Head in the Sand, Career in the Toilet
Mobility is far too important and the security risks far too critical to have IT walk away from it. If mobility is what's important in IT, that's what we want to be good at.
The annual Information Week 500 Conference just wrapped up in Dana Point, CA, and I had the opportunity to spend time with the CIOs of many of the top IT organizations in the country. Information Week recognizes companies and CIOs for their leadership and innovation, and awards are granted for overall performance and for a number of targeted categories like business analytics, revenue generation, business agility, and customer experience. The overall winner was Paccar, maker of the Peterbilt and Kenworth brands of heavy-duty trucks.
Along with the awards, the conference also featured a number of excellent presentations from industry notables like Rob Carter, CIO of FedEx, Joseph Eng, EVP and CIO of JetBlue Airways, and Bill Schlough, SVP and CIO of the San Francisco Giants (who wore his World Series ring).
My favorite was Paul DePodesta, VP of Player Development and Scouting for the NY Mets. While not much has "developed" with the Mets, Mr. DePodesta was an assistant to Billy Beane at the Oakland A’s and a key architect in developing "Moneyball"; his character is played by Jonah Hill in the upcoming movie. A very quiet and unassuming gentleman, Mr. DePodesta talked about the challenges involved in taking a whole new direction in a business with a long history of doing things in a certain way.
Mobility was one of the key themes throughout, and needless to say, the subject of consumerization came up in a number of sessions. Several CIOs talked about the steps their companies were taking to either "embrace it" or "strangle it", and the strangling option seemed to be getting more than a few nods. I got that impression both from the session and from the side conversations I had with many of the attendees.
There seemed to be a general feeling that if the user was bringing their own device, that should alleviate IT's responsibility to provide support for it. Now I had heard that argument countless times before, and typically responded that regardless of who "owned" a corporate approved mobile device, it was not a good use of the employee’s time to spend hours trying to figure out stuff that a halfway competent IT person could guide them through in a few minutes (or point them to a knowledge base article that would resolve the problem). Given that "cost cutting" was the primary motivation, I had always assumed that such an ill-advised strategy must have come from some "bean counter" with an over-zealous approach to "savings" and a short allocation of common sense. What really blew me away was, this wacky idea was actually coming from the IT guys!
Fortunately I did have the opportunity to address the BYOD option in the overall context of mobility policies in the session I ran on "Mobility: The Next Business Imperative". To put the issue in context, I came up with the following sentence to describe the foolishness behind an IT philosophy of yanking support for user-owned devices:
"Mobility is one of the most important technology initiatives in business today--I don't want any part of it."