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9/19/2012
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Does BYOD Make Sense For SMBs?

IT pros at small and midsize businesses are bracing for a wave of new devices when the iPhone 5 and would-be competitors start showing up in offices. Some aren't happy about that.

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Everyone's got opinions on the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend. But does anyone have answers?

Some people think they do, though that doesn't mean they agree with their peers. An active online debate among IT pros over at the Spiceworks community--most of whom ply their trade in small and midsize business (SMB) environments--underscores that point: BYOD generates a full spectrum of reactions and corresponding strategies. Anyone hoping for rah-rah consensus should look elsewhere.

The discussion, entitled "BYOD Seriously!", was kicked off by "Mike @ VNAIP." Mike's not a fan: "Whoever thought up this concept should have had their butt kicked for even bringing it up." Mike's not alone. "JCannon" replied minutes later: "It's a support nightmare, a security breach, and just a stupid idea. The only people who like it are the accountants, Mac fanboys in a PC office, and those who think their new machines will make everything at work run faster."

Five pages later--the thread now numbers 86 responses and counting--the just-say-no ball was still rolling: "I'm completely against BYOD," user "Vee.Hexx" chimed in. "Evil, evil conception."

[ Read 4 BYOD Security Strategies For Small Business. ]

Security's a concern, sure. So is becoming a 24-7 help desk that fields calls from angry employees when Angry Birds doesn't run properly. Bandwidth is another problem: One IT staffer told of catching an employee running a uTorrent on the corporate network from a personal device, even though BYOD was prohibited. Another, "Big_James," described BYOD as a way for employees to avoid data charges on their personal wireless bills. "It's the ones that don't need a device that keep asking [for access]," he said. "Most of the time it is because they view the company wifi as 'free' internet access so they don't have to use their data caps."

The discussion is taking place as Apple takes millions of preorders for the iPhone 5, the iPad Mini leaks all over the Internet, Google's Android hits the 500-million activation mark, and Microsoft prepares to unleash Windows 8 into the wild. In other words: end users are increasingly well-armed for a BYOD battle with IT if you choose to fight it. Spiceworks, which offers free IT inventory and help desk apps, said its 2 million users manage 117 million devices on their networks today.

Not everyone's against employees bringing their own phones, tablets, and other gear into work. "I like the concept of BYOD (I hate popular acronyms for simple things, argh), but absolutely dislike the execution in most cases," said "taoisthelumberjak." Another Spiceworks user, "Scott Alan Miller," made the pro-BYOD case more vehemently: "This is the attitude that is causing businesses to start [discussing] IT as a business inhibitor rather than an enabler," he said. "It is any wonder that people have lost faith in their IT departments?"

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elliotross
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elliotross,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/20/2012 | 8:26:41 PM
re: Does BYOD Make Sense For SMBs?
BYOD is happening anyway. And in reality, there are only two primary risks.

Technical risk, which with proper tools is not insurmountable.

Then there is management risk. For example if your star sales staffer uses their own device - what happens when they leave? Your biggest customer probably has the phone number on speed dial.

As a note, in Asia phones often have two SIM slots - they are already ahead of us.

Just imagine if we could hand out a SIM card and keep that phone number separate. Two numbers, one phone.

And that sales star leaves? We get the SIM back.
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