BYOD = Bring-Your-Own-Device or Bring-Your-Own-Disaster? Part1


In my last blog about the evolution of End-User Computing I briefly touched on the “Consumerization of IT” challenge. In this blog I want to drill down into the Bring -Your-Own-Device (BYOD) part of Consumerization. IT usually does not like the idea of employees accessing sensitive corporate apps and data on a device that is not owned nor controlled by IT. Where the user can easily store company data in his personal cloud without letting the organization know. The BYOD trend is often perceived as dangerous from IT. But is it really?

BYOD is a hot topic for 2-3 years and I had a lot of strategic and technical discussion with customers about it. There is still a lot of buzz around it and customers currently implement tons of processes and tools to address the challenge. Before I answer if I believe the “D” in BYOD stands for Disaster or Device I want to take a step back and give an answer to the questions why BYOD is actually happening in organizations.

What’s the root cause for BYOD and why is IT forced to support it?

1. The “I can’t use my preferred device” problem

The first reason why BYOD is reality in organizations, is the mismatch between which devices users want to use and which devices IT provides. So why is that? First, because employees are now used to great technology from their personal life. They want to have the same kind of experience in there work life, but at work the technology feels often difficult and clumsy. Second, the mobile device became a status symbol for a lot of users like an expensive watch, good looking business suite or a fancy car. Employees do not want to send an E-Mail or send an appointment request from a crappy 5 year old mobile device when they talk to business partners or customers. It feels embarassing if the customer puts his iPhone 5 or Galaxy S3/4 on the table while he or she is still forced by the company to use the old fashioned Blackberry. Users want to have the latest and greatest technology, because it increases productivity and improves their work life, but let’s face it. It is also, because people want to be perceived as part of the new, cool generation and not the aged, antique guys.

2. The “two phones” problem

The mobile work style is reality for almost everyone in an organization. It is happening much more for the sales guy than for the finance guy in a company, but almost everybody has a mobile part in his job now. If most employees work more mobile, then it is very likely that the employer provides mobile/ smart devices for work. And that’s where the challenge starts. Multiple devices for work and for personal stuff create a lot of complex use cases. People started to use tools like Dropbox to reduce complexity and to access their personal data on corporate devices and vice versa, but after a while everybody realized that complexity can be reduced even more. Just get rid of some of the old devices. Nowadays it is very likely that you get rid of the corporate device, because your personal device is more powerful and smarter. And there it is. Your BYOD challenge! “Work slicing” is a work style that is reality, because people want to switch between personal and corporate usage on demand whenever, wherever and on which device they like. It creates this merge of business and personal life and most employees found it to complicated and are simply to lazy to switch devices for personal and business use during the day. They want to use only one device! Who want’s to carry multiple phones, tablets or even laptops?

But does the device ownership really matter? – “No”, from a technical management perspective

If we look at BYOD and the reasons for it above, then BYOD is just a symptom to a bigger root cause. What if a company provides their users options to pick and choose the latest and greatest device for work and erases the “I can’t use my preferred device”-problem. Why would somebody than still use BYOD or SYOM (Spend-your-own-money) to purchase the latest iPhone, iPad or Galaxy Tab, if the employeer provides the preferred device? I have seen several customers that have chosen a Choose-Your-Own-Device (CYOD) approach to avoid employees bringing their own. I doubt that this works out completely, because you will still have the early adopter employee who can’t wait until IT provides the Galaxy S4 and buys it on his own, but the approach goes into the right direction. It’s the attempt to address the root cause of BYOD. My point is, that from an IT Management perspective the business problem remains the same in CYOD and BYOD. Users want to use their personal stuff and their corporate stuff side by side. A lot of IT folks will probably say that IT has much more control over the device if it is corporate owned, this is probably true, but – again- users will still load personal apps, E-Mail and data on (corporate) devices, which might be a security risk. It is happening regardless of the device ownership. You can try to prohibit it via company policies, rules and even technology, but it will continue to happen. This means, the bigger business problem is the overall separation of personal apps and data from business apps and data. This is the same business problem in BYOD/ SYOM, CYOD, COPE (which can be seen as inverted BYOD) and all the other acronyms. It got nothing to do with the device ownership. So your technical management solution should be smart enough to manage data, apps and services, independent of the device. It should cover a unified access to the workspace that manages your corporate apps, data and services, but also supports the reality that there is personal data and apps on the device, which needs to be separated from the corporate stuff. Then the device ownership really doesn’t matter anymore.

But does the device ownership really matter? – “Yes”, from an organizational perspective

Most customers realize after a while in their Enterprise Mobility project that the technical management of BYOD can be solved more or less, but what about the organizational side? Organizational side means Tax-, License- and Support- challenges. E.g. if the company does not own the device, then support cases might become difficult. I have seen customers that try to solve it by defining policies that everything on top of the device, which means apps, data and configuration will be supported, but the device itself is the employees business. I believe that this isn’t the right approach, because if a user has a problem with his workspace, then IT should be there to fix it. Regardless of the device ownership. IT’s main job is it to keep users productive. Think about introducing social elements to your Service Desk processes where users can help users with the same problem with their personal device. Or a unified portal where the user can fix his workspace issues on his own for his personal or corporate owned devices without interaction with IT. I personally believe that the Workspace Management- and the Service Desk solution that you are using should be flexible enough to help the user independent of the device ownership. I recommend to implement the carrot and the stick principle in your End User support processes. You need to take the stick, too if you want the carrot. This means that the user needs to provide IT some information or management access to the device (the stick) if he wants to get his problem fixed by IT (the carrot).

So is there “danger” or “disaster” in the acronym BYOD?

Yes, for sure if you ignore that BYOD is happening or if your only answer is “strictly forbidden”. If you see BYOD more than just a technical challenge and take care of the organizational challenges, too, then you can avoid danger or disaster in the concept. Customers are looking for a solution that provides app- and service unification for mobile devices that works for personal owned and corporate owned devices. This is what I call workspace aggregation. If customers follow such an approach, then their is no need to be concerned about BYOD. It’s the other way round. It creates a lot of benefits for Users AND IT.

In part two and three of the BYOD blog Dirk and I will cover some technology approaches like App-Wrapping, Containerization or SDK approach that help with BYOD + our view on Blackberry 10 and Samsung Knox and its impact on BYOD. So stay tuned…

But in the meantime let me know your thought about the “D” in BYOD? Danger, Disaster or Device?

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3 Responses to BYOD = Bring-Your-Own-Device or Bring-Your-Own-Disaster? Part1

  1. dei79 says:

    Reblogged this on Moving into the cloud and commented:

    Good to read if you are fighting with BYOD or COPE

  2. Pingback: BYOD = Bring-Your-Own-Device or Bring-Your-Own-Disaster? Part2 | Workspace Aggregator

  3. Pingback: app in the box – technology recap to solve BYOD | Workspace Aggregator

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