The Future of MDM, Part 4: The Future of MDM is User-Centric

Part 4: The Future of MDM is User-Centric

What is the future of MDM—and what does this mean for organizations? First, a short detour on the driving force behind the trends…

Around the turn of the century RIM introduced the BlackBerry and forever changed the consumption of a critical service: email. Leveraging an early lead, RIM did a good job of making it reasonable for enterprises to adopt their platform (BES) and manage these devices. Basically, RIM focused on the needs of the enterprise. Apple, conversely, focused on the pure user experience and making devices people loved to use. The significance? A survey released in March 2011 from iPass recently showed the following preference by enterprise users:

- Those choosing BlackBerry as their preferred device: 8%
- Those choosing the iPhone/iPad as their preferred device: 48%

Blackberry has steadily declined in every quarter of 2010—from 43% in January to less than 35% in December—while the iPhone and Android have grown rapidly. This, despite the fact that neither the iPhone or Android are particularly “enterprise friendly”. Here’s the point: In the end, the masses win—what the people want eventually happens. The fact that iOS and Android can’t match RIM’s BES isn’t much of discussion point. The people have spoken. The lesson for the organization in this is simple: don’t ignore the power of the people—embrace it.

A key factor for most aspects of MDM solutions today is device compatibility (has MDM solution been designed for a specific type of device?) I don’t want to trivialize how important this is—but this represents a flawed device-centric approach. Organizations are beginning to enter the world of Bring Your Own Device, or BYOD. This is driven by the relatively low cost of these devices combined with how personal these devices are (name any other electronic device that you take with you EVERYWHERE). People might not object too much to their company-assigned laptop, but smartphones and tablets are going to be different. It might take a decade to really arrive, but BYOD is coming. While this represents a complex management paradigm for organizations in several ways, there are a few key issues:

- The organization’s ability to control which devices are used will erode with employees ultimately deciding this in the longer term.
- User preference for devices will be fragmented, resulting in a broad mix of devices—tablets, smartphones, and more sharing a diverse set of operating systems.

These issues are worthy of their own discussion, but I think there’s a take away. ORGANIZATIONS MUST STOP FOCUSING ON DEVICES TYPES AND INSTEAD FOCUS ON THE SERVICE NEEDS OF THE WORKFORCE. In short, organizations need to adopt a USER-CENTRIC management paradigm capable of delivering what any user needs at any time, on any device.

The goal of MDM—really of any technology—is to empower people with the ability to do more. If Nancy is a sales rep that needs to call a customer regarding a possible sale, then she probably needs a few things: the right contact information, possibly notes from her last conversation or email exchange with the customer, and maybe some product information. It shouldn’t matter whether Nancy is using a desktop, a laptop, a tablet device or a smartphone—what matters is that Nancy has what she needs when she needs it. Nancy needs a user-centric model.

The future of MDM is on the horizon. Getting to this future won’t be quick or painless (MDM is already a decade old), but it will happen. As organizations consider which tools they should adopt for Mobile Device Management, they really need to consider what they need from a broader systems management strategy to deliver any service across any device their workforce uses (laptops, tablets, smartphones and more. They need a complete solution that manages the needs of employees. It is not a device-centric world. It’s user-centric.

Stay tuned for more detail on these and other MDM issues in this blog.


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