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A Fresh Look at Bring Your Own Device (BYOD): Part1

A look at factors currently impacting device management decisions from the CIO’s point of view.  

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I’m almost positive that whoever is credited with coining the phrase the only constant is change was not talking about the mobile enterprise space. It’s hard to imagine, though, another market segment where that sentiment would be more apropos.

The reality is that the conditions impacting the dynamics behind the “bring your own” phenomenon have changed significantly over the past couple of years. While no one is denying that workers will continue to utilize their personal smartphones and tablets for work-related tasks, the decision process behind the acceptance of BYOD – from both user and enterprise perspectives – has evolved significantly.

While the accommodation of the massive influx of personal, consumer-based mobile devices into the enterprise over the past few years has been a significant challenge to IT, enterprises weathered the tsunami largely through the availability of mobile device management (MDM) solutions that apply at least a modicum of order to the chaos of BYOD. But the real reason for IT’s tolerance of BYOD is that the primary use case for consumer devices – email and other communications and coordination functions – has not posed an extreme level of risk to the organization.

With change being a constant though, the importance of enterprise mobility to the overall health and competitive standing of businesses has steadily increased over the past couple of years. Most industry observers believe the market is now going through an evolutionary shift, driven in large part by the exposure of increasingly sensitive information to mobile devices, as organizations of all sizes focus on the mobilization of core business processes, new mobile apps and data services.

At the same time, regulators around the world have grown increasingly active, imposing new rules,  with significant penalties, to protect the integrity of information that could undermine financial markets, erode public confidence or even topple governments if compromised. Strident regulatory and compliance requirements appear to be here to stay, a by-product of doing business in what many now call the Surveillance Age.

What these developments mean from a BYOD standpoint is that enterprises, especially those in the regulated space, are reconsidering the appropriateness of employees using personally owned consumer devices to access sensitive  data located behind the firewall or to conduct business that might be subject to regulatory compliance. When you throw into the equation the increasing sensitivity around privacy concerns and even labor laws forming around employee-owned devices, CIOs – and even CEOs – are taking a hypercritical look at BYOD as a dominant device policy going forward.

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