CIOs Need Help Embracing Mobility and Cloud, Part 1: The Problem

IT departments are undergoing a massive change.  It can be difficult and it can be painful.  But it is woth it.  BYOD, Mobility and Cloud are good for business!

61% of employees are happier and more productive with BYOD and SaaS.

Many industries (and especially the technology sector) are going through an unprecedented time.  The combination of highly efficient supply chains, easy access to offshore manufacturing capacities, outsourced labor, and cloud computing dramatically lowered barriers to competitive market entry.  Competition is more fierce than ever before.  It is an “evolve or die” world and examples of companies who didn’t evolve fast enough are everywhere: Blockbuster, Nokia, Circuit City, the American automotive industry, traditional airlines.  Is it because these industries are inherently difficult?  Well, no.  Startups such as Ryan Air, Amazon, Tesla and Netflix, as well as large companies such as Hyundai, Toyota, Apple and Samsung, are prospering in the same very industries (and US automakers seem to be finally catching up too).

The current business environment requires companies small and large to become increasingly responsive, agile and flexible.  Manufacturing companies are switching to lean manufacturing (originally developed by Toyota).  Software companies are moving from standard development cycles and releasing new versions every few months to agile development (Facebook famously releases new code every day).  The new generation of employees grew up in the mobile age.  They expect to always be on and always be connected from any device and any location.  They expect great user experience from their applications.  Clunky applications are dying, giving way too new sleek interfaces (I don’t want to pick on anyone in particular but in 2000, Lotus Notes was the second largest email client on the market.  Today, its market share is less than one tenth of one percent).

Many companies are still hiding their heads in the sand with respect to trends of BYOD, pervasiveness of cloud-based applications, and ubiquity of mobile devices.  Many times we have heard IT managers and CIOs say things such as, “We don’t allow use of cloud apps,” or “We allow only Blackberry,” or “We don’t have a BYOD problem – we have deployed Mobile Device Management (MDM).”  But employees tell us very different stories.  Cross-functional teams collaborate using Box or Dropbox.  Employees file expense reports using Concur.  Field sales and support organizations set up virtual phone systems using RingCentral.  Marketing departments use Marketo and Eloqua.  Email and files are accessed not only through employer-provided Blackberry devices but from private iOS and Andriod devices.  A survey of employees in multinational corporations conducted by Acorn Consultants showed that 78% of employees access work-related files and applications from personal devices and more than 60% say that the ability to use mobile devices and cloud apps makes them more productive and happier.  Yet more than half stated that restrictive IT policies affected their efficiency and ability to problem-solve.  So why do IT departments resist BYOD and cloud if they improve productivity?  Because cloud apps are often not procured through IT.  They are usually purchased by other departments and lines of business (so called the Shadow IT phenomenon); and for these departments, security policies are not a high priority.  As a result, Shadow IT becomes a major risk factor.


To mitigate some of that risk, IT departments deploy solutions such as MDM, but employees fiercely resist adoption because MDMs give employers visibility into private email, applications and pictures (so much so that Gartner’s distinguished analyst John Girard recently predicted an impending demise of the MDM market).  This is bad for employees who don’t want their privacy violated.  And it is also bad for employers who can be sued by employees for violation of privacy and employment decisions based on private information.  Productivity also suffers.  And perhaps most importantly, MDM does not solve the core problem.  There’s no point in removing the Salesforce app from the phone if the credentials are still good and the employee can download the customer list through the web.  there’s no point in removing the Box app from the tablet if the employee can access and download any confidential files.

The MDM industry was founded at a time when mobility and cloud existed as separate ecosystems.  But now they have converged.  Just about every application we use on our smart phones has a cloud backend which can be accessed from a variety of endpoints (not only smartphones but tablets, laptops, PCs, etc.).  So managing only smartphones without addressing other types of devices and, more importantly, applications and data simply does not solve the needs of today’s enterprise.  Solving security issues introduced by cloud and BYOD requires a new set of tools which are device and platform agnostic and focused on applications and data.  In the Part II of this post, we’ll discuss the new generation of security solutions designed for converged Cloud and Mobility.