I think that Apple is taking a big bite out of the Enterprise, and this is a good thing. I wonder if we (in IT) created this BYOD problem ourselves by ignoring an obvious phenomenon: the staggering rise/reemergence of Apple!
Where do I start my BYOD tale? Flashback to 2000: I was at Honeywell and the newly arrived CEO requested that IT provide him a Blackberry (since he was used to using one in his previous company). Magically, the budget was created, plans were executed flawlessly and we suddenly had a standard company issued device to all key executives. So quite by accident, we rolled out what was arguably the best user productivity tool of its time.
What’s ironic here is that a deployment of Blackberries had not been included in our strategic IT investment plan. Who would have thought that our end users would want to carry a device that granted constant access to email/calendar? The IT mindset was to reduce costs; and these Blackberry devices were an additional cost, on top of the corporate laptops already provided to mobile users. Employees (like our CEO) wanted to squint to read and reply to an email with tiny screen and even tinier keyboard. Blackberries were here to stay---and IT had to quickly figure out a way to deploy this new productivity tool…. screaming and kicking all the way.
Soon after the introduction of the iPhone in 2007, I started hearing some rumblings from my internal customers; they wanted iPhones too. But back then, I was content with what had become the enterprise standard: a Blackberry. I didn’t want to think about introducing more complexity to the mix with more devices. Then in early 2010, the introduction of Apple’s iPad opened the door a little wider. Why couldn’t we get email and calendar to work on this shiny new device? If it works on the iPad, why not on the iPhone?
Fast forward to today. IT departments who have started supporting multiple mobile devices/tablets now realize that this BYOD phenomena wasn’t as big a deal as they once thought and can actually save them time, money, and gains some brownie points with the end users.
And since we are talking about Apple, what about the iMac in the work place? What are we afraid of in IT? Is it higher costs? More complexity? The unknown? My experience has been that most iMac users are actually really good at helping themselves and only call IT for support as the last resort. And you know what? That’s not a difficult end user group to support! Even the guys at JPL and NASA used Macs to put Curiosity on Mars. "The scientists and engineers can request whatever platform they desire, and they mostly pick Macs” said Jerry Blackmon at JPL.
Today’s workforce have many devices at home, so it’s only natural to assume that whatever cool device is used at home, the same experience is expected at work. Same goes with software and productivity tools. Our users are asking why one could not use “Skype”-like tools or Skype itself to collaborate globally. Why does Facetime work so easily on the iPhone, while we still have to press ten buttons to do a video conference at work? Why can’t we share big documents with customers like Gdrive? Why can’t we save money on telephones calls by using Google voice? And the list goes on.
In some cases there may be perfectly good cost, security and support considerations for not rolling out everything. But just ask yourself, as an IT professional, if this really true? Or is it that you think that you don’t like green eggs and ham?