12
Jan

Another reason why the Android segment of BYOD is problematic for enterprise IT organizations

2-Color-Design-Hi-Res-100px-widthThe Wall Street Journal published an article on what appears to be a decision made by Google not to support so-called older browsers (Jelly Bean 4.3 and earlier) for Android smartphones. But Android Jelly Bean 4.3 appeared as recently as June, 2013 (less than 2 years ago). So it may be safe to assume enterprise IT organizations are about to experience another big headache as they struggle to support BYOD policies permitting personnel to bring Android smartphones (and I would add tablets) into the enterprise. Some of these devices will certainly appear current (merely half way through a typical 3 year use cycle). But permitting them for use inside corporate firewalls might be a big problem.

This article is written by Danny Yadron. The article was published on Monday, January 12, 2015 and is titled Google Isn’t Fixing Some Old Android Bugs.

It is also likely consumers wouldn’t have a problem with Google’s decision, if the devices in question were truly older, meaning the first Android smartphone which appeared on the market in 2008, and its siblings. If the set of devices was merely limited to smartphones from 2008 to, say, 2010 (a full 5 years back), then Yadron’s reference to what he contends is the same posture Microsoft adopted with regards to its Windows XP Operating System, when it decided to stop supporting the product for production computing, would make sense.

But, in my opinion, Yadron’s statement is not tenable. “The security blind spot illustrates the challenges companies face as they try to move customers onto newer products and focus security resources on patching more-current software. Microsoft . . . applied the same reasoning when it stopped supporting Windows XP, first released in 2001, in April [2014].”

When we make reference to the Windows XP operating system, we are talking about software on the market for almost fourteen years. Sure the structure of the two announcements may be the same, but to equate a decision about products purchased as recently as 18 months ago to a decision about products purchased almost 156 months ago (nearly 10 times older) doesn’t make sense.

There is really very little similarity between the stances of these two big ISVs. Enterprise IT organizations are not likely to be fooled into thinking the two statements are the same. When they face an inevitable decision about whether to prohibit the use of mobile computing devices powered by Android Jelly Bean 4.3, on-premises, or not, they are not likely to enjoy their position as an unfortunate “bad guy”/spoiler for their community of computing users. Nevertheless, the best of them will likely have to prohibit these devices (which some personnel may still be paying off) if they are to preserve the comparative security of their internal corporate networks.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2015 All Rights Reserved

8
Jan

Why update problems for Android devices can severely hamper enterprise adoption of this mobile device operating system

2-Color-Design-Hi-Res-100px-widthThrough a combination of direct experience, and a review of an editorial published just about a year ago on the Android Central website, I have concluded there is no clear method of uniformly updating mobile devices powered by the same Android operating system, but manufactured by different Android partners. I am not sure as to why this problem arose, but I am clear about its impact on the likelihood of the average enterprise IT organization standardizing on Android as an approved mobile computing platform. It is not likely to happen.

The title of the editorial on the Android Central website is Solving the impossible problem of Android updates. The writer is Alex Dobie.

It is not possible for enterprise IT organizations to standardize on devices running an operating system which can be implemented on highly dissimilar hardware. What if the next update to an Android “flavor”, say Jelly Bean, includes not only new features, but substantially better security? Manufacturer A has implemented the first update (Android Jelly Bean 4.2), but can’t release the latest update (Android Jelly Bean 4.3). Worse yet, Manufacturer B has yet to implement even the first update. What enterprise IT organization would want to deal with a user community outfitted with a lot of devices from Manufacturer A, B and more?

Yet the average BYOD policy statement empowers users to bring Android, iOS, and Windows personal computing devices into the enterprise. So it should not be difficult for readers to understand why enterprise IT organizations are struggling to ensure high quality user computing experience, while, at the same time, defending the enterprise from hackers, malware, data leaks, etc.

The direct experience component of my conclusion arose as the result of my interest in participating in Microsoft’s Office Preview for Android. This preview includes Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. At first glance it looked as if my Samsung Galaxy Note 2.1 10.1 would work with the preview app. The display size of the tablet is 10.1 inches, and the Android version is 4.1, Jelly Bean. But the preview app would not work on my device, perhaps since the latest Android Jelly Bean release is 4.3.

