It’s hard to imagine a world without iPhones, but there was a time when RIM ruled the roost, Blackberry’s were ubiquitous enough to warrant the moniker “Crackberry,” and Blackberry Enterprise Server was the standard for enterprise mobility. IT departments dished out company Blackberry’s to employees and kept them on short, secure leashes. iPhones were the new kid on the block and they had IT managers scrambling to get the CEO access to corporate email on this shiny new device. It was a disruption to their ordered mobile world. And it got me thinking back in 2010 when I wrote “iPhone Sits on the Cusp of Consumer and Enterprise” and I asked a simple question: When will I be able to use my iPhone for my business?
IBM and Apple took a big step towards answering my question in July when they announced a partnership for enterprise mobility. The trend in consumerization of IT being led by SaaS providers has put pressure on organizations as they embrace technology and innovation that is bypassing tradition corporate IT channels. Should IT be in charge? Maybe, maybe not, but someone needs to piece together the data, process and security issues that are left unanswered in what are often fragmented and silo’ed mobile and SaaS environments.
The IBM/Apple partnership highlights some positive trends in non-Blackberry mobile device utilization. The one word I used to describe RIM’s then competitive advantage was control. With Blackberry Enterprise Server (BES) the Blackberry’s being carried around were outside the four walls of the office but never left the enterprise. The data was controlled, managed and audit-able. The marriage of a iconic consumer brand with an iconic enterprise brand is sure to create a level of comfort that will drive more innovation in data security and risk management.
Another factor which I didn’t mention then and was reminded of in a conversation with IBM’s Athar Afzal is standardization. Variety may be the spice of life but it is the bane of IT. One strength I see in the IBM/Apple partnership is the ability for organizations to develop standards for mobile applications and service delivery to reign in some of the chaos.
Mobile has long been a staple of the enterprise and recent trends in adoption have made it a staple for consumers as well. We all have a mobile device that we can no longer live without and businesses need to come to terms with it. IBM and Apple are just the leading edge of a wave that’s crashing over enterprise technology and will likely engender more partnerships and innovation to deal with this trend in consumerization of technology and adoption of this technology within the enterprise.
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