It’s only logical that the consumerization of IT would lead to the bring your own device (BYOD) trend. If you’ve chosen a device to suit your needs and tastes, why wouldn’t you want to use it over whatever the faceless corporate IT purchasing process dictated?
And if Dropbox streamlines the sharing of work documents, why wouldn’t you prefer it to a more awkwardly-choreographed process dictated by the company?
However restrictive IT provisioning guidelines may be within an organization, they’re generally there for a good reason – primarily that everyone bringing their own devices in can cause any number of problems for IT teams. When ten people bring in ten devices to do work using ten different applications, how can IT be expected to troubleshoot everything and keep everything secure?
BYOD was partly a matter of employees pushing back against overly-complicated business processes.
Once leading-edge tech started appearing in the consumer market before the corporate market, it was only natural that people would want to use these hot new devices for work, especially if they made things easier and quicker. Sometimes people would use these devices under the radar, and that can lead to major IT headaches. Many organizations have coped by implementing BYOD polices addressing what end-users can and cannot do with personal devices on the job.
BYOD More Popular in US Than in Europe
BYOD has always been more popular in the US than across the Atlantic, where only one-third of companies have BYOD policies. Blackberry and Microsoft recently presented research in London that took some of the glitter off BYOD’s sparkling reputation as a corporate boon. For one thing, BYOD adoption has reached a plateau, and there’s no real increase in the number of companies planning to adopt BYOD in the near future.
Said Markus Mueller, BlackBerry’s managing director for Europe, “The idea was to save money while giving more choice to users, but what actually happened is that it became a nightmare, with lots of different devices with different versions of iOS and Android finding their way into organizations. It actually created more cost.” Hardly a ringing endorsement.
BYOD: Does Chaos Necessarily Ensue?
Say you’re in charge of IT service management and you get a memo that starting on such-and-such date, people can bring in their own laptops, tablets, and phones and use them for work processes. The relief of not having to budget for all that equipment is quickly overshadowed by questions about how those devices and apps are going to be supported, and how to keep everything secure once BYOD takes hold.
Shifting funds from buying hardware to fixing security leaks is hardly a win.
What may look like a cost-saving measure at first glance could in fact end up costing organizations more, as more demands are made to support more apps on more devices. And if a security breach occurs due to one of those devices (which, let’s face it, are easy to leave on a train, in a bar, or in a hotel room), cost savings can be wiped out instantly.
Expenses Leading Some Organizations to Turn to CYOD
Some companies are coping by implementing CYOD – choose your own device – instead. With CYOD, employees can choose from a shortlist of company-owned hardware. You may have also seen a slight variation on this concept calledCOPE, or corporate-owned, personally enabled, where employees can use their company-owned devices for an approved list of personal activities like games or social media.
What’s Next for BYOD?
When companies implement BYOD because they think it will cut costs, they’re likely to be disappointed. Most people use BYOD devices for things like email, calendars, and socializing, so it’s not always clear that companies benefit that much from BYOD in the first place. The fact that casualty underwriters are starting to target BYOD companies with custom-tailored insurance policies for when BYOD goes awry indicates that organizations may not be thinking things through before hopping on the BYOD bandwagon.
Within the space of just a few years, many organizations have gone from using IT- and corporate-dictated technology to a BYOD free-for-all, and it hasn’t always worked well. Perhaps the pendulum has swung too far in employees’ favor, and that a balance needs to be struck between workers’ need to get things done efficiently and organizations’ need to keep data secure and keep IT workloads reasonable. If BYOD is going to work, it has to focus on the intersecting needs of the organization and the employee rather than just one or the other.