Apperian on why MDM fails, how BYOD can ‘paralyze’ IT and more

by Doug Drinkwater

January 2 2013

Mobile app management vendor Apperian reckons an increasing number of businesses are bypassing Mobile Device Management to secure corporate data, and says 2013 will be the year of HTML5 apps and Windows 8 tablets.

TabTimes spoke recently to the firm's SVP of products, Alan Murray, who had some wide-ranging views on everything from the BYOD movement and ‘intrusive’ MDM to tablets in enterprise and mobile business apps.

He begun by admitting that BYOD has now struck ‘reality’, to the point where most businesses  now realize they need a mobile strategy and a way of controlling these tablets and smartphones.

“We see BYOD as pretty much a reality at this point,” said Murray. "It is strange for us to talk to customers that don’t have BYOD as top of mind, but most folks recognize realize they need to get ahead with some sort of strategy.

MDM is 'too intrusive'

That strategy, according to Murray, sees businesses first looking at deploying a MDM solution, even though the Apperian exec claims that MDM “doesn’t sit well in a BYOD world”.

“For many, MDM is a starting point but they get a year into MDM and realize they are struggling with a number of problems.

“They find that it doesn’t sit well in a BYOD world, and that it also doesn’t really solve their business problems of how to protect data on mobile device, how to drive app adoption or give granular security on [mobile] applications.

“And more and more we’re hearing that they [companies] don’t want to be that intrusive [with MDM], or their employees don’t want them to be that intrusive.”

Murray admits that the industry is at a point of educating businesses on what can be done, but says that there is a huge discrepancy between the knowledge of some companies and others.

“In a lot of instances we’re talking to folk with an incredibly sophisticated viewpoint [in relation to mobile data security] but that’s just a few at the front edge.

“A good chunk of the trailing group don’t even have apps yet and some have deployed 18,000 iPads and are asking to what to do with them. Those folk are out there.”

Nonetheless, the Apperian exec thinks that this is a relatively small number, with the more knowledgeable companies now looking to MAM as a successor to MDM.

“The  bulk of the bell curve are looking at what’s next after MDM. They have either leveraged MDM and decided it’s not for them or they’ve consciously opted out [from it]. That’s where most people are.”

As well as being too intrusive and too slow to mobilize parts of business, Murray also suggests that MDM hinges too much on punishment rather than reward, unlike MAM.

“MDM is almost a case of punishment or reward; if you enrol we’ll give you access to email, if you don’t, we won’t. What kind of message does that send to the employee? Most workers are problem-solvers and so you’re kind of publishing their ability to do that.”

Mobile App Management, when done correctly, can solicit a completely different response though, Murray claims.

“Some customers of ours have taken our products and made MAM into a reward for employees. One tactic employed by Cisco (an Apperian customer) was that they didn’t roll it out to everyone; they made it a scarce resource and tried to build demand internally.

"They just applied a little psychology and marketing to it, and it was a really successful deployment.”

IT departments are 'terrified' of getting it wrong with BYOD

When it comes to the attitudes of workers and IT, Murray is adamant that workers are not only increasingly knowledgeable but are forcing their own terms when bringing in their mobile devices, but admitted concern over IT departments ignoring the BYOD trend.

“We don’t talk to too many companies that are that immature [regarding BYOD], but I’ve been astounded when I’ve been to trade shows about the companies that talk to us that are incredibly petrified, and have no direct stance at all.

“Those companies are out there, and some of these are substantial big companies. They just haven’t got their arms around solutions yet and so they’re so terrified about getting BYOD wrong that they have paralyzed themselves.”

Companies start taking Windows 8 tablets seriously

Murray says that companies across all verticals are now looking at tablets, especially tech and financial services, although Apperian has been “pleasantly surprised” by tablet deployments in government and in education and retail.

The tablet of choice appears to still be the iPad, but the Apperian exec expects some movement for Windows 8 in the coming year.

“We haven’t seen an iPad killer yet [in business] but everyone is now talking to us about Windows RT and Windows 8 tablets. We suspect that it will be a pretty big deal, but whether it’s through BYOD or corporately provisioned remains to be seen.”

Going forward to next year and Murray reckons that businesses will increasingly focus on IT policies, app security and internal compliance. HTML5 apps, too, could have a role.

“What will we see from 2013? More acknowledgment of IT policies, app level security becomes important and how to ensure compliance.

“There will also be a shift to HTML5 apps because companies will say ‘It was OK when he had two operating systems but supporting a third is just crazy’. So they’ll step back and do it in a web.”

Doug Drinkwater is the International Editor of TabTimes and is based in London, England.

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