Knowledge Workers

by Brian Katz on August 6, 2013 · 0 comments

The best part of being back from vacation is catching up with people. Your mind has had a chance to rest and hopefully put your work aside (it’s good to not look at emails for a week) and you come back refreshed and raring to go. One of the conversations I had last week was with Scott Davis, CTO of end user computing for VMware. In the course of discussing their solutions for EMM (Enterprise Mobility Management) we ended up talking about where things needed to go. It was a very interesting conversation because we really talked about the fact that no one was really at the finish line yet or even really approaching it.

The next step of evolution for managing mobility is understanding and delivering results to your users. They are the ones who are using the tools you provide to get their work done. In the end, what you need to deliver to them is the right knowledge that they need, at the right time and in the right place for them to act on it.

I spend a lot of time talking about MIM (Mobile Information Management) which I think may really be contained under the umbrella of Mobile Content Management (I refuse to make another acronym at the moment). The point is, we as IT and even the business itself, look at it usually as data, and we think about delivering the right data to people. This is really an awful way to look at. Data in and of itself is quite useless. Data needs to be transformed from strictly data into information and then from information into knowledge. We need to figure out how to deliver the knowledge that our users need to them when and where they need it.

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The real question becomes how do we protect that knowledge which becomes important for any organization. We don’t want to just have information flow free on the wire for anyone, including our competitors to pick up. Legacy thinking has always said that we just need to own the device; it’s how we protected laptops so why not with mobile. This is how MDM (Mobile Device Management) came about. Organizations felt that a sledgehammer was the perfect weapon and everything looked like a giant nail.

This of course falls apart as BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) becomes more popular as your users bought the device themselves, they don’t like the idea of IT having the keys to their kingdom and being able to shut them out. This has led to the current surge in MAM (Mobile Application Management) solutions which all like to boast that they fix your BYOD problem (You know, the one you didn’t necessarily know that you had). MAM’s claim to fame is that instead of controlling the whole device, it just protects the business apps that you actually use as well as they data that those apps use. Along with MAM we have seen the rise of containerization, as the data has to be protected and this was the best way people could think of to share the data between the business apps that their users used.

These are all good solutions and of course great stops on the mobility journey that your organization has hopefully embarked on. The goal though is to provide the user with the knowledge they need, so that the experience is frictionless and transparent to them. They shouldn’t be thinking about whether they have their phone, tablet or laptop with them, they will want the right device for the right job.

This also means that we need to deliver the right content for the right situation. This is why Mobile Content Management will start to become paramount. Security and policy will need to start following the data, not the app. This is why when you look at security you start with the data and work your way up the stack, to apps and then the device itself. You aren’t looking to control the device and you don’t want to create a cognitive dissonant experience for your users where they must figure out what persona they’re in. They should be using the right device and the right app because it provides the information they need. Only when you marry the device with the app does it become a true tool. It won’t matter if it’s an Android, Apple, or Windows 8 device but rather if the tool fades into the background as they use it to access the knowledge they need.

While we have a long way to go, technology is just starting to catch this wave of MAM, we are well on our way to Mobile Content Management. There’s a reason we call our people knowledge workers, we need to deliver that knowledge to them. Maybe in the end, it’s really all just knowledge management.

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