Taking the Temperature of BYOD
A recent survey offers encouraging results on IT support for BYOD--but how strong is that support, really?
Forrester just released a survey on IT support of end user devices (see chart here), and I was pretty surprised at the level of support for BYOD that the survey showed. It looks encouragingly like IT is not making the mistake of trying to wish these devices and practices away.
All told, Forrester found that 59% of respondents overall and 64% in North America provide some level of support for personal mobile phones and smartphones (laptops were excluded from consideration). We're talking about supporting these devices, not just tolerating them. The "tolerating" numbers are even better. Just 7% in North America and 10% overall say their enterprises have mobile policies that "prohibit(s) use of personal devices." There's a big gap here between North America and Europe, where 15% say their companies bar personal devices.
What's more, 36% of North American enterprise respondents say their IT departments provide either limited or full support to all personal devices—the ultimate BYOD scenario. Another 28% in North America provide either limited or full support for "certain types of personal devices."
One final encouraging note: Just 4% of respondents across geographies said their enterprises lack a personal device policy.
Michael Finneran got a little less encouraging anecdotal picture when he presented at the Information Week 500 event recently. He writes of IT consumerization , "Several CIOs talked about the steps their companies were taking to either 'embrace it' or 'strangle it', and the strangling option seemed to be getting more than a few nods. I got that impression both from the [consumerization] session and from the side conversations I had with many of the attendees." He goes on to write that, "There seemed to be a general feeling that if the user was bringing their own device, that should alleviate IT's responsibility to provide support for it."
Michael devotes the rest of this piece to explaining why strangling or trying to ignore BYOD is such a bad idea. Among other things, he talks about the importance of IT not just looking the other way, but actively being a part of the picture for support:
"'Support' doesn't necessarily mean sitting on the phone with a user for four hours helping them to manually enter 300 entries in their address book. Look at how we handle support in other environments. A good deal of the information can be housed in a knowledge base, and for the most common issues we should only have to refer the user to the right support document. A lot of that material is already available on message boards."
I don't know how I square Forrester's findings with Finneran's impressions. The event he attended draws the real thought leaders among IT execs, so you'd think they'd see the writing on the wall with regard to BYOD. Maybe despite whatever negative feelings they have—and expressed—they and their cohort realize their actions have to hew closer to the reality on the ground. Or maybe folks responded to the Forrester study in a more, shall we say, aspirational way.
Whichever it is, there seems at least to be a realization that BYOD is happening, like it or not. And as Finneran says, "Mobility is far too important and the security risks far too critical to have IT walk away from it. If mobility is what's important in IT, that's what we want to be good at."