Mobility is a crazy business and business is good

So as this year comes to a close it’s a great time to reflect on the accomplishments, heartaches, frustrations and wow moments from the year.

1) BlackBerry: Over the past year we have heard everything from its dead, being sold, going private etc. Organizations around the world have been hearing the horror stories from mass media, however they still remain strong. Wonder how they will course correct in 2014 and if they can restore corp confidence.

2) Apple vs Samsung: The war continues. Apples innovation has seemed to stall this year or lag behind other manufacturers. The corp play has been met with huge enterprise dissatisfiers. The play to make an OS to rival BlackBerry and win the enterprise crowd is less than scalable. As is Apples track record about building hype around use for work (see iPhone 3GS), the abilities are only if you use their tool and if you only deliver to a small group. All in all they have a long way to go. Samsung promised high delivered mediocre. They too went all in with a blackberry killer. Samsung KNOX, which requires more over head to implement and is only available on a couple of devices. Again great for small organizations but not yet there for corporate, but you can get a cool watch to talk to.

3) EMM: As anyone who knows me knows that I’m a huge believer in what worked for you may not work for me. This year we have seen strategic partnerships that have vendors who want to buy into the space buying small vendors and pushing technology they don’t understand. To date there is over 150 or so EMM providers. The problem is reading through the salesman and hype to find out if they even have a working product. Do your homework and always look at each product with a small bit of skepticism. If it sounds too good to be true, it is.

4) Data vs Device: Debates have raged on whether or not we as enterprises are only concerned with the data on the device or the device itself. Data is king, but how far must a device be governed to protect data?

5) Microsoft phones: What are those? Someone actually owns one? Microsoft in a strategic move purchased Nokia. So they are quickly becoming a one trick pony like their rival Apple.

6) Apps: Chicken vs Egg argument. Do we wait for business need or build it and hope the business comes? Who dictates requirements? Business or customer or IT?

All in all the mobility space is evolving rapidly. Do you have a strategy to evolve with it?

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Mobile First. What is it, how do we get there

So I have recently taken a break from my Twitter chats. Reading sensless reposts of posts on Facebook. And dare I say it, shunned my daily digs into mobile news channels. Why might you ask? Well it’s because of the newly coined term Mobile First.

As my peers and friends might know we talk incessantly about being bleeding edge or BYO*. What I have come to embrace though is the notion of exactly how much time, effort, thought, rethought, long hours and fights with HR, Security, Operations and Legal are intrinsically entwined in being ‘Mobile First ‘.

I started this journey of change as an underground idea of what it could be if they just let me do ‘it’ the right way. The ‘it’ in this story is mobility. After a failed effort by my predecessor to bring in new devices to the enterprise, I walked into a whirl wind of old ideas and even older policies. Let me begin by telling you I preach several ideological points when I’m asked about ‘it’.
First about EMM: What worked for one company, doesn’t mean it will work here.
Two about the technology: Speak intelligently and use the correct terms and definitions.
Three about the users: Users are not unlike children, they get upset if they don’t understand it and you cannot force them to do something they don’t want to do.
Four about BYOD: It’s a personal choice, not a mandatory. It is not a cost save, but rather an enhancement to productivity. It is not BYO-iOS device, see first point.

So let’s move on and get to the point. Mobile First is the ideological notion that we, as savvy mobile users, would rather pick up our phone or tablet instead of a laptop or desktop. 

What are the requirements to actually prefer mobile to anything else?
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What I really learned at MacIT

So this week I had the pleasure of visiting San Francisco to attend MacIT. I had some great sessions. I have attended some not so great sessions.
The biggest thing I have taken away is the need for full disclosure. I am a realist, I never take a look at a product and just take people at their word. It is becoming more and more apparent that in the Mac/iOS space, that individuals, admins, and support personal just eat up this information without a dose of skepticism. All too often, everything that is being presented is from a one sided small view.
In our business, whether we are supporting a 10 person team, a school district of 100k students, or a large corporation, to listen to someone talk about a $20 server that can manage all of your devices is disturbing. I realize that not all ideas/solutions fit every need, and given our diverse interests and backgrounds its important to ensure that material being presented is a useable solution for your situation and objectives as well as your constraints.. As an enterprise decision maker am I going to go out to my Mac base and say: “Hey use Logmein” and punch holes in my firewall. No I am not.
I have heard a couple of speakers refer to BYOD as Bring Your Own Disaster. BYOD does not need to be a disaster, but there does need to be governance. Comprehensive policy/end user agreements need to be created that protect the user and the company/organization/school. Consumer solutions may paint a lower cost, faster, simpler solution at first glance, but few have these sort of enterprise grade capabilities that are critical to these entities.

