Mobile // Mobile Devices
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11/25/2013
09:06 AM
George Baroudi
George Baroudi
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Personal Computing Device Required: BYOD Should Rule

Just like using your own car is a requirement for some jobs, BYOD should become the norm for corporate IT.

Many, many years ago, salesmen travelled on mass transit to their jobs, where they picked up merchandise and the corporate car. They travelled door to door selling their goods. One day, a smart businessman realized that cars were becoming ubiquitous, and that most of his employees were traveling to the office in their own cars. On that day, a new journey began where job descriptions included the sentence "Car and travel are required." Companies saved millions. They saved on car purchasing. They saved on insurance. They saved on car maintenance. They allowed the salesman to be as clumsy or neat as he wanted to be in the car. We are on the verge of the year 2014, and no one remembers when that journey began.

Isn't it time we do the same with computers? Less than 10 years ago, folks were shy about showing their geek factor. Nowadays it is very chic to be geek. Many of us have a cellphone, a home computer, a tablet, and an office PC. Why isn't there a COO somewhere asking employees to come up with the dough and use their own devices? IT seems to be the problem, and here are its claims:

  • Security: IT claims that having a non-approved PC is a security breach. Why? It could infect the network. It could upload confidential data to the web. People can run rogue programs that cause denial of service.
  • Support: IT claims it is too difficult for the help desk to support every device on the planet. How can a technician take a help desk support ticket when he might not be familiar with the nuances of some odd operating system?
  • User preference: IT claims that users don't want to co-mingle their private data with their work life.

[ How do you go BYOD? Read 6 Tips For Financing BYOD Workplaces. ]

So let's look at these three reasons and bust some myths.

  • Security: In my humble opinion, security and network are an oxymoron. With digital cameras, security went directly out the window. Anyone can take a picture of any screen and any sensitive data and then tweet it in a nanosecond. With Citrix, VM, SSLWeb, and HTML5 applications, the security is on the cloud. Much more than that, the amount of information we collect in audit tables is tremendous -- type of device, IP address, time, space, and even now thumbprint. It is time to figure out how to secure our applications through the web.
  • Support: From CompuServe to Yahoo to Google, services have been supporting different PCs, Macs, browsers, and even phones for years. And you don't hear them complaining. They figured out a way around this. Why can't the rest of corporate IT do the same? Half the support currently in the corporate world is for hardware. If we ask employees to bring their own devices, that support all but disappears.
  • User preference: Users now are so connected that, every breath they take, every sigh they make, they are being watched. Any corporate geek on her own can read all your cloud footprints now. She can see your tweets, your Facebook Likes, and all manner of other posts. Personal data and private data overlap, like it or not.

Of course, I'm trivializing some things, but I am trying to make a point. It is time for the corporate world to embrace a less expensive approach by allowing employees to bring any device they like to the office. It is time to have a statement on every job description: A personal computing device is required.

The Five Ways To Better Hunt The Zebras In Your Network issue of InformationWeek's Must Reads explores ways to protect vulnerable users in your company, lessons learned from the Evernote breach, how the FBI is improving enterprise insider theft detection, and more (free registration required).

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SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
11/26/2013 | 8:13:21 AM
Re: Get rid of legacy applications, then we'll talk
I agree that ignoring BYOD or pretending that you can keep it out of your company is short sighted.  I worked for a company that banned cameras inside the building but handed out cell phones with cameras to staff members.  They wouldn't allow USB thumb drives to be inserted into desktops but I could walk in and out of the building carrying a stack of hard drives without questions.  Your polices have to make sense and they have to address the current state of the world not your ideal version.  I wish anyone who is trying to keep smart phones out of their organization the best of luck but I see that as a fight that I don't want to get into.
Thomas Claburn
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Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
11/25/2013 | 4:44:50 PM
Re: Too Trivial
A recent survey by Telerik (admittedly an interested party here), suggests that quite a few are developing in HTM5:

"While native approaches were perceived to be the best choice for mobile application development in the enterprise a few years ago, today, 57% of those surveyed believe that HTML5 is either enterprise-ready or will be within 12 months."

