BYOT – big headache for IT, big opportunty for vendors
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Late 2010 was the first time James* heard of the term ‘bring your own technology’.
At the time all it meant for him was he had to answer the occasional email request from colleagues looking to access work emails on their personal smartphones.
It was not until June of the next year that BYOT became a considerable part of his day to day work.
James leads a small IT team in a New Zealand finance company, and is responsible for managing the IT for over 100 staff.
He says executives and managers bringing in smartphones and tablets initiated the need for BYOT support at his workplace, in particular with the popularity of Apple products such as the iPhone and iPad among senior staff.
“Around June the senior leadership team were coming to me asking how they could get emails on their new iPads. They soon wanted to be able to review reports, edit documents, and take home sensitive data from behind the firewall,” says James.
It was not long before he started facing pressure from both ends of the organisational chart.
“It went from a relatively small group of people we could maintain accountability for, to a large diverse group wanting to access potentially sensitive files,” says James.
He was asked to investigate a business case for BYOT and to develop a strategy around implementing it in the company. But his concerns about device management, security, and application integration were ignored in favour of analyst and vendor recommendations and what he calls an ‘infatuation with new things’.
“I can understand that some people don’t like using company-issued phones or computers. I’ve used a Windows Mobile 6.5 phone before, it’s not the best experience,” says James.
“But it’s not our job as IT to support every device under the sun. We should be encouraging efficiency and security. There’s a reason why we issue corporate-liable devices, they work with the systems that are already in place.”
*James’s name has been changed to protect his identity.
Doing business with Gen Y
James’ story is not an isolated one. A quick look through LinkedIn’s technology discussion boards show the topic of BYOT is high on the minds of many New Zealand IT managers and CIOs, but the debate on its effectiveness in business is still undecided.
Among other things, proponents of BYOT say it empowers staff to take an active role in their own IT needs, increases staff happiness, and leads to better productivity and innovation.
Aaron McDonald, product manager at Gen-i, says BYOT also helps businesses to engage with younger employees entering the workforce for the first time, who have a higher expectation of corporate IT.
He adds there is often opposing views between traditional IT and newer workers who have been immersed in mobile technology since a young age.
“We’ve got a generation of people coming into the workforce who are often more tech-savvy than IT managers in a lot of businesses,” says McDonald.
“It’s a clash of philosophies between the digital migrants and the digital natives.”
McDonald says BYOT enables employees to address their own business requirements quickly through cheap apps, leaving IT to deal with more technically intensive tasks.
“What we find is people who bring in their own devices take responsibility for running that device, and actively seek out the right apps to help enable them in their jobs,” says McDonald.
“This can save IT time, and usually these applications serve the purpose while costing the employer little to nothing.”
Where there might be an increase in costs is through mobile data, he says. In general consumer devices use more data than business devices, which can lead to higher mobile costs for employers.
“Sometimes there is an expectation by employees that if they bring in their device to use for work, the employer will cover the cost or subsidise it,” says McDonald.
“It’s important that any BYOT policy makes it clear what is covered and what isn’t covered by the business.”
McDonald says employers could be surprised with the level of compromise that staff are willing to make to use their personal devices at work.
In a recent survey conducted by Gen-i on its clients’ employees, 73 percent felt that given the benefits of having a single mobile, access to some subsidy to help buy a phone or the ability to use their own along with the lower corporate rates, they would be happy to contribute to cover personal usage.
Remember 'Cheaper by the dozen" where the father even used to time whether it was quicker to button a shirt from the top down vs from the bottom up. I have been on sites where we reduced the perceived needs of up to 100 staff down to 30. Analysing how you do something even how you work, can save hundreds of thousands of dollars. This thought process of course has been going on for years.
I am a contractor (an international one) and work on many sites, using quite different equipment. I am, I know far more productive on my own equipment and bearing in mind IP, sensitive data etc., tend to do a lot of design, documentation and initial development on my own PC and then port this to a clients environment.
This also allows me to work remotely e.g. from NZ to deliver in the UK, SG, EU etc. I see a great opportunity for NZ to win on delivering smart IT services internationally, I think we can be competitive against India in specific cases (hence the "Smart"). - I am of the BB gen (possibly Gen W) What's after Gen Z is what I want to know perhaps we should change to Integers. -
I thought it was a great step forward when we started to write code on a VDU instead of writing it on Punch cards, and the day my PC (running the operating CPM) got a hard disk rather than just one 8 inch floppy was wonderful, writing with code and data in overlays was tricky.
Still the young ones are great - they do not have the baggage we older ones have - i.e. knowing where we have come from, figuring why we are where we are. They just accept it - I see it with my grandchildren (usually on skype) I guess in the future not only will we have our own equipment - smart phones and tablets - but it will be integrated into our clothes, maybe we will even be chipped. (probably in my time too I think) I think there is a club on Ibiza now where you have to be chipped to enter and can buy drinks by having your chip scanned. Love technology - comes from watching too much star trek I guess - imagine carrying around tiny portable communicators - ha - it will never happen.
Posted by Peter Clareburt at 10:47:50 on March 14, 2012
Posted by Yiddish at 17:48:48 on February 24, 2012
20 seats, so nothing that needs a fleet management yet. I'm not sure how it would work with anything over 40 employees.
Posted by Anonymous at 6:55:57 on February 22, 2012
Posted by Anonymous at 14:01:32 on February 21, 2012
Posted by barely covered article... at 12:38:33 on February 21, 2012
There are plenty of solutions available today to help IT embrace this change while still maintaining control over data security, compliance and device management.
Of course this all requires a good plan, but putting your head in the sand and pretend consumerisation isnt happening is perhaps the wrong approach.
Posted by JWB at 19:38:19 on February 20, 2012
Mobile devices and remote workers have been around for a very long time, and there are business practices around how to implement and manage those...jimmy uni-degree who knows whats in a 5 year old book, but has a brand new tablet is a business risk, and those that dont understand that, should be given the boot for those that have the business savvy to do so.
Posted by Been There, Done that, at 12:30:07 on February 21, 2012
That said, there is a generation shift which is also driving the change. The Digital Native vs the Digital Immigrant. There is some discussion here http://depd.wisc.edu/html/TSarticles/Digital%20Natives.htm
There are plenty of ways that IT can embrace this demand and still provide the levels of security and data protection required. Those in IT that can see this change as positive will be the winners long term, and so will the companies involved.
Posted by JWB at 21:06:49 on February 21, 2012
How about We've got a generation of people who can't be bothered making the effort to learn something new, and have also been taught that if you whinge enough, you'll get your way.
Imagine telling a petrol head that you're more "car savvy" because you can drive any car made since 2000, and are proudly ignorant of any vehicle made prior.
Posted by Nuther Oldy at 15:56:03 on February 20, 2012
Corporate Data, is Intellectual Property, and has an associated risk if it ever made its way into the public arena, but lets forget all that and jump through hoops to get "just out of Uni, but already a complete Legend" access to anything they want from their phone, tablet, shoe-phone.
Posted by Been There, Done that, at 17:00:20 on February 20, 2012