Though many companies still struggle with the notion of “Bring Your Own Device” or BYOD, a significant preponderance of businesses has now adopted BYOD as standard operating procedure. The grassroots workforce won this round of mobile technology handily if not resoundingly. Fortunately BYOD is easy enough to support from an IT perspective – there are enough mobile tools available from a fairly large collection of vendors to ensure that devices used in the workplace remain relatively free of potential harm.
The real problem with BYOD for the enterprise is that grassroots movements never stop looking to move ahead once they take root. BYOD has since spawned BYOS (storage), BYOC (cloud), BYOCC (content cloud), and BYOBI (business intelligence). There is also BYOP (platform), which is associated with various forms of SaaS and PaaS and today we can add both MaaS (mobility) and MBaaS (mobile backend). I’m not particularly thrilled with all these BYOs but that is the reality.
Let’s agree to refer to all of them as “BYOx” and let’s immediately note that the BYOx movement isn’t quite as simple a challenge to tackle as BYOD has been, In fact I know from both my own and Blue Hill’s ongoing research that many organizations are now deeply struggling to make sense of how to come to grips with BYOx. It is a daunting challenge but one that enterprises – or at least those enterprises that understand mobility is the key to strategic success going forward – cannot avoid, ignore or choose not to implement.
Why? There are two key issues with BYOx – the first is operational and the second is simply strategic.
The first and the most troubling issue for any business with BYOx is that the common denominator BYOx operates on is corporate data and content. That content takes the form of every possible bit of information residing within a company – whether it’s a simple and harmless document or a simple spreadsheet highlighting a company’s yearly holiday schedule, or the most confidential of CxO memorandums, and everything in between, such as a collection of documents and spreadsheets being collaborated on in real time from both internal and mobile laptops, tablets and smartphones.
Perhaps this collaboration involves highly sensitive and proprietary business intelligence and customer data regarding your company’s sales and marketing strategies for the next fiscal year. Content collaboration in corporate settings also suggests the possibility and likelihood of detailed content management workflows (who has the latest version of a document checked out, who has read-only or read-edit-save rights, and so on). In this day and age such workflows are well understood by most businesses, but once you add mobility and BYOx to the mix complexities arise – or rather can arise for the unprepared – in exponential fashion!
The second key issue with BYOx – and for most enterprises that want to lead rather than follow this is crucial – is that it truly creates enormous potential business advantages. An IT department cannot simply say “No” to allowing its employees mobile access to content. BYOx provides any number of content-related advantages, including, but by no means limited to such things as:
- Mobile content security
- Anytime, anywhere access, when needed, as needed
- Distribution of timely content out to the field
- Increased partner and customer satisfaction
- Increased workforce effectiveness
- Greatly enhanced collaboration across all levels of an organization
BYOD originally created the mobile device management (MDM) market, and vendors ably stepped in to fill a variety of mobile security issues specifically targeting device security, user provisioning and basic device protection. MDM however failed to take securing most business content into consideration, and the larger MDM vendors subsequently created a secondary market, dubbed mobile application management (MAM), to specifically protect corporate content accessed through mobile apps.
These same vendors have, over the last 18 months or so, further evolved MAM and MDM into the collective term Enterprise Mobile Management (EMM), which now also encompasses various forms of MCM – Mobile Content Management. MCM is assuredly not about mobile devices. It’s about your data – all of it, whether structured or unstructured, whether text-, graphics- or video-based.
I am not speaking here about raw, unfiltered data. I mean data that has been extensively deconstructed, re-atomized, analyzed, and developed into both tactical and strategic business intelligence. I’m also talking about data that may have no serious consequences if it escapes the corporate walls – a company’s vacation schedule is not likely to harm anyone.
But I am more specifically talking about such stuff as sensitive sales pricing charts, credit card information and passwords (even when encrypted), which can and will significantly weaken or kill off a company – if not literally then from a business perspective – if it escapes the corporate walls. Content is still ultimately king – we say that not because it sounds good but because it continues to be true centuries down the road.
A Game of Thrones and MCM Strategy
This may sound odd I’m sure, but I have a tendency to think of corporate content within the context of Game of Thrones. I do, what can I say? The next to last episode this season in which “The Wall” was being defended by 100 men against an army of a hundred thousand is in fact not much different than the odds businesses face every day in securely guarding content from those looking to breech the walls of defense. As much as this sounds over the top, it isn’t.
The Wall was thought impregnable by those who controlled it, but in reality it had weaknesses. In particular it was vulnerable to very large numbers of would-be attackers. The same is true for most enterprises – surely Target thought it had as secure and mighty a wall around its data every bit as mighty as the photo below suggests. But it certainly wasn’t the case.
That said, The Wall was also vulnerable to very specific attacks using very specialized tools – ok, in this case I mean a giant and a mammoth tackling a gate…but hey, it’s Game of Thrones, what did you expect? But simply substitute hacker and malware to bring things back to the 21st century.
As BYOD proliferates and extends itself into its numerous BYOx offshoots, greater and greater numbers of mobile users will need to gain access to the corporate crown jewels – strategic content. There is great benefit in being able to do so, but that benefit can be significantly mitigated by poor BYOx and MCM planning and deployment.
My research points to many companies heading towards being overwhelmed by BYOx and MCM. In particular, the biggest issue is a great deal of confusion in how to safely unlock content for the numerous mobile users who will demand access. As I noted above, saying “No” to access is not acceptable. Access needs to be granted.
Further, my research also shows that the real confusion for enterprises is primarily driven by the proliferating and constantly shifting face of MCM solutions. There are at least four main categories of MCM vendor solutions – ranging from the EMM players, to the traditional ECM vendors, to the emerging collection of Secure File Transfer vendors and on to numerous cloud-based solutions. A new one pops up every day, and it isn’t only nimble startups that are popping up. In June 2014 alone both Google and Amazon have staked out new ground in seeking ways to become your purveyor of safe, cloud-based content management.
Mass enterprise confusion? That may be slightly overstating the case, but only slightly. It’s close to reality.
What to Do About it?
The first step is to build an effective MCM Decision Framework that will allow your company to effectively home in on the right type of solution for your company. The second is to effectively evaluate the MCM vendors and find the right ones to deliver on your specific needs. Towards this end the Blue Hill team has been working on research to ensure your company is able to fully take advantage of BYOx and is able to fully protect its “deployed content” by making the right technology investments to meet its needs.
Over the next several weeks Blue Hill will publish two new MCM reports. The first to be published will provide enterprises with the means to develop a highly effective MCM Decision Framework. The second will provide one of Blue Hill’s unique Anatomy of Decision reports that will allow IT teams to take the Decision Framework and uncover the right vendors to meet specific needs and drive implementation.
Stay tuned! In the meantime let me offer you a little bit of homework by pointing you to fellow Blue Hill mobile compatriot and Chief Research Officer Ralph Rodriquez’s insightful overview of the MCM vendors, The Battle for Mobile Content is Just Starting.
Let’s expand the dialog! Follow me here at Blue Hill, on Twitter @fastjazz, and on LinkedIn. Follow Blue Hill Research on Twitter at @BlueHillBoston.