This week saw the 10th annual EVUA Mobilizing the Enterprise event. In a small hotel near Schipol airport, I was struck by how the more things have changed, the more they have stayed the same.
Analyst Sandra Boyle opened proceeds with a compelling analysis of the very significant impact that mobility is having on all aspects of the value chain; from IT governance and financial management to HR and corporate strategy itself. Enterprises, it seems, are mobilizing with or without the consent or control of IT. The driving force behind the new mobility revolution? Consumerization in general and a certain brand of smartphone and tablet computer in particular.
This year, however, there was a definite split in the room between the traditional and contemporary IT policy camps, giving a glimpse into the IT strategy meetings of enterprises across the world as they try to avoid getting hit by what Gartner has called the 'unstoppable trend' of consumerization.
Interestingly, although another key theme of the event was the challenge of developing the business case in favor of supporting BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policies - as benefits tend to be 'softer' than other IT investment decisions and include such ethereal concepts as employee morale, etc - the chief (sic) culprits tend to be the very board room occupants for whom the business cases are intended.
The irony of IT people trying to justify the need to stop employees from voluntarily buying their own equipment was not lost on the more progressive delegates, especially in a time when there is such pressure on firms to improve efficiency. Similarly, the role of BYOD in 'the battle for talent' was met with a combination of doubt, intransigence and derision by small group of 'traditionalists'. Generation Y, it seems will have to be happy with Windows XP for a some time yet in certain organizations.
The debate about data roaming charges was rather more tangible with the combined effects of the forthcoming LTE roll-out and increasing SmartPhone/Tablet PC proliferation worrying all delegates equally. This prompted a lively discussion around the various steps that IT could take to identify and contain costs. Solutions ranged from centralized cellular contracts and hosted device management services to telecom expense management and mobile unified communications. The clear message was that the tools are available and that firms need to take a step back, review their infrastructure strategy, segment their users and develop strategies and policies accordingly.
All of which seem to be very familiar discussions from previous years' events and reminded me of the words of a John Lennon song: mobility, it seems, is what happens when IT are making other plans.
What is the attitude of your CIO towards the role of ‘consumer’ and non-corporate personal devices in the firm?
With a background in strategy management and international marketing, my role as marketing director for multinational mobility services allows me to explore the many ways that mobility and m2m are moving the boundaries of business for our customers. My key areas of interest are mobility-enabled strategic innovation and business process re-engineering through context-aware ‘smart mobility’ technologies.