A funny thing happened to BYOD on its way to the tech acronym hall of fame: Bring your own device programs became about much more than devices. During the past few years, so many employees began using cloud apps and other services -- whether IT approved or not -- that BYOD became bring your own everything: Dropbox, Amazon S3, Google Apps… you name it.
Whatever it takes to get the work done. Just bring a credit card.
When I discussed BYOD with CIOs two or three years ago, they cheerfully told me they had picked a mobile device management vendor. The reality of what happens when sales teams hit the road with tablets, or when project teams start sharing data on Dropbox, hadn't become apparent.
Today, IT organizations face heightened user expectations not only about smartphones and other devices, but also about data access -- and so you can't discuss mobile without also discussing cloud and SaaS.
[Does the Internet of Things further erode privacy? Read Internet Of Things: Current Privacy Policies Don't Work.]
When it comes to conventional BYOD, IT unfortunately can't just ask everyone to provide and care for their own phones, Onyeka Nchege, CIO of Coca-Cola Bottling, told the audience at the InformationWeek Conference in April. Folks at Coca-Cola Bottling thought BYOD sounded great until the phones broke. View the video clip of Nchege's remarks below:
David Guzman, CIO of H.D. Smith, faces the special regulatory pressures of the healthcare industry. See the video clip below for what he had to say about balancing control and letting employees bring popular Android-based phones into the enterprise:
Guzman found a palatable phone solution in iOS devices. But he really gets animated when he starts talking about winning his business colleagues over with FusionOps, a cloud-based analytics application that gives them better data than they're used to. I would bet that, for H.D. Smith's workforce, the improved analytics will more than offset their annoyance at not getting a company-sanctioned Android device.
Better analytics equals better data and faster decisions. As I recently heard Dell CIO Adriana Karaboutis declare to the crowd at the MIT Sloan CIO Symposium, data is the new currency.
If you try to block user access to that currency, well, good luck with your career. Users will do whatever they need to do to get around your roadblocks. In the age of digital business, speed is of the essence.
Coca-Cola Bottling's Nchege uses a traffic metaphor to describe his approach to users adopting cloud services ad hoc: He doesn't want to hold up stop signs, but he does hold up caution signs -- and offer safe alternatives. Watch another video clip featuring Nchege below:
Connected automobiles, wearables such as Google Glass, and other emerging Internet of Things gadgets only increase the scope of the data in play. Three years ago, you worried about lost phones. Today, if you're thinking ahead, you worry what will happen when the vice president of sales gets in his connected car and the data really starts to fly around.
These discussions might bring out the type A control freak in some IT leaders. But be careful before you let that part of your brain dominate.
The double whammy: IT leaders might also face a power struggle with the marketing organization over who will own customer-facing technologies such as mobile apps. Whom do you think the CEO will want to own those apps so crucial to the digital business: the reactionary, fearful CIO or the bold, customer-focused CMO?
CIOs like Nchege and Guzman are already positioning themselves as people who find a way, who don't ignore the realities of what users want and need to do with mobile and cloud software and services.
BYOD has become more complex. But here's the half-full part of the glass: If you get bring your own everything, you're going to become indispensable to your digital business's CEO.
And that's a lot more exciting than being a phone management guru.
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