Salesforce’s April 9 launch of expanded services for mobile software developers highlights a growing dilemma for software vendors and IT departments as users increasingly use personal mobile devices in and out of the workplace to exchange work information across external networks. This trend is known as “BYOD” or “bring-your-own-device”, and is complicating the task of managing a business’ tech networks — and companies, like Salesforce, that provide cloud-based management platforms for businesses are betting that there’s a mint to be made by catering to the enterprise side of the mobile app.
The Salesforce platform is aimed at enabling the creation of enterprise apps that give access to corporate data to make mobile business more effective — as opposed to some of the security-fob based mobile device management systems out there now. Once a business’ employees can productively operate from remote locations using all types of devices, the job of the IT department becomes more difficult as it has more end points to manage, which requires a tighter grip on security. This process is known as the consumerization of IT.
Where IT departments used to have control over everything from mainframe to email, now they must incorporate a BlackBerry that runs on AT&T, an iPad that runs on Verizon, or a Chromebook hooked up to a personal wireless network. They no longer bear responsibility for both hardware and uptime. Multiply that one device across an entire company’s staff count, and you have a complicated network (with a lot of potential for institutional conflict, to say nothing of security issues) on your hands.
As enterprises begin to look at the structure of their IT departments through the lens of the developing mobile workforce, cloud-based services offer a powerful tool. As does the expansion of the IT network, changing the face of data exchange itself. Indeed, as giants like IBM adopt BYOD strategies, the industry is hopeful. And the numbers seem to be on its side: Research firm Gartner forecasted an increase in IT spending to over $3.7 trillion in 2013. The major brake here will be inertia: just think how long it took to move from the Rolodex to the digital contact list (a transition still ongoing, for some) and scale that up to match a massive, multi-part infrastructural shift . . .