As the New Year dawns, I am in awe of all that our industry has accomplished over the past 12 months. We’ve seen updates to operating systems that make unifying endpoint management a reality. We’ve tackled end-user privacy and security concerns with foundational policy shifts and innovative technologies. We’ve transformed single-purpose device and app management tools into an interconnected business mobility ecosystem—a movement that enables true business transformation and user empowerment. In 2015, mobile served as the launching pad for doing it all differently.
In your personal life, you’re likely using this time to set resolutions for 2016. I’d like to pose a prompt for a professional resolution:
What IT will you be in 2016?
When we started AirWatch, there was a new, driving demand for mobility within businesses. Smartphones and mobile devices promised unimaginable opportunities and possibilities to deliver experience and information to transform businesses, and tablets delivered never-before-seen efficiency for users and a heightened customer experience. From this groundswell of demand rose enterprise mobility management (EMM).
EMM empowered mobility and enabled IT to take advantage of unprecedented opportunities and efficiencies. Organizations had bold goals and wanted to make big bets; they began to experiment and do things differently than what was traditionally done in IT. The groups leading these mobile initiatives were the outcasts, the people given a side project and told to make a headline worthy for the Wall Street Journal. As mobile technology stabilized, became widespread and united with all platforms and management endpoints, IT leaders folded these visionaries and outcasts into traditional teams still, for the most part, doing things the old way, the PC way.
I noticed a trend beginning to emerge—or perhaps re-emerge—in 2015: IT started going backwards. Like our predecessors in the early 2000s, we started choosing devices and apps that IT could control versus building an ecosystem that facilitates user choice and process transformation. We got so focused on the container, the protocols, the encryption and features that many of us forgot to listen to our users and focus on what we were enabling them to achieve. And like the mid-2000s, we’re in danger of once again significantly opening the doors to Shadow IT, where users go get what they need to be more productive and efficient regardless of what IT mandates.
On the converse, 2015’s technologies open a new world for those who are willing to embracing it. We’ve seen mobility be the catalyst for huge transformations in nearly every industry. We’ve seen workers come together to drive massive innovations by leveraging technology to collaborate anywhere in the world. We’ve seen red tape sliced to smithereens by a simple gesture in a purpose-built mobile app resulting in 100s of email and spreadsheet based processes eliminated. All of this made possible by IT partners willing to open their imaginations to what’s possible.
VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger framed IT’s forked path in a powerful way during his VMworld keynote earlier this year: IT can choose to be either a caretaker of things past or drive innovation forward. Read his five imperatives for digital business here.
With these two very different journeys on the business mobility horizon, what IT will you choose to be in 2016?