A new Gartner report defines BYOD as an applications strategy, rather than a purchasing policy, and suggests organizations adopt a global-class computing approach.
By Samuel Greengard
By now, CIOs have come to recognize that bring your own device (BYOD) has evolved beyond a purchasing policy or a way to appease tech-obsessed employees. It's a highly disruptive phenomenon that changes the nature of enterprise IT—along with the way people access, consume and exchange data. But a new report from Gartner points out that while most enterprises have embraced mobility, a lot of executives aren't savvy about addressing the applications architecture and solutions design challenges associated with BYOD.
"Designing applications to meet the demands of BYOD is not the same as setting usage policies or having strategic sourcing plans that mandate a particular platform," notes Darryl Carlton, research director at Gartner. "BYOD should be a design principle that provides you with a vendor-neutral applications portfolio and a flexible future-proof architecture." Carlton points out that packaged software sometimes introduces technical and practical constraints because these applications introduce features that require "specific instances of browsers with specific plug-ins."
However, that may not fly with today's workforces, which are typically comprised of full- and part-time staff, outside contractors, and independent professionals. Breakdowns in functionality can also undermine business partners. As a result, it's important to keep in mind that IT is no longer developing applications for a narrow or homogeneous group of users who can adhere to common standards and controls, says Carlton. What's more, the business typically has no technical control over these users.
The solution? Carlton argues that organizations must adopt an approach dubbed global-class computing. The concept centers on designing systems and architectures to extend computing processes to consumers, mobile workers and business partners accessing data from a variety of devices. It promotes the use of applications and services that are more flexible and inclusive, simpler, and less expensive than those designed for the enterprise. In the process, it also builds a more holistic approach to security, Carlton says.
Achieving success in this arena isn't without challenges. There's a need to "re-architect around a multi-tiered architecture, with separation of the various elements of a solution and to design applications to support a range of devices and operating environments." In fact, Carlton says it's essential to adopt a "mobile first strategy"—even though the target environment may be a desktop computer. "To set the design goal as 'mobile first' will ensure that any device can be supported effectively," he explains.
In the end, Carlton cautions CIOs to view BYOD in a broader context and take the concept of global-class computing seriously. Executives who view BYOD as a temporary problem generated by a few disaffected or unruly employees are making a "tragic mistake," he says. In fact, a failure to act could significantly undermine productivity and security—while alienating vital constituencies.
"There is a permanent and irreversible shift in the way that IT is procured and implemented to support the organization, suppliers and customers," Carlton concludes. "Organizations must design their applications with an expectation of how the applications will be used in the future."
About the Author
Samuel Greengard is a contributing writer for CIO Insight.