BYOD, MDM, COPE -- don't drown in mobile's alphabet soup

All those acronyms represent solutions seeking a problem when the real goal should be to satisfy users' needs well

In the mobile world, we live in an alphabet soup. There are more acronyms than you can shake a stick at, and once you figure out what the acronyms stand for, you have to figure out what they mean. When you start to look at the list -- BYOD, COPE, MDM, MAM, MIM, EMM, MEAP, MADP, TEM, MRM, CoIT, and MEM -- you quickly realize there's a bunch of terms that mean different things to different people. In some cases, these are catchy phrases that when abbreviated might make it easier to write a 140-character message on Twitter. In other cases, the terms are made up so that a company can market its purported expertise over that of its competitors.

In the end, though, all they succeed in doing is dragging the focus from where it really belongs to the shadowy corners where they can air their laundry list of expertise. There is always a solution seeking some problem.

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The dirty little secret that everyone avoids is that in this mobile world, you really only need to care about a few things: the user, the need, and the data. Everything else is superfluous. Once you understand that, mobile becomes much easier no matter what type of company you are. As the saying goes, "How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time."

Let's take a deeper look at these pieces:

  • Start with the user. This can be your employee or a consumer of your product. In either case, the user is the person who will work with the mobile device and whatever app you happen to provide.
  • The user accesses that app because doing so fills a need. That need may be for entertainment (a game or a media app, for example), for directions to a place or restaurant, or for work (to accomplish something that gets the job done).
  • Whatever the need is, you fulfill it is by providing the data that the user wants -- when and where they want to get it. You do this by building apps that allow the users to handle the data in whatever way they see fit.
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