All that kerfuffle last year about Microsoft being late to market appears to have been valid. iPads are turning up in the business. And I don’t mean the MD bringing one in, or one hear and another there. I mean BIG numbers of them are turning up. A well publicised example is SAP where they’ve deployed 12,000 iPads. An interesting comment in the story is that the iPad is encouraging people to explore data and information, and probably empowering them to make better decisions. A touch UI is more natural; maybe that’s part of it. And tablets are small and light, meaning a person is more likely to bring it to and use it at coffee or lunch or home.
The interesting thing is that people aren’t talking about the entry of the iPad into this sort of market. People Let’s face it; we’ve been expecting this.
The conversation isn’t “Oh Microsoft are screwed and this is the death of the PC”. We’re still early days in the “tablet at work” era, and if Microsoft don’t screw it up, Windows 8 with Office wave 15 could be a very powerful combination because of their possible integration with the normal PC and the LOB app. I personally think 2013 will be an exciting time to be a .NET business applications architect.
But back on topic … what are people talking about? Management. How in the hell are businesses managing and securing these devices? A recent survey said “Among 520 CIOs polled, 77% said they worry that further consumerization of IT will lead to greatly increased business risks”.
Right now, if you’re using iPad then you’re either trusting employees (I’m a techie meglomaniac with mixed a little [a lot] Roy from the IT Crowd so that doesn’t work for me) or they are using point solutions.
The point solutions will fall into one of two groups. A Blackberry house, for example, will probably use a dedicated tool for controlling and configuring their RIM devices. But along comes an iPhone or an iPad and they suddenly need another dedicated management system or something more generic.
I think the best solution right now is to adopt a more generic mobile device management solution. In a true consumerisation adoption, you have no idea what’s going to come in the door: Android, RIM, Apple, Microsoft, etc. For the IT guys, the challenge is that each platform is completely different, so they’ll have to learn the strengths and weaknesses, develop a common denominator policy (PIN codes, remote wipe, etc), and then figure out how to secure each specific platform according to its unique needs.
But think about this. That’s another management system for IT to deploy and look after. What if you could have 1 integrated system that can manage PCs and mobile devices, configure and secure them. We don’t have an RTM yet, but it’s coming: Configuration Manager 2012 from Microsoft System Center has mobile device management. Information is still light on the ground on this feature, I guess all will be revealed when the products are launched.