How The Consumerization of IT Killed BlackBerry and Built EMM

Lobby Phones

First iPhone and first Android phone (HTC Dream) displayed in the Solutions Review Lobby

We can talk about what goes into a good EMM solution all day long, and offer up the best and worst solutions out there, but without perspective of how enterprise mobile technology evolved and grew into the complex and structured technology it is today we can’t even begin to understand the foundation of Enterprise Mobility and what makes it progressive. EMM at it’s core is a consumer driven technology that rose out of the necessity for IT to keep up with employees.

Starting at the beginning of the EMM timeline, we have BlackBerry. BlackBerry phones were cool and more modern than any tiny flip phone most consumers were carrying at the time; they made you look important and they had much better access to the internet than anything else at the time. People carried them because they were the only purely enterprise based mobile smart technology of the time because in the early 2000’s, they were the only ones that really had the management functions that IT needed.

In the mid-2000’s BlackBerry defined the technology of the corporate world but have virtually fallen off the face of the Earth as far as what people are buying and using in the enterprise now. Sure, BlackBerry’s made a good enough run in the consumer market, but I will never forget the moment in 2010 when my college roommate was finally able to upgrade to a trendy smartphone only to kick herself just a month later when the iPhone 4 really took off and she was stuck with her new BlackBerry for at least another year.

What really set BlackBerry phones apart from the emergence of the iPhone, was that iPhones were actually fun to use and were marketed as a consumer product and were even widely considered toys at one time. Instead of working and being issued a BlackBerry that you spent your life on for work related reasons, we had this device that people wanted to use. Only after the initial launch and reception of the iPhone, did people realize what the device could do for corporate life. This is where the Consumerization of IT began; people wanted to use iPhones and Android devices for work instead.

There was a definitive tipping-point where the devices people were using at home and in their personal lives had technologically surpassed the capabilities of corporate supplied devices and hardware. Who wants to use a slower, less capable machine for work when you know the smartphone you have in your pocket can perform better? You just can’t go back from that.

Any IT professional can tell you that users are unpredictable, especially when they don’t really know or understand the risks involved when doing certain things. Not only was this a factor in the origin of iPhone use for businesses, but this was one of the greatest frontiers in technology history; EMM was a reactive measure taken out of necessity for these consumer devices to become the preferred means people wanted to communicate in the mobile workplace.

We can track this process by looking at how there was no way to manage the iPhone when it first came out in 2007 and how it was virtually ignored by IT to today where iOS and Android EMM solutions are a must for any modern company. In his book Enterprise Mobility Management, Jack Madden outlines the history of iOS and Android EMM from 2007, up the the book’s release in 2014. This distinct outline traces what became important and when it became important as people started using their iPhones and Androids for more and more work related activities.

BYOD, MDM, MAM all came into play and were separated out as individual components that fit under EMM. People wanting to use their own devices, downloading consumer apps onto devices that with corporate data and discovering new ways to be productive using these new tools are just some of the ways IT needed to adapt these devices. They are going to be used for work no matter what IT does so the only option was to adapt to the kinds of things people were using them for and making the experience as secure and productive as possible. The days of BlackBerry devices seem to be behind us, but the evolution EMM is still in full swing as Enterprise Mobility Management vendors continue to build better and more inclusive solutions.