When I posted my experience to the Google Plus community Microsoft has set up for people participating in the preview to exchange information, I was surprised to learn I am not alone. Samsung is not the only Android OEM stuck on an older version of this Android Operating System.

Regardless of just who is responsible for the problem, perhaps management at Google for Work can fix it. If not, it might be better for them to restrict their offers to Google’s cloud SaaS and IaaS products and forget about getting much traction with Android at all.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2015 All Rights Reserved

26
Dec

Accenture publishes a study pointing to an expanded IT systems decision-making role for CFOs at many enterprise businesses

2-Color-Design-Hi-Res-100px-widthWith a publication date of December 29, 2014, Accenture released its annual High Performance Finance Study for 2014. The findings presented reinforce the notion of a changed decision-making hierarchy for IT systems and solutions within many enterprise businesses.

In my opinion, anyone with an interest in Microsoft should take a look at this report. The two core IT topics:

  • “complex legacy systems and environments”
  • and “[t]he rise of digital on the CFO agenda”

may provide two of the planks of a foundation beneath a joint effort between the two companies, apparently scheduled for 2015: Microsoft, Accenture partner on hybrid cloud offering.

The first of the IT topics presented in the report, “complex legacy systems and environments” make up the on-premises component of a typical hybrid cloud computing scenario. The second, “digital”, “which may include cloud computing or software as a service (SaaS), big data and/or analytics, mobility and social media” (quoted in entirety from an Annual report from Accenture. I have provided a link to the entire report, above), amounts to the other half of the hybrid computing solution.

As I wrote recently, Microsoft provided more of an indication of a shift in the route taken by examples of technology “innovation” as these improvements enter enterprise businesses (and their larger counterparts in the public and not-for-profit sectors) in a global roadshow intended to help these organizations hasten the rate at which they are adopting cloud, SaaS computing offers (with Office 365 as the leading offer from Microsoft in this space). For readers unfamiliar with this global event, the title of this event is “Microsoft Office 365 Summit”, which I attended in New York City in early October. Since the New York City event, Microsoft has held the same event in Sydney, Australia and even in Moscow, in Russia. The Keynote from the New York Show provided Microsoft with an opportunity to present the notion of enterprise IT organizations abdicating the “innovation” leadership role. The report from Accenture argues the Finance Organization has picked it up, although leadership apparently amounts to a lot more accomodation, and a lot less evangelizing new computing methods. Of course, given ubiquitous BYOD across most of these organizations, the changes make sense.

The task facing the CFO as new enterprise tech leader, if the Accenture report is credible (which I think is the case), is much more a matter of building the right container to house “innovation” than actually leading on it. The role is a good one for Finance, which, after all, has to pay the bills, anyways.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2014 All Rights Reserved

24
Dec

A different perspective on the significance of finance executives assuming CIO duties at major corporations

2-Color-Design-Hi-Res-100px-widthOn December 12, 2014, the CIO Journal feature of the Wall Street Journal included an article written by Rachael King on the appointment of Julie Lagacy to the position of CIO for Caterpillar. The title of King’s article is Caterpillar’s New CIO Has a Finance Background. While I agree with King”s decision to write about this appointment, in my opinion the significance of it is very different, in fact, a direct opposite, from what King portrays in her article.

King quotes Peter High, whom she identifies as “president of strategy and management consulting firm Metis Strategy, LLC”. She includes a quote from an email message High apparently sent out to his subscribers after the announcement of Lagacy’s appointment to the position of CIO for Caterpillar: “[a]s IT grows in complexity and as IT is at the heart of so much innovation in companies, increasingly IT must act like any other business division, and it must speak the language of business: finance” (quoted from Rachael King’s article. I’ve included a link to the article in the first paragraph of this post).

In October of this year I attended a two day seminar in New York City hosted by Microsoft on the topic of Office 365 Adoption. The title for the seminar was Office 365 Summit: New York. The Keynote presentation for this seminar, which was presented by Michael Atalla of Microsoft (Atalla, per his LinkedIn Profile is Director, Product Management, Office) picked up on precisely the same topic of the role enterprise IT organizations (and their management, ie CIOs), in 2014, and going forward, will play with regards to the route innovation takes as it enterprise the enterprise. But Atalla portrayed the route, and enterprise IT’s role quite differently. He went to some length to describe the notion of highly consumerized technology, which, nevertheless, constitutes the “leading edge” of innovation, entering the organization as the result of ubiquitous BYOD policies. Along this route, Atalla characterized enterprise IT as playing much more of a custodial role in this process than anything close to a leadership role.

