In IT service management “circles” there’s a lot of talk about Social Media (with new terms like “Social ITSM”) and Cloud (with debates such as “Is Cloud the death knoll for ITSM and ITIL?”), but what about another aspect of the changing business and IT landscape that doesn’t get enough attention – Mobile?

We all have mobile devices (and I am deliberately stressing “devices” here), I don’t know whether I am a good or bad example having travelled recently with a work laptop and BlackBerry along with personal Android and iPhone devices, and an iPad.  I know, how sad. But mobile devices, and their use and management, pose a serious challenge to I&O organizations.

My Forrester colleague Matt Brown recently blogged about “Enterprise Mobility, Competitiveness and The Future Workplace Experience”, including an interesting statistic and “WIM” (what it means):

“Enterprise Mobile Technologies: Individual employees are able to put the latest mobile devices and apps to productive business use faster than their employers can. Our data suggests the most highly mobile (and highly paid) employee segments (33% of the information workforce) already embrace these tools to make themselves more productive from work, from home, and from the road. What it means: Companies have little control over who uses these.”

There is no doubt that the availability of mobile devices and the increasing, consumer-technology-led, expectations of our internal customers will make it more difficult for I&O to manage service delivery and provide support (along with tacking issues such as availability and security). However it is not something we can place in the “too-hard pile”, mobile-device-driven change is inevitable and I&O organizations need to be ready.

Our internal customers will use/are using mobile devices in a number of different scenarios:

  1. Corporate mobile devices (which may or may not be managed effectively).
  2. Personal mobile devices which are permitted to connect to the corporate network.
  3. Personal mobile devices which, while sanctioned for work use, are not permitted to connect to the corporate network.
  4. Personal devices to which the I&O organization is “blind”. Employees use them outwith of any corporate mandate, usage policy and guidelines, and controls.

I have no qualms in saying that non-corporate devices will be prevalent in the workplace in three years time, with all of the I&O and Security “excuses” as to why it shouldn’t happen drowned out by senior business stakeholders demanding the ability to use non-corporate, “better”, ICT devices; for themselves first and then for their people.

Cast your mind back to the early days of the internet and corporate adoption. How many organizations banned it from the workplace (and some still do)? Why do we do this? It’s futile, sub-optimal, and counterproductive.

Take access to Social Media as another example. We ban its use on corporate devices, so an employee will just pick up their personal device to access it. IMO the management of technology “misuse” is a line management issue not a technology issue. If people want to “not work” while “at work” they will achieve this even if they only have access to coloring crayons.

On the upside, however, BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) initiatives are becoming more prevalent in organizations (I was part of a BYOD pilot with Royal Mail back in 2006-7, and it was a great for me as an employee even back then –  a laptop that actually did what I needed it to).

So, looking forward, while I am a firm believer that I&O organizations need to move from a “command and control” stance to one that is more “enable and cater for,” there is still a need to manage mobile devices (whether corporate or personal) via fit-for-purpose technology. IMO such technology should not be an add-on to existing IT management technology but rather an integral part of I&O's tool bag such that we don’t care if the device is a static PC or a mobile device. We just manage it as and when we need to.

A good example of technology that can deliver this is Kaseya’s Mobile Device Management (MDM). Through which I&O is able to manage mobile devices from within the same IT management framework, and to the same degree, as desktops, laptops, and servers; via cellular as well as IT networks. There are of course many other MDM solutions/services available (whether it be niche providers or discrete solutions from the Big 4 software vendors) but Kaseya’s is worthy of note in approach as much as it is in breadth and depth of capabilities.

In IT service management terms, I&O is delivering business-required IT services across a number of delivery channels to a multitude of end user device types. The quality of IT service delivery should not be dependent on how the customer is “engaging IT” and, therefore, neither should be the way in which we manage and support IT service consumption. The customer doesn’t make the differentiation, so why should we in I&O? Long live solutions that embrace the continuing complexity of IT management in a way that engenders simplicity and completeness.

On a final note, looking closer to home in the context of the continuing march of mobility, how long will it be until there is no physical “desk” in “service desk?” Mobility-driven change is inevitable.



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