Mobile App Mentality: 4 Ways IT Must Change - InformationWeek

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5/12/2015
08:06 AM
Ojas Rege
Ojas Rege
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Mobile App Mentality: 4 Ways IT Must Change

From architecture to employee trust, IT must adjust its thinking.

6 Ways To Master The Data-Driven Enterprise
6 Ways To Master The Data-Driven Enterprise
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

There isn't any element of what we do in IT today that won't change over the next few years as a result of the "mobile first" world. We will see radical shifts in how we think about enterprise architecture, user experience, technical operations, and organizational governance. Mobility will disrupt much of what we accept as tried-and-true practices in business IT. If you're an IT leader, it's time to accept that many of the things we learned will no longer apply.

Everyone talks about disruptive forces, so why is mobile a true disruption? The test of a disruptive technology is twofold:

First, it changes the way we behave, and that drives the development of new business and user experiences.

Second, it creates massive opportunities for innovation. The PC and the Internet both met these criteria. We've seen mobility meet these criteria already in our personal lives, and now we will see the same in our business lives. However, change is difficult, and taking advantage of these new opportunities requires a fundamental re-imagining of how we do IT. Here are four ways IT leaders must change their thinking.

1. Shift In OS Architecture

The most profound disruption is the shift from the open file system of traditional Windows to the sandboxed architecture of modern operating systems like iOS, Android, and even the new generation of Windows. Modern operating systems use isolated storage and isolated memory for each app, so the data of each app is protected from the actions of other apps on the device. The OS kernel is also protected, resulting in system stability and ease of update.

This model of protected file system and protected kernel avoids the threat of traditional malware. It dramatically reduces the complexity of managing these devices. In the past, your IT department gave you a laptop burned with a system image. All software was pre-installed and several security agents ran on the device, trying to protect the system, but slowing down performance in the process. Now, because security is embedded in the OS, you can choose your own device and select from the services that IT provides you. You update the operating system, not IT.

These new OS architectures allow user choice to replace IT command-and-control without compromising data security.

2. Evolution Of Trust

Trust is a two-way street. In a successful mobile program, IT must trust the employee enough to provide mobile access to a broad base of business services, and the employee must trust IT enough to use those mobile services. IT trust is based on perceived risk of business data loss while employee trust is based on perceived risk of personal data loss. Security and privacy are two sides of the same coin.

[Embracing change? Read Nordstrom VP's advice on taking emotion out of an agile transformation.]

In the traditional enterprise world, IT trust is largely based on Active Directory as the source of truth for employee identity. Employees get access (or not) to corporate resources based on who they are. In the mobile world, identity is essential, but trust is also heavily determined by context, such as whether the device is up-to-date on the security software and updates it should have. And because many employee devices are personally owned, they fall in and out of compliance frequently. Trust must be dynamic. It will determine what level of access a particular employee on a specific device in a certain context has to enterprise resources.

Employee trust is based on something much simpler -- confidence that the employer is not misappropriating personal information from the device, such as family photos or your location over the weekend. Mobile devices are highly personal. They capture our lives in a way that no other technology can. Asking employees to decipher complex legal privacy agreements isn't the path to success. The burden is absolutely on IT to be able to set and, most importantly, communicate privacy policies effectively to the broad employee base. Transparency is the only way to build trust. IT should explicitly disclose what it tracks and doesn't track, and why and when it does so.

This new trust model incorporates identity, context, and privacy enforcement to set the appropriate level of access to enterprise data and services.

3. Ascension Of User Experience

We each want great new productivity apps so we can do our work better and more efficiently. But it is user experience, not breadth of functionality that is the litmus test for whether employees adopt mobile apps in the enterprise. Unfortunately, traditional IT organizations are terrible at user experience. In fact, many IT professionals have been explicitly trained that it is okay to compromise user experience in order to get higher security. This was probably the wrong approach even for traditional enterprise computing, but it is certainly the kiss of death for mobile computing.

Consumer apps set the standard for IT.

(Image: Apple)

Consumer apps set the standard for IT.

(Image: Apple)

In the consumer world, if you don't have a great experience, nobody uses your mobile app, no matter what features it provides. The best apps tend to be tightly

Page 2: The dizzying pace of change in IT.

Ojas Rege is Chief Strategy Officer at MobileIron. His perspective on enterprise mobility has been covered by Bloomberg, CIO Magazine, Financial Times, Forbes, Reuters, and many other publications. He coined the term "Mobile First" on TechCrunch in 2007, one week after the ... View Full Bio
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