The Myth of BYOD

I’ve caught wind of an interesting trend, or perhaps I should say a counter trend. Recently, I have had a number of discussions with many Fortune 500 CIOs and CTOs about the topic of BYOD. What came out of these conversations was very intriguing. Nearly all of them who have deployed some type of BYOD initiative remarked it hadn’t taken off as well as they thought. Meaning it was still a small overall┬ápercentage of their hardware deployments, particularly PCs. They stated for many of their mobile workers, they were still perfectly happy having their IT department equip them with their work PC.

What this is not suggesting is that BYOD is irrelevant. It is still and will be an important program. But as we chatted about these observations, some of the insight as to why BYOD PC programs were slow to take off became clear. It appears as though employees are getting savvy to the work tech vs. home tech ecosystem. The multi-device era has matured the market in a way where more and more employees are happy with a work PC given to them and fully managed by their IT department, and keeping that device separate from their home technology ecosystem. Part of this I feel has to do with security. Having a work PC is already hassle enough when you have an overly aggressive IT department. What I believe many employees are realizing is there is a security risk to both parties. Using the same work PC for work tasks and personal tasks, and the hassle involved with keeping both separate and managed on the same device securely may be turning out to be more struggle than it is worth. It seems as though more and more employees are happy to simply let their IT departments provide them with hardware and manage it as they see fit and use their own hardware at home for personal life. It is still too early to make too many conclusions regarding the BYOD programs to date, but the early insight being gained from these programs is very interesting.

While this initial insight is related to enterprise PC deployments, where BYOD is critical is with mobile. It is my belief, and has been for some time, that employees will be more particular when it comes to their mobile device than their work PC. Employees are bringing whatever smartphones they choose to work and IT is ready to support it. PCs may stay largely provided by IT but smartphones will not. BYOD appears to be more of a myth, for now, with PCs but more employees will bring their own smartphones and want to have access to corporate network apps, email, and other needed functions for their job. This is an area that makes the Apple/IBM partnership interesting.

Apple and IBM are emphasizing mobile first. When it comes to a soup to nuts hardware, software, and services targeting the enterprise, Microsoft and their ecosystem has a compelling story. Now with Apple’s hardware, IBM can layer their software and services on top and offer their own competitive full solution. The difference is Microsoft is still PC first in their philosophy. From our research and discussions with many IT groups, it is becoming clear there is a difference in philosophies in how mobile devices and PCs are managed and deployed.

Understanding the role of hardware in the enterprise is essential. The initial premise of BYOD does not seem to be playing out the way many thought, especially with regards to PCs. The multi-device era has complicated the landscape but also given us much deeper insight into the best way people use computing hardware as a part of their work and personal life.