Johannes Kepler

Kepler, The iPhone, And The BYOD Surge

Johannes KeplerAt first glance, it’s hard to find any common ground between the first iPhone and the German mathematician, scientist and astronomer, Johannes Kepler.  Apple released the iPhone and an apple was rumored to have fallen on Sir Isaac Newton’s head, and Newton used a lot of Kepler’s data but that’s a loose association.  The common point between the two is that both were historical watersheds.

When I was a young lad, Kepler was my favorite historical scientist – I read his 1619 book (the translated version) “Harmonicies Mundi” (the Harmony of the World ), and even once tried to replicate his model of the five perfect solids placed in inscribed spheres to describe the universe known at the time.  Why was I such a fan? Was wearing an “I love Kepler” t-shirt a chick magnet in my town?  Probably, but that’s not the reason.

Kepler was THE watershed in modern science.  Prior to Kepler, scientists were very mystical in nature.  Celestial bodies rotated around the Earth because they had the will to.  Objects that were tossed in the air, returned to the ground because of God.  Everything was religious or mystic – no real understanding of how things worked, just fate.  Post Kepler, all of the scientists were very, well… scientific.  Names like Newton, Galileo and Brahe all were traditional empirical scientists.  Kepler, however, was both.  He was the watershed scientist that moved us from believing that rocks had ‘will’ to understanding that gravity is a force that causes objects to fall.  Before Kepler, the Church did science; after Kepler it was done in Universities.

The iPhone played a similar role in the consumerization of the Enterprise.  Prior to the iPhone, users viewed the IT departments as mystics that knew everything about IT.  When a device was turned on, it magically worked.  Users didn’t really understand why or how things worked, they just did.  If there was a problem, call the mystics and they would come fix it.  This is why any deviation away from the corporate standard, no matter how small was greeted with resistance and a threat from IT to excommunicate the person as the church excommunicated Galileo.

Take Windows for example.  How else could an operating system that’s as bad as Windows get the market share it had?  IT just wouldn’t let anything else in and users didn’t know enough to support it.  Users were scared of new technology and that was the norm we lived and worked in.

Then came the iPhone.  The iPhone was the first device where the CEOs of organizations didn’t care about the corporate standards and directed the IT department to find a way to make it work.  Since then a bevy of non-windows devices have been released that target the user directly.  Now we have Kindles, Android Tablets, iPads, iPhones, MacBooks and Chrome Books all being supported in companies.  This shift creates a significant challenge for IT departments, as users will want to use all of these devices as well for business purposes.  In fact, it’s common to be in a meeting today and see more MacBooks than Windows PCs in business meetings.   Today, BYOD and consumer devices have become the norm and we can all thank the iPhone and Johannes Kepler for being bold and having the willingness to look at things differently.