I agree with what I take to be Atalla’s assessment. In my opinion Caterpillar’s decision to appoint a senior finance manager, Julie Lagacy, is an example of how this custodial role is playing out for very large businesses here in the U.S., and not the kind of decision Peter High (and, presumably, Rachael King) consider it to be. Enterprise IT is no longer “the heart of so much innovation”. Perhaps it never was.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2014 All Rights Reserved

25
Nov

Android’s penetration of enterprise computing markets is constrained by a combination of limited upgrade options and too many distributions

It’s very late in 2014, but a lot of enterprise computing consumers still depend on a central support function. An enormous volume of content has been written on the topic of the consumerization of business computing, and how the role of technology leader has changed hands from the typical enterprise IT organizations, to power users playing any kind of role within the organization.

But when something breaks, whether the wreckage occurs at the Line of Business (LoB) level, or within enterprise IT, itself, it still has to be fixed. Fixing broken iOS devices, or Windows devices remains a preferred route. There are simply too many distributions of the Android operating systems, and too much difficulty bringing the ones in use within an organization up to the same level of functionality to make sense for most of the enterprise computing world.

So, with this notion of how hardware device standards, to some extent, still operate in the world of business computing, Samsung’s recent decision to partner with BlackBerry “to Provide End-To-End Security for Android” makes sense.

The BlackBerry Samsung partnership, should appear curious to anyone who reviewed the webcasts recorded at Google I/O 2014. After all, Google announced its plan to “[integrate] part of Knox right into Android” (quoted from Samsung and Google team up to integrate KNOX into Android’s next major release, which was written by Abhijeet M, and published in June, 2014 on the SAMMOBILE web site)at its Google I/O 2014 event. So why would Samsung partner with BlackBerry on no less a mission than to provide the above-stated “end-to-end security for Android”?

A simple answer, in this writer’s opinion, would be to surmise Samsung has come to the realization enterprise IT organizations in the private and public sectors are still, for some reason, shrugging off Knox and passing on Android altogether. Bringing in BlackBerry, therefore makes sense. BlackBerry’s successful effort to convince the U.S. Federal Government, and some of its international peers to continue to use BlackBerry mobile computing devices as the most secure of any of their options. Perhaps some of this win can be attributed to the fact BlackBerry is built on proprietary IP, which, for better or worse, can be easily upgraded and is completely uniform in its presentation.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2014 All Rights Reserved

6
Nov

Will enterprise IT reclaim the title of tech leader within the organization?

Anyone watching the Windows 10 segment of the webcast of the Keynote presentation from Microsoft’s Tech Ed Europe 2014 event will likely catch the appeal Joe Bellfiore, Corporate Vice Presdident, Windows Division is making to the enterprise business attendees in his audience. The old branding message “Windows is the best O/S for all types of computing” has been replaced with a new pitch characterized by its razor sharp “focus on enterprise” computing and the people responsible for its success within a typical organization.

What follows is a rhetorical argument (made up of 4 cornerstones) of why enterprise IT organizations, and the CIOs at the top, should look favorably on Windows 10, whose “first phase of engagement is really aimed at an enterprise audience”. The four cornerstones are:

  1. One converged Windows Platform
  2. A product people will love to use
  3. Protection against modern security threats
  4. Managed for continuous innovation

But the house to be built on these cornerstones is really a rebuild of the old edifice where new computing solutions popped up in organizations as the result of IT’s efforts to introduce them, and an attempt to bring down the dominance of lines of business (LoBs), who have recently staged a coup named BYOD and wielded a sword called consumerized IT to wreak havoc for the teams of computer support personnel ostensibly responsible to manage their computing activity.

In this writer’s opinion, the second cornerstone is nothing new. Microsoft has attempted, all along, to claim the title of best O/S for all types of computing. One need only reflect on one of the video ads for the original Surface tablets, titled Microsoft Surface – Commercial HD to get this point.

