Admit it: Nearly every piece of business software that you have used over the last few years is confusing, poorly designed and, more often than not, makes you want to do something to your computer that would turn you into a viral clip on YouTube.
But why is it the status quo to have disjointed and downright ugly software that cripples our productivity?
Simple: Not long ago, a bunch of people with no social skills and debatable hygiene built the first computers and software. It started out crazy ugly. Not just ugly, but downright hilariously cobbled together, but it didn’t matter because it was such a huge productivity improvement for enterprise. This went on for decades until Apple came out with the iPhone and people started experiencing good design, which led to an unexpected side effect; users started bringing in their personal devices to get their work done, bypassing the crappy software and dated phones (ahem, Blackberry) that their employers wanted them to use. Call it the BYOD assault on the enterprise.
All of a sudden, IT was getting calls to fix issues on devices that they didn’t technically support, and they noticed the scary workarounds that people were willing to go through in order to piece it all together. What started as a trickle is now a flood.
Luckily, CIOs are finally realizing — from increasingly painful experience — that if they stick with kludgy software that ties the user to the PC, they will pay a steep price of lowered productivity and dangerous security workarounds. Now, there is a scramble to get 10, 20 and even 3o-year-old systems mobile-accessible — and a bevy of potential solutions emerging along with it.
Here are 3 things that CIOs should have on their radar when trying tackle the BYOD problem:
- Look for solutions that are device agnostic. While it is getting easier to build native iOS and Android apps from a single code base, it is still messier, more complicated and more expensive to deploy and support compared to HTML5. Browser-based HTML5 is enterprise-ready for an overwhelming majority of business needs and it gives you a single platform to deploy.
- Unify the user experience. The average employee already has over a dozen different software systems to use in order to get their job done. Look for a platform that helps unify the different systems into a single interface where your users can engage with their software from a single dashboard or workspace without bouncing around between a dozen different browser tabs. Simplify the user experience — don’t add to the complexity that already is overwhelming.
- Get your legacy data mobile accessible. Unchain your workers from their desktops and laptops and let them finally access your critical business systems on their mobile devices. Look for mobile engagement platforms that let you connect into your business systems without the dependence on a laptop or desktop. Forrester Research just recently projected that “mobile engagement providers” will turn into a $32.4 billion-dollar industry within just a few years. That’s 34 with a B.
I believe some businesses will be at the forefront of this mobile shift in the enterprise and benefit by making it a competitive advantage, while others will instead resort to temporary half-measures that will need to be redone in a few years’ time.
Bottom line? Find a way to get all of your data, including your legacy data, mobile-accessible ASAP or you can be sure that your users are going to create security holes that IT will play a losing game of whack-a-mole trying to close. The days of IT picking an ugly and hard-to-use software platform that handcuffs its users to the PC is over, and I just wonder how long it is going to take the enterprise to wake up to this — and how many more frightening news-making security breaches will happen until they do.
Seth Talbott started his career in IT and software development 15+ years ago. Since then, he has run a global data center for a major software company, been CEO of a group of award-winning medical clinics, and founded numerous companies, including Promedev and AtomOrbit – which VentureBeat named one of the most innovative early-stage startups in the 2013 Innovation Showdown in Cloud Software.
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