A BYOD Reality Check
Mobility is a part of life, but one that can and indeed must be managed by enterprise IT.
Old Joe Kennedy, patriarch of the famous political clan, is supposed to have said that he knew it was time to get out of the market in '29 when he started getting stock tips from his shoeshine boy. So maybe when I heard my rabbi sermonize about BYOD last Yom Kippur, I should have known the topic had permeated so far into the zeitgeist that a backlash was inevitable.
A few weeks back, I wrote in this newsletter that, "We've tended to view BYOD as if it represents the final victory of the end user over those controlling, rigid busybodies in IT. More likely, it was just another swing in the pendulum, as we've seen with LANs and WLAN access points before. It's a wider swing than we've experienced in the past, but still, one that will eventually start back on a return course to greater equilibrium."
That position is shared by Phillipe Winthrop, who runs the Enterprise Mobility Forum, an industry group. Phillipe’s most recent anti-BYOD posting quotes an account of market research that shows BYOD driving up management costs. This should not be a surprise; but a lot of people were afraid to seem not-hip to the transformative power of smartphones and tablets, so they went to the other extreme of embracing the idea of BYOD unquestioningly.
You saw this same gun-shyness after everyone missed the boat on Netscape in the 1990s. People who failed to foresee the Web then overcompensated by being willing to fall for just about anything; now it’s the same with those who were nonplussed over the iPhone and positively hostile to the iPad. They’re determined not to make that mistake again.
In any event, I recently came across another dose of BYOD reality, in the form of a study conducted for Xigo, which is a TEM company owned by Dimension Data (which is itself owned by NTT). The study offered what strikes me as a more realistic take on just how widespread BYOD actually is--as opposed to our perceptions about it.
The Xigo study, which was co-sponsored by our friends at CCMI, found that the majority of enterprises actually still retain control not only of the devices, but of the service plans and payment for the same--"60% of enterprises are still in control of purchasing, managing and securing all end-user mobile devices for their employees, while also paying all monthly network service plan fees," according to a Xigo press release. Another 22% of enterprises have a hybrid BYOD/corporate-controlled arrangement, while just 10% have gone completely BYOD, with users bringing their own devices and paying their own cellular bills.
Another interesting finding: "Of those who allow some type of a BYOD policy in their organizations, more than half of those programs (54%) have been in place for two years or longer," suggesting that these were actually somewhat intentional, thought-out policies that pre-date the current hype-driven image of rampant BYOD overrunning enterprises that are powerless to stop it.
The Xigo study suggests that BYOD will continue to grow within the enterprise, and coins a useful phrase--the "permanent mobile workforce"--to characterize the role of mobility in end users’ working lives: Mobility is a part of life, but one that can and indeed must be managed by enterprise IT.