IT managers and chief information officers may be feeling pleased with their work handling the rise of bring-your-own-device to date, but I suspect the movement is still in infancy with plenty of new challenges ahead.
In its current guise, BYOD is somewhat like bringing up your first child. You’ve done the basics – the feeding, the changing and the trudging day to the day with a lack of sleep.
Then there comes the anxiety when the child comes down with a virus (read: security) or as to how you’re going to afford new milk formula, clothing and others essentials (data and device costs).
A couple of years later and you think the easy part is coming. The child no longer cries without explanation, is toilet trained and sleeps throughout the night. But then other hurdles emerge -- like schooling, kids clubs and logistical nightmares – and you realize you are still at the beginning of a very long road.
The same applies to BYOD. Since the start of this trend a number of things have -- by and large -- been cleared up. Most devices now have to be registered with the IT department so that they can be wiped or locked via MDM or geo-fencing and companies have increasingly spelled out the terms and conditions of using these devices with corporate policies. There have been some reimbursement for data or device costs and there is an increasing number of enterprise app stores for stashing cross-platform third party and custom built apps.
BYOD has become the main route for bring smart devices into business. It is thought to be cost effective – although I am not convinced the ROI is as high as IT managers would like it to be, it boosts employee productivity and is– thanks to an assortment of EMM solutions – relatively easy to keep a cap on. Most the workers know the risks too.
And yet I’ve got a feeling that what we think of as BYOD today is going to look very different tomorrow and that has big implications for companies that will have to deal with it. Here are three reasons why:
Enterprise 2.0 plays into the hands of the end user
The dynamics of BYOD are going to change in years to come and that’s down to the workers. With the structure now in place to manage these iPads, Surfaces and other devices, employees will demand more. They are after all willing to take on the extra hours work as well as the additional cost and risks to become more productive.
[As an aside, some vendor execs I’ve spoken to in recent months have noticed that businesses are now less hell bent on remote wipe when personal devices go missing.]
That’s surely going to continue in the years to come. Younger professionals will be more adept, less frightened of technology. Today’s school children are already vastly experienced with using iPads, tablets and other modern devices (my nephews – not yet in high school -- each have their own iPad mini; my four-year-old son is well versed in using the iPad and Windows Phone 8).
A few of the recent prominent tablet deployments in schools give you a good view of what is to come. Productivity and higher engagement, sure, but case studies from the LA Unified School District and Guildford County would hint at broken devices and crucially, people circumventing security.
That is happening in some enterprises already; in a study of 3,200 young working professionals (aged 21 to 32 across 20 countries) recently, tech vendor Fortinet found that an “alarming number” of these would happily break company security rules forbidding them from using their own mobile phones or any other devices for work-related tasks.
In return, businesses will require users to be security experts
Although this is clearly a huge risk for businesses, I think the onus will change when it comes to security too. In short, IT departments – having realized that it is impossible to stop the influx of BYOD devices – will simply require users to wise up on the security risks or face the consequences.
Intel evangelist Rob Evered, the company’s senior information technologist and strategist, voiced a similar view at a recent conference.
"We have got about 60,000 small form-factor devices at Intel and I want all of the employees with these devices to be security people. They know their device better than I do”, he said during a talk at the Computing IT Leader’s Forum.
"I want to have 60,000 people looking for vulnerabilities when they read news articles; 60,000 people looking at ways of trying things. And I want to get that data back so that when one person discovers something, I can either do something about it or inform all the other people with the same device.”
Meanwhile, Gartner analyst Jarod Greene predicts that user-initiated contact with the IT help desk will drop 25% to 30% by 2016.
"There's such a proliferation of information about mobile devices that the need to continually call the service desk decreased," Greene tells CIO.
Other analysts agree.
“One thing we are starting to track is the concept of Fix Your Own Device whereby ‘less critical/lower level’ BYOD/mobile users are also supporting their own devices to avoid clogging up IT resources. Talk about a brave new world” said VDC Research analyst David Kerbs recently.
Does BYOD extend to the PC?
To date, BYOD has been for complementary devices in the workplaces; tablets, smartphones and maybe even Chromebooks. But it hasn’t yet been brought up in relation to PCs, which – contrary to numerous analysts – aren’t about to be replaced entirely by iPads.
Most PCs have been corporately deployed but that could change as newer models become thinner, lighter and perhaps more mobile. BYOPC isn’t a new term -- the idea has floated around IT departments since 2009 – and is unlikely to take off according to various analysts.
But now numerous vendors are already edging towards supporting BYOPC and BYOM (Bring Your Own Mac) – including Apple, Centrify, Citrix, Microsoft and Moka5 -- and with employees increasing setting the terms of what devices they use and when, it will be interesting to see if BYO extends to the PC.
Different era = different expectations
The future of BYOD will change. Yes, businesses will require security and employees will demand privacy, but I think the balance of power will shift slightly to the end user, providing they are security-conscious.
It’s going to be a different generation and one that isn’t afraid of rocking the boat to get what they want.
(Tablets continue to entice enterprises, for their capabilities but also for their lower cost of ownership and return on investment. Check out this whitepaper to compare for yourself.)