Vito Forte: Don't overcomplicate mobility

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Vito Forte: Don't overcomplicate mobility

[Blog Post]: Fortescue Metals CIO questions the value of MDM.

Mobile Device Management tools are a “super-hyped-must-have that creates a lot of confusion with enterprises," according to Vito Forte, CIO of Fortescue Metals Group (FMG), who argues for a simpler approach to enterprise mobility.

“Enterprise IT seems to view BYOD through their ‘Lens of Risk and Control’ rather than understanding that it's about personal choice," Forte told iTnews.

Implementing MDM tools adds a further layer of complexity to enterprise mobility that in many cases is unnecessary, he said. 

“You should start from the perspective that a person wants to use, and makes a conscious choice to use a particular device. They do this because it suits their work style. So as an enterprise, the best thing we can do is not get sucked into the paradigm that says we now must try and control and manage any and all aspects of this choice.

“I have had many a robust conversation with people about this, and I usually ask – ‘Why do you want to control it?’ and ‘Why does it matter?’

"I will probably get flamed by the security people out there, but I see bigger security issues with day-to-day enterprise practices than with BYOD. 

So the KISS principle applies here. Make it hard, and not only will you have a poor take-up, but you will also drive up administrator overhead in the process.”

FMG’s solution was to make BYOD a “program of choice”. If an employee chooses to bring their own device, they do so in an informed manner, and are asked to take responsibility and accountability for their choice.

“Employees can choose to sign up to this program for two years, and commit to support their device.”

FMG didn’t offer a stipend or loan to purchase the device – that choice, Forte said, is for every CIO to consider.

The more pressing questions, he said, is whether your application environment supports the multitude of devices that might now want to connect to them, and whether any data can be stored locally on the device.

The most common apps should be virtualised, he said, abstracting the device layer and offering easier administration for IT staff. FMG does so and doesn’t allow for any data from these applications to reside on the device.

Forte concedes that not all applications can be virtualised in a meaningful way for mobile devices.

“What we end up with isn't one-size-fits-all, but it does allow people to make a choice and understand why they make that choice and how they work within the parameters set out by their organisation,” he said.

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Brett Winterford

One of Australia’s most experienced technology journalists, former iTnews Group Editor Brett Winterford has written about the business of technology for 15 years.

Awarded Business Journalist and Technology Journalist of the year at the 2004 ITjourno awards and Editor of the Year at the 2009 Publishers Australia 'Bell' awards, Winterford has extensive experience in both the business and technology press, writing for such publications as the Australian Financial Review and The Sydney Morning Herald.

As editor of iTnews Brett has led a team of award-winning journalists; delivered speeches at industry events; authored, commissioned and edited research papers, curated technology conferences [The iTnews Executive Summit and Australian Data Centre Strategy Summit and also shares the judging of the annual Benchmark Awards.

Brett's areas of specialty include enterprise software, cloud computing and IT services.

Read more from this blog: The True Cost of BYOD

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