Ahead of VMworld Europe, we sat down with Brian Gammage, to discuss some of the hottest trends for the Mobile Sheriff.
Hi Brian, thanks for time out to chat with us. First of all, what should the Mobile Sheriff persona look out for at VMworld?
VMworld Europe offers a chance for the Mobile Sheriff to really expand their understanding of how far mobility has penetrated the fabric of the modern enterprise. If you believe that any business project is now also an IT project then you should also see that mobility is a vital part any planning process – whether that is an internal process, used by employees, or a customer-facing application.
I’d recommend attending Sanjay Poonen’s presentation during the keynote, listening to how VMware is aligning itself with other players in the industry to deliver effective mobile strategies for organisations.
What are the biggest challenges facing the Mobile Sheriff persona?
The key challenge is simply making decisions and communicating them transparently to others. As a Mobile Sheriff, how do you decide who gets what technology, when and how?
Many IT departments are still stuck with the traditional, industrialised mind-set of the past. Going back just five or ten years, best practice was considered running a single system image with everyone using the same apps and devices, set up in the same way. It was a one-size fits all world. Not so now – our technology base is increasingly diverse and there are many more choices to be made. The focus is no longer on the device or the infrastructure but on the end-user, their role and the functionality they need to succeed.
However, this change brings new challenges. The IT department no longer has a common language for prescribing IT requirements. There isn’t a transparent framework to decide who gets what. While the C-Suite may need the freedom to choose its own applications, how far does this extend through the organisation? Should the receptionist choose their own applications? Do we offer cleaners or admin assistants the chance to use their own device? Where do we draw the line in empowerment?
Beyond culture changes, Mobile Sheriffs must also consider the practical realities: namely, how do we deliver an app-centric IT model, which offers user freedom without sacrificing data security and IT control? A critical part of this role will be finding a mobile management model that can balance new apps with old mission critical software.
What can the Mobile Sheriff persona do to offer the most value to their business?
Improving communication skills will be crucial. Mobile Sheriffs must communicate the problems they are facing, working with the organisation – including the C-Suite and department heads – to find a single, coherent IT strategy that works for everyone.
We can see a real link to the current worries the IT department is facing around growth vs austerity. While it is possible to know the cost of IT, understanding the value is far more difficult. We are in the first real era of IT freedom, where technology can do whatever we ask of it – business models are no longer constrained to IT limitations. You can see from companies such as Uber and Airbnb that new models of business are cropping up – and thriving – on a near daily basis.
It is down to the Mobile Sheriff to ask their organisation: what do you want to do? How fast do you want to go? And how much are you prepared to invest?
What does the future hold for the Mobile Sheriff persona?
In a word: convergence.
Organisations are now looking to the future, aiming to equip the workforce to deal with the problems of tomorrow. As part of this, the desktop is evolving and merging with the world of mobile. No longer two separate domains, they act as a single portal to employee efficiency.
For the Mobile Sheriff, it’s important to know which direction you are coming from – that of the desktop (dealing with legacy applications) or from mobility (faster, newer, but forced to accept the demands of existing IT processes).
There is also a further cultural shift that is happening almost imperceptibly. While IT used to work with the idea that inhibiting change can mean better control (for example, buying technology in the hope that it will be used for the next five years), CIOs now recognise the need to adapt continuously. Change management needs to be built in to the core of any IT strategy, allowing new technologies, devices, or services to be brought into the business quickly and with minimal fuss.
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