If Mobile Devices are Onion Rings, Your “Stuff” is the Ranch

One of my favorite snacks involves dunking onion rings into ranch dressing. Aside from being deliciously sinful, it reminds me of recent buzz surrounding BYOD and predictions around the death of the PC. What do onion rings and ranch dressing have in common with the rise of mobile? Quite a lot, actually. Mobile devices are like onion rings  – they get you to what you really want…your “stuff” (files, apps, etc.) AKA the “ranch dressing.”

There are instrumental changes afoot in the enterprise, which are shining a spotlight on mobile and BYOD in a big way. For example, PCs represented nearly two thirds of all computing devices in early 2009 – by 2012, that number had dwindled to one quarter. And employees are increasingly using their mobile devices as a work device and to get to their “stuff” in –and out – of the office. Cisco* issued a report predicting there will be more mobile devices than people on earth by the end of this year.

Simply put, mobile devices are poised to take over the world and enterprises are quickly learning they need to adopt a BYOD policy in order to stay ahead of the curve. The goal is to provision devices with the tools employees need to be productive as well as to secure the work “stuff” in case a device is lost or stolen.

Yet with all the BYOD hoopla, we may be overlooking one of the primary reasons why we need mobile devices – or any device – in the first place. In other words, we’ve got the onion rings, but where’s the ranch?  How do all those employees with all those devices get to their files? Files run our lives. Most of us are hyper-aware of where our files live and when, where and how we can access them – without that access the mobile revolution means very little.

From a business perspective, if employees are going to be as effective, flexible and efficient as their bosses need them to be, they need consistent, secure and fast access to the files they need from ALL of their devices, including their mobile device. And they need this same global view from whichever device they’re using and from wherever they happen to be at the moment.

The problem with files is that they’re all over the place.  Some are on employee PCs, others are on local file servers or mapped drives.  In fact, you can pretty much bet that at some point you won’t be able to access a file you need because its behind a firewall, on someone’s laptop or even a smartphone.

Employees need to have a global view of the files and folders they have permission to access, no matter where those files reside. They also need to be able to use some of those files even when they don’t have a network connection. And they need this same global view from whichever device they’re using at the moment.

Overall, companies are increasingly doing a great job figuring out how to enable employees to use the device of their choice for work. To ensure success, they need to take the next step by making sure employees can securely access the files they need – anytime, anywhere.  Put another way, it’s time for IT to make it easy, safe and reliable for our onion rings to get to as much ranch dressing as we’d like.

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