Last month, I said that BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) will decline as enterprise mobility grows up (see link here) and got the following responses:
As well as some more interesting and less accurate headlines such as:
So, just for the record, I still think BYOD will still be around in 2013. And it will still matter. But should it?
The honest truth is that BYOD is both a red herring and a cheap cop-out for IT and finance organizations that talk about enterprise mobility. There are a lot of bad arguments for BYOD that grownups should stop bringing up. Among those arguments are:
- The lie: BYOD is still new and companies are experimenting with it. The truth: BYOD has been around since the first laptops came out in the early 1980s. The biggest change is that over the past 30 years, these computers have shrunk from 4 pounds to 4 ounces. Unless your company skipped the laptop computer era, it has already dealt with the cost, support, and security issues of BYOD for a couple of decades. Even if you’re only thinking about smartphones, the iPhone got ActiveSync support back in 2008, which is when the floodgates opened for iPhone in the Enterprise. Four years is an eternity in IT these days. We’re well into majority adoption stage with BYOD; anybody just thinking about this topic now is well behind the curve.
- The lie: BYOD drives productivity because employees can use the devices they want. The truth: Companies can support device choice by purchasing the devices that employees want or by providing a virtualized or sandboxed environment on a device that may or may not be BYOD. BYOD is a red herring here; there are a number of ways to support employee choice. We’ve been talking about COPE here, as well, which requires a bit of commitment on the enterprise’s part to keep up with devices either by setting up its own catalog of devices or hiring a Wireless Expense Management provider to support the device purchases.
- The lie: BYOD saves money because of direct cost savings. The truth: For direct costs, there is a hierarchy that companies need to consider. The best financial approach is to provide no reimbursement. The second best is to provide a monthly stipend automated on the paycheck that is less than the amount that the employee pays. (This stipend amount should also account for additional support and security costs.) But really, once you start going this route, you’re already spending too much time thinking about what you should be paying and you’re trying to aim at a moving target as mobile costs change over time. Even worse is reimbursing anything over $60/month and even worse than that is reimbursement via an expense report that requires one or more employees to do any work associated with the reimbursement. So, companies can theoretically save money with BYOD in direct costs but most companies choose not to do so because of their reimbursement and stipend policies.
- The lie: BYOD saves money because of support costs. The truth: The majority of enterprise mobility support issues are associated with email, application, and network support. Regardless of whether the device is enterprise owned or BYOD, these support issues will still exist. In a true BYOD environment, the difference is that the company can no longer plan for the hardware that will be supported by the enterprise and must assume that everything must be supported. In a limited BYOD environment where only iOS and/or Android are supported, enterprises limit their support challenges but this limitation starts to admit that perhaps there is some value to standardization.
- The lie: BYOD is more compliant and secure, which makes IT and security much more comfortable. The truth: Oh wait, nobody ever says this. BYOD is one of IT security and governance’s biggest nightmares, especially in regulated environment, because employees don’t understand GRC or security well enough to protect their own devices.
So, when companies stop abdicating their responsibilities and start thinking about enterprise mobility rationally, they’ll realize that a lot of the “advantages” of BYOD either have a significant tradeoff or aren’t advantages at all. In 2013, we can do better. My prediction comes from the hope that 2013 will be the year that IT grows up and starts taking control, not for the sake of shutting down employees, but to improve mobile access to the applications, data, and documents that will help them to do work.