The Delicate Balance of BYOD

Pope Benedict XVI using a tabletOne of the projects I recently worked on was preparing a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy for a financial institution. Having written the policy for AIIM, and other organizations over the years, it was a straightforward task. The real challenge was determining the right balance between convenience for employees and security for the organization.

Organizations are more and more willing to allow people to use their own devices, even though 30-35% of BYOD is invisible to an organization. The question is, “What are those organizations giving up?” What can organizations do so the restrictions placed on devices doesn’t make the employee feel like the device is no longer their personal device?

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Review: The New Kingmakers


I will admit that I have been following what Stephen O’Grady and James Governor have been doing over at Redmonk for quite some time. They were doing for developers what I wish people had been doing when I was a developer. When Stephen published his book, I promptly went out and got it…and then had to wait to find time to read it.

I am so glad that I did. It took a little more time to get around to writing this review, but it is important to write because The New Kingmakers is full of truth. What Stephen has written about is the critical start of the trend we are seeing all over the world of technology.

Before I go into that, let me talk about the book.

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BYOD In Practice

I recently wrote that Mobile is just part of the larger Bring Your Own Device (BYOD). One thing I didn’t tackle in that post is a practical look at how BYOD works in application.

When you tackle BYOD, there are a lot of things to consider in order to insure the proper security of all the information. It is simple to create a long laundry list of guidelines. The key is to make sure they don’t inhibit the benefits or users will work around the system.

Let’s look at how I work in the BYOD world.

Breaking Down the Devices

One year ago, I needed a new laptop. I had the option of IT providing me one from the department or buying one of my own at a similar cost against that same budget. Not wanting the same brand that AIIM buys by default, I went and bought from my preferred laptop vendor. When I did this, I acknowledged that IT might not be able to assist in hardware related issues. I’m technical enough that it wasn’t a concern.

I use a tablet and a phone. My tablet of choice is a little Galaxy Tab I got almost 2 years ago because it fits in my pocket. Sometimes I use my iPad because it has a data plan and I know that I’ll want to do something that would be challenging on my phone.

I use Evernote fairly extensively for note taking and constructing my to-do lists. It is perfect because it follows me around on all my devices.

Through it all, email is the most important application. Try as we might to replace it, it is the killer app. I use it differently on each device.

  • Phone: I keep track of what is going on and send short emails to keep things moving along. If I need to write a long email, I wait until I can get on a device with a better input capability unless it is critical. I can review attachments in a crunch but given the small screen size, I prefer not to do so.
  • Tablet: I’ll reply to most emails on my tablet as long as I don’t have to mess with attachments or reference old emails. I can do those things in a pinch but I don’t enjoy it. Attachment management is much easier on my Android tablet than my iPad.
  • Laptop: I do it all. I also manage my emails here, sorting and filing them away as necessary. The interface is just much more conducive to that kind of work.

Other people have different patterns. I know some that do a large portion of their work on Macs with just about everything else on their iPads. Some work almost exclusively on their laptops.

And IT has to support it all.

It isn’t easy without the proper systems. Few established, older, organizations have those today. At AIIM, we’re having to replace one system because it required Windows operating systems to use and that isn’t practical. Right now there are people nursing old computers along because they want to buy that Mac when the switch is made.

And that has to change.

Forget Mobile, BYOD for the Win

Okay, let’s do a little thinking outside the Silicon Valley box today. Let’s start off by assuming that if you are a regular reader of my blog, you likely have 1-2 “mobile” devices that you use frequently. If you have one of the larger tablets like the iPad, you’ve likely tried attending a conference with only your tablet.

Here’s the trick. I bet every single one of you, once you return to your office immediately starts working on a PC. Before you protest, keep in mind those Macs are Personal Computers (PC), as are those new-fangled Ultrabooks.

Let’s face it, when creating information of even moderate complexity, you still can’t beat a PC. If you need to multitask between applications, PCs win every time.

Mobile adds a new dimension to how you do things. It allows users to be more flexible in when they work. It requires IT to be more flexible in providing solutions.

The use of mobile devices doesn’t alleviate the need to think about the PC or to make it a priority.

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How Steve Jobs Ruined My Life, A CIO’s Confession

Life as a Chief Information Office used to be simple. They would hear about a new challenge facing the business. After learning the details, the CIO would go out and find a solution that would make the organization stronger than ever before. Systems weren’t perfect but they added value and everyone was happy.

Then Steve Jobs returned to Apple.

Oh sure, it started out wonderfully. He created the iPod which made the CD collection that had been built-up over the years dramatically more portable. Sure, the artistic vision that is the album started taking a hit but that wasn’t your problem unless you were in the music industry.

Then came the iPhone.

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The Connected Era, The (Pre) Post-PC World

I wrote a couple weeks back about not reading too much into the current mobile sales numbers. While Mobile devices are out-selling PCs, that doesn’t tell the whole story. People have multiple devices and replace their PCs much less often.

imageThere were a few responses. Dan Antion related his own recent travels without a PC and how we are moving Beyond the Chasm with mobile devices. Ron Miller took a more conciliatory approach that when he said that the term Post-PC was still open to interpretation.

To help illustrate my point, Dan Levin of Box tweeted that on his weekend trip, the 12 humans had 26 devices. I didn’t ask but I suspect that there were no laptops. Of course, going on a weekend trip, why take anything other than mobile devices? Of course, exceeding a 2:1 ratio is pretty impressive, especially consider that kids were in the count.

This anecdote lends itself both sides of the equation. It shows that by simply surpassing PC sales, mobile hasn’t done enough to move into the PC era as there are more mobile devices than people in many households. On the flip side, it clearly shows the proliferation of mobile tech.

Of course, 10 years ago, there may have been zero devices on that trip unless you counted the dumb cell phones. While some mobile devices are replacing the use of PCs, especially for travel, it is also filling a void. People now use a PC AND a mobile device, depending on the situation.

We aren’t in a Post-PC era, though will get there eventually. That doesn’t mean that Mobile support isn’t critical. It is critical because people always want to be connected. That is the key, connectivity. The whole Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) concept is really what is defining this era. The devices people started bringing were smart phones and Macs. Now it is tablets.

The shift to mobile is just part of the puzzle.

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