Consumer Devices & Enterprise Users

Daniel Maycock is one of Slalom’s acknowledged thought leaders in the realm of new and emerging technology.

It’s long been the case that enterprises expect different things out of their technology than the average consumer. From printers that can do 100 pages per second, to fax machines that can staple and bind themselves, to a whole system of day planners that requires a weekend seminar to understand and utilize. So it makes sense, when the Palm Pilot first came out as the ultimate information manager, that it was largely targeted towards enterprise users. After all, how slick was it to pull out your PDA, access your calendar, to-do items, and memos in the middle of a meeting without having to run back to your desk?

But oh, how far we’ve come. Today Verizon announced a new partnership with Good for Enterprise, that will allow Android phones to be deployed within an enterprise. Now every Tom, Dick, and Susie can use a Droid X in their meetings or on the road with the same use and ease as they did with their enterprise-friendly BlackBerry. RIM still maintains its foothold on the enterprise, but the trend may be turning.

It’s no secret that consumers drive the mobile device market, with roughly 95some% of the total market, compared to the 3-5% left over for the enterprise market. This is no small change, because years ago it was Enterprises that were first to adopt new technologies until they become cheap enough for consumers to afford.

Now however, companies are considering a subsidy model that will pay for individual’s phones with the ability to connect to internal network resources. This means the enterprise no longer has to pay to maintain a fleet of phones, but rather manages access to company resources and lets the employees use whatever phone they would like. Though this opens up companies to increased concerns around security and data management, the rate of change for mobile technology is outstripping a lot of companies ability to keep up.

Though the needs of staying up to date with the latest technology vs the cost to upgrade has always been an issue with Enterprises, the rapid pace at which mobile technology continues to evolve and grow is putting enterprise mobility on the short list of things CIOs all over the world will be looking at, if they haven’t already.

With more companies jumping on board with Good for Enterprise, and Android devices, (targeted largely at the consumer) getting more enterprise-focused applications, the lines between what’s an enterprise device and a consumer device will continue to blur.

Even RIM, whose bread and butter has always been message-crazed enterprise users, has largely switched gears to begin to target more of the consumer market with the latest series of ads around the Blackberry torch, and Blackberry Messenger.

This doesn’t even tap into the feverish pace at which iPads and other such tablets are beginning to gain traction in the enterprise, as companies find new and innovative ways to transform their businesses from cubicle-based PC computing, to open-aired collaborative spaces utilizing a handful of different form factors.

Yet, despite this consumerist push into the heart of most companies, privacy and security remain the two stalwarts protecting company assets from the unsafe grasp of flimsy encryption and rootable operating systems. My sense is, however, that as privacy has become less of a concern over the last several years with the Facebook generation sharing more and more of themselves with the world around them, IT security will find  a way to evolve and protect what needs to be protected and let the rest go. This is the belief that drives Good for Enterprise, that only certain data needs to be protected in a 256 bit envelope, and the rest of the device can go about doing what it wants.

Over time, more phones may adapt profiles that allow you to differentiate your work life from your home life, but I see it as the two slowly becoming one – that you have a personal brand, that you keep with you, no matter where you go. With mobile check-in now enabled, and auto-updates working their way into every day applications, calling in sick while your phone says you’re at a baseball game will occur enough that people will either unplug from the social web or grow to accept the new level of visibility they have with their mobile device.

Perhaps though, it may be a cultural revolution where people’s level of importance is tied to their level of visibility, and the personal brand morphs your work and home life together, with a number of social streams going in and out at all times of day, and the 9 to 5 man gives way to a 24/7 version of you which will be scrutinized by recruiters, corporate HR teams, and sociologists mining for a better understanding of who you are. I imagine we’re a ways out from that, but it certainly may come about as the lines between the enterprise you and the personal you becomes less and less differentiated.

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About Daniel Maycock
Driven & passionate IT thought leader with several years experience working with companies to help solve their most difficult technology issues. Focus is around successful adoption of emerging technologies, such as Mobile & Cloud technologies, and providing the tools & expertise to help companies successfully adopt these technologies where they make the most business sense.

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