Trends are called trends for a reason. Originally the word meant to turn or bend, and usually people were talking about rivers, roads or paths. Trends had to be followed unless you wanted to end up downriver in a bush. In the modern world trends are no less unavoidable, even if risks are only proverbial and by “in a bush” we mean “technologically obsolete.”
Latest on the menu is the mobile revolution, BYOD (bring your own device) and how they’ve paired up to totally revamp the way we work. While the demand for consumer devices in the workplace is still raging, particularly by Millennials, companies have been quick to realize that the current free-for-all is simply not sustainable — security is truly at risk, and BYOD needs to slow down before every IT department in the country goes on strike.
Governance, Policies, and Device Management: Not for the Faint of Heart
With the explosion of BYOD-ers has come some serious contention from the folks charged with keeping our networks and programs safe. And it should. Despite the risks, people are going to use their own devices anyway. In fact, according to IT Manager Daily, “one recent survey found that more than half (55%) of professionals in their twenties believe that BYOD is a ‘right’ rather than a privilege,” and “36% said they would try to get around an IT policy that forbade them from using their device.”
It’s not that it’s so crazy that people want to make use of personal devices — that part makes complete sense in terms of productivity and communication. But a survey of over 750 IT and security professionals revealed that 71% of companies have seen the use of personal mobile devices on their networks lead to an increase in security incidents. Meaning that people are so determined to utilize consumer tech that they’re more willing to let their own gadgets go down in flames than adhere to company restrictions and guidelines. As a result, it’s those regulations that are going to have to shift. Like it or not, security comes first, and IT departments have to bear the pushback, flesh out new policies and set people up to maintain them.
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The Biggest Danger Might Not Be Security, After All
Some people just have more money than others. And nobody has identical circumstances affecting them financially, either. For BYOD, that means device choice might not always be an option for everyone in the organization — or even if it is, not everyone will have the means to get top-of-the-line gadgetry. That’s going to do more than affect productivity — it’ll influence team morale, too. After all, is it really fair if my colleague performs tasks faster because they can afford a better phone or computer than I can? Not really. And you really don’t want your employees catching a whiff of that kind of discrimination.
But, that’s not to say BYOD should be shut down, or that it should incite paranoia. It’s just another new challenge that must be built into the framework of business practice today: consideration and respect for the necessary evils of accommodation. IT initiatives and rollouts need to be cross-platform compatible. Companies could benefit from defining gurus for different device types, and it wouldn’t hurt if leaders had a sense of what their individual team members were working with.
That @#$% is Expensive
As the diversity of available gadgets rises and more personal devices turn professional, the resources necessary to manage them is drastically increasing. A recent report by Osterman Research found that “2.9 full-time IT employees per 1,000 mobile devices were required in 2011,” and it will increase to 4 in 2013. That’s a 48% increase just in personnel costs, not to mention managing device updates, implementing security measures, improving network capabilities, and addressing cross-platform issues.
There’s simply no way that’s not going to impact revenue and other department expenditures. From here on out, both long and short-term business plans will need to have BYOD financials and strategies built into them, potentially to the necessary displacement of non-IT funds.
BYOD may be shaking things up, but it also has a ton of upsides. Increased productivity, communication, flexibility, and not having to spend company money on new employee devices are just a few. For companies trembling in fear at the disturbances brought on by consumer tech in the workplace, remember: embracing disruption is one of the many great qualities of a truly agile business.