This guest blog post was written by Tim Crawford, an internationally renowned thought leader in IT transformation, innovation and cloud computing. Tim worked in senior leadership roles for Konica Minolta, Stanford University, Knight-Ridder, Philips Electronics and National Semiconductor. Be sure to check out his blog at TimCrawford.org and follow him on Twitter @TCrawford.
Most consider Apple a consumer focused company. Is Apple also going after the enterprise market? If you view Apple in Business website, it appears they are dipping their toe in the water. However, Apple is making more significant waves through the Consumerization of IT (CoIT), Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and mobile computing. This, combined with road warriors leveraging cloud computing, puts Apple in an interesting position.
BYOD refers to the ability of users to bring their own devices into the corporate environment. CoIT is more about how people use technology is changing. Both contribute the fuel behind Apple’s de-facto move into the enterprise corporate space. Their iPhone and iPad devices are legendary and widely used. And not just for consumers. Business users are finding real uses for these devices. In many ways, Apple is gaining access to the enterprise through the consumer Trojan Horse.
Mobile devices are not limited to just smartphones and tablets. Laptops also fall into the mobile category. As the cost for laptops decreases, they become increasingly more widely used. In addition, Apple has taken integration a step further with iCloud; their online solution for syncing mail, contacts, calendars and other apps between devices. There are other solutions, but iCloud offers integration across a suite of applications.
Now I’m a corporate road warrior that logged over 150k actual flown miles in 2011. To keep productive and maintain sanity, I use a combination of Apple products including an iPhone 4S, iPad (3rd gen) and MacBook Air. I’m also using iCloud to keep information synced between my devices. Over the past two years, I detailed my experiences as a road warrior with two blog entries: one, two. My work involves giving presentations, responding to email and creating/ editing documents. Most of the time, I keep things light and only travel with an iPhone and iPad. On the iPad, there are a number of apps that I find most useful. Aside from the Apple suite of applications (Keynote, Pages, etc), two frequently used apps stand out: Penultimate and iThoughtsHD. As a visually oriented person, Penultimate is a great drawing app that allows me to express my thoughts visually. In the same vein, iThoughtsHD is a mind mapping application that allows me to brainstorm and reorganize thoughts. I use the combination of the two to brainstorm and collaborate with others. They’re easy to use and an effective communication tool.
I’m not the only one using my own devices. Increasingly, more and more folks are choosing to use their own personal device over a company issued device. Why? They are more familiar with its use and tend to use it for personal computing in addition to just business. A recent study showed that Apple has just taken over the number three PC spot. In the tablet world, the word “tablet” is quickly becoming synonymous with iPad. These two trends will help drive Apple’s move into the enterprise space.
So, why isn’t everyone jumping on the BYOD trend? The challenge for BYOD is in management of data. Note that I didn’t suggest management of devices. Managing the device is not (or should not be) the key concern. Users have becoming pretty good at managing their own device…if they’re interested in BYOD. The concern for the business is in managing the data (or application). There are many ways to do that today. Sure, you can manage the device and apply policies to ultimately secure the applications and data. But that’s like using a sledgehammer to hit a nail. Management of data and applications is far more surgical and specific. Plus, it is less likely to interfere with the user’s personal applications.
In a related way, cloud computing is moving how applications and data are managed and used too. In many ways, cloud computing is also enabling the usability of some mobile applications and services. Apple’s iCloud is just one example.
Trying to avoid the BYOD, CoIT and cloud computing trends is a futile effort. The value is in finding clever ways to manage data and applications. In the not too distant future, it is possible that users will need to provide their own computing device(s): smartphone, tablet and/or laptop. Understanding how to best enable this trend will serve organizations well. Due to Apple’s stratospheric rise in the computing world, it is inevitable that Apple will be a serious enterprise player. Consumer behavior will drive the device usage. Enterprises just need to build methods to effectively support that change.