Q&A with Christopher Clark of Fiberlink
Chief information officers (CIOs) and IT departments face a myriad of challenges when allowing employees to bring their own mobile devices into the work environment. Issues related to management, support, security and the ability to control access to corporate networks abound.
The BYOD challenges to enterprises are multifold, from overwhelming IT resources to losing valuable data and malware infecting corporate networks. Companies like Fiberlink are helping enterprises deal with these challenges and turning BYOD into a productivity engine rather than a resource drain.
Fiberlink has more than 20 years' experience provide mobility management products, well before the current BYOD trend took hold. Its main platform is MaaS360, which offers enterprises management of mobile devices, applications, content and expenses, as well as secure email and browser. The firm recently announced that its MaaS360 platform will be able to be operated using Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) Glass, which is currently in beta testing.
Christopher Clark, president and chief operating officer of the company, joined Fiberlink in 2003 from a private venture startup to spearhead the firm's efforts to provide secure mobile workforce solutions to enterprises. In an interview with FierceMobileIT, Clark relates how the mobile device management (MDM) market is expanding to include mobile application, content and context management. Clark sees predictive analytics as transforming enterprise mobility and the MDM market over the next 10 years.
FierceMobileIT: How do you see the BYOD trend impacting demand for MDM?
Clark: I see a big impact. More people want to bring their own device, which means more risk as well as more opportunity for the company to save money and be more productive. So I think there is a big direct correlation between BYOD and MDM.
FierceMobileIT: Are CIOs and IT departments getting frustrated with BYOD and starting to clamp down?
Clark: I don't think that. I think CIOs two years ago were in a reactive posture about BYOD, but now I see a much more informed, proactive mindset in CIO organizations, designing systems and implementing BYOD as well as corporate-owned device management policy, perspective and platforms. I see a much more informed, educated view about how to go do that. I think because they are users as well, CIOs have a full appreciation for what it means to bring your own iPad or your own Android to the workplace, on a train or on a plane. I think that is a big difference from a few years ago when IT would dictate what you are going to get and how and when you are going to get it. Because CIOs and CEOs all have their own toys now, there is a great appreciation for the emotional and the empirical capability of using your own device. I don't think that was true a few years ago. That is why CIO organizations have moved so quickly to embrace it, and I think now there are many more solutions out there that can help them than there were a few years ago.
FierceMobileIT: You mentioned that CIOs are taking a proactive strategy to BYOD. Could you elaborate on that?
Clark: CIOs are working with the legal department, the HR department, the finance department and the IT department in developing a BYOD strategy ... They say, 'We need to form a policy about BYOD in terms of privacy and protection, we need to form a system around it so that we can embrace it but also ensure that we have things under control and that we have peaceful coexistence between the professional and personal lives of the employees'… I see CIO organizations focused on mobility management operations and people from the desktop side migrating to those jobs ... There is a lot of goodness about BYOD culturally and from a productive standpoint, and CIOs are lining up plans, strategies, systems and processes across the organization to unlock its full potential.
FierceMobileIT: In response to BYOD, I have noted a trend called COPE, corporate-owned, personally enabled, where the enterprises makes available a limited number of corporate-liable devices for employees for both work and personal use. Have you seen that trend among your customers?
Clark: We have seen that in some companies ... If the help desk folks and the operations folks could shrink the gamut of device types that they need to understand in their organization, that would be helpful. What they will say is, we are going to support iOS, we are going to support Android, and we are going to support a third operating system, which tends to be either BlackBerry or Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT). So we see the perspective of the CIO organization here in 2013 saying, 'I'm going to two or three OSs. I'm going to procure and provision those for folks. We are going to give them out. We are going to have more control that way, but we also get the point about personal workstyles and so we are going to let employees put some of their own things on the device.' I think that will become more prominent, provided that the company continues to get discounts from the manufacturer for procuring the devices. COPE is a way to get more control over the support model, but I don't think it will become the norm in five years. MDM can handle BYOD and COPE. It is the same process whether it is COPE, BYOD or a locked-down corporate device environment.
FierceMobileIT: Do you see a trend toward enterprise mobility management, bringing together mobile device and application management?
