I poisoned the fish . . .

Too many years ago now, I had the most unusual professor teaching my freshman marketing course.

He was unusual, not simply because students could pose a silly question to him at the start of the class and he would talk about it for the duration of the class, thus avoiding any possibility that he would actually lecture on the course topic or spring a pop quiz. He also had a very unusual way of solving problems.

One Friday about midway through the school term, he spoke to the class about a problem with which he was ‘struggling’. He told us that he owned a large farm in eastern North Carolina, and on this farm he had a pond (e, i, e, i, o) teeming with large-mouth bass. Notwithstanding the fact that he didn’t fish, nor did he have any family members who fished, nor friends who fished, he erected a fence to prevent people from fishing and posted “NO FISHING” signs in prominent view all around the pond perimeter.

Despite his best efforts, however, each time he went to the farm and visited the pond, the “NO FISHING” signs were gone and there were people happily pulling large-mouth bass out of his pond. He would shoo them away, of course, (the people, not the fish) and put up new “NO FISHING” signs. This went on for months, and the silly question “Have you solved the problem of people fishing in your pond” became one of the most popular ones used each Friday to divert his attention from teaching the class  or giving pop tests. Until one Friday, when he announced “Class, I have solved the problem of people fishing in my pond . . . I poisoned the fish”.

An effective approach? Most definitely! Draconian? Uh, yeah. Optimal and forward-thinking? Hardly.

At this point, you might be thinking, why are you recounting this true (hand-over-my-heart), yet discomforting, story?

Simple, really . . because as the CEO of a company that operates in the security industry – more specifically, mobile security for the enterprise – when I see what competitors are doing to address the issues of enterprise mobile security, I can only think “They’re poisoning the fish”. They are taking the “traditional”, draconian approach to mobile security – lock up, lock down, tightly wrap, brick the phone, deny access, bury it in a sandbox, put stuff in a container and don’t let it out! What I call the “I poisoned the fish” approach.

So, rather than ask me “why are you telling me this”, you should be asking “why is this the case”.

It’s because the “fish poisoners” (who will remain nameless but their initials are MDM), are selling legacy solutions, originally built to configure, manage and support devices and were never intended to provide control over the mobile apps or data on those devices. Information Week said it best in their October 2012 article 40 BYOD vendors, One Confusing Market – “Vendors hate being told that (their) marquee product is not a great match for customer needs. But that’s the reality today in the growing mobile device management market, as IT teams try to use software meant for managing mobile devices to secure the data on those systems”.  The article went so far as to accuse MDM vendors of “slapping new names on existing products, without adding a whit of new functionality as they scramble for advantage in the market”. I see evidence of this regularly as I chat with customer prospects about what we do versus MDM vendors – a state of confusion that the MDM players happily promote in their marketing collateral.  Dumb ole fish poisoners!

But, enough about them. SpydrSafe has created a unique approach to the problem of protecting sensitive enterprise data on smart phones and tablets  – an approach architected using a clean sheet of paper (actually a white board), one we thought very long and very hard about before we wrote a single line of code, and one that was purpose-built for mobile security. We manage how mobile apps access, use and share data on Android and iOS smartphones and tablets. We are the only company in the market that can manage any app, but use a finely-crafted, granular approach to security that addresses ONLY those apps that are important (as defined by the enterprise security manager) – the ones that enterprise IT care about, the ones that obtain access to their sensitive data.

Thinking back on the time I spent in marketing class with my most unusual professor, I can’t help but believe he would be proud to know that not only did I learn a bit about marketing, despite my and his best efforts to the contrary, but I was also able to make a present  day connection of his “I poisoned the fish” problem-solving methods to the goings on in my market. Hmmm . . . I wonder if there’s a way for me to do the same with his often told anecdotes about his “two-ton limousine” – but, that’s another story completely.

Take a look at what we’re doing at SpydrSafe . . . we’re Mobile Security for the Enterprise . . . I promise we won’t poison the fish.

 

ASG

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