This is the first of several blog posts about enterprise mobility over the next several weeks. Subscribe to this blog by email or RSS to follow the series.
by Nick Johnson, PMP
US Partner Technology Strategist
I’d like to tell you a true story about a disaster avoided. As you read it, ask yourself if this could happen to you or your customers.
I have a friend who runs a company with about 100 employees. The company has a strong volunteer network that assists them as well. Some of the company employees have started sharing useful updates and plans with the volunteers via documents posted on a free online file sharing tool. The site isn’t secure in any way, and once a document is posted, the whole world can see it.
Being a volunteer myself, I access this file share each week to see the latest updates. Recently, there was a document posted that didn’t look like a normal update. Being a curious guy, I opened it and saw that it was full of internal planning notes and important company information. I was stunned. This was clearly a document that should not have been shared.
I immediately called my friend and the internal document was removed from the external file share. Needless to say, he was relieved that I had spotted the file. It turns out that one user, using technology to help the company communicate with volunteers, exposed the company to risk. The setup was created without input from the IT lead, and then one user made an honest mistake and copied the wrong file. A more serious disaster was avoided through a bit of luck and good timing—neither of which are sound business strategies.
Seeing the opportunity around us
How are we, as technology experts and leaders, able to help companies like my friend’s? To answer that question, try this little exercise during the rest of your day. It won’t take any extra time, just a little observation.
Head out to a place where people gather. It might be your local coffee shop, an airport, a train, the lunchroom, or at a customer visit. Observe the people there. What do you see?
I’ve been doing this a lot lately. What I see are people living connected lives via a wide variety of business and personal devices. The devices are great, and allow for a truly mobile experience. But this isn’t an exercise about devices alone. Don’t get me wrong. The devices are important, but it is what the devices enable that takes things to a whole new level.
It is with this in mind that I see something deeper. I see people who are more productive at both work and home. I have personally used Office 365 to create a document on my personal Surface Pro 4, edit and review it from my company laptop, and share it with others from my personal phone through OneDrive. I love this capability and flexibility. So do lots of other people. Research has shown that 66% of employees are using personal devices for work purposes (CEB: The Future of Corporate IT: 2013–2017. 2013).
As I observe people, the business side of me wonders how many of them are connecting to data and information their company would deem important, critical, or confidential. Would they want it shared? What kind of damage would it do if it was leaked or stolen and was the headline on tonight’s evening news? No one wants to be THAT company, yet it happens all too frequently.
Then the technology side of me takes over and I start thinking about these questions:
- Do the companies even know that the users are connecting to resources?
- Are the devices owned by the company or is that the user’s personal device?
- How are those companies protecting themselves?
- What would happen if that device was stolen?
- Does that user have a password on their device?
- Would it be simple to guess their password, if they have one?
- Is that user using a personal app they purchased or downloaded to do company work?
A changing mindset about how people work
When I talk with partners and customers of all sizes, it is clear the landscape of how people work is changing. This changing mindset can create a tension between users who want to be mobile, flexible, and more productive, and IT’s role to protect the company. Here is how I often show this scenario:
On one end of the spectrum, users are becoming more distributed. On the other end, IT still has a job to do. It needs to protect the company while still enabling users. In the middle we have all those devices, apps, and data that both groups have a strong interest in. The questions is, can all of these things co-exist successfully? Gone are the days of building a digital wall around an organization and hoping no one can penetrate it. Can we help IT build a distributed security model that is in line with the end user needs?
Microsoft Enterprise Mobility Suite can help
This is where Enterprise Mobility Suite can come into play. EMS is not just a mobile device management solution. It is a suite of products built around the ability to manage:
- Cloud identity and access to thousands of SaaS application
- Mobile devices and applications across all platforms
- Information protection at the document level inside and outside of the organization
- Desktop virtualization for access anywhere
- Network security to monitor for suspicious activities through behavior analysis
The partner opportunity with enterprise mobility
Throughout the rest of March and into April, our blog posts and community calls for the Azure Partner Community will go in-depth on Microsoft Enterprise Mobility Suite, and the business opportunity it offers to partners. We’ll provide guidance for building your enterprise mobility practice across sales, marketing, and technical roles. We’ll take a look at the products that comprise EMS—Microsoft Intune, Azure Active Directory, Azure Rights Management, Microsoft Advanced Threat Analytics—in the weeks ahead. We’ll help you build a training plan and share tips for building great EMS demos.
Where do you start? Before you jump into training or offers, start with a shift in mindset:
- Security should be part of every customer conversation.They all have users who are mobile (or who would like to be) via their work and personal devices. They all have SaaS based applications in use somewhere in their organization. They all have documents and data that need to be protected. They all have networks to monitor and secure. Make security a part of the conversation.
- Don’t let security be someone else’s job—we all need to talk about it. The good news is, customers can all relate, so start talking to them, they want you to be their trusted advisor. If you don’t talk to them, who will? Talk to IT, but also talk to the rest of the business at every customer. Security needs can come from anywhere, so talk to everyone. Inside your partner practices, make sure everyone has a security mindset.
- Commit to building up your EMS practice. Here in the community we’re going on a journey during the next few months to help you build your practice and capabilities. Now is a great time to jump on board.
Microsoft enterprise mobility overview
If you or your team are new to Microsoft enterprise mobility solutions, visit the Microsoft Enterprise Mobility site, and watch this overview of Enterprise Mobility Suite from Brad Anderson, Microsoft Corporate Vice President for Enterprise Mobility.
Azure Partner Community resources
- Register for the March 17 and April 21 community calls
- Read more posts in this series
- Subscribe to this blog to receive community posts in your inbox
- Subscribe to the Azure Partner Community newsletter
- Join the Azure Partners Yammer group
Comments about this blog post, or questions about the topic? Let us know in the Azure Partners Yammer group.