I can’t believe how quickly the time has passed over the last couple of weeks. Let me start off by saying that the imagery associated with today’s missive is nothing more than a homage to my World Champion Boston Red Sox. I, among many other people in Red Sox Nation are quite tired, having stayed up late many nights watching the games. In any case…
I had the opportunity to go to a client meeting this week. While I certainly can’t mention what city I was in, nor what industry this client works in (and certainly not their name!), I will share with you that they are a massive global organization in extremely regulated sectors. Security for them is always top of mind. This is the main rationale they give as to why they don’t allow employees to bring their own devices into the workplace. Their BYOD strategy is summarized in one word: “No.” While no one explicitly said this, I can paraphrase and say that hell will freeze over before they develop a BYOD program.
So this got me thinking. Is this necessarily a bad thing? Does this mean that they can’t successfully deploy mobile technologies into their workplace?
There have been countless studies that show how many companies are developing BYOD strategies, even in highly regulated industries such as Banking or other Financial Services sectors. OK, that’s great. But what about the companies that are NOT developing those BYOD programs? Will they be mobile laggards?
I don’t think so.
There have been a number of conversations, both on this site and others, explaining the difference between having a BYOD program/strategy versus embracing the principles of the Consumerization of IT (CoIT). Unfortunately, many sites also consider BYOD and CoIT to be one and the same – industry cognoscenti know better.
So let me go back to a classic example I like to give. If a company decides to provide all its employees iPhones, is that BYOD? Of course not (although some would think so). But does that approach embrace the principles of CoIT? Absolutely. And oh, by the way, what does it REALLY matter who owns the device (other than TEM, and legal issues). I don’t mean to discount those issues, but that is not part of the security question around mobility. Regardless of who owns the device, you need to make sure the content on those devices is secured. The main issue about the example I provided was that the workplace has decided to standardize on ONE platform. But again, is that a BAD thing if the platform embraces the notion of CoIT with a great user experience and a fantastic application ecosystem? I would say no.
The only question that remains then is, do you allow your employees for whom you have provided a mobile device to use it for personal use? If the answer is “No,” then I will argue that that is where the “No to BYOD” rationale is faulty. If you are providing your employees a mobile device, then you should trust them with it. If you don’t trust your employees, then why did you hire them in the first place?
So back to the original question. Is BYOD a requirement for a successful mobility strategy? I would argue that it is not. However, embracing CoIT absolutely is a key requirement in developing not just a successful, but WINNING mobility strategy.
Can’t wait to see the Red Sox parade tomorrow.