instead of devices, and managing data instead of operating systems. We see this as a way to protect our intellectual property and keep our corporate data secure. We talk about virtualization and containerization as ways to help control the environment that our employees work in when they are doing actual work.
Then we have those who are starting to focus on the data and putting protection around the data from the start. They are poo-pooed by those talking about Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) that encompasses all three parts of managing mobility. They point out, in an effort to avoid being wrong, that EMM encompasses devices, apps and data so you should manage the spectrum.
The real problem is that this is the wrong place to focus. Don’t be mistaken, these pieces are all important but they miss the point of mobility. The goal of all mobility is to enable your users. You do this by giving them the rights tools to get their work done when and where they need to. The mistake is in misunderstanding what the user’s tools are. Giving your consumers a great device isn’t giving them a tool. It’s no different then giving them a pen with no ink or paper and nothing to write down. The secret of mobility is the combination of the device, the app, and the data to form the right tool that lets your people turn raw data into knowledge (to be fair, some data has already been turned into knowledge and is just being accessed) that they can use when they need it. When you can be sitting at your child’s soccer game, and look at your device at halftime, and close a million dollar deal, or determine the issue with the malfunctioning sorter before the 2nd half starts, you’ve enabled your people. On the other hand, giving them a device with Angry Birds on it for them to play at halftime doesn’t help either them or the business.
This doesn’t mean we can ignore security or data management and data management for the sake of mobility, but that isn’t a problem of mobile devices or apps. They are just symptoms of the technical debt that companies have been pushing down the road for years and never got around to addressing. We’ve been talking about data classification for decades, and more seriously in the last ten years, and yet, most companies haven’t even attempted it. We have believed that we can secure data by owning devices and yet before mobile devices there were USB keys, then there were DVDs and CD and lest we forget, the venerable floppy disk that people copied data to when they wanted to work at home. Data security has always been something that needs to be addressed and has actually become easier to technically do yet we still push for device security and ownership.
Mobility never stands by itself, nor does any technical solution. The secret to technology, mobile or otherwise, is fitting it into your business strategy. When a technology helps you achieve your business goals through enabling your consumers, then you know you’ve found the right way to move forward. This is how you successfully mobilize your company.