New Devices at MWC 2013

OMG! MWC could be a BFD, LOL!

New Devices at MWC 2013As Mobile World Congress (MWC) passes on its weary way in Barcelona, those responsible for technology in organizations should be looking on — even if it is with a slight look of bemusement — to see what the goings-on at the event may mean for them.

Firstly, even though MWC remains big, its direct impact on an organization may be fading slightly.  As MWC has become more like the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), the use for many of the technologies on show may appear to be peripheral in an enterprise environment.  However, its indirect impact can still be felt.  Google’s announcements on Google Glasses and the new ChromeBooks, ongoing guesswork on what an Apple Watch might actually look like (without Apple even being there), and other highlights which range from the boringly believable to the unfortunately unbelievable…  all of these may impact the enterprise in ways that may be unexpected.

What is sure is that MWC (and the associated goings-on) are showing how the hardware vendors are making more of a play to capture millennials — those end users coming through who (we are led to believe) wouldn’t recognize an email if it jumped out of a device and bit them, and who see the use of a phone for anything other than instant messaging and running apps as a quaint action for the dinosaurs aged, well… over 30.

The advent of bring your own device (BYOD) is a tide that no one should try and hold back — preventing use of an employee’s own equipment has never worked in the past, and with the cost of end-user devices falling dramatically, BYOD will only grow in use.  But is there a line that shouldn’t be crossed when an upstart 21-year-old VP comes in with their pair of Google Glasses and says, “Make this work with SAP, will you? Oh, and while you’re at it, this watch isn’t syncing with my Facebook account properly”?

Of course there should be.  But again, a stiff response of “there is no place for those in our organization” is probably not the best way to keep the employee on board, and more likely to keep them just  bored, period.  Far better to sit down with these people and try and figure out if they are on to something; and if not, to be able to discuss with them why embracing every new technological advance is not good for the organization.

When individuals look at how technology helps them, one of the areas that I find tends to get missed is that this concept is where the perceived productivity improvement stops: with ‘me’ the individual, not ‘us’ the organization.

Devices with their own app and cloud ecosystem can lead to yet another information silo, with some important data being stored off on a cloud somewhere because that is the way the new device works. This can then lead to bad decisions being made at a corporate level as that piece of critical information could not be included in the corporate ‘big data’ world.

Other areas, such as information security and impact on the overall performance of the organization’s applications, can also be brought to bear, but don’t be surprised to see the glazed look of an “I don’t care” to spread on the faces of more intractable subjects.  If the challenge boils down to the dogmatism of the individual user, it can be a case of “time to polish up the resume” — this is generally quite good in focusing the mind on whether the device is really useful or just a bit of bling.

So, better to be prepared.  Look at the stuff that is being talked about on the internet around MWC.  Try and understand why anyone would want to use the newly-announced devices and services within your organization — and prepare to be able to see if they are really going to be useful and worth supporting in the long term, or more likely, a flash in the pan.

Image credit: mozillaeu (flickr)