IT for some organizations has been a purgatory, where the law of the land is "Just say No". Between virtualization and the cloud lies BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). It inherently requires a "Just say Yes" IT Policy, allowing users to bring in smart phones, tablets and laptops adding great flexibility to a workforce that increasing uses advanced technology in their day-to-day home lives. However, this added flexibility translates into the very real potential for reduced security, data availability and overall reliability.
Imagine two scenarios; A, where necessary users are given company issued 8 year old BlackBerrys, and B, where users are free to bring in the smart phone of their choice. The IT staff in scenario A have much easier control over access to company resources and can easily control a user's phone as needed, but overall usefulness of that phone is relegated to email, minimal web usage and an occasional app (if you're lucky). The IT staff in scenario B have much lighter ties to the devices, making supporting them potentially difficult, but users have access to the full mobile web, including all the cutting edge apps and platforms they wish to use for pleasure or for improving their work processes, but at the risk of easy data loss, security vulnerabilities and worse.
There is a middle ground that must be pursued, and as a few of our customers have found out, it's very dependant on the specific use cases and amount of involvement the staff (IT and non-IT) is willing to put into it. That middle ground can be broken down into a few pieces:
- Access Policies: The policy side is the best starting point; do users get to access email and any other resource whenever they wish? Are hourly employees included in that policy? Do users need to be pre-approved or can anyone easily add access themselves?
- Inclusive or Exclusive Device Support: Is IT mandated to support all devices? (Keep in mind that includes incredibly old, broken down, manufacturer-unsupported hardware) Are they to support only a few select manufacturers or OS levels?
- Device Management: What tools can IT use for remote wiping a lost or stolen phone, keeping personal items separate from business, and preventing data leakage?
- User Expectations: This is perhaps the most daunting, since users once being told to "Bring your own device" will take that to mean their old Palm Pre, iPod or BlackBerry, perhaps even necessitatingadditional services to be installed and maintained in the infrastructure to support those. IT will also have to learn each and every device and be subject to fixing carrier-side issues or helping them regain access to a lost Facebook account.
Overall, the promise of BYOD can be great, but in reaching for that worthwhile goal, a business must make sure it doesn't exceed its grasp on data, workflow and business at hand.
If you'd like additional information regarding BYOD, Cloud Computing, Virtualization or any other technology, please contact Catalyst Technology Group at (541)284-2656 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.