One of the major differences between traditional enterprise PC deployments and mobile is that IT no longer controls the update process. In the traditional PC world that has dominated enterprise computing for decades, IT controlled every key aspect of the upgrade cycle.
- IT chose the hardware and determined when each PC would be replaced with a newer model.
- IT determined when, or if, a new version of the OS would be installed. For major releases, this often occurred after significant testing and planning.
- IT determined when patches or app updates were pushed to PCs.
- IT controlled the device, OS, and app procurement processes.
- IT managed the actual upgrade or deployment, often with no intervention by the end user.
In a Mobile First world, many of those responsibilities have been shifted to the user.
- Regardless of device ownership, users typically have some say in selecting their device. In a BYOD context, they may have complete control of choosing the device and when they upgrade.
- OS updates are delivered directly to the user by either the manufacturer or the carrier and users can update or not at their leisure.
- Patches or minor OS updates as well as the app update process is now under the purview of the user for third-party apps, though IT can use EMM tools to push app updates to managed devices.
- Users and managers now have the ability to select and install apps at will, either from an enterprise app store or a public app marketplace.
- Users now manage the update process largely without IT intervention. One exception is where users have delayed upgrading and are running an outdated OS. In this case, IT can detect the fact and take an active role in persuading the user to upgrade and offer to assist in the process.
You need to be ready on day one
This shift in control of the update process means that IT departments don’t get the months or years they used to in order to test and plan for new technologies.
As I noted when talking about Apple Watch in April, many users will adopt those technologies as soon as they’re available. Those technologies include the iOS 9 final version or even the public beta (I’ll be looking at the public beta specifically in next week’s post), or the next iPhone, major wearable, Nexus device, Android release, or any other new piece of mobile or wearable technology.
Some users might listen to advice and delay an OS upgrade on an existing device, but if they purchase the next iPhone or flagship Android device as soon as it goes on the market, they’ll have no choice but to use latest OS.
That means IT departments need to be ready to offer some level of support for these upcoming OSes and devices on the day that they ship. At the very least, that support has to include a list of known issues with an upcoming OS. That includes issues with the OS itself, how it interacts with the corporate and carrier networks, and how well existing enterprise apps and common third-party apps run on it.
Even better, as I wrote last week, IT will be actively communicating with users in advance of the release of new OSes and devices. That dialog allows IT to inform users of potential pitfalls they might encounter if they upgrade immediately. That could forestall some support calls because users will know about issues in advance and it might even lead some to delay in upgrade because of known issues.
In a best case scenario, IT will have spent the time not only building support solutions for early adopters, but also updating enterprise apps and reviewing the compatibility updates planned for major third-party apps used within the organization.
The new challenge
All of this is a new challenge and it requires active testing of beta OS releases wherever possible as well as following any new stories pertaining to the beta releases. There is also the time factor. Almost all major OS updates are slated to ship in months. Keeping up with details about them is a bit daunting.
At the same time, it offers excellent rewards for IT organizations that can succeed. It further builds the trusted advisor relationship that will be the future of IT-business relations going forward, one in which shadow IT becomes a resource rather than a threat. It delivers the view of IT as current and innovative. It enhances the overall impression of a company as technologically progressive, which can aid in employee recruitment, satisfaction, and retention.
In short, success in delivering zero-day support for new technologies can deliver a solid competitive advantage.