Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Which BYOD are you preparing for?

Only a few years ago, my school age son and his cousin showed me a neat trick. They each put their cell phones behind their backs and proceeded to text a conversation to each other without looking at the device while they typed. They made very few typos. When I asked them what made them learn to do this, the explanation was simple. They were not allowed to bring their devices into the classroom or use them at school at all. So, they improvised.
Boy, times have changed.  
Today, there is a race afoot, and it is filled with sharp turns and cliffs. If technology thought leaders don’t get ahead of the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) curve, they will surely convert it into an organizational bring-your-own-disaster program. All indications are that in small and medium size organizations, and particularly in the non-profit and educational sectors, the rules of the road are lacking. BYOD policies aren’t defining the right-of-way at the intersections.

Here is the latest report from Forrester (12/27/12) and it seems to be indicating that not only is BYOD firmly in place for phones and tablets -but it now includes even PCs!

Today, more than 70 percent of organizations have some form of a BYOD (bring-your-own-device) program, where employees use personal devices for work-related tasks. BYOD has empowered the modern workforce, improved productivity and allowed companies to deliver better services to customers and partners. Forrester sees a continuation of this trend into 2013 and beyond. We also see that BYOD will gradually expand from smartphones/tablets to personal computers. (Forrester Research).

Did you get that? PCs too!

Which technology is now left for the organization to own? The copier, fax machine, the coffee maker? This is not a hypothetical question anymore. Nor is it a crazy question. The answer will likely pivot organizations and institutions to a brand new way of dealing with technology, with all of the change such redirection implies. In fact, in many places we are already referring to this phenomenon as the broader BYOT (Bring your own Technology).

Before you can solve the problems, you have to be able to ask the right questions.

What happens when the organization or institution does not buy the devices being used to connect to and access the resources of the organization? Is there now an IT budget? If so, for what?

Which devices are allowed to access organizational or school resources? How should they connect to the resources? Should they have any restrictions on what they can and cannot do? How would these be enforced? What security are we going to require and how will we monitor these devices and how will we know who is connecting to our resources and technology assets? What will all this cost us?

Who fixes these personal devices when they are broken? How many different types of devices should be allowed?

How will they be ‘managed’ by the organization or institution e.g. should we mandate that they have an anti-virus installed? If yes, who pays for that? How do you check for it?

How will such devices be wiped off when the user leaves the organization or school system? Should we even care? What are the legal ramifications of "wiping" off organizational data from the personal devices of users and students? What if the user simply restores the "wiped" data (from one of the free backup vendors), moments after it was destroyed by the organization?

The questions are endless.
Leadership is struggling with this change. Technology leaders are scratching their heads. On the one hand there is a potential for tremendous savings in costs (which are for the most part being transferred to users and even to students). At the same time, organizations and institutions are losing control over their proprietary digital assets. Where are the speed limits?

The greatest current threat to data is not just from nefarious outsiders. It is increasingly from the lack of clarity for well-intentioned insiders; those out for a Sunday drive – and who have not been informed about the rules of the road. When we talk about kids in school systems, the challenge of communicating these rules, can be even more daunting.

And while all this is being debated, more personal devices come into the organization and into every educational facility, with very few controls, policies and procedures in place.

Which BYOD or BYOT are you preparing for?

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