BYOD: Always the Flavor of the Month
Every day, tech and vendor blogs publish articles about “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) and how it is affecting enterprise security, maintenance and mobile worker productivity; it’s become a hot topic in the IT world. But while BYOD is growing in popularity, and has changed the enterprise in many ways, the predictions of its effects seem wildly overblown.
For those unfamiliar with BYOD, the acronym was coined by Intel in 2004. Like many companies at the time, Intel had become aware of the growing number of employees using personal mobile devices to access their corporate networks. As laptop, tablet and handheld use has skyrocketed over the last decade, so has BYOD.
Today, the push for BYOD is in many ways the influence of a younger, more mobile workforce who has never known a world without Wi-Fi or mobile technology. Workers who use mobile devices to simplify their personal life are less inclined to remain tied to corporate technology that does not fulfill their needs or even personal style. This blending of personal and business technology is having a significant impact on corporate IT departments, which traditionally have tight control of the devices they issue.
While the pros and cons are compelling, the truth is, not every enterprise with mobile workers has to embrace BYOD and not all solutions need be the same. To fully gauge the impact of BYOD, enterprises need to take a holistic look at their business, workers and security needs before committing to any one plan. Businesses should do an honest assessment of their needs, the perceived and actual benefits associated with BYOD, and the costs (both hard costs and soft costs) before they plunge head-first into the abyss.
In addition, some enterprises may adopt BYOD to meet the needs of executive use rather than the needs of the mobile worker. Mobile field workers are not executives, and their needs for reliability, productivity and security are very different from the needs of executives. More than anything, the importance is in not committing to any one stance on BYOD until the need of the enterprise is fully defined. In the end, it’s about deciding what’s better for the company, not for a select few executives or mobile users.
While many companies are already jumping on the trend, there are those that see it very differently. In a recent article, Visa Europe CTO Adam Banks, exclaims that he is “not a fan of BYOD.”
“If there was an iPhone that I’d provided, I’d screw it to the floor in terms of security. If it takes 20 min to turn on, it takes 20 min to turn on, you don’t have the right to complain.”
CTO, Visa Europe
Is BYOD here to stay? Sure. Is it the answer for every business? Hardly.