Government // Mobile & Wireless
Commentary
2/13/2012
04:04 PM
Jim Ditmore
Jim Ditmore
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iPad's Success Demands IT Change Its Thinking

Tablets won't just be a niche. They'll be the dominant knowledge worker platform, so IT will have to start thinking Web and tablet apps first.

Apple announced the iPad two years ago and began shipping it in April 2010. In less than two years, the rapidity and scale of the shock to the PC marketplace has been stunning. And it's far from finished: Web apps and tablets will become the dominant computing platform for knowledge workers, and IT should start shifting its strategy to accommodate the change.

IT managers used to determine what mobile devices their employees used (and thus invariably chose BlackBerry), but now companies are adopting a "bring your own device" (BYOD) approach to mobile. IT managers will need to shift to not just accommodating iPads as an additional mobile device, but to a full-fledged BYOD approach for their knowledge workers' client computing. Let them decide if they need a tablet, an ultrabook, or a laptop. IT will need to develop applications first for the Internet and second for tablets, and only develop for traditional PCs for a small slice of back-office production workers.

Knowledge workers will demand the use of tablets first and ultra-thin notebooks like the Macbook Air or ultrabooks second. Companies will accommodate this shift because their employees will be more productive and satisfied, and it will cost the company less, since often the employee supplies his or her own device. As the ability to implement and leverage this BYOD approach improves, today's slow migration will become a massive rush. And the business PC segment for knowledge workers will follow what already is happening in the broader consumer segment.

[ Want more on iPads? Read 9 Powerful Business Uses For Tablet Computers. ]

As an IT manager you should ensure your shop is on the front edge of this transition as much as possible. The tools to deploy, manage, and implement secure sessions are rapidly maturing and are already well proven. Many companies started pilots or small implementations in the past year, in such areas as providing iPads instead of 5-inch thick binders for their boards of directors, or giving senior executives iPads to use in meetings instead of printed presentations.

But the big expansion has been allowing senior managers and knowledge workers to begin accessing corporate email and intranets via their own iPads from home or when traveling. With the success of these pilots, companies are planning broader rollouts and are adopting formal BYOD policies for laptops and tablets.

So how do you ensure that your company stays abreast of these changes? If you have not already piloted corporate email and intranet access from smartphones and tablets, get going. Look also to pilot the devices for select groups such as your board and senior executives. This will let you get the support infrastructure in place and work out problems before a larger rollout.

Work with your legal and procurement team to define the new corporate policy on employee devices. Many companies provide the employee a voucher covering the cost of the device purchase, but the employee is the owner. By keeping any corporate data in a secure partition of the device, one that can be wiped clean if it's lost or stolen, you can meet your corporate IT security standards. But BYOD email is only the most basic level.

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Sam Iam
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Sam Iam,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/20/2012 | 10:54:44 PM
re: iPad's Success Demands IT Change Its Thinking
Agree, there are no alternatives to BYOD or, more generally, eliminating client side application dependencies, unless IT wants to install and take down a proprietary (BES style) infrastructure every year. Even if you can dictate to internal users client OS and device standards, external (customer facing) applications will need to be seamless from one HW configuration and OS to the next. People are going to have to re-architect for an open world that isn't dominated by Microsoft on the desktop and RIM on the device.

I think the next step is eliminating the client side script and utility distinctions between mobile and desktop browsers/apps. As soon as software developers stop writing client side JavaScript, disparate HTML/rendering layers, and using proprietary client side tools (Flash), we can get to the point where, for the most part, a browser is a browser, regardless of underlying OS, hw spec requirements, etc. From that stage, applications can be served without having a mobile version and a Windows desktop version. When users can pull their provisioned data/apps off of the server to any number of devices without application rewrites, IT will be able shift with minimal effort to whatever client side device comes along next. The less development on the client side, the better for client side flexibility. I don't really care if it is iPad or not, but it is going to be something other than only Windows and RIM.
GMADSEN000
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GMADSEN000,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/17/2012 | 5:47:01 PM
re: iPad's Success Demands IT Change Its Thinking
What about securing the documents that are sent through email with the ability to kill, track and control? It seems that a document centric approach helps protect the most sensitive data even on un-trusted devices, even after they have been down loaded or backed up on a thumb drive.
Check out www.watchdox.com
JimD-ITguy
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JimD-ITguy,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/17/2012 | 5:12:09 PM
re: iPad's Success Demands IT Change Its Thinking
Bob,

I was trying for the style to be challenging not condescending. Good callout, I will try ensure it does not drift into being condescending in the future. Probably a little too much help from the editors.

On the knowledge workers, I am not saying they are the most important but they are the next major group that will shift that will enable critical mass on tablet and mobile applications in the workplace. I think you can divide up the workforce into 5 groups: those who are interfacing with the customer (front office) such as everyone from a financial advisor to a retail store employee to a salesman; those whose work requires mobile physical presence ( mobile worker) such as claims adjuster, construction manager, mechanic, driver, etc; those who handle production tasks in a controlled environment (back office) such as check processing, claims handling, medical review, accounting; those who are managers, analysts, administrators (knowledge workers) and I would split out developers, IT engineers, CAD/CAM, medical research, etc as a separate group (let's call them deep knowledge workers). There may be other categories but I think this covers most.

