Reflection on Enablement

by Brian Katz on September 16, 2013 · 0 comments

It’s not very often that people take the time to look back and reflect. I should do it more often, but I try every year around this time think about those sorts of things. Usually in business things are moving too fast and there is the ever present march forward. The hope is that you have enough people who have been there so that you don’t repeat the mistakes of the past but in this day and age it becomes harder and harder to do that. With that in mind I have been thinking a lot about cloud and mobile.

Cold_ReflectionsIt’s amazing how things tend to go in circles. It wasn’t 10 years ago that IT was starting to look at VMware and virtualization with the same fear that people had with cloud computing just two or three years ago. The same fear that many see with mobile now. There is the group of thinkers who see what each of these things mean and could be and are trumpeting all the reasons why businesses should be moving forward as fast as they can. Just as it was then, there is a group of naysayers who are dogged by FUD (Fear Uncertainty and Doubt). The companies whose business are affected by these changes are happy to sow those seeds, raising reasons from insecurity to performance of why we, as IT should stick to the old ways.

It doesn’t help that those that are pushing the new technologies can hardly agree among themselves. Whether it be IaaS, PaaS, or Saas, or in the mobile world BYOD or COPE, HTML 5 or Native, MDM or MAM, they set up debates on which way is better and take pride in shouting down the others. They wonder why people don’t move faster towards these technologies not realizing that they are part of the problem themselves. How is a business supposed to decide which is the better way to go when everyone is fighting so hard for a piece of the pie and the only way they can see to get the largest piece is to make sure others get none. It almost becomes a zero sum game which ends up hurting the business and the consumer and slowing the adoption of technologies that should take us into the future.

Don’t get me wrong, I have, like so many I know, played a part in this, but it’s time for it to stop. As someone I interviewed recently for the Mobilecast said, there is plenty of pie to go around, why waste the opportunity. The question has to become though, where do we start. In cloud, it’s realizing that every solution isn’t the right solution for all companies. Each company is at a different point in their maturity level and their requirements. Maybe that means that they build an internal cloud (I refuse to use the word private here) or maybe they go for External with AWS, Microsoft or Rackspace. Some of them may only be ready to use IaaS as they have highly specified workloads and applications while others are ready to use a PaaS or a SaaS solution. It doesn’t make any one of these companies better or worse off, we have to help them get where they need to be.
In mobile, we have to move away from the arguments of MDM, MAM, or MIM. Each one is meets a different need and each one is right for the right business. We get stuck into worrying about BYOD or COPE and forget that what we’re talking about is mobile, in each case a person is using a device. Lest we forget the app wars, HTML5 vs native vs hybrid, all saying they are the best way to build an app and never willing to cede any ground to the other options, not realizing that most people will need all three.

It’s time people stand up and be counted. Vendors can’t keep shooting other people down so that they can succeed and then wonder why they lose business in some deals. If they are shooting their competitors down what do they think their competitors are doing? When competition becomes friendly and cooperation starts to take hold, or at least friendly competition, more people prosper and the business moves forward. Only through this coopertition, cooperating while competing, can the vendors continue to move their products forward and help the business see the lights at the end of the tunnel.

It’s time that we focus on the business, both the vendors and internal IT. The only way to truly move everyone forward as quickly as possible is to start focusing on the needs of the business and their requirements. How do we enable the consumers of the technology, whether they be customers or employees, to be more flexible and agile and therefore enable the business to be the same. It’s when we start asking that question at every turn that we become facilitators of technology. As all the different and new technologies become available, we need to look at how they will work to move the business forward and realize that everyone can’t take that step at once. There will always be leaders, followers and laggards. What we need to strive to do is make sure that we are doing our damnedest to allow them all to put their best foot forward while not stepping on any of our fellow employees or competitors along the way. As we enable all, we enable ourselves.

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