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Martini Computing (Mobility, BYOD, iPad, Free Apps) – A Management Framework

January 24, 2013

In an earlier post I described the huge challenge facing Legal IT departments around the world and suggested that debates around BYOD, iPads, and mobility and free to air apps are all part of the single entity that I called Martini computing.

Martini

See my earlier post to get a fuller understanding of my rationale but to set the scene, I want to avoid the usual IT mistake of looking first at technology and instead look at how the world of the lawyer has changed. Lawyers want to work whenever they want, wherever they are, using whatever platforms are to hand and using whatever applications they need – hence Martini (old advert ‘anytime, anyplace anywhere’).

This post aims to offer a management framework for IT to work in this new world and in so doing create some order within an often confused debate. It also offers some principles you might consider when building your own management framework.
Simplistically the lawyer wants to use either his own device or one provided by the firm. On that device, he or she wants to use either the firm’s applications or else other free to air business applications.

The figure below illustrates this situation:
martini
Ok so the graphics are pretty basic but you get the idea? The challenge is to manage effectively the four different environments in line with their very different characteristics.

 A Martini Management Framework

My suggested approach is that, as with traditional IT management, you need a combination of policies, processes, tools, technologies and SLAs to properly manage the technology and the service and so meet the needs of your customers. BUT – it is a different set of these in each box!

Two overarching principles – which apply across all four environments:

  1.  Fundamental – IT offers a service in each box. I suggest that the days of IT washing their hands of tools and applications that they don’t control are gone! The job of IT is to deploy technology to the maximum benefit of the firm – it’s just that we now need to face up to the fact that the technology increasingly resides out with the direct control of the IT function.
  2. Information security (including data use) policy is essential – across all of the boxes. It’s here that IT (along with HR and Compliance) needs to set strict rules on the use of the firm’s data.

Now let’s look at each of the environments in turn:

Box 1. This is what the new world calls mobility (by and large). To be honest this has now been around for a while and the old school approach of command and control still applies – you need to have a limited number of devices with standard configurations and you need to deploy technology (VPN, citrix etc.), processes (asset management, config management, change management, etc.) and tools (the new MDM stuff comes in here) so that you can deliver against production SLAs. Although the technology has moved on it’s similar to the old distributed environment management of old and you are still seeking stability, reliability, performance and security.

Box 2. This is where much of the BYOD or consumerisation debate is happening. It’s about lawyers using their own Mac, their own iPhone or iPad or Android or whatever to access firms apps (DMS, PMS, email etc.). The fact that there are a myriad of different devices out there (and growing) and that there’s only a limit to what IT can do to the user device means that the service is necessarily different to box 1. You just can’t offer levels of availability if you cannot manage OS versions (for example). But you can offer a service – the key here is being as close as possible to your customer so that he and you agree that the service offered is the best that can be delivered. However, you can reasonably insist on access to the device so that you can configure secure access to firm’s apps and add security features (e.g. remote wipe). So this is similar to box 1 but just doesn’t have the traditional IT levels of service.

Boxes 3 & 4. There are a rapidly growing number of free business applications out there. Sometimes hard for IT organisations to see, but this is good news for IT – I mean, which IT Director doesn’t want to meet his customer’s needs instantly and at zero cost?! As I keep on saying – we are here to deploy technology to the best advantage of the firm, our service in this box is to understand which are the best apps, how they can be best deployed and to get them in the hands of business users who can benefit from them. This is how IT adds value in the brand new world – and if you are not adding value you are just a cost! One proviso here – the firm’s information security and data use policies still apply – if you don’t want firm’s data in Dropbox then say so!

Summary

This not a solution but it’s a start. Putting some order to the rapidly changing new world helps us think about what is IT’s role, what service do we offer and just how do we deploy technology such that our firms can achieve their objectives.

Please let me know what you think.

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From → Mobility, Strategy

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