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Let Them Eat (BYOD) Cake

I’ve said this more times than I can count, but it never ceases to amaze me how there continues to be deep confusion and an equal number of challenges as organizations go about enabling their employees to bring their own devices to the workplace.  In certain instances, there will be a natural inclination to point fingers…ah, it’s the employer’s fault…or (more easily) the employees’ fault.

It makes me think about the late 80s rock band Extreme that had an album called “III Sides To Every Story.”  The album had three sections: “Yours, Mine, and The Truth.”  If you don’t mind, I’d like to a stab at “The Truth” around fears of BYOD.  Specifically, I’m talking about a new article on eWeek entitled “BYOD Survey Finds Majority of Workers Fear for their Privacy.”

The article is about a recent Harris survey that finds that:

82 percent of respondents in the Harris survey described the ability to be “tracked” as “an invasion of their privacy.”

I’m sorry people, but contrary to what Marie Antoinette may have wanted you to believe, you simply cannot have your cake and eat.  If you’re going to want to use your mobile device for professional use, don’t you think that your company has the right to know how you’re using the device?

I’ve given these examples before, but I feel they are worth repeating.

  1. What if you are traveling internationally and you start downloading a ton of data (including movies) onto your device.  You’re going to get slammed with a massive data roaming bill.  Don’t you think your employer has the right to limit that?  What if your employer wants to push an update to an enterprise app to you…one that may not be critical to your current activity? Wouldn’t it make sense to not have that app pushed to you until you are back on native soil?  Sure it would.  And how do you think they are going to be able to monitor that?  Hmm…by actually tracking your location.  There’s a rub.
  2. Here’s an even bigger rub.  G*d forbid that there should be another time on this earth when people decide to act “in the name of G*d” by repeating the unspeakable acts of September 11, 2001.  Don’t you think it would be invaluable for the employer to be able to track your location based upon your mobile devices?  I think your loved ones would agree.

OK…we don’t need to be as dramatic as in my 2nd point (which I maintain is a valid one).  But here are some other factoids from the survey.

82 percent said they are “concerned to extremely concerned” about employers looking at the Websites they visited during nonworking hours, and 86 percent said they were concerned about “the unauthorized deletion of their personal pictures, music and email profiles.” Another 76 percent said they wouldn’t give an employer access to view the personal applications installed on their devices.

First of all, all your personal data gets backed up to your PC or to cloud services such as iCloud…so what’s the big deal?  In terms of “nonworking hours” – what the heck does that mean in the mobile realm?  You can’t have your cake and eat it as well.  One of the (dis)advantages of mobile is that there is no such thing anymore as “working hours.”

The broader issue is that I just don’t think it’s fair to expect that you as an employee can have it both ways.  If you want to use your own device to access corporate data and applications, your employer absolutely has the right to monitor what you’re doing with that device…the same applies to your laptop…and if you don’t want your employer “snooping” on what you’re doing, then have them provide you a work-only device….oh but that’s right, you didn’t want that.

I guess this goes back to my theory that enterprise mobility is going through a maturation process…and I think we’re in our teens.  I just hope we grow up sooner rather than later.

One Comment

  1. Posted October 4, 2012 at 09:20 | Permalink

    Good rant. This goes both ways though as I an increasingly in meeting where security or legal wish to restrict some additional feature on BYOD devices. The cleanest method right now is to either use a container type solution or limit mobile devices to Citrix/VM VDI. Both have drawbacks.

    The bottom line is once you start meddling with how a employees devices works it’s no longer BYOD, it’s quasi corporate liable and opens a whole lot of things to figure out. For example what employee would want dropbox blacklisted on their device? I could have a personal usage of this service that doesn’t have anything to do with corporate data policy. The fear is this is now blowing up the data governance that’s been put in place the last 5 years.

    The majority of BYOD users wish to use their own devices for the simple reason they don’t want to deal with compliance and security. Sure you have some people that prefer X brand or OS over the corporate standard. And yes an employee can buy the latest gadget much quicker than the typical enterprise refresh cycle.

    The questions need to move beyond device and focus on how enterprise Apps and data can be used and explain clearly what is acceptable and what is not. Many employees once they understand why these controls are in place and how limited their shiny new gadget now is accept the easiest way to stay productive is to use the corporate provided solution.

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