One of the great things about being a company involved in delivering technology to clients is that our business is awash with people who love being at the leading edge. As the CIO for Dimension Data Australia, the recent release of the iPhone 4S certainly has got me thinking about how this will affect the operation of our business when the wave of iPhone 4S’s inevitably hits our business. Here is our take on some of the recent hype as well as practical steps that we are undertaking to manage the device into the enterprise.
Bandwidth Issues from Streaming iTunes
The reality is that personal video, Telepresence and daily video conferences are fast becoming the norm in our business. People are travelling less and using video far more frequently. They’re not just doing it for the environment; they’re doing it because it makes sense. When you compare the current bandwidth requirements for video and what’s required to go about our daily jobs, the data traffic from downloading and streaming music is a rounding error.
Photo Stream and the Threat to Corporate IP Most people already publish photos on Facebook and Flickr and other social media, and many employees already use cloud services, such as BlueFire’s Hosted Utility Storage, to store files. So this really is nothing new. Perhaps it’s best to worry about the physical location of the cloud storage and the corporate policies you put in place about what is permissible. Once you put data in countries outside Australia, how will you get your data back? What laws apply? Have you read the fine print?
The iPhone 4S has been touted as a real threat to organisation’s BYO plans, but I believe that if you follow a three-step process to addressing BYO, the iPhone 4S is no greater threat than any previous releases.
1. A Completely New Approach. Accept that many existing policies and traditional approaches to controlling IT devices are history. You will not be able to hold back the tide of user-centric computing no matter how hard you try. Forward thinking businesses realise the futility of trying to hold back and discourage BYO, and embrace the new world where the line between the corporation and employees is tightly intertwined and inextricably blurred. According to IDC, by 2013, there will be more smartphones than PCs globally, and by 2015, more people in the US will access the Internet via a mobile device than through a desktop computer or other wired device.
2. Refine and Baseline. You will need to refine and baseline your environment. Many components that you need are probably already in place, but you’ll need to undertake specific projects to support BYO and the broader mobility demands that this will bring. You will find that some key themes will emerge for these projects namely:
Network Singularity: BYO devices change how secured and trusted devices (corporate-issued) and untrusted devices (BYO) connect to the Internet, VPN to corporate, access WiFi and the local area networks (LAN).
Security and Policy: Have a long hard look at your policies and approach to security. The real challenge will be to address these and other BYO/mobility issues by defining policies that enable usage of consumer and personal devices in a corporate environment. Writing policies is easy enough, but enforcing those policies – regulating reasonable behaviour, containing support costs and managing risks across multiple devices – will be the real issue. End point device control and mobile device management will be critical.
Applications: Applications need to be delivered to BYO and mobile devices in a way that remains functional and supportable. Consider using application and desktop virtualisation in the form of Citrix. This could be your baseline for the delivery for BYO and mobility to your organisation. Social media, unified communications and productivity requirements all need to be met. Think outside the square and consider products like Agito that allow you to use BYO devices instead of buying desktop phones – single number reach could be a welcome benefit.
Operations: BYO changes the way that an IT department operates, supports, controls and monitors its services. Licensing implications in particular need to be closely looked at. Thought also needs to be given to the demarcation point for support on BYO devices via Citrix or other virtual desktop systems. Detailed FAQs need to be provided for staff and pre-prepared questions and flowcharts need to be put in place so that service desk staff aren’t confused with the vast number of variables that BYO will introduce.
3. Benefits Realisation. The idea of refining and baselining in the previous step was to provide capability and control for a broad range of devices. That is, to provide the minimum requirements for corporate security and functionality. Employees will benefit, and staff satisfaction will increase as employees take advantage of the flexibility that this provides. Consider changing employee benefits to enable and accelerate BYO even further. An example of this could be to repurpose a traditional allowance to an iPad allowance.
But this approach is only the start. The baseline will allow these BYO devices to operate using traditional interfaces. Unfortunately, these interfaces hide the wealth of the real opportunities that exist for mobility using native interfaces. Native interfaces connecting to corporate backend data will open a world of opportunities, and this is the real ‘gold’.
When you consider using mobile interfaces more natively in the enterprise, think about:
- How productivity could be changed;
- The opportunities for competitive advantage;
- New business models; and
- New ways to engage with your customers.
At Dimension Data Australia, we are currently developing a number of ways to leverage mobile interfaces across our business – which we believe will deliver benefits over and above our traditional interfaces.
Ian Jansen was appointed to the role of CIO in April 2010, responsible for Dimension Data Australia’s IT strategy. As CIO, Ian is also a member of Dimension Data’s Australian Executive Committee, which sets the strategic direction for the business. Ian’s primary requirement is to navigate the gap between Dimension Data’s commercial strategies and the operational requirements of the business. He is responsible for aligning and leveraging local and global IT initiatives, including Dimension Data’s business systems architecture program.