The conversation about Bring Your Own Device has been sputtering along for a couple years now, essentially degenerating into the vanilla sentiment that you need to pay attention to what mobile devices employees bring to work, and how they use them to access sensitive data.

Got that? Pay attention! Maybe you can even make a little list of approved devices, and if someone happens to use an unapproved device, you can send them a sternly worded email. That should do it.

But something has changed in the past three months. The generic BYOD murmuring about “securing the device” (impossible) has evolved into the inevitable reality of BYOD today — which is security at the app level. I’m not stretching to say this; conversations with customers, peers, and other industry pros has confirmed the hunch that people are finally understanding the reality of BYOD in the context of real, app-driven enterprise mobility.

Yes, it’s about secure checklists, secure servers, and secure devices. And now, finally, its about secure apps. That means private managed app stores PLUS policy — the best way to wrangle the mix of public and private apps an organization wants to implement.

For me, it’s a genuine breakthrough that the app store is no longer just getting lip service. It’s not a cute idea. It’s critical to distribution and security. Gartner says everyone needs MDM. Fine, but even they can’t overlook the MAM imperative now because any app has as much weight as any device in terms of it being a potential point of compromise.

What’s more, enterprise mobility effectiveness is — at its heart — about adoption. We can gee-whiz ourselves to death with smartphones and tablets. We can build apps, native or otherwise, but it’s meaningless if the user doesn’t pick up the brick and launch it. Make those apps tough to access and you’re stepping on the gas and the brake at the same time. So much for your hopes for realizing the advantages of enterprise mobility.

So, again, it goes back to the app and the app store. That’s where the analytics live. That’s where the versions get pushed. That’s where you get what you need for fine grain control and policy management.

We’ve sung this song before. We know it. And we said we thought we were ahead of the curve. Now, we’re realizing the curve hadn’t even started to bend yet. But, now, it looks like the MAM evangelizing has not only won converts, it’s gained a true following — one that understands enterprise mobility is really about productivity.

Lock down security. Streamline distribution. Facilitate analytics access. Manage, in short, the entire lifecycle of enterprise mobility, and you are on the right track to winning over users. Their devices don’t matter. Their uptake of mobility usage does. That’s the path to productivity that enterprise mobility promises. Nice to see more of us waking up to that.