How is BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) like Asset Management?

There’s a joke that only IT Software Geeks will get:  How is BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) like Asset Management?  Because nobody really knows what it is, but everyone thinks they’re doing it.

Did you get it?  No worries, most people don’t.  The point, however, is that the term BYOD is thrown around as if everyone knows exactly what it is and what the implications are for your business.  There are a handful of definitions, including one on UrbanDictionary.com, which I don’t recommend you look up – at least from your work computer.

Now that you’re back to reading this blog entry (don’t forget to flush your browser cache and history) let me give you my definition of BYOD: Self Support.  That’s essentially it.

The real issue isn’t the fact that I brought my own device to work especially since some of us have been doing that for years.  The real issue is that I’ve done something outside of IT policy. Most people don’t skirt IT policy just for the sake of being lawbreakers. The usually do it for a perfectly valid reason such as increasing productivity or to get their job done. They do it because IT hadn’t thought of a particular situation when creating policy.

If you don’t enable your users to do their job, they will enable themselves.

My LANDesk issued laptop falls into this category.  Now, I know what you’re thinking–Dude,this is about Bring Your OWN Device—and you’re right!  However, the first thing I did when I got my laptop was blow away the LANDesk corporate image and image the box myself.  My box isn’t even on the LANDesk AD Domain.  Why did I do this?  Because I can’t have LANDesk IT manage my computer with the LANDesk corporate LANDesk agent when I have my own Core Server in a VM that manages it.  As a result I’ve made the asset purchased for me by my company a self-supported asset.  Well that’s essentially what a BYOD device is, except we tend to think of them as consumerized devices such an iOS or Android device such as a tablet or a phone.

However, the same problem for IT exists:  They have to deliver services to that user, they don’t control the state, and are still responsible for integrity and security of the company data.  The most important take away is that this problem exists regardless of who actually paid for the device, thus the term BYOD can be ultimately misleading.

Now that I’ve outlined the problem, let me give you some ideas on how the forward looking IT department can adapt to deal with these changes:

  1. Don’t be the best buggy-whip manufacturer in business.  I love the 1991 movie Other People’s Money, in which the classic last Buggy Whip manufacturer, who was dominant in their industry, failed to adapt and therefore were the best company never to make it.  IT organizations today are at a cross-roads as to whether to adapt or become hopelessly outmoded.
  2. Consider that whatever you do not allow and/or do not support today, someone will create a very valid business use-case for in the very near future.
  3. Exception management equals exceptional costs.
  4. Consider taking a Service Provider approach.  Think in terms of what services you offer the user, rather than in obsolete Thou Shalt Not policies.  Try to think of things in the Carrot and the Stick approach  such as If you want this application, I need to make sure that is set correctly on your computing devices.
  5. When looking at replacing an IT service for your users, consider how that service can be delivered in new paradigms (including data retention, data security, application cross-platform compatibility, use-cases outside of your four-walls, etc.)
  6. Above all, remember that IT exists to support the mission of the business.

While all this may seem obvious, consider that if you don’t enable your users to do their job, they will enable themselves.  That’s when your headaches will really start.  However, IT organizations that sufficiently adapt and rethink the delivery of IT services will not only survive, but thrive when the business starts adopting a BYOD policy as a matter of course.  Not to mention, it also makes it a lot easier to enable contractors and expand/contract the business to meet market demand.

I leave you with the words of one of my favorite customers when talking about their overall IT policy towards their users: Freedom, with Responsibility.