Why CIOs Should Reconsider BYOD

CIO magazine publisher emeritus Gary Beach sees reasons that a popular BYOD policy will be unsustainable for companies. Some IT execs are already switching to providing company-provided consumer devices. Will you be next?

By
Fri, October 12, 2012

CIO — A recent issue of Network World (a sister publication to CIO) included a headline that immediately caught my attention. "IT Groups Eschew BYOD." "Eschew"? No way. That must be a mistake. Nearly all the research I have read about the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend says the opposite: Many CIOs are planning to adopt BYOD as an accepted IT practice.

But as I read the story, I realized the headline was accurate. Four IT executives featured were indeed dismantling their BYOD programs. But why?

The new policy being adopted by these seemingly renegade IT execs might best be described as "bring our company-owned tablet or smartphone to the office." These IT groups were among the very early BYOD adopters. They embraced the idea of accommodating personally owned devices, and for a while it worked well. A relatively small portion of the company--often starting with the most senior executives--was the primary beneficiary of the initial policy.

This is a common theme on the path to BYOD. As one CIO said to me during a panel I recently moderated, "BYOD was all along a misnomer. It really was a strategy for higher-ups who told their CIO, 'I want an iPad, make it happen.'"

This seemed to be the case for the executives featured in Network World, but then it entered a "be careful for what you wish for" phase as second- and third-tier managers sought to follow the lead of their bosses. The new requests swamped the networks with registration, configuration, setup, security and privacy concerns.

So totally independent of each other, these featured executives came to the same decision: Centralize the purchase and deployment of tablets and smartphones. In addition to simplifying device management, this strategy gave the companies more leverage with their preferred carriers. When individual employees paid their monthly phone bills and submitted them on expense reports, the companies had no clout to negotiate with. When all the monthly bills were rolled into one, they got lower rates.

Bottom line: the more popular your current BYOD strategy is, the more likely you too will say, "Enough is enough," and bring all tablet and smartphone device management and billing under your control.

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