"We're actually affecting the user's buying cycle now," Bucholz reports. "It's still consumerization of IT, but it's also almost the IT-ization of consumers. I think there's still going to be this tension [between IT and employees], but the tension will be a little bit less four or five years from now."
Employee self support
IT-ization of consumers may not be a bad description, especially when you consider that employees are taking on more support responsibilities. And that self-sufficiency may prove crucial in paving the way for IT to support universal desktop access from a mix of work and personal devices.
There are simply too many types of mobile devices for a typical IT shop to provide the support expected in a desktop-centric environment. According to the Aberdeen Group, the average enterprise supported about two mobile operating systems a year ago, but that number has risen to just about three and within 12 months enterprises will support an average of almost four.
In this new model, it may make more sense for IT to provide the means of hooking a device up to a network and then letting users fend for themselves when minor glitches pop up. A self-help or community support model might also relieve the IT burden while letting employees embrace multiple types of devices, Nunez suggests.
Users are becoming self-sufficient enough to make this idea work, Clover says. "To me, it's the beginning of self-sufficiency," he says. In many cases, employees aren't even relying on IT to set up their ActiveSync connections. They just do it themselves. "We're not even touching their device. There's a shift there, and I think it's a very efficient shift. A lot of this stuff is no longer a black box. The way I look at it is we've got these weekend IT warriors."
Clover also views mobility as a de facto disaster recovery plan. If a major event prevents employees from accessing an office or region, they may still be able to log onto e-mail via smartphones, he reasons.
But while smartphone users accessing corporate resources is an interim step toward ubiquitous access to the universal desktop, it's still only the tip of the iceberg. Corporations will be asked to provide more than e-mail on mobile devices, and they can't claim it's not possible because employees are increasingly aware of technologies that allow smartphones to access core enterprise applications such as Oracle, SAP and Microsoft SharePoint.