Which new technologies will cause the next BYOD and COIT-sized headache for EUC?

Can we get ahead of the next disruption and avoid another battle with shadow IT? Here are some ways to think about these questions.

Recently Gabe wrote about Citrix and how they’re thinking about virtual reality. This article was a perfect introduction to a question that I’ve been contemplating a lot as we head into 2017: Of all the newer technologies out there, which ones are going to affect enterprise EUC in the same why that mobile devices the cloud apps did?

How I think about this question

Here's some background: Besides mobile devices and cloud apps having a huge macro effect on EUC, their initial smaller effects—BYOD and the consumerization of IT—happened to take a lot of people off guard and cause a bit of panic and hand-wringing. That’s why I referred to them as a headache in the title.

Part of the reason for this headache was that a lot of shops were very Windows-centric well over a decade. Now, fortunately, we’ve come a long way—we have the tools to deal with mobility and cloud apps, and we’re much more aware of and comfortable with the new concepts they bring.

Furthermore, observing these EUC changes, I’ve always argued that this headache was a one-time turning point. Mobile and cloud apps broke us out of our Windows-centric mindset; now we're in a heterogeneous environment and should be better prepared for other future EUC technologies—or at least we shouldn’t be taken by surprise when they come along.

Asking the question

Now back to today’s question. We don’t just want to know which technologies are going to have a huge effect on EUC, we also want to try to figure out which ones might take us by surprise, so we can avoid those previous headaches. Here are some of the technologies I’m thinking about, in no particular order:

  • Augmented reality
  • Virtual reality
  • Smart watches
  • Other wearables, like health sensors
  • Nature language user interfaces
  • Speech-based user interfaces
  • Digital assistants
  • Machine learning / artificial intelligence
  • IoT
  • Windows devices running on ARM chips
  • Windows Continuum, Nirvana phones, and 2-in-1 laptops
  • MDM for Windows
  • App stores for keyboard and mouse-based devices

When I look at the list, I try to evaluate each of these technologies in a few different ways:

  • Is the new technology something we can simply think of as another new type of device? (Then we have another set of management APIs to implement in our MDM or systems management platform.)
  • Is it another new type of app? (Another app to wire into our MAM, identity, and perhaps DLP platform.)
  • Is it another new type of business logic that apps can take advantage of? (So the apps, devices they run on, and data they produce can be managed just like before.)

If a new technology can fit into one of those above buckets, then great, we can figure out how to think about it and deal with it. Hopefully we should be able to avoid headaches and surprises. However, I know I’m being hubristic—there could be a ton of surprises and headaches not anticipated by the previous questions. Here are some possible scenarios:

  • The sheer scale of devices, particularly with IoT, could be like nothing before and force a new way to think about EUC.
  • A new technology could affect the business so much that it also affects IT management concepts, too.
  • A new growth of computing at the edge could change how we think about device and data management. (See the presentation “The End of Cloud Computing” by Peter Levine, currently of a16z and formerly of Citrix and Xensource.)
  • Likely, machine learning and artificial intelligence will have so many effects on all technologies that we’ll have to rethink EUC around them. (See the presentation “Mobile is Eating the World” by Benedict Evans, also of a16z.)

In a few years, perhaps, we’ll be able to say for sure which newer technologies have had effects that compare to those of BYOD and COIT. For now, we’ll continue to cover things on the ground in a practical way, but at the same time we can also use these questions to try to get ahead of the next EUC surprises and headaches.

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