The debate concerning BYOD or Bring Your Own Device has reached a fever pitch in IT and Corporate arenas. The topic is being brought to a head, not specifically through the personal computer channel as much as through the smart phone channel. Having said that though, the BYOD concept is relevant for the entire population of devices which make an individual productive throughout an entire 24 hour day. What’s at risk as an IT department moves from a tightly controlled, engineered environment where all the pieces are guaranteed to work together to one where multiple components can be interchanged based on the user’s desire? Let’s look at one market dynamic which might be said to be at the heart of the transition.
An interesting observation – it is the seamless, “it always works” aura surrounding Apple products such as the iPhone and MacBook which created the groundswell support for introduction of these into a corporate framework – especially the iPhone. Without engineering these into the IT architecture, the concept of BYOD was introduced because users were unwilling to let go of technology that served them well in their personal lives just because the work day started. Why should I use my iPhone up until 8AM and then switch to a Blackberry since that was my “company issued” device? Especially when my iPhone works so well? The Apple devices tend to work flawlessly because they are engineering in their entirety (engineered hardware, software, manufacturing, distribution, fulfillment AND service) to eliminate any variables which may compromise the customer experience. The concept of introducing these fully closed-loop engineering devices into an environment being asked to “open” the environment leads to some very interesting compromises indeed.
Compromises? Aren’t compromises, or evaluating costs versus benefits within a specific business context a normal course of business dealings? Yes, compromises are a normal part of the business day, they are more than likely dealt with as balancing an ideal course of action against organizational and economic realities. So is BYOD good or bad?
BYOD is good. It gives IT a chance to engage the business to discuss costs, service levels and security. It gives the business the chance to spend less as it allows users more control over devices brought to a corporate environment. It creates an urgency to create a more dynamic governance model – not one where policies and service agreements are set in stone for 5 years, but one where needs and capabilities are discussed on a more frequent basis, with smaller but almost continual adaptations to policy instead of only large changes implemented very infrequently.