2011: “The year mobile IT was born”

Philippe Winthrop of The Enterprise Mobility Foundation, Chuck Goldman of Apperian, John Herrema of Good Technology, Julie Palen of Tangoe, and Bob Tinker of MobileIron at Mobilize 2011. People have been asking to bring iPads, iPhones and Android phones to work for a few years now, but this is the year that IT departments everywhere are actually embracing it, according to panelists at Tuesday’s Mobilize 2011 panel on mobile IT.

“2011 was the year mobile IT was born,” said Bob Tinker, CEO of MobileIron. “It was the year the IT industry figured out mobile, and it’s the year that mobile figured out IT … Every small, medium and large enterprise around the world is going to be deploying smartphones and tablets at scale over the next 12 to 18 months.”

After years of corporate IT departments saying no to everything, they are finally saying OK. What’s also changing is the level of input employees have on the devices they use. Julie Palen, SVP of Tangoe, says that a great percentage of employees are not asking their employers for a corporate phone. They don’t mind paying for a device or the plan as long as they can use a device of their choice and access the company network, she said.

“It’s irrelevant who owns the device or who pays for the plan,” said Palen. “It’s all about the device, as long as the data is secure and controlled … then that’s the big change and the answer becomes yes.”

The major catalyst for people wanting to bring their own device into work and even pay for it themselves was the iPhone.

“RIM never got people to want to pay for the device themselves,” said Palen. “That’s what Apple brought. And Android and Google followed.”

The thing that IT departments are having to learn now, however, is that they can’t treat iPhones or iPads or Android phones the way they would have treated BlackBerrys. That’s because employees know what these devices are supposed to look and feel like. As John Herrema of Good Technology pointed out, if the CEO of a company asks for an iPad at work, and the IT guys shut off the App Store and “lock it down and make it look like a BlackBerry circa 2003,” they should “bring [their] resume and a hard hat,” he said. Because it’s the experience that CEO was looking for when it comes to a mobile device.

Though IT departments will have to do more work to secure their data, it’s actually a very good thing that employees want to deal with their own gadgets for work, said Tinker. “It’s the IT-ization of the consumer,” he said. “We’re more technologically savvy and willing to take more responsibility for our technology.”

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