While Telerik is probably exaggerating in accordance with its business interests, HTML5 development seems far from dead.

 

 
J_Brandt
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J_Brandt,
User Rank: Ninja
11/25/2013 | 4:36:46 PM
Re: Too Trivial
No one is doing any serious development for HTL5.  It's all Apple iOS and Android apps.
Thomas Claburn
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Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
11/25/2013 | 4:33:57 PM
Re: Too Trivial
I'm curious as to why you believe HTML5 is dead. 
J_Brandt
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J_Brandt,
User Rank: Ninja
11/25/2013 | 4:15:05 PM
Too Trivial
 I think you're trivializing it way too much.  The car analogy simply doesn't work.  A personal car can't be used as the keys to the corporate secrets. 

Perhaps a better analogy for the personal car might be the case or protector for the BYOD – Go ahead knock yourself out and get whatever case/protector you want I don't care.  I will agree with you that we need to rethink the way we implement security.

 

@Chris, Apple killed HTML5.  Google came along and cut its head off and burned it.  Microsoft wants to pile on.  I don't a resurgence in HTML5 coming anytime soon.
MikeLeib
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MikeLeib,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/25/2013 | 2:36:26 PM
BYOD Success is not Luck
I think you're spot-on George, and in fact many companies are battling this very question today. Can they infact institute employee owned devices, strictly? I think it will happen in the near future, and agree with your sentiment.

I will, however, comment that successful BYOD implementations don't happen by luck. Planning, policies and investment in intelligent infrastructure and knowledgeable IT admins remain crucial components that CIOs and CFOs must consider, jointly. Legacy approaches to connectivity, inclusive of security, need to be thought of differently.

My advice is to think inside-out when planning - think from the users/device perspective out to the cloud/datacenter and not vice-versa. IT can quickly discover the problems they need to solve and the correct path/technologies required to do just that.

 
Marilyn Cohodas
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Marilyn Cohodas,
User Rank: Author
11/25/2013 | 11:05:55 AM
Re: Get rid of legacy applications, then we'll talk
No matter how hard IT management tries to control the beast of BYO devices & apps, employees are going to bring them into the organization. So why not just develop policies and strategies that accept that vision of reality. 

Disagree? Take our flash poll. We want to know your thoughts on what is the best policy for managing a bring-your-own-device program? Vote now and tell us why in the comments. 
Marilyn Cohodas
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Marilyn Cohodas,
User Rank: Author
11/25/2013 | 11:05:55 AM
Re: Get rid of legacy applications, then we'll talk
No matter how hard IT management tries to control the beast of BYO devices & apps, employees are going to bring them into the organization. So why not just develop policies and strategies that accept that vision of reality. 

Disagree? Take our flash poll. We want to know your thoughts on what is the best policy for managing a bring-your-own-device program? Vote now and tell us why in the comments. 
Lorna Garey
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Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
11/25/2013 | 9:56:40 AM
Get rid of legacy applications, then we'll talk
Seconding Chris' point. This is likely a fine option for some younger and smaller companies, but large enterprises have kludgy legacy applications that require a certain OS/hardware mix to run. Until that changes, no CIO is going to say it's fine for that new data analyst to bring in his Ubuntu system.
ChrisMurphy
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ChrisMurphy,
User Rank: Author
11/25/2013 | 9:34:30 AM
All In On HTML5?
If you go this route, are you betting the farm on HTML5 and browser based apps, and entirely giving up the option for native apps? It seems to me that the big differentiator IT can bring to productivity today isn't around generic apps such as email but around job-specific and company-specific apps, like a sales tool tuned precisely to the needs of a salesperson selling soda to restaurants or shopping mall space to retailers, or to an engineer building a plane. 
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