Things seemed much more simple in IT departments when the IT manager held the keys to nearly every facet of technology in the company. If a worker needed a computer, he had to ask the “IT guys.” If a worker needed a company cell phone with e-mail access, again, ask the “IT guys.”
But the era of mobile computing has shifted the power structure in most companies. With smartphones and tablets now powerful enough to do real work on them, workers are deciding to turn their personal devices into enterprise devices, whether IT managers like it or not.
Cisco recently commissioned a survey of more than 1,500 IT managers and executives in the U.S., Canada and Europe and found that while many companies were unlikely to ever adopt a formal BYOD policy, most users would bring their own devices anyway. Here are a few of the stats from the survey:
- Globally, 48% said their company would never authorize employees to bring their own devices (BYOD), yet 57% agreed that some employees use personal devices without consent.
- 51% of the respondents reported the number of employees bringing their own devices to work is on the rise.
- Using personal devices without consent was highest in the US (64%) and lowest in Germany (49%).
- Access to company servers was highlighted as a “huge problem” of the “bring your own device” to work phenomena as was lost/stolen devices (64% globally).
- Globally, 44% say that handling BYOD issues diverts IT attention from other important projects.
But IT managers don’t need to fear BYOD. With the proper policies and securities in place, BYOD and enterprise IT can live in harmony. At ArenaNet, a video game software developer, the IT department has successfully deployed a company-approved BYOD policy.
“It took a little bit of back-office architecting to make this happen seamlessly and securely,” Peter Petrucci, director of IT and network operations, says, “But we absolutely encourage our employees to come in and use those devices.”
Meanwhile, Jon Stine, director of Retail-Consumer Products-Transportation-Hospitality at Cisco, sees BYOD differences as a generational issue. Millennials, he writes on the Cisco Retail blog, simply expect BYOD policies at work. And they’re not waiting to convince previous generations of its utility either.
BYOD is not about the devices. The devices will continue to evolve at Moore’s Law speed, and the stuff the kids are bringing into the office today will be obsolete by the time your new policies reach the governance committee.
Truth be told, BYOD is about the big tech-driven generational change in expectations and behavior. It’s about the new normal of life with the Internet. Life in the Internet.
It’s about Millennials who use technology like I use a knife and fork. It’s about a tsunami wave flooding every phase of business life – from the headquarters office to the distribution center to the store.
And this tsunami will not just touch devices. It will drive change in the cloud content that employees will use. It will drive change in their willingness to sit in cubes (versus do the work at home or at Starbucks or wherever there’s a fast wireless pipe). It will drive change in their expectations for interaction and participation, for education and training.