A word of caution: this claim hasn’t worked in the past (skeptical readers are advised to just think about the comparatively poor sales performance of the original Surface to get the point. If it worked so well, why the $900 Million write down?) and doesn’t look likely to win in the near future. Further, enterprise IT organizations may actually like their new way of operating in catch up mode. Perhaps it makes more sense for spokespeople like Bellfiore to emphasize each of the other cornerstones, and back pedal on the second.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2014 All Rights Reserved

13
Oct

The Role of Enterprise IT is Changing in 2014

As we wrote recently in this blog, BYOD policies appear to be stimulating an evolution of the role of a central IT function within larger organizations from an effort to control the range of computing opportunities available to personnel, towards an effort to accomodate and support new types of computing (and methods) brought into the organization by users. We put together some of this view last week at a recent conference hosted by a mature ISV (Microsoft), for an audience which included representatives of several larger organizations.

This view is supported by a recently published short post to the CIO feature of the online Wall Street Journal. The post is titled CIOs will need a new mix of skills on their teams. The post reports on a presentation by Peter Sondergaard, “senior vice president and research chief” at Gartner, Inc., during “the company’s Symposium ITxpo 2014.”

The post claims the skills most needed, today, are mobile computing expertise and “user experience” and “data sciences”. So it’s probably safe to assume the Gartner Symposium provided a lot of support for the notion of how important a factor BYOD policies and procedures have become for larger organizations in 2014.

Going forward, the CIO blog report mentions “automated judgement and ethics” as two of the three skills most likely to be in demand. If we can cut through some of the opacity of these two skill descriptions, it looks to us to be safe to assume Gartner is pointing to the growing importance of IT governance as an operational method for larger organizations. But this IT governance will actually be built into computing procedures, themselves.

Surely the notion of “automated judgement and ethics” speaks to a future enterprise IT organization with, arguably, fewer head count. The question of how Line of Business (LoB) silos will obtain the computing resources they will require will be taken care of, if this feature actually materializes, with no debate, or even study, by computing solutions, themselves, which will have the features required to answer any/all questions on the topic. Neat stuff.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2014 All Rights Reserved

7
Oct

It’s hard for ISVs focused on either enterprise or consumer customers to successfully service both markets at the same time

Over the weekend of October 4, 2014, Hewlett Packard announced its intention to split into two businesses: one servicing the consumer market, and the other providing solutions and services to enterprise business. While a lot of commentators have spoken on this event, few, if any, have highlighted how this decision reflects the difficulties mature, and large ISVs experience servicing both markets at the same time.

In this writer’s opinion the precedent for one computer technology business successfully servicing both consumer, and enterprise markets was set by IBM during the period from the debut of the PC to Armonk’s decision to spin off the PC business in the late 1990s. For these 10-15 years, IBM successfully serviced its enterprise business customer base with mainframe computers and the software required to run them for a wide range of purposes, while, at the same time, it provided the support for lines of business (LoBs), and their stakeholders, who were eager to acquire the computing power required to decentralize processing from enterprise IT organizations.

But since this period no ISV has managed to service both markets, successfully. True, Microsoft is, once again, attempting to follow in IBM’s footsteps, but the comparative lack of success of its efforts to convince consumer markets to solve their burning need for mobile computing devices with Surface tablets, or Windows Phones, or even the Surface 3 as the hybrid device meeting the personal computing needs of its owners, regardless of whether those needs arise in the office, on the road, or even at home, have not done well at all.

At the same time, the Apple IBM alliance looks like a competitive effort to do the same, albeit via collaborative products and services produced by two ISVs opting to partner together. Neither Apple, nor Google has successfully demonstrated the ability to cater to both markets simultaneously.

Perhaps Dell is another example of one tech computer business servicing both markets, albeit at a much smaller scale than was the case for IBM. But Dell (and/or Lenovo) lacks the big software IP to match the kind of deep hooks into enterprise business exhibited by IBM, or Microsoft. Dell and Lenovo are servicing consumer and enterprise markets for commodities, while Microsoft and the IBM/Apple joint venture just mentioned, not only have offers for the same market, but also for much more promising niche markets where higher margins may be possible.

Seen from this perspective, this writer would hope readers will look differently at HPs weekend announcement. At the same time, readers should maintain a very skeptical attitude about any analyst commentary claiming these two highly distinct markets — consumerized IT and enterprise IT — are actually the same. If they were, perhaps Meg Whitman wouldn’t have come to her decision.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2014 All Rights Reserved

24
Sep

Can a set of entirely positive market comments endanger the revenue stream health of a tech hardware business?

