I know, I know, the title of this missive could certainly be considered provocative. Some would say that it’s just meant to grab attention in the enterprise mobility space, but I know that those who know me know that I am truly asking this question if only to raise our collective awareness and thoughts regarding this subject. Let me give you some context if you don’t mind.
Just a couple of days ago, I was having a discussion with one of my absolute favorite people in the enterprise mobility space. He’s nothing short of brilliant, a great guy and only one step less nuts than me…hence why we get along so well! Over the years, this person and I have had a wide array of conversations – dare I say heated debates – that have helped me form some of my most controversial views on this industry (and for that, I thank him).
During our last conversation, we circled back to the CITE conference (which he missed) and all the ancillary discussions regarding BYOD, governance, risk and compliance, as well as the financial implications of organizations (dis)allowing BYOD deployments…as well as the rapid adoption of cloud storage services such as Box or Dropbox.
So it got me thinking.
So often, when we collectively get into a debate around the pros and cons of a BYOD strategy, and we talk about all the benefits of the Consumerization of IT, yet talk about all the potential pitfalls around mobile risk management and the even broader concerns around trying to secure the content on a device we have no legal rights to…we always are able to start our responses to the debate by saying, “well, what about this scenario…” The one truth about enterprise mobility is that there are far more questions than answers.
So here’s my question to you all.
When are we going to see the IT departments of this world throw their collective hands up in the air and say that it’s just too darn complicated to “secure” devices they don’t own?
I’m not talking about from a technical perspective (because we already have many enterprise mobility management options available today in the market), but instead, these IT departments are simply too frustrated with all the regulatory hurdles and implications that have been set up (past, present or future) by legal bodies. I’m talking about the European Union, the Supreme Court of the United States, and the gazillion regulatory bodies out there around the world that have their two cents on what “personal rights” means. Add to that the fact that most legal bodies are not technically savvy, nor nimble enough to either adapt or have the foresight to create legislation that addresses the current and future issues around mobility, the cloud and the ever-growing importance of all things social.
You have seen how the EU has handled the Greek financial crisis, right?
So if the courts are wrangling around things from the dark ages…meaning, 2008…and the legislators don’t even know what Twitter is….never mind how to set up their iCloud account, how the heck are they going to create legislation that is relevant to the ever more mobile social enterprise of the 21st century?
I’m not sure they can (yet).
So as opposed to trying to find ways to adapt to the ever confusing and conflicting legislation that comes from all around the world…why not just ignore it? And by ignore it, I mean, simply not deal with it. So many of the issues we are struggling with today are predicated on allowing the user to bring their own device into the workplace and finding a way to secure data on a device “we” (i.e., the employer) don’t own. So as opposed to trying to deal with all the symptoms, why not just deal with the root cause?
Forget BYOD, all the while embracing the Consumerization of IT. Isn’t that a lot easier than having to deal with all the conflicting rules and regulations all around the world regarding individual rights? No, I’m not suggesting we create a dictatorship for enterprise mobility, but again….focus on the war and not the battle!!!
I’d like to think that as a Monday Morning Quarterback (all puns intended given that today is Monday), we will see in hindsight that BYOD was our collective first taste of the Consumerization of IT (in this case Enterprise Mobility). It was attractive – sexy even – but through experience and pragmatism, we will see that there are better (less annoying) ways of reaping the benefits of Consumerization without the hassles of dealing with legislators.