The new rules in the client device market


In my recent post, A retrospective on trends in operating systems and the similarities with current trends in the mobile device market, I compared the historical success of Windows 95 in the desktop market with the success of Google’s Android in the mobile device market and the similarities in tendencies. Before Microsoft Introduced Windows 95 as a desktop operating system, other ISVs were mainstream vendors in other areas. WordPerfect is a word processing application and was the de-facto standard until their sales numbers were surpassed by Microsoft Word in the early nineties (with the introduction of Windows 3.1).  Lotus 123 was widely accepted as the de-facto standard in spreadsheet applications and was surpassed by Microsoft Excel in about the same period resulting in the Microsoft Office suite, making PowerPoint the current standard for presentations while Netscape’s market share was thoroughly eliminated by Internet Explorer. Novell Directory Services was, with the introduction of Active Directory, widely accepted as an enterprise directory service (and still is on another area) but after that, many organizations moved to Active Directory because of the lower costs and the various integration advantages with Windows 2000 clients. Version 5.5 of Exchange was the last version which held it’s own directory database allowing it to integrate with other directory services as well but was dependent entirely on Active Directory in the following versions. So Exchange followed soon as the standard in enterprise messaging service making Outlook (formerly called Exchange Client) an obvious choice as a mail client. So apparently, the company that owns the most successful operating system can be successful in other IT related areas as well by taking competitive advantage of the knowledge of their proprietary operating system while developing new services and applications build on proprietary standards. The same tendency should be noticeable in the mobile device market and it is more or less with the iPhone users, but this time the rules have been changed and the control of the market has been shifted to the most appropriate group for this job: end-users!

Corporate IT has been providing services to managed devices for many years. If a device was not managed by Corporate IT, it was not trusted and in some scenarios even banned from the corporate network. Users could use their personal devices from their homes to access corporate websites, webmail and in some cases, a corporate desktop hosted on a terminal server farm at a trusted datacenter to support the New Way of Work. Today users bring their own personal devices to the office and expect that they can have access to corporate IT services with these devices as well, and believe me when I say: this time they can! The concept is collect BYO (bring your own) and has changed the perspective on corporate IT services permanently. Devices should not only be trusted when managed by corporate IT but should also be trusted by simply confirming that the device is secure and owned by one of the authorized users.

Corporate devices were selected by IT departments based on rational and technical requirements (functionality, cost, compatibility, manageability) following a “one size fits all” principle to achieve standardization while personal devices are selected based on the user’s individual requirements which are partly rational (i.e. functionality, cost, user experience) and partly emotional (visual appearance, identification with brand) but  hardly ever explicitly technical. They heavily depend on the responsibility of technology vendors to provide a product which they can use to get access to corporate IT services where until recently corporate IT was responsible for both services and devices.

So when IT departments have to provide corporate services to all kinds of unknown and unmanaged access devices (even future devices), open standards are the only certainty one can have. These open standards need to be both adopted and enhanced by software vendors in favor of the user’s freedom of choice in devices and that is an area where neither Microsoft nor Apple showed superiority in the last 20 years. In fact, both their technologies thrive on proprietary standards and both organizations have been throwing patent related law suits at each other for many years while the same law had to force them to cooperate, providing organizations and users, freedom of choice.

The difference this time is that users buy their own personal devices and these devices are primarily connected to the internet instead of to the corporate network like a regular desktop. When users require access to corporate services, these services initially have to be published both on the corporate network and on the internet. When the device is connected to the internet, other (public) services, like Hotmail and Gmail are directly available for the user as well. In fact, these public services are the reason why the user bought the device in the first place. So would the mobile device market be so successful without the abundance of public cloud services? Or visa versa? I don’t think so…

So the new rules for IT departments are:

Rule # 1: Users buy a device, not explicitly an operating system.

Rule # 2: Users buy their devices primarily to use public cloud services (functionality).

Rule # 3: Users want to use their personal devices to use corporate services as well.

Rule # 4: Corporate services must be published securely on the internet by Corporate IT

Rule # 5: Corporate IT has to provide corporate services to all kinds of access devices, both managed and unmanaged (changing to trusted and untrusted).

Rule # 6: IT departments will have to provide corporate services to devices which will be released in the next few years.

In my next post I will go into more detail about the the impact of these new rules and their relationship with cloud services.

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