It might sound like an obvious thing to say, but in the IT industry it’s easy to get lost in the technology. Unfortunately, fixating too much on the bits, bytes, and specs can often distract IT pros from the job at hand – supporting the business. Something of a stand-off between staff and IT has developed in many organizations over the past couple of years around BYOD and it really needn’t have. In the end, it’s about employees using the technology they want to perform better at work. What business wouldn’t want this end goal?
Let’s get one thing straight. Most CEOs get it. Nearly three quarters think that BYOD is an employee’s right. What’s more telling is that only 44 per cent of IT execs agree with that perspective. So what’s the deal?
Well, a lot of it comes down to lack of control. Despite the productivity benefits, the potential cost savings and the happier staff mentality that BYOD helps foster, there is an intrinsic unease amongst IT leaders with letting employees use devices not owned, managed, and strictly controlled by the business. Some of these concerns are warranted – there are data security issues and potential support problems lurking around the corner if BYOD is not well managed. But you have to remember that it’s not a question of saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’ anymore. BYOD is happening, so it’s time to get used to that fact and start proactively managing it.
A lot of the reason why many businesses, or rather IT departments, aren’t ready for BYOD comes down to organizational culture. Of course, in smaller businesses where budgets are tighter and IT resources minimal, there’s a greater willingness to ride the wave of BYOD. But in large enterprises in certain industries, such as oil and gas, financial services, or healthcare, there is often a more rigid, inflexible working environment resistant to change.
Some of this may be rooted in the strict regulatory requirements that govern these industries and the fear of harsh penalties, costly clean-up projects, or brand damage that could ensue from a data breach. But it would be wrong to use this as an excuse. Employee devices can be managed centrally, with app control, password protection, and remote wipe installed to keep them secure.
We’re at a crossroads now because IT needs to realize that most employees today see BYOD as a right, and you can be sure that the next generation of new entrants into the workplace will as well. As a Trend Micro employee, I have no idea how to use a BlackBerry. On the other hand, using my iPhone makes things faster and more streamlined because it’s the only smartphone I’ve owned and I know it like the back of my hand. When I’m travelling, I can stay informed of what’s going on back in the office, and I can use the same device to Skype my kids at the end of the day. When I’m at home, I can still log-into conference calls, even if the power is down and we’re being battered by a super storm (would I want to be in that scenario is a different question!).
It’s no surprise that around half of CEOs think BYOD can improve productivity, innovation, and creativity and even give firms a competitive advantage, according to recent Trend Micro research carried out by Decisive Analytics. The challenge is there for IT leaders – BYOD is happening for a reason. Acknowledge and manage the adoption of BYOD for the good of the business and the employees, and everybody wins.