Apple’s September 9, 2014 new products debut has magnetized an almost entirely positive set of market comments. But can such a set of editorial content actually work against Apple? The lopsided set of positive, almost glowing market commentary about the iPhone 6, 6S, iWatch, and iPay reaches a pinnacle, of sorts, in a piece written by Tiernan Ray, which was published by Barrons on September 16, 2014. The title of this article is Apple: Don’t Listen to the Doomsayers. Even Ray’s decision to include a contrarian opinion expressed by Doug Kass of Seabreeze Partners in his bucket of “doomsayers”, in this writer’s opinion, exemplifies the excessive weight of positive opinion about these new products, and what they promise to bring to Apple.

So, to answer the question posed in the title of this post, we certainly hold the opinion an almost unanimously positive market reception for a set of comparatively very expensive products like these from Apple, can be dangerous to the financial health of the ISV producing them. It is simply not tenable, in this writer’s opinion, to assume Apple will be able to pay for the very high market capitalization it presently enjoys by continuing to focus on the top of the consumer market for these devices. Regardless of whether the cost of purchasing an iPhone 6S is subsidized by a carrier here in the US, or a consumer ends up paying outright to purchase one, a $199.00 street price is not reflective of the TRUE cost of acquiring the product.

The US market is trained to react positively to offers fueled with artificially low prices. Not so the rest of the world, and, especially not so in emerging markets. These other locales and communities of consumers are not likely to line up to buy either of these smart phones anytime soon. These products will only be available, at launch, in a basket of countries, and, in this writer’s opinion, for good reason. Average global consumers simply cannot afford these devices.

What is even more troubling about the editorial euphoria bubbling up around these devices and the debut, as a marketing communications piece in its own right, is the complacency expressed by what is referred to as the “mainstream media”, here in the U.S. on the question of whether average consumers here in the US will have the fortitude to make rational decisions about whether or not it makes sense to purchase one of the products.

One popular publication ran a headline something like this: “Like it or not, Wearables are Here to Stay”. Have we really reached the age of “solution without a problem” on steroids? This writer does not think so. If consumers do not need wearable tech, then they won’t buy devices in the category. Certainly, different consumer segments exhibit different needs, but all this talk will have to evolve into buying action before we can really be convinced a shift in consumer sentiment has occurred.

Bottom line: the old adage “too much of a good thing” speaks the truth. It will be interesting to gauge results a quarter or two down the road.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2014 All Rights Reserved

4
Sep

What Google At Work Needs to Enhance Its Appeal to Large Organizations with Centralized IT Operations

Large organizations with a centralized IT operation neither have the time, nor the resources to support solutions built from lots of components. Nevertheless, in this writer’s opinion, Google Apps for Business and its parent, Google Enterprise, which has just recently been renamed Google At Work, do not seem to have learned this lesson.

These twin constraints on enterprise IT organizations are determining factors for most purchase decisions. An integrated solution is usually favored over a basket of components. The rationale is simple: with one vendor on the line via a Service Level Agreement (SLA), there is really little need, if any, for enterprise IT to maintain a staff of subject matter experts capable of supporting a very diverse set of solutions.

But of even greater importance is the need enterprise IT organizations exhibit for portability (perhaps scalability would be a better word) as a prominent feature of the platforms they purchase and implement. If management calls for a change in business direction, then the task of migrating computing procedures over to new methods will fall on enterprise IT. Often enough it will be difficult to simply move one computing platform into a new direction. But the prospect of moving 5 solutions over to a new way of processing computing, more often than not, will not be acceptable.

Organizations deciding to implement Google’s revamped Google At Work suite of office automation tools, to fulfill a need for an Enterprise Document Management (EDM) requirement, will have to not only implement the Google Apps platform, but also at least one third party product, if they are going to obtain satisfactory results from their purchase decision. This writer couldn’t find a cohesive presentation of an EDM solution anywhere within the Google Apps website, but a search of the Google Apps Marketplace did surface several solutions purporting to be useful in an EDM solution.

If the Google At Work suite lacks the mandatory features larger organizations have come to expect of the platforms they decide to implement, in this writer’s opinion any conjecture about Google mounting a serious challenge to any of the ISVs already established with enterprise IT, any time soon, should be looked at with skepticism.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2014 All Rights Reserved