The 10 plagues of mobile

The Passover story is an apt parable for today's office workers yearning to be set free

As I was getting ready for the Passover seder earlier this week, it occurred to me that Passover is very much like mobile in the enterprise: People have been struggling for years sitting in their cubicles and offices, chained to their mammoth desktop running some sort of Windows (most likely Windows XP). There are the lucky few, who instead of having a desktop actually have a laptop that allows them to move to the conference room or wherever they need to be. The majority of workers, though, are seeking a way out. They seek the exodus from their desk and are looking to fully embrace mobile any way they can.

It all started with the CEO (Pharaoh), who walked in with that brand-new device and wanted to be able to get his email on it. That rapidly evolved to the rest of the Egyptians (IT); then the business wanted to participate as well. The CMO (Moses) went to IT and proclaimed, "Let my people go (mobile)!"

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This led to the 10 plagues of mobile:

  1. Unfettered BYOD: Literally bring any device, including that Barnes & Noble Nook, to get email and read your PDFs. Now, the help desk never shuts down.
  2. Expense management: Do I give a subsidy? Are there tax implications? How much and to whom?
  3. Device liability: Should I go with personal liability or corporate liability? Wait, now I need the lawyers -- sigh.
  4. Content management: You put the data where? Everyone is using every possible sharing mechanism. Where is our data now?
  5. Battery life: We need to put charging stations where? How many of those external batteries did the business just order?
  6. Nonubiquitous network: The carrier map showed that its service works everywhere. What do you mean you can't get data in the building?
  7. Lousy autocorrect: What did you just call my mother?
  8. Maps: What do you mean the office isn't there? Didn't you use Apple Maps? There's a swamp? Look harder.
  9. OCM (obsessive-compulsive mobility): The phone isn't in my pocket, but I still feel it vibrating. I know we're having a conversation, but I need to check my device.
  10. Crapplications: We gave you an app, so what do you mean it doesn't work? You uninstalled it? Why? But the auditors ...

It was only after the 10th plague arose that IT found a way to partner with the business and the users to enable them to be more flexible and agile while being more productive and efficient. Still, there are a few that didn't respond, you can't really find them anymore. You all know the story of the parting of the Red Sea: If you keep saying no, you won't survive very long.

Special thanks to Philippe Winthrop for helping dream up some of the plagues.

This article, "The 10 plagues of mobile," originally appeared at A Screw's Loose and is republished at with permission (© Brian Katz). Read more of Brian Katz's The Squeaky Wheel blog at or at A Screw's Loose. For the latest business technology news, follow on Twitter.


Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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