BYOD: Making Sense of the Work-Personal Device Blur

The bring-your-own-device trend intersects the lines of personal and work lives, stirring up a mess of problems for enterprise IT leaders, from dealing with lost devices to keeping corporate data out of consumer cloud services.

Tue, March 06, 2012

CIO — A panel of five IT executives gathered on the main stage of the Consumerization of IT in the Enterprise Conference and Expo, or CITE, in San Francisco this week to discuss ways to empower a fast-emerging class of workers.

Called the bring-your-own-device workforce, these employees want to marry corporate computing with their personal tech gadgets, such as iPhones, iPads and Android devices. They rely on these devices to manage their personal lives and get work done. It's the latter part that has CIOs scrambling for ways to support them.

"BYOD is a good story: It has excitement, love, drama, and possibly murders in the making," says Seng Ing, senior network engineer at KLA-Tencor and a CITE speaker. "In reality, BYOD is hard to implement and support."

The BYOD Challenge

BYOD is a new computing paradigm that seemingly creates more questions than answers. It's important to note that BYOD is often used synonymously with consumerization of IT and even mobility. But BYOD differs from the others because of its "personal use" nature. That is, employees own the devices and thus feel empowered to download and visit whatever apps and Websites they choose.

Meanwhile, IT leaders must ensure corporate data either at rest or in motion on these devices are secure and can be wiped in case the devices are lost or the employee leaves the company. Also, IT must make sure that corporate data cannot leave its purview to, say, a cloud storage provider.

The five CITE panelists included: Brian Katz, director of mobility and global infrastructure services at Sanofi; Tony Lalli, infrastructure architect at Bank of New York Mellon; Dave Malcom, CISO at Hyatt Hotels; Jason Ruger, CSO at Motorola Mobility; and Philippe Winthrop, managing director at the Enterprise Mobility Foundation.

The panelists joined attendees and broke out into workgroups to grapple with various BYOD concerns. The top concerns were: social networking on devices; requests to support new devices: the "Dropbox" consumer cloud storage problem; enterprise app stores; white-black listing apps; and dealing with lost devices.

Work, Meet Life

Truth is, BYOD blurs the lines between work life and personal life. Context changes throughout the day and sometimes during a single session on Facebook, says CEO Jeff Haynie at Appcelerator. For instance, a salesperson might fire up her Facebook app and update her status when a friend starts a Facebook chat to discuss a business opportunity.

The iPhone 4S — a popular BYOD gadget — has a high-resolution camera, which often leads to direct posting of social pictures on Facebook. Yet a CITE attendee who works at a winery related that the company policy warned that any employee posting pictures on social media of underage drinking would be fired.

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