Wet Your Beak, or Drown Trying

A. Braunberg
A. Braunberg

Summary Bullets:

  •  If a vendor can possibly tie its messaging to BYOD, it has.
  • Vendors need to be careful though; the game is changing.

One of my takeaways from attending Interop a couple of weeks ago was the pervasiveness of BYOD as an addressable use case in vendor pitches.  At some point, a line from The Godfather Part II came to mind.  Neighborhood crime boss Don Fanucci tells the young godfather (played by Robert De Niro), “You should let me wet my beak a little,” by which he means he wants a piece of the action. It’s a colorful phrase, and it’s exactly the attitude of many technology companies today.

They all want to drink from the CoIT (consumerization of IT)/BYOD fountain.  I talked about a specific case of this in my last security blog and used the network access control vendors as an example. It is, of course, a much broader phenomenon.  However, what gets talked about less is the creative destruction that these trends are causing.  Yes, there are the well-known cases such as RIM, but as my co-worker Brian Riggs points out, there are less well thought-out examples such as Cisco.  He makes a compelling argument that the demise of Cisco’s Cius (which Cisco blamed on corporate adoption of BYOD policies) is significant, because it amounts to a net loss for the unified communications market.  His point, and I urge you to read his full analysis, is that if Cisco could not make a go of it in this market, then innovation in business-class mobile endpoints will suffer, to the detriment of vendors and business users alike.

It is a newer and broader example (from a UC perspective) of the complaint that consumer devices are in many ways inappropriate for use in the business environment.  These arguments have been made from a manageability or security perspective for years now.  In response, a large and growing ecosystem of mobile device management and security vendors have emerged to address the deficiencies of consumer devices when used in business settings.  What is important to keep in mind is that those vendors are the ones really killing RIM.  Without these third-party products, almost no one would be using iOS or Android devices on corporate networks.  One more thing: RIM will be dead or sold off before any other mobile ecosystem matches the manageability and security capabilities that BlackBerrys support today.  In that regard, the Cisco Cius and RIM BlackBerry examples actually have a lot in common, in that the better, more appropriate business product is not necessarily the one customers want to use at work.  This raises a more fundamental question for vendors.  What ecosystems of compensating products and services (i.e., third-party products and services that make consumer products more usable in business environments) will build up around functional areas, such as UC, and how will the competitive landscape shake out as a result of these new ecosystems?  While you complain about iOS and Android not being enterprise-ready, there are a host of startups springing up to do something about it.

What do you think?

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