Overheard: Best consumerization of the enterprise quotes of 2013

The consumerization of the enterprise never fails to spark conversation. Take a look back at what IT folks had to say about the trend in 2013.

The consumerization of the enterprise has lots of people talking, and they're saying some interesting things.

Over the course of the year, there were many changes to the IT landscape, and there was no shortage of conversation about all the hottest topics. From job roles, to mobile devices and operating systems, to vendor acquisitions and more, these quotes about the consumerization of the enterprise from 2013 speak for themselves.

"We have policies, but they don't really do anything. They're good to have, but they don't stop people from doing things that they shouldn't."
Nathan McBride, vice president of IT and chief cloud architect, AMAG Pharmaceuticals Inc.

Having policies and rules around mobile device and cloud use are both good precautionary measures, but they won't do you any good if you don't have ways to enforce them. McBride's IT department uses cloud auditing to keep track of how users interact with corporate data.

"No one wants to be the guy who says 'no' all the time. That perception turns IT from being an advocate into a barrier, and that's a bad thing."
Todd Knapp, founder and CEO, Envision Technology Advisors, LLC

Consumerization of the enterprise brings with it many challenges for IT, but Knapp sees users' new perspective on admins as the toughest. Not too long ago, admins were the ones bringing new technologies into the workplace and convincing employees they could make work easier. Today, workers are the ones with the latest and greatest devices and sometimes IT can't keep up. As the gatekeepers, they have to say no to some tools and services, but they can't say no all the time.

"When I see Apple drop the price of their struggling, lightweight productivity apps, I don't see a shot across our bow, I see an attempt to play catch up."
Frank Shaw, corporate vice president of communications, Microsoft

Apple is offering its new OS X Mavericks operating system, the iWork office productivity package and the iLife creative suite for free, which seems to be an effort to provide business consumers with seamless work and personal user experiences. But Apple might have a hard time convincing users to convert from the pervasive Microsoft Office Suite, and Apple's devices are still pricey. The folks at Microsoft certainly aren't convinced that Apple can pull it off.

"The [old] design is patronizing to business users. … Now, you look at the calendar in OS X Mavericks and iOS 7, and it feels like something that businesses and consumers would want to use."
Michael Oh, founder, Tech Superpowers Inc.

With the release of iOS 7, Apple gave its operating system a total refresh, doing away with the tacky designs of some icons, such as the faux leather on the calendar app. But iOS 7 also brought with it tons of new management features for IT, including mobile device and application management tools, increased control over file sharing and more.

"I personally have witnessed biometric scanners defeated through the use of a Gummy Bear as a print mold."
David Reynolds, certified ethical hacker and systems manager, Rhode Island Blood Center

Apple's iPhone 5s comes with TouchID, which gives users a sense of increased device protection. The biometric scanner isn't enterprise-grade, however, and there are concerns over how Apple can use the data collected from the scanners. TouchID is a cool identification feature for consumers, but it doesn't authenticate them, so it shouldn't be used as the only method to secure a device that carries enterprise data. Any security measure that can be defeated by confection isn't good enough for business.

"At the end of the day, IT can't push certain devices onto employees anymore. … Employees have to like what IT gives them. Otherwise, they'll just use whatever device they want."
Jack Gold, president, J. Gold Associates, LLC

In the consumerization era, companies that focus solely on the enterprise have lost some ground. Case in point: BlackBerry. Though the former mobile giant has made strides to stay relevant with both consumers and the enterprise, its new devices and operating system don't seem to be what workers are clamoring for. IT pros have to be aware that they can't force BlackBerry 10 tools onto workers just because they're easier to manage and more secure than iOS or Android devices.

"I don't know if there will be an IT organization in five years, or at least it won't look like what we've been used to. … But IT can either evolve and survive or go stagnant and die out."
Brandon Porco, CTO, Northrop Grumman Corp.

The consumerization of the enterprise hasn't just changed the way corporate employees work. It's also changed IT's job roles. Traditional positions in the IT department are still important, but companies need to be agile and forward-thinking, and the same goes for IT teams. It isn't enough to see a new device or tool coming down the pike and consider what management tools you'll be able to use on it. Admins have to be just as imaginative as manufacturers and vendors to find ways to effectively implement new technology in the workplace.

"Everyone's buying up everyone. … I think you're going to start to see the smaller guys at the bottom start to disappear."
Michael Finneran, mobile analyst and president, dBrn Associates Inc.

The EMM market has undergone some serious changes since managing mobility has become an IT priority. The market has ballooned as tons of small vendors such as Bitzer SE and Fiberlink Communications Corp. came onto the scene with all-in-one products for managing devices, applications and data. Almost as quickly as IT departments adopted those tools, their parent companies were bought out by big names, such as IBM and Oracle. As these giants try to round out their mobile offerings, IT shops are going to continue to see their smaller EMM vendors get snapped up.

"Microsoft is on the ropes. … They were shut out of the early inning. We need a much more appreciative Microsoft toward the customer. We need them to listen more, deliver more and talk less."
Bob Egan, CEO and chief analyst, The Sepharim Group, LLC

No longer can Microsoft strut around like it's the king of the hill. Hardware and software from Apple, Google and others are giving Microsoft a run for its money, and the company has taken notice. Rather than continuing to assume dominance, Microsoft has taken a softer approach that could be the result of the realization that turning attention to the consumer doesn't make enterprise customers jump on the Surface bandwagon. By extending lifecycle support for Windows Phones, for example, Microsoft is proving to IT and customers that it wants to stay on their good side.

This was first published in December 2013

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