In this blog, I typically write directly about VMware products and features, and specifically how those products and features can help drive outcomes for the end-user experience and, ultimately, your business. For the next few months, I’ll be taking a more existential approach and exploring the industry as a whole and how we got to where we are today.
I realized this month I have been working formally in IT for fifteen years. Since I started my co-op job in the summer following my second year at Georgia Tech, I’ve been involved in IT in several different roles. That nostalgia quickly led me to think about just how much IT has changed since 2006.
While pondering these massive changes, I realized that VMware has been at the forefront of almost every major technology shift that’s occurred over the past fifteen years. This blog series will cover some of the major evolutions that have transformed the IT industry and how VMware has influenced these changes directly. More importantly, it will cover how these evolutions have altered the end-user experience and the way that business gets done in 2021.
Part 1: Mobile Device Management as a Driving Force Behind the Consumerization of IT
Smartphones and mobile device management solutions changed everything when it comes to end-user computing, and more specifically, how companies interact with their customers through a great user experience.
With widespread adoption of intelligent mobile devices in the early 2010s, consumers’ preferences changed forever. More specifically, iPhone and Android devices provided a platform to streamline everyday tasks and the digital experience in a way that was truly unique. It wasn’t long before users of these devices began to expect and demand a similar, consumer-style user experience on their work devices. At the time, most organizations either offered personal digital assistant (PDA) devices or something similar. However, demand for a more streamlined end-user experience grew to the point that offering mobile device management technologies at work became a competitive advantage for companies when hiring talent. Apple wisely predicted this employee experience trend and developed a large suite of device management APIs for its mobile device operating system. Google and others were not far behind in doing the same across a fragmented Android space. The question that drove this change was this:
“This would be so easy on my personal device. Why does it take forever on my work phone?“
Though I highly doubt these thoughts were ever stated aloud, these are the overall user thoughts that went through the employee mind when working with their IT organizations as a real user of these solutions:
“Why is this company-issued device so much worse than my personal device? Why do I need to carry two devices at all?”
“Is that really the approval process I have to go through?”
“Do I really have to wait four hours while you image my machine?”
No more imaging machines; no more company-issued mobile device; no more long approval processes. Just allow me to access company resources on my mobile device in a secure way without compromising my privacy. . In short, improve my employee experience.
After a few years of carrying around two devices, the same desire for a simplified, consumer-like experience on work devices ultimately led to a very important question:
“Why do we need ‘work-specific’ devices anyway? Can’t I just use my own?”
This demand, in turn, led to wide-scale adoption of Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) programs to improve the end-user experience for employees. Samsung and Google understood this trend faster than others and introduced containerized solutions early on that allowed consumers to separate their personal and professional data and app usage on a single device.
This phenomenon has been referred to as “The Consumerization of IT.” It has affected all corners of the technology space, but none more significantly than the end-user computing and app experience. Once the release of the smartphone accelerated this trend, every other IT department had to shuffle to get onboard (network, security, development).
Why It Matters Today
So, why does this matter in 2021? Isn’t the consumerization trend over? The answer is, “Not by a long shot.” Consumerization and simplification of solutions has been driven by increasing access to technology, and this usability trend will continue for years. Digital transformation is a term used by industry to show how organizations are adapting their businesses to this trend. Expect digital transformation to be a career-long process for IT professionals and groups. Winners and losers will be increasingly decided upon by simplicity and agility. Consumers (both inside and outside your organization) are no longer willing to wait six months for a perfect solution or user experience. As you develop roadmaps for your IT organization, consider shortening the planning cycle and moving for more frequent, more agile methods of roadmap development. Consumerization will continue to accelerate the need for fast, simple solutions that are focused on end-user’s digital experience.
This breadth is where and why organizations like VMware have been so influential, especially over the last decade. During this massive transformation, VMware technologies enabled IT departments to adjust to this shift across ALL fronts without introducing performance issues. Not just that of the end-user computing experience. Of course, with the acquisition of AirWatch in 2014, VMware became the biggest player in the industry in the mobile space. The organization set itself apart, however, by the presence of solutions in virtual desktops and applications, network virtualization, and application modernization. In that way, VMware provided an all-in-one transformation opportunity that wasn’t like anything else in the industry.
Looking Forward to Part 2
In part 2, we’ll look a little more specifically at the B2B model and the forces behind its evolution over the past decade plus. Stay tuned…
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