All in all remember these mantras:

  • You get what you pay for. ($20 for server and mobile device management. This solution requires hours of administration and customization. In the end it is still a small market solution that may not do everything you need. Considering you still need iTunes and the iPCU (iPhone configuration utility. More software to do one job.)
  • One size solution does not fit all. (Your organization/company/school is unique. Just because it works for one place doesn’t mean it will work for you.)
  •  A sucker is born every minute. (Listen, learn, ask questions, and research. Never take anything at face value. Most speakers are here to hawk their products and solutions. See the first mantra.)

Just remember, when you attend a conference take notes, listen, learn the methods but use it to your advantage and create your own success story. When you network (networking is what makes us stronger), talk about your methods and your practices and get feedback. Listen to a peer’s success story and take a mental note of their trials and tribulations but discard the vendor sales pitch. Listen to the criticism of other products and solutions and take into account the whys for it failing them, what they learned and what they did different a second time. By using a little ‘Sherlock Holmes’ method of deduction you can write the next great success story.

The chicken and the egg. What happens when the chicken mutates?

So you have run out bought an MDM, Rolled out devices and are blissfully happy, right? Not for long… The users start demanding apps, access to internal systems, and dare I say it WiFi at work! We created the monster, we let it out of its cage and we have some foolish notion that we are going to contain it with minimal controls and support. 

I have often likened users to children. This thinking has gotten a few raised eyebrows out of people until they think about it. When you hand a child a new toy how hard is it for them to put it down? What if that toy kept updating and changing so it never gets real boring? What happens when you try to limit the child’s time with said toy? Face it, we are now parents of grown children who are responsible for ensuring their safety and providing them the opportunity to grow.

So lets talk about what happens next. For many Companies this next year, and several more to come are going to be all about mobility. How do we prepare for the onslaught?

Take a look around and examine all of the things you have access to from your computer. How do you get that information from the web? What apps do you use all the time? What folders do you access for shared content? How do you get there?

Now apply all of that to mobile. Is the infrastructure ready to support every User with two connected mobile devices? It’s an industry stat; that more than half of all smartphone users will also have a tablet device as well as the phone. In the same breath does your company/building have adequate carrier coverage? Do you offer guest wifi? Do you want to allow users to access the corporate network through wifi? Is your network up to task of handling the traffic? Is your monthly spend on WAN ready for it?

What about outside of the office? How strong is your VPN? Is it large enough to handle multiple connections from 1 user concurrently? Are your internal connections large enough to handle the traffic? Do you have DR plan that has been scaled with your new infrastructure?

Staffing is another concern. As you add more complexity to your internal infrastructure you have to add bodies that handle the administration. So while mobile is the way of the future, maybe its time to reexamine your strategic plan.

Take a moment to peer into the crystal ball and ask ‘What am I going to need next?’ Prepare for the monster. If you feed it properly and tame it right from the beginning, it is way easier to control.

What happens next.. The End

So I write this post on the last day of the year to reflect and to pass along a bit of wisdom and food for thought.

Just this weekend I found myself reflecting back on the end. Not the end of a book, the end of a movie, nor the end of this blog. THE END. The big one. The one that changes everyone’s lives who knows you and I came away from that reflection with some real concerns.

You know everyone wants to preach to you how to handle The End, but no one has taken into consideration the age in which we live. The estate planning, doesn’t include subtle things like passwords for online accounts, or what accounts the person has. It also doesn’t address the simplest of items like the admin password to a computer.

I came in contact with a very nice lady whose husband had passed recently. It was a sudden passing and they are only in their late 50’s early 60’s at best. However, he was the end all be all for tech support in the house. He managed their business’s MAC’s and kept them up to date, etc. He passed with that knowledge, but left no record for her. So why is this important you might ask? Well you see most computers require the administrator password to do the simplest of tasks. Like I don’t know.. Load a print driver, or change the password.

So you see my friend that leads me here. What do you do to protect your accounts from hackers etc., but still leave enough information behind to assist your loved ones? I know that some people get weird when they are asked to share passwords with loved ones, which can beg a whole separate set of questions, but we are not here to judge.. So what can be done?

Well we can file the master password to our stuff with our living will,. Or maybe the password to some file that is on a site like box or something. However this also assumes your family knows how to use such things..

Just something to ponder though as we get further away from brick and mortar transactions and into the world of electric impulses.

I guess what I’m saying is have a game plan. Talk with your loved ones, especially your elder loved ones. I know, I know. NO one wants to talk about The End, but it has become a necessity.

The last thing the surviving family members want to worry about is what else do they need to handle after you’re gone. Think of the things we do every day or sign up for. Reoccurring payments, offers, credit cards, word press accounts. If the family doesn’t know about all of these things then what? The spouses account is drained because you didn’t stop your Xbox live subscription?! Or the Podcast downloads subscription from Apple. The list goes on and on.

Take a moment in the New Year to reflect on all of the accounts, and stuff you have signed up for. Is it documented? Do you have them bookmarked in your account on the computer? Do you have a password keeper on your computer or your mobile phone? Who has access?

A business would simply reset your password to allow access from any needed person. You don’t have that option.

So in parting how are you preparing for The End?