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iBarbarians at the Gates

April 24, 2012 No Comments

Written by: E. Scott Menter, VP of Business Solutions for BP Logix

pigpen iBarbarians at the Gates Gartner has coined the term “personal cloud” to refer to the collection of devices we carry with us, and the data and applications that surround them. When I first heard this expression I immediately thought of Pigpen, the Peanuts character perpetually shrouded in a swirl of dust—which is appropriate, because that’s exactly how your IT department thinks of you when you show up at the office with your iPad, Android phone, and Kindle Fire. From IT’s standpoint, you’re just a walking Petri dish of potentially lethal pathogens poised to infect their sterile, business-ready environment.

In this way, the 21st century workplace has come to resemble a fastidious home invaded by a group of newly adopted puppies. The newcomers will eventually learn some rules, and adapt themselves to their environment, but realistically some standards are going to have to be relaxed. For some time, experts have pointed out that the network perimeter is a porous border at best. Now the flexibility demanded by users to interact with corporate systems from their personal cloud may finally relegate the network perimeter to the dustbin of history, along with the Maginot Line, the Paris barricades, and other failed defensive barriers.

In the meantime, though, brave IT workers struggle to hold the line. The invaders (and their surprisingly ubiquitous flocks of angry birds)  have one demand: access. Electronic forms and intranet apps need to be accessible—and usable—from personal devices. Reliably. Securely.

In order to meet this new demand, IT will have to make changes to both the way it operates and the systems it procures, such as:

1.       Redesigning user interfaces, making them adaptable to a variety of input methods (not just keyboards) and a variety of displays (not just 1280×768).

2.       Extending IAM (Identity and Access Management) systems beyond the network boundary, possibly by exploiting multi-factor or federated authentication techniques.

3.       Relying less on single-platform collaboration solutions such as SharePoint and Public Folders and more on cloud-based platforms such as DropBox and Google Docs.

Modern BPM solutions provide a glimpse into this still-evolving future. Web accessible, they easily adapt to a variety of authentication schemes and end user devices. BPM software operates naturally within the cloud in both multi-tenant and single-tenant configurations. And, most importantly, it represents a single cloud-friendly platform for a wide variety of solutions, obviating the need to spend extra time crafting each application for  personal device compatibility. Once business users can interact seamlessly with the corporate BPM solution through their personal cloud, they automatically enjoy the same capability for every application built on that solution, from invoice processing to document review and approval.

The familiar security of the inside-the-firewall corporate network is falling fast to hordes of iPhone-wielding business users. Those technologies that can adapt to the new regime will thrive, while those that cannot will be trampled underfoot. BPM, cloud-friendly and infinitely adaptable, can help you rise above the stampede.


Scott Menter iBarbarians at the Gates E. Scott Menter is the VP of Business Solutions for BP Logix, a provider of business process management (BPM) solutions to corporations, government agencies, and non-profit organizations. Scott is the former head of technology for WaMu Investments, a national retail brokerage. In addition to technology leadership positions he held in financial services and higher education, Scott spent over a decade leading his own identity management software firm. Scott invites you to contact him at or on Twitter at

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