Support for workers adding their own devices to company networks declined in New Zealand over the past year according to research commissioned by Unisys. The same report said there is now more support for company-owned phones and tablets.
You could interpret this as meaning bring-your-own-device was nothing more than a passing fad. That’s possible. However, there’s something more complicated going on.
A generation ago people lugged desktop computers into their offices so they could work better – there was even an early Apple advertisement showing this happening with the original Macintosh.
In many cases those workers sneaked computers into the building without the approval or knowledge of the company’s IT department. Pretty soon departments were spending their budgets on small computers and before long were asking for IT support.
In other words, it took a grass-roots revolution to put PCs on office desks. And that’s what’s happening with mobile devices.
People at the coal face often have a better idea of how they can work productively than their CIOs and managers. Some of them took the initiative and brought their own kit to the workplace. It happened in the 1980s and is happening again today.
We’re seeing another grass-roots revolution.
From a management point of view BYOD is about channeling this grass-roots movement bringing it more in line with a company’s big picture goals and strategy. They worry about supporting the devices, about security and about staying in control. They should worry less.
As devices, cloud computing and software as a service become more mainstream – Microsoft’s Windows tablet and Windows Phone 8 smartphones are examples – BYOD will be less of an issue.
BYOD is not a passing fad but a logical and necessary step en route to the post-PC era.