From executives who wanted corporate email access on their iPads to employees who lobbied IT to allow Android smartphones in place of BlackBerrys, consumers have driven the trend. But BYOD isn't just about getting what employees getting what they want. It's also about the army of tablets that have entered the enterprise and how those tablets have changed the way employees work.
Marketing teams have begun turning virtually any place that allows phones into impromptu points of sale. Doctors have used faster and more convenient access to medical records via tablets to reduce patient turnaround times. Retailers have found new ways to draw in customers with touchscreen displays. The list could go on.
[ Attend Interop Las Vegas, May 6-10, and attend the most thorough training on Apple Deployment at the NEW Mac & iOS IT Conference. Use Priority Code DIPR02 by March 2 to save up to $500. Register for Interop today! ]
BYOD also has realigned the tech industry's hierarchy, facilitating Apple's entrance into the workplace, encouraging Intel's ultrabook road map and heavily influencing Microsoft's Windows 8 strategy. What should IT admins look for as BYOD continues to evolve? That and other BYOD issues will be explored as part of the mobility track at the upcoming Interop Las Vegas conference.
Here are four trends to keep in mind.
1. BYOD Is No Passing Fad.
"The consumerization trend is alive and well and kicking, and it's not gonna die soon," said Gartner analyst Michael Disabato in an interview. "I don't think it's gonna die at all." Indeed, over half of employees were already using their own devices at work in 2012, and there are a variety of reasons the phenomenon will continue. Employee satisfaction and retention are obvious motivators. Recruiting is a factor, too. Some businesses also will embrace BYOD's ability to uncover innovative uses for mobile devices, a factor Forrester analyst David Johnson singled out during an interview.
Johnson said enterprises will continue "finding new ways to use and deploy these consumer tablets for different use cases." He stated that it's not just an issue of tablets infringing on PC territory; rather, it's that tablets fulfill purposes that simply wouldn't exist if mobile devices weren't involved. "There's a significant market for enterprise adoption of tablets," he said.
2. Data Security Remains A Concern.
As soon as employees began accessing corporate data on mobile devices, the risk of data loss began keeping CTOs up at night. Scores of start-ups and pureplay vendors have subsequently brought mobile device management and mobile application management products to market, and bigger companies, such as Citrix, have started to muscle in on the game. Because BYOD means a single user might access corporate data via several different operating systems, such tools remain an essential part of any IT plan.
In addition to basic management tools, enterprise app stores have become a popular way for IT to maintain control over corporate content. But according to Ty Amell, CEO of mobile development company StackMob, it's still important to examine individual apps. "Once data gets to the device, it's almost too late," he said during an interview. "You want to secure data as close to the source as possible." Some applications access data in ways that IT admins and users are unaware of. Some of this activity is innocuous but because the stakes are so high, Amell said companies should investigate how data is accessed and transmitted by the app itself.
With BYOD and mobility encouraging the use of cloud computing, Amell also said it's important to consider where at-rest data is housed. Some companies will shy away from locally storing corporate data on an employee-owned device, for example. Others might need to comply with regulatory restrictions, such as laws that forbid certain businesses from storing sensitive content in foreign territories.
3. BYOD Is A Recruiting Tool.
Gartner analyst Michael Silver noted last year that college grads had begun using BYOD policies to evaluate job offers. According to Gartner's Disabato, the trend is still in force. "The biggest thing IT needs to worry about is the generational shift," he said. That is, because young employees enter the workforce wired into online culture and their preferred tech platforms, restrictive IT environments are a bigger deterrent than in years past. "If companies aren't ready, they're gonna have trouble hiring replacements as time goes on," he said.