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Is IT for people?

“The iPhone is not positioned at all for the IT world,” he say. “It’s a very personal device. Most corporations are probably not going to support the iPhone on their networks.” —Randy Giusto, IDC

Indeed, it strikes me that Giusto is tragically spot-on. Why tragic? The notion that a “very personal device” as compelling as the iPhone (have you seen them ads?!) would be against everything IT wants — secured, affordable, and other inherently submissive to IT policy that helps the business make money rather than lose it — sucks for end-users.

Legacy & Forgiveness

Now, I’m not being dismissive of those wants at all. If anything, there’s a constant disconnect between those who write software, those who use the software, and the IT departments who are charged with taking care of the software. Software providers and users are always racing far ahead of what IT departments want to support.:

  • Software providers wants to develop the newest, coolest chunk of software without much care of the “legacy” software or how that software will be when it becomes “legacy.” They want to do this because it’s fun and profitable.
  • End users want software that will give them the most benefit and differentiation in the short-term over whoever they’re competing against, intra- or extra-companies. If newer technology or processes gives this edge, they’ll follow the principal of decide now and ask for forgiveness later.
  • The IT department wants software that prevents end-users from yelling at them when data is leaked, revenue is lost, or the “plumbing to the business” that is IT fails. The IT department wants stability, predictability, and manageability.

This context results in skunk-works and bottom-up introduction of technologies in companies. Instant Messaging is the canonical example here. You could call the end-users who starting using non-approved IT the “rebellious majority.”

Now, of course, the above is a generalization. Paying attention to the needs of IT is part of what makes “enterprise software” and part of why such software is more expensive than, say, GMail. Of course, as we discussed a few weeks ago on the MonkCast, a mind-share shift (or big switch, if you will) to URL-based computing could erase, or at least dramatically change, that line of thinking. There would still be IT to manage, but beyond desktop and network management (what you need to get to those URLs, and still a pretty big chunk of work), the day-to-day tasks of the IT department would be different than they are now.


Most tech companies are ga-ga over the mid-market now-a-days as the source of their next large chunk of revenue. Now, that motivation is probably more driven by the saturation of enterprise software and services in the enterprise space. But, it’s also got to be mega-attractive as a market that lacks rigid enterprise IT departments. Sure, it’s still the same trade-off of opportunity today for hassle tomorrow, but you’d expect SMBs to err more towards today than a questionable tomorrow.


But, back to the iPhone, right? When it comes to Apple, I generally follow a “buy the 2nd or 3rd” release policy. I use Apple products — hardware and software — everyday, all day. But, I’m extremely hesitant to buy the first release of any of their products for two reasons:

  • There’s usually bugs or at least limited features that are fixed or enhanced within a year.
  • The first versions are usually mega-expensive, but subsequent versions get cheaper.

Clearly, I’m no gadget-freak. I have no idea about the validity of the touch-screen or any other, usual passel of “will this thing actually be the solution to all past, present, and future problems and desires” nervous hand-wringing that comes with pre-release musings of an Apple product. Us unwashed massed will just have to wait until the damn thing is out before we can pass iGod judgement.

That said, hell yes I want an iPhone! Who wouldn’t?

(Photo by agkamai.)

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Categories: Compliance, Enterprise Software, The New Thing.

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3 Responses

  1. “That said, hell yes I want an iPhone! Who wouldn’t?”

    Someone who had bought a Newton, a 3Com Audrey or a NetPliance?

  2. Zing! Touché!

Continuing the Discussion

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