A few days ago, the AIIM New England chapter held its final event of the program year. The event title suggested three disparate topics: “Cloud, Mobile content management and BYOD”, but we quickly were made to understand that these topics are deeply intertwined. In addition, it became apparent that the panel we assembled for this discussion understood the ways in which the challenges these topics present are not new, not different and that this is not the last time we will see them.
Our panel included Roger Bottum – VP of Marketing, SpringCM; Christopher J Luise – Executive VP, ADNET Technologies and Marc D. Anderson – Co-Founder and President of Sympraxis Consulting. Regular readers of this blog know that Marc trades under the Twitter handle of @sympmarc and Chris’ business thoughts can be found under @ITwithValue although I prefer the bacon-laced tweets from @cluise. Roger’s insight can be tapped at @springCM, a recent add to my daily twitter feed. We chose this group with the thought that a vendor, an integrator and a consultant would be able to give three different views on the subject. I’m not sure if it was the combination, or the fact that these guys were not actual competitors (like some of our previous panels) or perhaps that we just got lucky and picked three brilliant speakers, but this was an awesome panel.
Roger: “Mobile is not an option, it’s here. The cloud isn’t a question of ‘if’; it’s a question of ‘when’ and ‘how’”.
Chris: “Connecting to the enterprise has always been possible, it’s just been clunky. Now, scale has come to the market and most companies have been caught on their back foot.”
Marc: “This technology has always been around, just not everywhere – now it is” Marc also added my favorite quote of the event “By the way, the ‘D’ in BYOD stands for device, not disaster.”
These and a few other common threads dominated the technical current running through this meeting. The notion that we have been dealing with the problems of integrating new devices, securing new devices and adapting to new technologies forever, was prevalent throughout the discussion. The thing that made this discussion so fascinating was the absolute pragmatism that was evident in their collective point of view. When a question was asked about controlling a cloud-based solution or controlling a cadre of mobile devices, the answer was fast and sharp – “to assume that you have control today is a false assumption!” It’s not some brave new world that we are entering into; it’s the next phase of an evolutionary process that involves a broader audience.
One of the most spirited portions of the discussion came after a question from a member of our streaming audience, asking about the fact that people are now carrying a laptop, an iPad and a smartphone instead of a single device. The attendee wondered how corporate IT was going to make this a better experience. Ironically, I was sitting there with those three devices, and the question kicked off a series of responses that ranged from the suggestion that my laptop was inadequate to the fact that today’s solutions have to driven by a combination of Capability, Form Factor and User Experience. That seemed to be enough to light the fuse on the philosophical side of this meeting, which was a powerfully refreshing discussion. Again, I can offer a few quotes:
Roger: “If someone doesn’t think it (your solution) works better than the old solution, it’s not going to be supported.”
Marc: “IT is not spending enough time asking users what they want and what they need to do their job. IT is more concerned about writing a BYOD policy than they are about getting people the data they need.”
Chris added some thoughts that seem to indicate that the key vendors in this space are fueling the fire toward a trend that supports their own objectives.
“Apple wants to sell devices, Microsoft wants to sell applications that are going to work on all (wink) devices and Oracle (yes, he said Oracle) wants you to believe that only the data really matters.”
The event ended with a major challenge to companies and particularly those of us in IT:
Give your users the tools they need to meet the increasing demands you are placing on them.
I don’t know who offered the suggestion that problem facing practitioners is to find a way to meet technical, cultural, and procedural challenges in an integrated manner – and to meet those challenges quickly. Of course, the panel members quickly added that meeting those challenges isn’t really a new task.