BYOD Became the 'New Normal' in 2013

CIOs have had eventful year when it comes to BYOD. Concerns over hidden costs, employee privacy and corporate data security gave way to convenience. However, mobile device management vendors stepped in to help IT sell the concept of compliance and lawyers and the National Labor Relations Board jumped to the aid of employees smacked with draconian BYOD policies.

Unbridled enthusiasm over the BYOD mega trend had threatened to overrun IT departments and perhaps put many out of work -- that is, until this year.

BYOD,   mobile, consumer tech, business tech

Over the last 12 months, CIOs have had to swallow their pride and embrace BYOD, mobile device management vendors convincingly pushed their compliance messaging out, business managers got serious about security, lawyers started doing their jobs, and BYOD users, well, they continued to swell their ranks and types of devices.

"A big shift in attitude for BYOD in 2013," says Aberdeen Group's Andrew Borg.

To understand what happened with BYOD this year, we need a starting point: An Aberdeen Group survey in January found that three out of four respondents had a BYOD program in place. Yet two-thirds of those with a BYOD program had an "anything goes" philosophy, not enforcing compliance or security policies. BYOD was also a way for business users to revolt against IT, which traditionally threw up roadblocks to new technology, especially consumer tech.

CIOs Get Their Heads in the Game

So this was BYOD at the beginning of the year, barreling ahead with reckless abandon with IT falling quickly out of the loop.

This year was critical for IT to change its ways and get back in the game, and it did. Many CIOs began aggressively changing the IT department's culture into one that embraces consumer tech and new-fangled mobile apps.

Generally speaking, IT became more responsive and positive to business user requests. For instance, National Geographic's IT department opened the floodgates and let employees use whatever apps they wanted. It wasn't easy. CIOs wanting to bring about an open-door policy needed to transform technology to handle BYOD.

"At the end of that road is one where IT has an infrastructure that is much more resilient and more tolerant of devices that are not well configured," says Forrester Research's David Johnson. "We're seeing companies look at things like zero trust models in which every device is assumed compromised, [where] there is no concept of a trust network anymore. This is what we're seeing in some of the leading edge, extreme cases."

[ Related: CIOs Must Learn the Politics of No ]

CIOs can thank mobile device management vendors for pushing their messages of compliance to business users and, as a result, helping bring IT into the discussion as a BYOD enabler. The vendors' message that the cost of compliance is a fraction of the cost of non-compliance was bolstered by the chilling effect of the Snowden affair. More than a few business managers realized the consequences of poor BYOD security and the dollars at stake, and so they began reaching out to IT for help.

"The education cycle by the vendors and analysts began to sink in," Borg says. "Line of business managers don't want this liability on their hands."

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