Well, it’s almost that time of year again. You know the one. Everyone in IT dreads it. Well, anyone who deals with mobile at least. The rest of the geeks in the IT department and all over the company have already starting asking questions. It’s that grand old holiday that people celebrate by dropping their phones onto the pavement, letting them slip into a glass of water or just getting left behind in a cab. It’s rumored to be falling on September 10th this year but that’s only a rumor.
Unless you have buried your head under a rock for the past month, you should know that Apple is supposed to be introducing its new iPhone next month and along with it, iOS 7. This is a big deal for IT as they need to be ready for all of the gifts that iOS 7 will bring with it as well as the begging for new devices.
It never fails, that I start getting questioned around June of each year on what will be in the new iPhone. It ramps up as every news site on the planet feels the need to repeat the rumors and if it happens to get into the Wall Street Journal then it must be true. “Will it have a bigger screen?” “What about a fingerprint reader?” “Will the new iWatch come out at the same time?” I give the usual answer as many do, Apple doesn’t tell anyone anything…some of the rumors are true but others aren’t.
The problem is IT is fighting shiny new toy syndrome, the need for each person to have the latest and greatest device. If you follow the COPE (Corporate Owned Personally Enabled) model, you see tons of people who find reasons that they need the shiny new toy as soon as possible. It is a life-threatening situation that they have it and a little accident with their old device is commonplace. If they control their own budget and it isn’t centralized then they just order it and you find out when they connect it to the enterprise resources. It avoids all planning and budgeting. The only way around this mess is to have a good policy in place that lays out when people are eligible for new devices (no matter how they lost destroyed their old one) and what the process is.
This doesn’t have any effect at all though if you have a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) program. The day the new phones ship from Apple you will see the first one hit your management console, assuming you have one. There isn’t much you can do to stop people unless, again, you have a good policy (anyone sense a pattern here). This doesn’t apply to just Apple by the way. Samsung comes out with new phones almost every quarter, and Google always has their new Nexus device at least once a year. The fever pitch with Apple just brings it all to a head.
So, how do you prepare for this international holiday? You have to start with enablement and remembering why you’re there in the first place, to help your people get their stuff done. You do this through policy, partnering, and, saving the best for last, communication.
The first leg of the tripod is policy. The policy has to take into account that people like shiny new things and they look at these new devices as a way to make it easier for them to get their work done. It doesn’t mean that there will be new features that will actually enable this, but if their morale is higher because they have the latest and greatest device, chances are they will be more productive and feel better about how they do their job. IT also can’t just say “No” forever about new devices either. It’s a wall that they just can’t erect these days. It isn’t just the regular employees who want the new devices but the people up in the C suite want them as well. Instead, IT has to be on top of its game and work to enable these devices as fast as they can. So when they build that policy they have to have all the stakeholders involved, including their customers/end-users.
IT also has to remember that they can’t control when these shiny new toys will be available. This isn’t easy for IT but they are dealing with these companies that are consumer oriented and while they want to be in the enterprise, their first priority is consumers, which we all are. IT has to step up and work with its partners. If they use any sort of EMM (Enterprise Mobility Management) solution they must work hand in hand with them to make sure they have what they need to be able to support these new devices and software as close to day one as possible. They need to do testing and recruit ordinary people to help with that testing. IT geeks have their own way of using devices but what about your front line that uses their devices to be productive. They need to work as well and should have representation in the testing. When testing is complete, it’s time to welcome the new devices with open arms, according to policy, of course.
The piece that makes this work besides policy and partnership is being open and transparent. IT has to communicate with all of its stakeholders. This starts when they are creating the policy and never stops. In reality, IT needs its own PR machine that can help make sure everyone is aware what is going on. When new devices are schedule to come out, the PR machine starts up and not only reminds users of the current policy, but also let’s them know the steps that IT is going to take to make sure they are ready as quickly as possible to support said devices. The communications continues through the whole testing process so your users are aware and actually feel like you are trying to enable them. Only through partnering with your users and the rest of your stakeholders can you make it through this wonderful Consumerization holiday healthy and whole.