End Users Winning in the Mobile Apps 'Battle'

I like Ron Miller's take on the reason apps have empowed the mobile workforce: Because they are simple and let you complete a desired task, mobile apps have become the preferred way "work gets done" for a big segment of knowledge workers.

This movement is somewhat at odds with the traditional desires of enterprise IT, which for a long time has been all about command and control. Here is your device, here are the apps we support. Deal with it. In the old days, that structure worked and worked well. Production systems performed at high rates and were secure, at least from an IT point of view.

Miller's story, however, points to the frustrations knowledge workers often felt trying to work under restricted conditions. Thanks in no small part to the iPhone -- which broke the wireless carriers' stranglehold on the mobile apps market -- all of a sudden there was a land rush of innovation, and people basically taught themselves how to download and use an app. It was a powerful feeling, and it's caused what we now call BYOD, which is probably better termed as "I'm going to use what I need to get my job done."

Many IT departments and IT leaders are still trying to catch up, and find ways to make enterprise IT more like a consumer app environment. We've seen projects with enterprise app stores. There's more activity on the mobile cloud computing front, where enterprises try to secure data regardless of the device. But there is still a "lock it down" mindset that prevails; just read through this blog post from NetApp's David Amerland, who talks about ideas that put "power and control firmly back into corporate hands."

It's a great thought, if you are from the old school of IT. But I wonder how well the "blacklisting" of certain consumer apps is going to work out. There is a popular theme being repeated at many conferences these days, which goes something like, "if you say no, users will go around you anyway." I don't think that's going to change anytime soon, at least not until there are enterprise-grade apps that are as easy to use as the consumer versions.

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