The Devil Wears Prada: Part 1

By : |June 8, 2011 0

INDIA: Apple and Berry have ceased to be fruits anymore. Tablets too have eloped the Doctor’s territory in the last few months.

A quick look at some forecasts, trend-crunching and that thing that your colleague or you are wielding in your hand right now, will tell you that it is a new era altogether now. A smart phone or a pad is comme il faut  for even the tech-world’s bourgeois.

And just like the principal, it’s cause for some mild worry lines for IT men too. He doesn’t want to be a martinet at stopping teens from wearing all the haute couture skirts and all to High School, but then there are other issues he has to balance too. Vogue and Control are suddenly at the extremes of a tight balancing rope.

Picture what the first quarter of 2011 has dished out. Worldwide mobile communication device sales to end users totaled 427.8 million units according to Gartner, Inc. This was an increase of 19 percent from the first quarter of 2010.

Smart phones have continued to outpace the rest of the market, and a newly competitive mid-tier smart phone market will drive smart phones into mass adoption and accelerate this trend, the research firm predicts. Well, no doubt, the iPhone is now available in 90 countries from 186 CSPs.

And the trend in across-the-board. What baffles is not the up tick in smart phones but the sheer variety that the segment is witnessing. If Apple sold 18.6 million units to end users worldwide, more than doubling its sales of iPhones year-on-year,HTC recorded a very strong first quarter with 9.3 million mobile communication devices sold. Windows Phone saw 1.6 million units sold in the first quarter of 2011.

The trend is evolving in a strong momentum. Several manufacturers, including HTC, Sony Ericsson, Alcatel and ZTE, announced a broader portfolio of mid-tier devices, mainly based on Android, which will reach the market in the second quarter of 2011.

Yes, IT is getting consumerised like never before.

But as Gartner itself indicated, while media tablets are presenting a variety of new opportunities for businesses, they are also requiring a new set of policies, technologies and skills for enterprises.

The implications for an enterprise are going to be huge, specially from a security standpoint.

Kartik Shahani, Country Manager, RSA India & SAARC feels the same. It is a unique kind of situation and a tough balancing act for CIOs as he puts it. They need to adapt to the changing trends and that’s a dilemma when traditional applications come face to face with new changes.

“For a CIO, the mandate is that there should be high security for all assets, but the user-side is undergoing a lot of changes.” Shahani points out.

CIOs are determined not to make the same mistakes they made with smart phones, is what another expert feels too.
David Willis, research vice president at Gartner in a news report said about these mistakes- smart phones were often written off early as expensive and frivolous toys, or executive status symbols – which then left room for more inventive leaders who saw the competitive advantage that mobile applications would bring," said.

"They are also more willing to see that they don’t need to supply and manage every device that employees use at work: Consumerization is here to stay, and moving very fast. If you can think of an application for tablets, your competition may well be thinking in the same way – and acting on it. It is time to explore the use of media tablets in business." Willis advised.

Shahani opines that not allowing access does not work also. A CIO can not restrict the employees’ choices that way. The problem becomes trickier because the user has invested in this new device and not the company and still the user will use it for work related to the company.

Gone are the days, when an employee used to carry two mobile sets- one for personal use and one for professional one. Now they would want to carry more-stylish, light-weight and all-encompassing-Supermans instead.

Ambarish Deshpande, Director, Sales, India, McAfee  highlights the drastic changes that have been seen in our corporate environments 2009 onwards. “More employees are keen on having their own device. Specially the new generation. Add to that the surge in outsourcing, hiring consultants and expanding field work force.”

Some companies in US and Europe have stopped buying stuff for their employees and equipping laptops, and instead recommend specifications to them, he adds.

“Sales leaders are clamoring to adopt media tablets with their sales teams, as a more engaging way to share sales collateral and promotional materials. And it won’t stop there: Next will come customer relationship management systems, and order entry and sales configuration applications. For sales managers, media tablets will be a natural platform for business analytics and performance dashboards," said Gartner’s Willis.

Surely, as workforce mobility increases, decentralization and consumerisation happens, the challenges will surface in India too.

One of them would definitely be security. As Sandeep Godbole, a security professional and Member, ISACA India Task Force tells us — “Consumerisation of IT together with shorter life cycle and other behavioural factors has definitely increased the risks for an organization. Security has always been a cat-and-mouse game however with greater affordability of IT and individualistic users it has become a Pied Piper of Hamelin story."

More on the risks in the next part. Stay tuned.

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