I'm no developer. As much as I like to write code, I find that my time is better spent understanding our customer requirements and throwing darts at the 'next big thing' wheel of fortune pinned on my wall.
The segment marked mobile device management (MDM) is hardly legible as a result, but I'm still not convinced that BYOD is going to last in the enterprise space.
I am more than happy to be proved wrong, but I can't see how the benefits of reduced end-user device spend will outweigh the security and management overheads associated with a smartphone free-for-all in the corridors of UK businesses.
I'm also convinced it won't be long before users having access to smart devices becomes as much a given as users having access to networks became a few years ago. And we see a shift towards user-focused management that serves the individual, rather than the device.
I want to be clear about what I understand MDM to mean for the enterprise market. As things stand, enterprise MDM software is either a policy and configuration management tool for mobile handheld devices (smartphones and tablets based on smartphone OSes) or an enterprise solution for securing and enabling mobile enterprise users' access to content.
Good MDM strategies help enterprises manage the transition to a more complex mobile computing and communications environment, and they do this by supporting security, network services, and software and hardware management across multiple OS platforms and now, sometimes, laptops and ultrabooks.
This is obviously important as BYOD. Also choose your own device (CYOD) initiatives and advanced wireless computing have become common in the enterprise space.
My concern is that many organisations seem to view smartphones and tablets as peripheral to their core device estate, and look to bolt-on or standalone offerings to manage them.
This is a big mistake. It increases the security risk, as well as the cost of management. Instead, enterprises need to treat mobile devices as another corporate endpoint, alongside servers, desktops and laptops.
They should look at the benefits of employing a single device management system that allows their support teams to audit, protect, manage and access data across their entire estate.
Most organisations seem to be facing up to the challenge of managing increasing numbers of end points, OSes and models. However, nobody seems to have cracked it.
When it comes to managing and monitoring corporate data across multiple devices, the playing field has definitely changed. Data is now highly valuable and includes a huge amount of sensitive information including customer data, personally identifiable information and intellectual property.
Data has never been more important to daily business operations and the volumes being handled are continuing to expand. Access to data is therefore more important than ever and more and more users require secure and instant access to that data, their desktops and their work any time, anywhere, from any device.
Businesses are under pressure to enable easy access from various gadgets, including smartphones, tablets and web-enabled devices.
In truth, some IT departments waste their time facilitating that process. Many IT support team members must act as gatekeepers to vast amounts of data spread out across large organisations.
IT support teams should instead be facilitators of user access. I have seen research that suggests that performing global searches, locating company data quickly for compliance or eDiscovery purposes, or quickly retrieving old data or files and quickly accessing business data from any devices outside the office, are among the most common business IT complaints.
So perhaps it's time for a new approach to device and data management. Look for an approach that can transform the user experience – delivering data quickly, easily and securely at the same time as streamlining backend management.
I see a future of more user-focused management systems in the enterprise space. I see systems emerging that strike the right balance between asking CIOs to introduce 'company rules' and usage regulations and giving users the freedom to do what they want, where they want and on whatever device they want.
Bolting on tool kits to manage each wave of new devices is going to be inefficient, especially when the underlying business requirements haven't changed.
The device a user works on, much like the network to which that device connects, will become irrelevant. Obviously that's a bit further down the line, but for now we need to treat mobile like we would any other device – not as a separate category with its own set of rules.
Ian van Reenan is chief technology officer and co-founder of CentraStage
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