While the reticence to fully embrace the BYOD trend is somewhat understandable, is it really still justifiable? One thing is for certain: there’s still plenty of fear, uncertainty and doubt being spread about the integrity and viability of BYOD as a business-computing platform.
This article from USA today loosely defines the perceived problems and risks that BYOD could bring to organizations; cold comfort for those already nervous about this accelerating (and inevitable) phenomenon. A large part of an effective answer, the piece suggests, is an exhaustive BYOD policy – especially if it’s backed up with the threat of disciplinary action.
A well thought out and broadly communicated ‘acceptable use’ policy is certainly useful and probably a legal requirement in some operating environments. But the underlying philosophy should really be one of enablement, not limitation.
By the way I’m not picking on USA Today or the author; it’s not exactly difficult to find similar tales of foreboding when it comes to BYOD. It’s also less the content I object to, some of the guidance makes great sense. No, my issue is more with the tone and outlook – BYOD is not a bad news story for business.
Reasons to be cheerful
BYOD really does offer some significant potential rewards and savings to organizations: “A whole tier of high performance technology infrastructure, at greatly reduced cost? One that we don’t need to procure and upgrade?”
“Where do I sign?” might be a better response than handwringing.
Not to mention the definite and even documented boost in productivity from a more empowered, engaged and connected workforce. The potential cost savings and overall increase in corporate effectiveness just doesn’t get enough coverage outside the tech publications.
Is BYOD risk free? Of course it isn’t – but name a commercial computing platform that truly is. In reality there are lots of things you can do to mitigate and control the risks associated with BYOD and mobility more generally.
Just eMail and browser access? (you can do better than that)
You really can do so much more than offer email connectivity or browser access and you can do it safely and easily. Some companies limit BYOD access to these basic services, fearful of exposing more sensitive corporate systems and data. There’s equal (and more understandable) anxiety over allowing unauthorized apps to run riot on corporate networks.
However, enterprise app management systems, like BMC AppZone, mean you can give your employees access to apps that you own and manage without compromising security. And it doesn’t make life difficult for employees either, the interface is every bit as slick and accessible as the consumer alternatives.
The solution is sophisticated enough to manage the entire app lifecycle too: from procurement to retirement. It also spans all platforms: mobile, cloud and desktop. So again, arguments about the incompleteness of solutions to support BYOD aren’t well founded.
Stable and secure
It’s the same story when it comes to the devices themselves. Some forward thinking organizations have developed comprehensive and well though out BYOD programs for their staff. Individuals are given a great deal of flexibility in what they can choose and operate in the working environment.
In return for this freedom, and occasionally financial subsidy too, the employee agrees to some device management capability on their machine. This not only protects the interests of the broader organization, but can also be a source of comfort and security for the employee too.
Left your beloved iPad in Starbucks? No problem, the additional security measures can ensure a much higher than standard level of protection for the device (and its contents too). It can even be remotely wiped if it were to be stolen or compromised.
There will, of course, be a negotiation between parties as to what an appropriate degree of control is for an employee owned device. However, from what I’ve seen, provided it isn’t invasive, the additional benefits and flexibility that BYOD offers make the installation of some systems management capability a non-issue for many.
More good news stories please!
Anyway, rant over, I think BYOD is a good news story, and I’d love to read more about organizations where it has been transformational. What’s your BYOD story? What benefits has it brought to your working environment? You can comment below, or you can find me on Twitter as @messagemonger