Can BYOD Bury the Hatchet Between IT and Business?

BYOD can wreak havoc on the tenuous relationship between IT and the business. But networking giant Cisco, which has a sophisticated BYOD plan for employees, is hoping more reasonable BYOD policies that permit personal cloud services will help bridge the gap.

Tue, November 06, 2012


In the last 18 months, Cisco has witnessed some 13,000 iPads enter its "Bring Your Own Device" program—and this is just the beginning.

Once iPads connect more easily to projectors, and the App Store gains better content-creation software, BYOD floodgates will burst open, according to Sheila Jordan, senior vice president of communication and collaboration IT at Cisco.

Sheila Jordan, Cisco Sr. VP Communication and Collaboration IT

"It is on our roadmap to figure out the strategy of PCs and Macs over time," Jordan says. "As the progression of iPads become more enterprise friendly, we will be looking for them to replace a PC or Mac [for certain employees]. Right now, they don't, but I think they will."

All signs point to 2013 as a big year for BYOD, especially tablets and the enterprise apps that run on them. The pressure is on CIOs to get in front of this technology trend before it steamrolls IT departments and puts corporate data at risk. Part of this process will be to redefine the IT-business relationship.

Gartner predicts BYOD will become the top technology trend for 2013, with mobile devices surpassing PCs as the most common Web access tool. There is much at stake with BYOD, too, from a security perspective. Gartner says employee-owned devices will be compromised by malware at more than double the rate of corporate-owned devices through 2014.

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CIOs have a lot of work to do to get ready for BYOD. Just ask Cisco, which has seen BYOD take off within the company. Cisco now supports some 60,000 BYOD smartphones, in addition to BYOD iPads. The company has been busy creating an enterprise app store, as well as tools for automating and provisioning apps, and a social tool to help employees transition to a BYOD mandate.

All tallied, Cisco has developed an elaborate multi-step plan for BYOD, which covers everything from creating a BYOD policy to renegotiating with service providers to proactively communicating with employees about new consumer products.

If you think the relationship between IT and business has been rocky in the past, BYOD will surely test the relationship further. Surveys show that companies with no formal BYOD policy likely already have rogue employee-owned smartphones and tablets tapping into the corporate networks.

Even business units are going rogue and developing apps for BYOD behind IT's back. Mobile device management vendor MobileIron related the story of an IT department at a big healthcare provider that thought it had three mobile apps in its consumer-tech environment, only to find more than 60.

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