BYOD Will End as CIOs Regain Control of Tablets, Smartphones

The bring your own device (BYOD) trend will end sometime in 2013 or shortly thereafter, as CIOs begin to roll out corporate issued/corporate owned tablets and smartphones. That's the theory from a well-known CEO in the managed services software market. Is he right?

The crux of this debate involves Level Platforms CEO Peter Sandiford and Director of Partner Community Dave Sobel. Sandiford believes CIOs will begin to lay down the law with employees, issuing and managing mobile devices that businesses own and ultimately retain. On the flip side, Sobel believes the BYOD trend will continue unabated. Consumers, Sobel asserts, will use their personal devices at work and CIOs will have no choice but to set up BYOD policies that mitigate risk.

(Side note: I'm paraphrasing comments from Sandiford and Sobel. If I didn't get the wording just right I apologize; I'm sure they'll weigh in if I misrepresented their views, which they shared with me during IT Nation earlier this month in Orlando, Fla.).

High Stakes

Last I heard, Sandiford and Sobel were kicking around terms for a potential bet about the future of BYOD -- and the stakes could include the loser buying the winner a case of wine.

Who is right in the BYOD debate? Sandiford tends to see trends years before they happen. But in this case I'm siding with Sobel. I think the genie is out of the bottle with BYOD. The line between a "work" device and an "at home" device is gone.

In my own case, I've got a personal laptop, a personal smartphone and tablets that access our corporate network. I can't imagine bowing to a CIO who demands that I use a specific, corporate-issued device.

Some big companies such as VMware tend to lean toward the BYOD trend as well. Doug Smith, VP of global partner strategy and operations, has briefed me a few times about VMware's desktop as a service (DaaS) strategy, which supports BYOD users. Somewhat similarly, the U.S. government has rolled out a range of BYOD policies to help federal agencies with their mobile strategies.

The Case Against BYOD

Still, plenty of critics believe BYOD is becoming far too complicate. Level Platforms' Sandiford expects CIOs to flex some muscle in the months and years ahead. New platforms like Windows 8 could provide the standardization that some CIOs want. In a simplified world, corporate-owned ultrabooks and Windows 8 tablets could allow CIOs to simplify network management once again.

Back to the flip side of the debate, I think CIOs will have a hard time telling Generation Y -- the millennial generation -- which corporate owned devices they can and can't use.

Either way this is a great debate -- and MSPs will still need to manage mobile devices for customers. I look forward to hearing whether Sandiford and Sobel have shaken hands on an official BYOD bet. And if so, how high are the stakes?
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