No one says it's going to be easy to transform the status quo, but it is possible -- and attitude is everything. "Initially when the concept [of consumerization] came up, it was very uncomfortable. What we've learned is that the process of change is iterative and doesn't have to be 100 percent anymore. It has to be acceptable," says Bob Burkhart, director of new technology innovation at Nationwide.
Applications in the era of BYOD
In this new reality, a smartphone is just a little PC, simply another endpoint. Like a PC, much of its value comes from its ability to run apps. "Empowerment is about access to applications and content from a device of choice," says Forrester's Schadler.
That means a business will now have a mix of IT-led "back end" apps and employee-driven "front end" apps -- not the traditional IT-managed portfolio. That said, companies have to make choices about mobile applications and explore the use case for each. Also up for review are the core applications users want to access on their mobile devices -- email and collaboration, Web apps, an employee portal, content or files, and enterprise business apps such as CRM and data dashboards, for example.
After the "what" question is the "how" question: Should companies build their own enterprise mobile applications or use off-the-shelf applications from third-party marketplaces? It's likely a mix of both -- and an understanding that in some cases, individual users can make those decisions themselves.
For example, International SOS, a company that provides medical assistance and security services to organizations, is developing a mobile app for a credentialing process used by 60 staff members who visit hospitals and doctors around the world. The application already existed for laptops but now is being ported to the iPad and Android OS.
The company is also amenable to using off-the-shelf clinical support applications, for which there's a healthy and growing market. "We'll add a proprietary piece and re-create the front end," says Tim Daniels, executive vice president at the company.
Application delivery to BYOD employees is another frontier to companies need to explore. Borrowing from the consumerization trend, BYOD employees are not only familiar with but also fond of the app store model for accessing apps. That's why large companies, like IBM and GE, build their own app stores to deliver custom apps and recommended commercial apps to their employees.
But for most companies, it's still early in the game to be thinking about private app stores -- the first step, after all, is to develop the enterprise mobile apps you need and figure out how to deal with the apps that users buy, such as to manage information access and flow. The tools for addressing these issues are still nascent.
In the new consumerization context, the key to empowering mobility is creating a flexible organization and learning to roll with the punches that come with enterprise mobility. Policies and management -- both human and technical -- are the means to getting there.
This story, "The right way to empower the mobile worker," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments in mobile technology and consumerization at InfoWorld.com. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.