Life as a Chief Information Office used to be simple. They would hear about a new challenge facing the business. After learning the details, the CIO would go out and find a solution that would make the organization stronger than ever before. Systems weren’t perfect but they added value and everyone was happy.
Then Steve Jobs returned to Apple.
Oh sure, it started out wonderfully. He created the iPod which made the CD collection that had been built-up over the years dramatically more portable. Sure, the artistic vision that is the album started taking a hit but that wasn’t your problem unless you were in the music industry.
Then came the iPhone.
At first it seemed like a better Blackberry. It was hard to think of it as something else because there wasn’t anything else really like it. Palm Pilots didn’t count because they lived or died by their ability to connect to their home computer.
The iPhone didn’t care about wires.
Like the Blackberry, it was email on the phone, but it had apps. Fun apps that would be pulled out at every happy hour and entertain all the closet nerds. The mobile device was the new toy at grown-up show-and-tell.
Of course, there was that web browser feature.
In IT, we had spent the better part of the past decade creating web interfaces for EVERYTHING. At first it was because it was cool and offered the potential to reduce the maintenance of individual computers. Eventually, it just just better.
But the web worked too well.
All of the sudden, people were trying to do work on their new phones. Some people complained that it was hard to use some applications because the web pages were too busy but they were a minority. After all, we were still busy supporting the business just as we always had.
Then it all exploded.
One morning, CIOs woke up from celebrating their latest success and they realized that people were not only buying Macs again, but they were using them for WORK. Other companies decided that they wanted to have phones that were as useful as Apple’s devices. They started selling smart phones at a lower price point with systems that were incompatible with Apple. Even RIM created the BlackBerry Storm.
And the apps were EVERYWHERE.
DropBox, Box, Evernote, SlideShark, Facebook, and Google. They were churning out applications that were easy to install, worked with your approved email clients, and made information easy for everyone to use. Let’s not even talk about the “Share” button.
Easy to use, impossible to manage.
These applications would take sensitive business information and store it in the Cloud. We weren’t sure why they called it the Cloud as it was more like a Fog. Information was no longer where it belonged. It couldn’t be found without a map, which only the users possessed.
Then the users suddenly got quiet.
They would ask for something and when you told them it would be a few months, they would nod their heads and leave. They would never come back. They had found one of those evil apps to meet their needs and had moved on to doing their job.
It is now adapt or die.
Thanks to this cascading of events, CIOs everywhere have to embrace the new world order brought on by this Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) revolution or find a new job. There is no middle ground. CIO’s have to find applications that allow for the necessary control of information while still allowing the users to have the easy experience that they have come to expect.
And the vendors?
They are trying, but they are either mired in the past or learning what Enterprises need. CIOs have to grab the vendors by the shoulder and tell them that the first one to solve this gets my money. It is that simple because it is either that or start over in a new career.
And it is all Steve Job’s fault.