Many businesses are just now wrapping their heads around the bring your own device (BYOD) trend, putting policies and management tools in place. Well, get ready, because you ain’t seen nothing yet – bring your own everything (BYOE) is nearly here, and it changes everything.
During a recent ITWC webinar sponsored by Rogers, ITWC CIO Jim Love and Peter Mills, director of information technology, Western region at Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP, discussed BYOE and what it will mean for organizations and IT professionals. To understand BYOE though, it’s important to remember the impetus for BYOD. And for Love, it all began with the iPhone.
“The iPhone changed everything. It’s not that before we didn’t have smartphones. We had BlackBerrys,” said Love. “But it was a monoculture. You could have any flavour of BlackBerry you wanted — as long as it was a BlackBerry.”
Primarily, we used our BlackBerry for email messaging. The company provided the device, and when we left the company they took it back. If you wanted a personal one, you had to buy one yourself and carry two phones. Then came the iPhone and the introduction of apps – they were quality apps, said Love, but they were consumer apps.
“We had a massive increase in data transmission and storage, and we had manage and support nightmares,” said Love. “You now had to support phones you don’t use — any kind of phone.”
Mills said it was the iPhone that first saw users speak up against the central control of the IT department, led by executives that are a hard group to say no to. It was a device that “struck fear” in the hearts of most people in IT.
“It was a device we couldn’t control on which you could get email and apps, but that was also capable of carrying a great deal of business data out the door,” said Mills. But for every disadvantage that we saw, the user community saw an advantage.”
While the battle was eventually decided in favour of the users, Canadian businesses have taken a conservative approach. By 2013, only 30 per cent of Canadian businesses said their employers had a BYOD plan. However, those that made the jump early are reaping the benefits today. The laggards are spending more on devices and voice/data plans, while the progressives are investing in mobile device management (MDM), security, consulting and apps – the things that drive business benefit.
“If you spend all your money on devices and data plans you’re not getting the benefits of mobility,” said Love.
BYOD is the battle that IT lost, but Love said they learned a lot that can be applied to BYOE – it’s going to happen, so jump in early and manage it rather than be forced into it.
“I think we learned that resistance is futile,” said Love. “We have to manage this stuff better.”
BYOE goes beyond the smartphone, and adds laptops, wearables, and the whole new world of devices coming as part of the Internet of Things. And Mills said it can’t be left to IT alone – the human resources department will need to be involved too.
“Someone is going to have corporate information on their laptop and they own the laptop, so if they leave the company how do we remove that data?” said Mills. “That’s going to involve the HR department. And those processes will need to be worked out ahead of time, before you allow people to bring in those devices.”
Process and management will be the key. Both Love and Mills agreed that the pressure for BYOE will be too strong to ignore, so IT needs to play a facilitating role while ensuring everything is under management and under policy. And proactive management that looks not just at data, but also applications and identity, is a must.
“Users are going through the day onto different devices, and they want the same experience regardless of the device,” said Love. “It means the data needs to follow you.”
And it means you need to have the security right. A world of apps are now available that covers the landscape of business process but, while they can unlock great business value, the risks are also high.
“These are the things that keep you up at night. We’re got the keys to the kingdom in a device that sits in your pocket and is easily lost or stolen,” said Mills. “My focus in it is how do help the business, but part of that is also how do I protect them?”
The lesson for approaching BYOE, said Love, is to focus not on the technology but on the strategy the business vision, and what you’re trying to achieve. Mills agreed; the technology is the easy piece.
“I can go out and buy whatever you need,” said Mills. “The hard part is what you want to accomplish and how I can help you accomplish it.”
Mills said it’s a good thing IT lost the battle against BYOD; too often IT stands in the way of innovation. Love added a great benefit of BYOE will be forcing IT to think strategically, and not just think about devices.
“If the future is uncertain, use scenarios and try to imagine what it’s going to be,” said Love. “You’ve got to focus on process, policy and people.”