MDM is dead and it’s been dead for a long time. It no longer makes sense as a product and businesses have begun to finally realize it and not buy into the hype. The fact that it has become the household name for the technology to manage mobile is just sad. The good news, at least if you like acronyms, is it’s now been replaced with a new acronym, EMM or Enterprise Mobility Management. It’s much simpler to talk about EMM than it is to say you’ve moved from MDM (Mobile Device Management) to MAM (Mobile Application Management). Let’s not leave out the other acronyms that have a place in this alphabet soup of technologies that companies are trying to sell you. MCM, MIM, TEM, DRM, IRM, if it has three letters in it, chances are someone has included it in this unending black hole called EMM.

blackholeThe problem with black holes though, is there’s no way to know what has been sucked up inside them. They are the black boxes of technology and you start to forget what they really do or how well they might actually do it. They also have this tendency to trap you and no matter how hard you struggle to break free, you’re stuck, both with the product and a mindset. To make matters worse, people still don’t really understand what they’re trying to do in the first place. We started this approach years ago and it was all about devices. How do we handle them and the fallback was to use the legacy thinking that’s been drilled in through years of practice. The organization had to own the device. It’s what they’ve done with PCs forever so why change if the smartphone or tablet is just a computer in your pocket. The heavy handedness of this approach was ignored until users, looking to get stuff done turned to BYOD and refused to have their own devices managed, looking to avoid the big brother of their company.

As easy as it is to talk about all the available solutions out there and where technology is going, yes application management is the next step and then there’s content management and expense management and the list just goes on, we don’t realize that we’re talking about the wrong things. The point of mobile isn’t to be managed; yet that’s where most companies start and then fail.

Mobile is about enablement. It’s enabling your people to get their work done when and where they need to with the right tools so that they can be more flexible and agile. It’s about them moving the business forward and helping the business meet its goals. Notice, we’re talking about executing on a business strategy. We’re not talking about an IT strategy yet. Even though the IT strategy is built from the business strategy to achieve the business goals. We’re also not talking about mobile either. We’re talking about giving people the right tools to get the job done in the best way possible. It could be a PC, a tablet, a smartphone, or even a wearable. We’re using those tools hooked into a back end that could be cloud or just a server, but it helps the people who need to do their job to get it done.

This means that we have to follow the FUN principle, the company has to Focus on the User Needs. We want productive employees who are happy and healthy and can give 110%. This means realizing that it’s not really a work / life balance but rather a work / life integration and one of the things that many of our users need is the ability to achieve that integration by getting their job done in the right place at the right time.

IT isn’t just in the solution business anymore. It can’t be reactive and spend months trying to build the perfect thing the business asked for but needed much sooner than IT could deliver. IT is in the experience business. Users need to have great interactions that lead to fantastic experiences that help them get stuff done and move the business towards its goal. This means developing apps based upon the FUN principle and the only way to do that is to talk to your employees and understand what they want/need to get done. It’s moving way from the monolithic application that has a thousand different features and becomes a crapplication when ported over to a smartphone or tablet and, instead, looking at the information the user needs to complete the experience.

When the focus turns to the user and the experience that you are trying to deliver, the device becomes just a tool, a means to an end. You start by looking at the data that they need to interact with. You construct an app that helps them turn that data into information that they can use and then turn into knowledge, either for them or the business. You build that app to run on the right tool for the right person, which may mean a smartphone for one person, a tablet for another and a desktop for a third. You provide an ecosystem so that the tool can run the app appropriately, it can connect to a network if it needs to, it can be secured properly and priced appropriately. Notice that we are building a hierarchy that starts with the need and works to the experience which is analogous to starting with the data and working through the app, then the device, and finally the connectivity and ecosystem supporting it.

Looked at this way, we aren’t talking about EMM, Enterprise Mobile Management; we’re talking about EM, experience management that incorporates enterprise management (EM)2. Mobile is just another set of tools like a laptop or PC. We worry less about securing the device and start with securing the data. After we have secured the data we move up to the app, then the device, and finally the ecosystem. We’re in the business of providing secure right time experiences that allow the user to (in the words of the army) be all they can be.