Clark: Yes. That is certainly one of the key items of the CIO agenda now--what does the new mobile IT stack look like? We know what the client server paradigm was. We know what the desktop management game was. That is all being rewritten in the mobile space. That is what is exciting about today. We are participating in construction of a new day, where there is a mobile IT stack being built. It is devices, it's apps, it's content, it's context, it's policy and it's security wrapped around that ... Right now enterprise mobility management is the label for a lot of that mobile IT stack being built in the BYOD era.
FierceMobileIT: What role should MDM play in enterprise BYOD policies?
Clark: I think it is a large role ... MDM is the software side of BYOD. It says, are you 'Fred'? Are you working? Where are you working? And what information should you be using during that time at that place with that device? That is all contextual. If you are who you are and where you should be, doing what you should be doing with corporate information that is highly valuable, then I will allow you do that and I have a policy engine and lots of automation to do that for you. MDM does this. It enrolls your identity, it understands the context of what you are working on, and it sets down appropriate and agreed upon rules to do that ... MDM is the cornerstone, the anchor, the gateway that lets all of that happen.
FierceMobileIT: Do you think enterprises should require employees to sign an agreement that specifies what the enterprise can do with the personal device and what rights the employee has when he or she brings a device into the office?
Clark: When the enrollment happens with our MaaS360 MDM product, it will push a one-page EULA [end-user licensing agreement] to the end user. We offer that as a service to our customers. They can use it and the legal department can tweak it. So in simple terms, the company is letting the employee know, 'I'm enrolling your device. I will see your device, this is how I will see it, and this is what I will do with it. Frankly, I see 90 to 95 percent of employees being very comfortable with that. I think when you have transparency and it is a 'trust but verify' mechanism, it does work. I'll leave it up to the company whether they should require it ... That part of the overall BYOD trend and the enterprise mobility management is not always just about technology and about work flows, it is also about policies and human relations.
FierceMobileIT: In your recent study of whitelisted and blacklisted apps, DropBox appeared on both lists for iOS devices. Do you find that curious?
Clark: Not really, because people are in their different maturity cycles of whether DropBox is friend or foe ... It is still a continuum of adoption. I'm certain that the late adopters on file sharing will come around. I think there are other ways besides DropBox or Box to do apps and content management. We have built something that is very simple and matches the user profile with content.
FierceMobileIT: Do you think app whitelisting and blacklisting is a good strategy for companies to take with app security?
Clark: It allows them to reduce the zone of risk. While I don't think it is a perfect answer, certainly when you blacklist apps, you know that they are not going to hurt you. So anytime you have certainty, I think that is better for the CIO organization ... It is not so much the app, but the behavior you are doing with the app. Some apps are inherently evil and of course they should be blacklisted. But the real question is, Are you doing something with the app that is productive, professional and correct? Or are you doing something else with the app? That is where a management platform comes in.
FierceMobileIT: You recently announced that your MaaS360 MDM platform will be accessible using Google Glass. Do you think Google Glass will take off in the enterprise despite the privacy, security and safety concerns with the new product?
Clark: I do. This is version one of Google Glass. What is version 4 going to look like when it comes to security and privacy protection? I don't know Google's roadmap, but part of the reason we did that is that we know that mobility doesn't sleep and so mobility management always has to stay awake ... We have enabled Google Glass as a tool to manage users if IT admins need to on the fly … We can give IT folks who are wearing Google Glass a way to manage users.
FierceMobileIT: How do you see the MDM market evolving in 10 years?
Clark: I think there will be more predictive algorithms that go into MDM products, such that I can predict the behavior of the user/device and prevent a risk from happening before it does … Analytics that can preempt or promote certain behaviors will be developed. That is all under Phase 2 and Phase 3 of the enterprise mobility management spectrum. Today, it is about what are the systems we need, what are the procedures we need, how do we hook up everybody ... Then we are going to evolve to predictive analytics. How are we going to build the full mobile IT stack, how are we going to do more competitive things by being able to unlock productivity through context and devices. I think mobile device management is very bullish for the next 10 years. It is going to graduate precipitously from just enrolling a device to understanding the context and providing predictive algorithms. This will give more value to the company by layering apps in at the right time ... All of these things are in the bailiwick of MDM in the next 10 years.