It used to be IT had a good grip on the enterprise devices. Those were the days, eh? When you could count on all your staff carrying a trusty Blackberry and a IBM Thinkpad. Life was good, wasn’t it? IT was in control. You were a force, but the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) movement, aka consumerization of IT, has changed that.
All of a sudden, everyone wants to choose their devices. For old school IT folks, this must be their worst nightmare, chaos in the realms with little control over the devices. What’s worse (or better depending on your perspective) is that many of these devices are mobile.
That means your users are floating out in the world using a myriad of devices, many of which you have no clue how to support, never mind maintain security, but in a world where users rule, that’s just something you’re going to have to learn to deal with.
In fact, Cisco just released a survey of 1500 IT managers from the US, Canada, UK, France, Germany and Spain and the results around BYOD were particularly telling. Most of your counterparts who answered the survey wouldn’t even allow users to bring their own devices.
Almost half (48 percent to be precise) stated that they had rules against bringing personal devices to work, yet 57 percent were willing to admit that people did it anyway — shocking news I’m sure. If you look at the results by country, use of personal devices was highest in the US at 64 percent and lowest in Germany at 49 percent. After visiting the CeBIT technology show in Hanover, Germany last year, and listening to a fair number of IT people speak, I’m surprised it’s that high.
Sixty Four percent of respondents to the Cisco survey said that “access to the company servers” was a huge problem, although it wasn’t clear what the nature of the problem was — getting onto the servers or keeping the servers secure or some combination of issues.
One other interesting data point was the 44 percent felt that dealing with these devices was diverting IT energy from other pressing enterprise issues.
Since the press release didn’t provide any more details beyond the highlights it’s hard to know exactly what these results mean beyond the fact that IT is clearly dealing with a BYOD problem, even when the company doesn’t authorize use of such devices.
This use of unauthorized devices shares a lot with employees signing up for web services such as Box.net or Socialtext without IT’s knowledge or permission.
I’m not sure I see how this will divert attention from more pressing projects as 44 percent reported since it suggests a more independent user base, which would enable you to stop babysitting and start concentrating on innovation and business strategy issues.
But it could be the independence is a double-edged sword and when problems do inevitably occur, it’s likely that they may be more difficult to resolve because you are unfamiliar with the device or service in question.
What do you think? Does consumerization work for or against IT?