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In Between the Numbers: Bring Your Own Device Do we know what that means?

I was at a technology conference in London late last year, and the topic was mobility – and, inevitably, BYOD: bring your own device.

The mobility evangelists (and they dominated the four-person panel) waxed poetic as to all the fabulous things that iPhone- and Android-armed employees could bring to the business. Rich content! Social networking! Collaboration! Meeting each other for lunch!

Then a grouchy American analyst walked to the podium, and growled two words: “Data Security.”

And silence fell like a thick blanket over the room.

BYOD is one of technology’s topics du jour, an issue that will create a few tons of PowerPoint and a fresh revenue line for consulting firms in the next 18-24 months.

Cynicism aside, it’s a very important issue – and not just for ICT shops. And, it’s an issue that will be easily misunderstood.

Yes, BYOD is about data security. Yes, there’s a need for hard and high corporate security walls. Clearly-stated rules. And devout attention to PCI.

But beyond that, let’s pause and reflect.

BYOD is not about the devices. The devices will continue to evolve at Moore’s Law speed, and the stuff the kids are bringing into the office today will be obsolete by the time your new policies reach the governance committee.

Truth be told, BYOD is about the big tech-driven generational change in expectations and behavior. It’s about the new normal of life with the Internet. Life in the Internet.

It’s about Millennials who use technology like I use a knife and fork. It’s about a tsunami wave flooding every phase of business life – from the headquarters office to the distribution center to the store.

And this tsunami will not just touch devices. It will drive change in the cloud content that employees will use. It will drive change in their willingness to sit in cubes (versus do the work at home or at Starbucks or wherever there’s a fast wireless pipe). It will drive change in their expectations for interaction and participation, for education and training.

It will even touch the glowing third rail of data security. (As this is the generation of Wiki-Leaks and unbridled transparency on Facebook.)

Agree? Disagree?

 Let me know what you think.

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In Between the Numbers: New Year’s Resolutions

OK, retail technologists. It’s the new year. Time for resolutions.

Grab the pencil (so you can revise, not erase) and the notepad, plug in the earbuds, and settle into your thinking chair. And take the first step in getting rid of those old bad habits.

Resolve to address those big, ugly, long-standing structural weaknesses that weigh you down like a ball and chain. Weaknesses like the non-integrated, multiple databases residing within the legacy applications. Like the oft taken-for-granted time-to-capability performance (caused by a legacy store architecture) that measures all-store roll-outs in years and gets a constant eyeroll and deep sigh from the SVP of Ops.

Resolve to look that ancient, deeply-customized application that you prop each year with more people and money squarely in the eye.

Resolve to lose weight. Heavy, power-sucking, PO-abusing CPU weight. Virtualize the data centers and start the process of removing CPUs (and all the break-fix maintenance costs) from the store. Thin is in. So is operational simplicity.

Resolve to demand value from your vendors – which, as we all know, is different from the lowest price. Demand that they help you solve specific business problems. Demand that they bring their best strategists and thinkers to the table.

Resolve to ignore all the one-off shiny technologies du jour. Easier said than done, especially with NRF around the corner, the marketing SVP sputtering that “everyone else is doing it,” and the CEO remarking that his nephew had one at Christmas. (Mobility! Smartphone apps! Tablets! Interactive kiosks! Ooooh!)

Resolve to embrace BYOD, and push it forward. Your corporate leaders of tomorrow won’t necessarily thank you. It’s just that they’ll be willing to work for you instead of the competition.

Resolve to toss out of the room any consultant or vendor sales rep who talks about “customer experience” without detailed considerations of your segment, your price point, your brand promise, and the overall customer journey by persona – all the way through service and loyalty. Resolve to ask them how many times they’ve visited your stores.

 What am I missing?


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Ensuring Secure Telepresence for the Mobile Federal Worker

The General Services Administration (GSA) has had its telework initiative in the pipeline for some time now, but it recently became official: the vast majority of GSA employees are now eligible to telework, and managers need to implement policies that support remote workers.

The GSA telework mandate is an exciting step forward, leading the way for other federal agencies to realize the benefits of telework, which include increased employee satisfaction and productivity. Empower teleworkers with collaboration technologies like telepresence and they enjoy the best of both worlds—no commute, but the same collegiality and interaction with co-workers and supervisors they would have if they worked in a building together. 

There is one more factor that plays into fine-tuning the telework machine, however. GSA and other agencies can face challenges in determining their technology protocols. As mobile technology takes over, and as people express personal preferences for particular smartphones and tablets, agencies have to weigh employee ease and comfort against potential security risks. The “Bring Your Own Device” to work movement has momentum and merit; it simply requires careful planning. Read More »

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MDM Not The Only Avenue To BYOD Security

Okay, this may sound like gibberish. But I’m sure that many of you know what I mean. Just to be clear, let me put the title in plain English: Mobile Device Management (MDM) is not the only approach to help secure a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) environment.

Read More »

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Interop New York: Bright Lights, Big Network and How to Manage it All

New York City always has lots going on, but if you’re heading there next week, don’t miss all the great activities we have going on at Interop 2011. We’ll be focusing on several timely IT trends and issues, but our top billing will be Bring Your Own Device.

In fact, if you saw my blog from the past week, Not Your Mother’s Connected World, you might remember one of the statistics I cited from our 2011 Cisco Connected World Technology Report: Two-thirds of students (66%) and more than half of employees (58%) cite a mobile device (laptop, smartphone, tablet) as “the most important technology in their lives.” This attitude, plus the overall proliferation of mobile devices up the ante for IT managers as they look to find new ways of managing the network.

To see what else we have in store in for you next week, watch the video below.


I hope to see you at Booth 121! And remember, for more detail on what’s going on, go to

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