Mobliciti CTO, Andy Brown, writes a regular blog called Brown’s Bytes – a weekly reflection on the latest hot topics in the world of cloud and mobility. At VIEW 2021, Andy presented Brown’s Bigger Byte, looking at topics of interest that emerged in 2021, and discussed how they will affect the enterprise into 2022 and beyond.
In a rare year for Apple, the tech giant encountered a number of issues and problems. The launch of the iPhone 13 range has been blighted by supply issues since its release, making it difficult for consumers to purchase the flagship device in the quantities seen with previous models. The iPhone 13 itself turned out largely to be an iteration of previous models, which has become somewhat of the norm over the last few years. However, what the iPhone 13 lacks in being revolutionary, it makes up for in providing familiarity and consistency to consumers.
Whilst the iPhone 13 is a powerful flagship device, businesses are increasingly questioning the ROI of such devices. Long gone are the days of BlackBerry, which allowed users to send emails and make phone calls. Businesses now expect far more from the expensive devices that they’re giving to staff.
In a bid to provide consumers with an affordable, yet powerful device, the iPhone SE 2 was launched, becoming the entry-level device into the iPhone estate. It’s the perfect device for the enterprise, hitting the right price points whilst still feeling like a high-end device. However, whilst Mobliciti saw a surge in demand for the iPhone SE 2 when they first launched, a trend toward larger screen devices is emerging, with the iPhone 11 becoming the default fleet device to accommodate this.
On a more positive note for Apple, they shone through in the world of patching. Apple’s patching has always been very consistent, with the iPhone 6S still sitting secure and full patched – not bad for a seven-year-old phone!
As with most positives, there are often negatives to accompany them and Apple’s patching is no exception. Apple has increasingly been targeted as the OS of choice for malware in 2021. Despite having built a reputation for being THE secure operating system compared to Android, this reputation is rapidly diminishing. Apple has now dealt with at least 17 iOS releases for zero-day exploits that are actively being exploited – far from ideal for a leader in mobile security.
2021 saw a major shift in the way that most people approach their mobile security. High profile incidents, such as the Jeff Bezos phone hack and the Project Pegasus spyware revelations have brought the mobile threat to the mainstream press and heightened awareness around the true dangers and risks associated with malware on phones. IT is identifying that end-users are, for the very first time, actually approaching them to ask about the security on their phones.
Android within the enterprise market is incredibly small when compared to Apple. In general, less than 5% of devices in the enterprise space will run on the Android operating system compared to Apple’s iOS. This might seem peculiar as, on paper, Google and Android are giving enterprises exactly what it is they want – and yet still people don’t buy them.
Despite ticking every single box that a security person has ever asked for from a mobile estate, Android’s Achilles heel is the area in which Apple happen to be particularly strong – patching. Getting patches to devices is an extremely important box to tick, one that is now a vital part of security posture. However, Android is so fragmented that this is an area its always historically struggled with. 2021 for the first time did see the likes of Google guaranteeing five years of security updates for the Pixel 6 (although they’re only guaranteeing three years of Android updates). Whilst the security updates may seem like a huge step forwards for Android, it’s still less than Apple.
Another area that is a particular weakness for Android is its consistency. Samsung has largely become the default Android device of choice for the enterprise, yet the consistency of the range available is its greatest weaknesses. Devices arrive and disappear extremely quickly in the Android estate. This can be extremely frustrating for the enterprise which loves consistency. Apple’s apparent lack of movement when it comes to each new iteration of the iPhone can be their strength in the enterprise, as it translates to a consistent user experience.
The release of the M1 Mac was a real turning point for Apple, but the enterprise is still a Microsoft dominated world. The enterprise’s primary priority when it comes to its Microsoft licences is getting maximum value from them. Microsoft’s format of delivering bundles of technology has worked extremely well for them in recent times. Businesses are driving a number of projects that work across this technology stack. Many perceive the likes of Microsoft Teams as free because it is included in the M365 licence.
When it comes to Microsoft Teams vs. Zoom, a co-existence between the two platforms has emerged, as the collaboration tool of choice is not just dictated by your organisation, but those you must talk to outside of your organisation, be those clients or partners. As a result, most organisations utilise a balance of the two.
A major conversation point when it comes to Microsoft is Windows 11. Upon its release, Windows 10 was touted as the last ever release of Windows, with Microsoft planning on simply releasing updates from that point. However, Microsoft appears to have acknowledged that Windows 10 over the years has built up a large amount of bloat, with unused features everywhere.
Windows 11 presents the chance to reset and reconsolidate, providing the opportunity to modernise the operating system.
Normal Vs. The New Normal
The way that people are working has fundamentally changed during the pandemic. The traditional desk-bound role in the enterprise context, in particular, is now very different. User expectations of IT have shifted, as users’ reliance on technology has changed. The average user now relies far more on technology to maintain their day-to-day life. During lockdown, almost by osmosis, business processes began to be re-engineered around users no longer being in a central office together. Video has now become the default communication tool – before the pandemic, enterprise video often lived almost solely in the meeting room.
The desk phone is also rattling its last gasp. VoIP is coming into its own, offering users the ability to have their desk extension on their mobile device. It’s become a laptop-first world, with few people sitting on desktops. As a result, Wi-Fi has become a greater priority. When users are in the office, they expect to move around more than previously, and consequently expect a strong and reliable network connection wherever they are. Video and VoIP are very sensitive traffic – a problem that users are experiencing first-hand when they return to the office and encounter legacy Wi-Fi systems that are causing poor experiences.
Cloud-enabled enterprises were able to drive through the pandemic quite steadily, with some enterprises approaching it from an ad-hoc manner of cloud adoption when and where necessary. As 2022 arrives, real cloud strategy is starting to gain acceleration as organisations define their multi-cloud posture, accounting for everything from how SaaS solutions are secured to controlling the flow of data.
User experience has also risen to become a major priority. Prior to mass working from home, organisations generally were able to use tools when everyone was in the office and traffic from data centres could give an overall view of user experience, or at least how the services themselves were performing. During the pandemic, this information to a certain extent evaporated as users were disparate. Throw in a whole host of variables into the mix and organisations no longer had direct control anymore. Businesses must now look to utilise tools that provide greater visibility and control over how users are dealing with technology on an ongoing basis.
2021 was a year of immense change and witnessed organisations attempting to find their way in the new world normal. Understanding and providing a secure and reliable hybrid working environment is now a priority for many. If you would like to discuss any of the points highlighted in more detail, please get in touch.