BYOD: The Most Radical Change in IT since the PC

BYOD: The Most Radical Change in IT since the PC

The history of information technology (IT) includes a rich tradition of rogue users bringing new stuff in through the back door to enhance their own productivity. The story line goes like this: Users bring it in. IT resists it. The pendulum swings. IT ultimately accepts it. IT brings it under IT control.  That’s what happened with PCs way back when. Today most office workers have computers on their desks – computers that are owned by the company, not the user. But here comes a new episode in the rich tradition of rogue users changing IT -- the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend which typically manifests in user-owned smartphones and tablets coming onto the business network. Will IT ultimately control and own all the devices again?

It’s not entirely clear.  Research group Gartner is leaning towards a big future for bring your own IT. Gartner recently warned that bring-your-own-device programs are heralding the most radical shift in enterprise client computing since the introduction of the PC. The organization advised that every business needs “a clearly articulated position on BYOD, even if it chooses not to allow for it.”

What is BYOD, Anyway?

Gartner defines BYOD as an alternative strategy that allows employees, business partners and other users to use personally selected and purchased client devices to execute enterprise applications and access data. The program normally encompasses smartphones and tablets, but some PCs may fall under its purview as well. It may also include subsidies for equipment or service fees, under Gartner’s definition.

"With the wide range of capabilities brought by mobile devices, and the myriad ways in which business processes are being reinvented as a result, we are entering a time of tremendous change," said David Willis, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner, in a prepared statement.

"The market for mobile devices is booming and the basic device used in business compared to those used by consumers is converging. Simultaneously, advances in network performance allow the personal device to be married to powerful software that resides in the cloud."

The Future of BYOD and IT

So what’s next for BYOD and mobile device managementin business? The following are some of the other predictions from Gartner regarding this radical change:
  • The expectation that the employer will supply full reimbursement will decline over time; employers will decrease the amount they reimburse.
  • BYOD won’t typically reduce a business’s costs because more will be spent on infrastructure, personnel support, business applications, collaboration tools and more.
  • IT's best strategy to deal with the rise of BYOD is to address it with a combination of policy, software, infrastructure controls and education in the near term
  • Over the longer term, companies should managed BYOD with application management and appropriate cloud services.
BYOD is likely to be followed by bring your own applications, collaboration systems and social networks. On one hand, that sounds like a total IT nightmare. The more differences there are to manage, the more complex the environment and the more expensive it is to manage. On the other hand, MSPs have found great opportunities in managing the headaches for IT organizations, so BYOD could absolutely represent an evolving and growing opportunity in the future.
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