Here in Microsoft’s Enterprise Client Management team, my peers and I spend a lot of time speaking one-on-one with customers and industry analysts about the consumerization trend.   Organizations of all sizes are trying to determine what they can and should do about letting people choose their own devices to get their jobs done.  One analyst told me a couple years ago, “Consumerization is a bus.  You’re either on it, or you’re under it.   Either way, it’s coming.”  

I actually see consumerization – especially Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) – as a trolley.  Yes, you can ride on it or you can be dragged under it; but, what I’ve learned from all these discussions is there is a third option.  As with a trolley in San Francisco, you can be partially on it, hanging off the side for dear life.   All seems well – you keep moving forward – but you also run an increased risk of getting clipped by the car in the lane next to you.  The point is that whether you are developing or rolling out a policy on consumerization or not, it is happening in your organization.  People are using technology beyond what IT authorizes them to – whether by bringing in their devices, using unsupported applications, or saving business data on public file stores --  whether you know it or not. According to a study done by Workshare and reported in CIO Magazine, “78 percent of finance employees use free file sharing platforms but only 35 percent are authorized by IT.”  In general, according the study, 81% of employees access work documents “on the move”, 69% use free file sharing, and only “28% of employees claim their IT departments are aware.”  Clearly, this is a problem which goes far beyond device management.

Back to the customer conversations.   They all start out the same way.  “We’re implementing BYOD.  How can Microsoft help me manage our Windows phones and tablets?    Can you help me manage the iPads my people bring in?”  Certainly, we have software to manage those devices.  We’ve been managing devices since Systems Management Server 1.0 shipped in 1994.  PC management has come a long way since 1994, and even though mobile devices carry their own special risks and requirements, the processes that you have in place to manage PCs can still apply.   You still want to configure, deliver software, inventory, and remove them from the system.

This is where the ongoing conversation surprises many people.  Letting people choose their device goes far beyond simply managing the device itself.  It’s not just how many configuration settings you can apply to those devices – although in many cases limiting access to the camera or pushing password policies are very important.   The device is only 1/4th of the consumerization dilemma.  You also need to focus on the user’s identity – since he or she is accessing information from within the office, as well as from the local coffee house.  You need to provide access to internal and public apps across various devices and platforms, and finally – and most importantly, you need to make sure the data being accessed and save on those devices is protected.  Along with the device itself, this becomes the “consumerization stack” you need to address.

  

Our goal at Microsoft is to bring a more holistic solution to the broader problem.  An example of this is our approach of Unified Device Management – instead of having a separate mobile device management infrastructure, toolset, and expertise, we’ve integrated Windows Intune and Configuration Manager to provide a single, unified device management toolset to manage all your devices, Windows or not, PCs, servers or mobile devices, cloud-based or on premises.  That’s not the end of the solution, though.  I tell people that simply focusing on device management not addressing the entire issue.  Remember – it’s not the lost tablet that will land your company on the front page of the newspaper – it’s the data that was on it.

 

Our solution, People-centric IT, covers not only device management for on-premises and cloud-based devices of all kinds, but also the users’ identity, access to applications natively on the device or remotely in the datacenter, and protection of the data itself, wherever it may rest.

Over the next several months, we’ll use this blog to talk about People-centric IT in more detail; we’ll discuss our cross-platform approach to device management and application access, drill down into specific product areas, provide guidance on how best to build on top of investments, knowledge and skills you already have, and highlight real-world implementations and provide links to additional resources.  We’d love your feedback.  In the comments section of this blog, feel free to tell us what you want to hear about; be a part of this conversation. 

To learn more about People-centric IT, and get a taste of what we’ll discuss more in this blog over the next several months, you can watch our TechEd presentation with end-to-end demos, as well as read the People-centric IT overview whitepaper

With the fast pace of software, cloud services, and exciting devices, we all have a unique opportunity of helping make people happy and more productive.  We’re looking forward to partnering with you! 

Jason Leznek
Director of Product Marketing
Enterprise Client Management