The mobile workers are already (and for some time) are moving to either specialized handheld units or to tablets. The Apple retail store shows how you can equip front office staff with tablets or smaller touch devices and make them really effective. And when the knowledge workers shift as well (and I see this in the corporate environment - it is like when blackberries cam in 15 years ago, everyone wants one, and they use it for most of their daily work) you now have critical mass. deep knowledge works and back office will continue to be the mainstay of the PC world for the next 3 to 5 years. I think the deep knowledge workers will transition when you have a great device that has good docking capability with almost no feature loss to a dedicated PC. So, knowledge workers are not the biggest, but they are not a niche, and they will swing the focus from PCs-Internet to tablets/mobile-Internet for corporate applications.

Is that any more compelling?

Thanks, Jim



JimD-ITguy
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JimD-ITguy,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/17/2012 | 4:52:18 PM
re: iPad's Success Demands IT Change Its Thinking
I think a good challenge as to why BYOD. I think a primary driver is that employees of companies prefer to choose their own device. And they do not necessarily want to carry around two. And if you can securely partition the device so that you can handle your work in one area and the corporation can support it, then that is often optimal. If you look at company-owned devices, especially for large companies, because of legal implications and so on, the company must disable or monitor most of the desired features on such a device. They become bricks that can only do corporate email. And when you add in reduced cost, I think it becomes compelling. What alternatives are you seeing in your company or organization?
Philippe Winthrop
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Philippe Winthrop,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/15/2012 | 2:43:23 PM
re: iPad's Success Demands IT Change Its Thinking
Agreed that BYOD is not the only solution. There's an emerging model called COPE: Corporate Owned, Personally Enabled http://t.co/QeuVjrh8
Sam Iam
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Sam Iam,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/15/2012 | 6:52:48 AM
re: iPad's Success Demands IT Change Its Thinking
I think if leaders are interested in costs they understand that allowing one vendor (Microsoft) to have zero price competition is not beneficial. Why have PCs dropped in price three fold over the past 15 years while the software on them has stayed flat or increased? Competition, or a lack thereof. The best way forward is to make the client side OS and device an afterthought and put everything on open standards on the server.

The client-server (Wintel) architecture made everyones' lives much more difficult when it became the standard. Prior to client-server, everyone had one mainframe with terminals which basically never went down, had bullet proof security, centralized data, and companies needed to manage one large computer as opposed to running around managing/updating hundreds or thousands of small computers. If it was about efficiency or making lives easier, Wintel would not exist. This transition is moving back to a mainframe like model where all of the computing is done in the data center and the client side is there to show users what has been computed.

The client OS hardware is irrelevant. Have a server with a GPU serve those compressed photos instead of a client side device. As long as client side computers have the juice to run a network adapter and open a browser, all of the computing horsepower is on the server.
Sam Iam
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Sam Iam,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/15/2012 | 6:32:31 AM
re: iPad's Success Demands IT Change Its Thinking
I agree that BYOD is probably not the optimal method of provisioning devices, but I think IT just wants to be out of the business of determining what devices users "need" to have next year. If they can just manage any device from the device agnostic software level, with a Q1 Labs type solution, that is going to easier than setting up the BES equivalent infrastructure for whatever device is hot next year.

I think he is pretty much right that tablets are not going to be the primary computing device for every user, but the vast majority will be able to use tablets, or maybe even smartphones with full OSs in the next couple of years, plugged into a monitor of some sort. Most users only have productivity running locally on the client and everything else is on a server which only requires access to a browser. The only reason they have productivity on the client is that Microsoft owns the market and is protecting Windows. I think in the next few years the horsepower in a smartphone will be enough to provide users with the client side computing power they need. Just enough to open a browser and connect to their applications on the server.
Sam Iam
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Sam Iam,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/15/2012 | 6:18:10 AM
re: iPad's Success Demands IT Change Its Thinking
Apple has competitors, so they have to move quickly. Microsoft was able to release a viable desktop OS every ten years and not get their clock cleaned because they didn't have any competitors.
BOBBRUNO
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BOBBRUNO,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/15/2012 | 12:50:57 AM
re: iPad's Success Demands IT Change Its Thinking
Jim, I intend to read one more comment from you to make up my mind, because I agree that IT is generally picking the wrong way of dealing with business demands. But your logic on this one was mostly plain wrong, and you writing style is just bad:
1) You assume that knowledge workers are the single most important IT client around. IT is very much about making operations work faster, leaner and cheaper - Knowledge workers are, by definition, a niche. An important one, but your punchline is just plain wrong;
2) You failed to describe an actual business situation in your punchline - you chose to use a hype tech to lure people to your article. That's just bad marketing practice;
3) You chose a condescending style to write your article. That's why I am not even trying to be nice with you. Did you like it ? I bet not, and that's how IT people who should be move by your article will be nothing more that disgusted and reactive. You did a disservice to your readers.

Therefore, because I think the point you raised to be relevant, I'll give you one more chance to do it right. Next time, you go to my spambox rules. Bye.
WW Thinker
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WW Thinker,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/14/2012 | 11:01:12 PM
re: iPad's Success Demands IT Change Its Thinking
Since when are the bankers, and to most part the business leaders, truly understand the true capabilities of a "mobile computing device". Most of them are using other people's money for things anyway.

In truth, media tablet (the category in which iPads and all the Android tablets fall under) is simply a different form-factor than a notebook PC with the key difference being the keyboard. However, given that people almost always purchase a media tablet with a protection cover, a keyboard (can be made of plastic, glass or whatever) of the notebook PC form-factor serves the same purpose with more function (keyboard). Such concept was talked about since the era of Information Appliance back in CY1997 at Comdex! It was economically and practically feasible at the time, but it is now. But then, with more and more people shelling out money to buy things, no matter how much stupidity and hype are involved, the economy will get a significant boost.
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