Rising to the Mobile Computing Challenge in the Enterprise

Michael Vizard

As tablets running variants of Windows 8 begin to find their way into the enterprise with every other mobile computing device, IT organizations are more challenged than ever in terms of managing all them.

Now that there are multiple instances of a credible Windows tablet, there’s one less reason to try and stop end users from bringing these devices to work. After all, if they are capable of running Windows applications, there’s not much difference between supporting Windows 7 and Windows 8. What is different is the nature of that support. Ty Rollin, chief architect of Mobiquity, a professional services firm that specializes in mobile computing, says IT organizations are being forced to rethink the way they provide support because the liability issues are still fairly murky.

Courts have yet to firmly decide how liable an organization might be should it inadvertently wipe someone’s personal data off a machine owned by the individual. Most organizations have waiver agreements in place that theoretically absolve them of that liability, but the courts have yet to come to a final consensus regarding how enforceable those agreements really are.

As a result, Rollin says that rather than supporting the device, IT organizations would be better served by supporting specific mobile computing applications. In that context, they could support a mobile application the company deployed on a mobile computing device without assuming support for the entire device.

Companies, of course, want it both ways. They generally like the idea that employees can now bring their own device to work because that means they don’t have to lay out the cash to buy that device, especially in small-to-medium businesses (SMB). But if they are going to be held liable for personal data on those devices, the whole bring-your-own-device (BYOD) phenomenon is going to have to be reconsidered. It’s not likely to put an end to the practice, but the level of support is going to have to be more application-centric rather than device-centric, says Rollin.

In general, Rollin says he expects to see a lot more tablets running Windows 8 Pro than tablets running Windows RT in the enterprise. With the holidays fast approaching, more IT organizations than ever are going to be confronting these and other thorny mobile computing support issues in the year ahead.

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