Saturday, October 05, 2013

Tablets versus Laptops versus Smartphone versus whatever...

I like to stay ahead of the curve (or at least try).  To that end I've been doing allot of testing lately of devices with different form factors.  I own a Google Nexus 7 (running Android OS version 4.3 aka Jelly Bean) and utilize a Microsoft Surface Pro (running Windows 8 Pro) with a keyboard at work.  Add to that a Lenovo laptop running Windows 8 Pro with a touch screen and you have what I call variety.  So what are my thoughts?

The Nexus 7 is ideal for consuming content and browsing the public Internet (plus Twitter) but not so much for what I do at work.  I use the device at home all the time, but not to get any real work done in the office.

The Surface Pro is usable in my corporate environment but not seamless - I run into quirks now & then for things such as system admin tasks that I must perform on a regular basis.  I know Microsoft's response to that is for me to upgrade my network to Server 2012 Active Directory and System Center 2012 but financially that isn't realistic (no matter how much Redmond tries to push their version of ROI).  The same quirks that I run into using the Surface Pro occur with the Lenovo laptop.

Along with Windows 8 I'm also testing various aspects of Office 365 as an alternative to the traditional Office 2013 suite.  The one hurdle I've found has to do with the requirements that Microsoft has of tying each Office 365 account to an individual.  The sales environment that I work in has a high turnover rate yet Microsoft makes no provisions for assigning Office 365 licenses to an organization instead of an individual.  This has proven to be cumbersome to the point where I can't recommend Office 365 unless the organization plans to keep every employee and never fire anyone (not likely).

I understand the concept of Consumerization of IT and Bring-Your-own-Device (BYoD) to work but they mean little in an organization that is built for centralized management & control (which virtually all sales organizations are).  Another example is how a firm that develops mobile apps loves consumerization of IT & BYoD until they have an employee leave and take code with them - then its all about control and who owns what.  As was recently highlighted by students in the LA school system, when you give a person a computing device (such as an iPad), people are going to do with it what they want, regardless of what you tell them.

So what does it all mean?  My perspective is that of the Management & IT side.  Expect your employees to do what they want on your network & computing devices, regardless of what you tell them (in the form of written policies that they must acknowledge via signed forms & employee seminars).  The policies are in place to protect the company after the fact - they won't prevent an employee from doing something in the first place.

My recommendation to all organizations is to create Services where the organization controls access.  This will prove even more valuable as companies no longer occupy traditional offices and employee work space is a home office or coffee shop.


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