The Democratization of BYOD -- Part 1, Here's The Problem

Author: Ty Wang

Publish on: Apr 23, 2013 10:00:17 PM

We need Democratization of BYOD (aka bring-your-own-device). Let’s recognize there is still real tension between the people who want to have choice in the mobile device they are allowed to use for work and the smaller group of people whose job is to deliver and protect company assets. We can call the first group by many names: end users, mobile knowledge workers, or simply employees. We can call the second group many different shades of IT entrusted with application delivery to security to network performance.

The Good & The Bad: BYOD is here to stay, but devices aren't geared up for the enterprise.

BYOD is the hot topic for enterprises, and it is here to stay. The good news is that people and IT departments both realize the benefits of BYOD from providing personal choice to lowering costs. Tablets in particular are entering the workplace, with an estimated 750 million tablets in 2015, which will more tablets than desktops and laptops combined.

The bad news is that these devices remain predominantly consumer devices today for movies, games, and Facebook. I am a huge fan of Dropbox and use it practically every day. But, people in enterprises today struggle to work on their personal tablets. Why? Because the vast majority of enterprises have applications and data that are secured behind firewalls, locked down laptops, and restricted wireless networks. Billions of dollars and years of time have been invested in this infrastructure from suppliers like Cisco to Microsoft to SAP.

The Problem: Meet the business worker and the IT guy.

Let’s take for example Stacey. She is an account manager at a 1000-person consumer apparel company. What happens when Stacey gets an urgent phone call to review documents and approve a transaction? She takes out her company-issued laptop. She fires up her VPN followed by a code from her security token. She then logs into SharePoint and Outlook email. Stacey is shut out of work on the device she carries most: her personal iPad. There are 600 million people like Stacey working within traditional enterprises today.

Then there is Bob in IT. He is not the bad guy. He has spent countless months integrating systems to ensure access with no data leakage, millions of dollars to manage identity and risk. Every new thing is pretty much all bad news for Bob. And now comes BYOD.

The problem with BYOD solutions today is that Bob has to lock down personal devices with mobile device management or MDM, which defeats the whole purpose of BYOD. Stacey hates it because Bob knows everything she does on her personal device. Other than email, every new app needs special permission. Bob can lock and remote wipe everything at-will. As one App Store reviewer put it: “You might as well give IT the keys to your house.” Bob is not a happy camper because he has to install new boxes in his datacenter and take on the added overhead of managing mobile devices. What Bob really wants to do is just manage the data. He also has to manage people thinking he is a Narc watching personal activity.

What can be done to make Stacey and Bob happy campers? Read for my next post to find out our solution.

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