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.

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Ben Bajarin

Ben Bajarin is a Principal Analyst and the head of primary research at Creative Strategies, Inc - An industry analysis, market intelligence and research firm located in Silicon Valley. His primary focus is consumer technology and market trend research and he is responsible for studying over 30 countries. Full Bio

8 thoughts on “The Myth of BYOD”

  1. Ben, This all makes sense. Of course BYOD is all about mobile. I do not know anyone who would would say otherwise.

    BYOD desktop: The reason BYOD happened is not because people wanted to purchase their own PC’s or Mac’s to be used for work as the costs are too high and most offices will amortize the cost of new computers over time. Also in most cases the software that the office uses dictates what kind of computer is needed. So even if the user would have liked to use a Mac at the office they could not without running Windows in a Virtual Machine for example. In regards to the software, desktop software is a lot more expensive and has different ways it is licensed. Many times offices will purchase multiple seats or installs of a particular software. If the user brings in their own hardware and then leaves the company it can be next to impossible to have that software uninstalled. Then there is the issue of what happens when a user installs their own software that causes a conflict with software that is needed for the office. Or even worse what happens when a user gets a virus or malware or their hardware dies or does not meat the minimum spec for running work software. Who’s responsibility is it? If it is a home computer it is up to the user.

    Two cellphones versus one: People where tired of having to carry two cell phones (one for work, one for one). Once the cell phone morphed in to the SmartPhone thanks to the iPhone and added ActiveSync support they where finally able to ditch the 2nd work phone and use just one device.

    Management & Security on mobile: With smartphones and tablets these are tasks that users finally could take on themselves. In the case of Apple’s iOS devices, Apple provides iOS updates for free and makes it easy to update so users on their own are keeping their devices up to date. Also installing and removing software is finally easy enough on smartphones and tablets that users do not need assistance from a corporate IT department to get it done. No more stupid license codes to deal with and finding the correct install media. Plus the settings easy to access and not hidden away like they are on Windows PC’s so users are able to easily make changes to their devices.

    Fashion and Style: Lots of people have purchased cases and done other customizations to their smartphones. As this device is with them all the time and really personal to them they want their device to look nice and be theirs. With most work phones you would not really be allowed to customize it as you would be at some point turning it back in or it may get swapped out at anytime.

    So for these reasons as well as many others I really only see BYOD relating to mobile and not desktop computers.

    1. Yeah, I pretty much ditched my work phone as soon as I got an iPhone. I would just forward all the calls from the work phone to my iPhone. Eventually everyone was using my phone and I turned in my work phone. Of course, I never worked for large corporations with full IT departments, either. I was often the IT department by default.

      Joe

    2. Yes, but in the very early beginnings of this discussion many believed this was an opportunity for the PC and it related to the PC as well. I know many CIOs we talked to expected BYOD for notebooks to be much higher. That not playing out is interesting given how much I heard the PC being brought up in this discussion.

      1. Ben, In all due respect those CIO’s should be ignored. They have no idea about the issues involved with BYOD PC’s then. Things I have listed above. There are more issues as well that I did not list. I bet these same CIO’s think Microsoft and Intel are great and well run companies and do not see the flaws in WinTel. Flaws that will eventually mean that their jobs will be replaced or at least their role reduced as users are able to take care of more of their own IT needs because the devices require a lot less heavy management.

        With mobile there is not the same need to lock down the devices for fear that they will become expensive bricks that will requite at least 1/2 a day to get back up and running again if the wrong software gets installed. Something that can and does happen with Windows PCs all the time.

        I can see why some CIOs would think that laptops would be brought in as they where hoping to same money and shift the cost to the employee. Lucky most employees where smart enough to see that as being a scam and not take the bait,

        Like I said above. I know that companies get tax breaks, price breaks for purchasing in bulk, amortize and insure computers differently than consumers. Plus in the case of Windows there may be the need to join a Windows domain for example. But many of the computers consumers purchase can not do this as they are shipped with the home version of Windows that lacks that feature so connecting to the office LAN everyday and the servers, e-mail and printer resources become a pain if not impossible.

        Of course all of this is just for employees. If you are a contractor it is completely different as you normally are expected to bring your own tools for the job but you are going to be paid better than an employee as well. Part of that extra compensation is to pay for your own computer plus benefits as well.

  2. Few employees will buy a PC as a BYOD when their employer provides a PC for free. If an employer were to provide a choice between a PC allowance or employer provided PC then perhaps a substantial portion of employees might BYOD.

  3. In my company, the only BYOD is where people want to use a Mac, which (in the UK at least) is significantly more expensive than a generic Intel/AMD box running Windows or Linux. Our IT division supports Win, Linux and Mac, but the company provides Intel laptops / desktops.

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