A mobile power shift is happening right now.
Everyone from chief marketing officers to business managers to citizen developers is seizing mobile app and content controls away from the CIO in the enterprise. Mobile software vendors, too, are lining up to deliver simple-to-use tools in the cloud that cater to this new less-technical customer.
All of this is breaking open the floodgates to rogue IT.
The power-shifting trend was hammered home this week when mobile device management software developer MobileIron trotted out a new offering called Anywhere, a cloud-based mobile management service that lets businesspeople manage and use iOS and Android apps in minutes.
Anywhere has already received rave reviews for its end-user simplicity. The critical point, though, is that it was designed for nontechie admins to manage mobile apps and data. MobileIron's Anywhere effectively allows a sales manager to decide what documents and apps a salesperson should have without getting IT approval, prompting technology writer Ryan Faas at CITEworld to proclaim: No IT department required.
All Signs Point to Renegade Tech Buyers
"LOB [line-of-business] is increasingly taking the reins to move projects forward and acting as small businesses in themselves," says Stacy Crook, program manager of mobile enterprise research at IDC.
Last spring, Forrester came out with a somewhat unnerving report-at least to CIOs-entitled, Tracking the Renegade Technology Buyer. The report sheds light on the growth of tech spending outside the formal IT budget.
Forrester found that business leaders who already make a lot of renegade tech purchases are 50 percent more likely to increase their spending than low-spending business peers and IT.
There are many reasons behind the emergence of the business-leader-turned-tech-buyer, among them:
- Technology is too important for the business not to be involved.
- Business executives' understanding of technology is increasing so they can interact more effectively with IT.
- Business leaders' use of consumer technology has changed their expectations of how IT should be used.
- IT does not have enough funds to meet the business group's needs.
Salesforce.com Leads Mobility-as-a-Service Charge
One of the best-known tech companies in the business community, Salesforce.com, is leading the way to put mobile control in the enterprise into the hands of businesspeople.
MobileIron's Anywhere, for instance, is integrated with Salesforce.com and available on AppExchange, Salesforce.com's business apps marketplace. Salesforce.com admins can use Anywhere to distribute, manage and secure employees' mobile apps directly from the Salesforce.com administration console.
The partnership empowers Salesforce.com users to go mobile without taxing IT resources, says MobileIron. In other words, it's a workaround for mobile app management.
In the same spirit as the MobileIron Anywhere integration, Salesforce.com also struck a pact with Exadel, a professional services company specializing in mobile. Exadel will offer Salesforce.com customers its cloud-based mobile app development tool, called Appery.io, that lets nontechnical people build mobile apps.
This essentially frees business units from the IT department's skills and capacity constraints, Exadel says. In other words, it's a workaround for mobile app development.
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"Our customers have embraced the cloud and social, and now they're racing forward with mobile," says Adam Seligman, vice president of developer relations at Salesforce.com. "We check our phones and use them 150 times a day, but the business apps haven't shown up for the party."
With Appery.io, everyone from business users to English majors-"citizen developers," as Seligman calls them-can build business apps quickly. In order to do this, business managers need more control over the development and management of mobile apps.
While MobileIron's Anywhere and Exadel's Appery.io don't necessarily cut out IT completely, they certainly diminish IT's role. Mobility's ability to loosen IT's grip is not an initiative, Seligman adds, "It's a revolution, a renaissance... that needs to happen."
Tom Kaneshige covers Apple, BYOD and Consumerization of IT for CIO.com. Follow Tom on Twitter @kaneshige. Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline, Facebook, Google + and LinkedIn. Email Tom at firstname.lastname@example.org
Read more about mobile application management in CIO's Mobile Application Management Drilldown.