BYOD: Is It Ending or Only Just Beginning?

December 13, 2012

Is Personal Mobile Technology in the Workplace a Threat or Asset?
Just as I was reading a headline in InformationWeek about the predicted end of BYOD (bring your own device) trends in the workplace, I was sent another article on the very same topic. It offered stats showing how employees in emerging markets and high-growth fields are more willing to participate in BYOD.

Suggesting that employees in emerging markets and high-growth fields see leveraging their own mobile devices as a way to set themselves apart, the second article made me wonder if the authors considered the U.S. an emerging marketplace. I see and hear of people using their own devices in the workplace fairly regularly.
The fact is, consumers/employees are buying and upgrading mobile phones and tablets faster than their employers can. It’s put employers in a very tricky position. Do we allow employees access to enterprise systems, applications and information through their own devices in order to fuel their productivity and ambitions? Or, do we slow them down, asking them to work only through company-issued and monitored resources for the sake of control and corporate security?
The security and optimization of IT infrastructure is something that has always played a big role in my career. The “conservative me” wants to confiscate mobile devices and limit access like an overzealous TSA agent. But then there is the “iPad loving, mobile-only me” (that’s right, you can only reach me by cell phone). Mobile technology allows me to be at various Harvey Nash locations and client sites all over the world. It has allowed me to expand my workplace across three continents in the last few years, and I love the flexibility of being able to use my own devices when needed.
While many may feel that the BYOD topic is a lot of hype, that conservative side of me keeps saying businesses should be wary. Many businesses are segregating their environments into: 1) a cloud-based environment that allows for broader access but limits information access and 2) one that is more proprietary and has very limited access and no BYOD access.
Right now, we need balance. We need mobile and device flexibility to fuel workplace autonomy while still keeping a close eye on company security and information access. That said, I think this is an evolving issue. What is your business or your employer doing to limit or encourage BYOD trends in your workplace? Are you worried or unconcerned? Share your thoughts on where you think BYOD is heading with me @annafrazzetto.