How to Avoid 'Bring Your Own Dogma!'

By Larry Bonfante  |  Posted 04-04-2013

By Larry Bonfante

CIO Insight recently wrote about how smart companies manage the benefits and risks of a BYOD policy, but I’d like to take a step back and look at the bigger philosophical picture of BYOD–Bring Your Own Dogma!

Far too many IT organizations see themselves as the “gate keepers.” They think they should be the network police determining who gets access to what Websites, who can use what type of mobile device and who can access what data from what location. I remember when I worked at a giant pharmaceutical company in the 1990s where the person in charge of network security was super diligent in his responsibilities. The good news: The network was incredibly secure. The bad news: Nobody was able to access anything they needed! Now don’t get me wrong… data security is a critical part of the role of IT. But we need to ensure that IT is seen as enabling business value, not as disablers of progress. Too many of our organizations are viewed as “The Land of No and Slow!”

One thing I’ve learned about effective business people is that they always find ways to get things done. If partnering with IT to support what they need to accomplish doesn’t work for them, they will certainly work around IT to get where they want to go. Gone are the days when IT can dictate what happens and why. As I always tell my team, the decision is whether you want to lead the circus or sweep up after the elephants. Ultimately, with or without your support, the circus will come into town.

Too many IT executives whine about how the business side works around them. They go directly to Salesforce.com. They buy their own iPads. Don’t they understand about data security? What about integration, standards or economies of scale? Well, if your business leaders are working around you, the reason could be that they think you are an obstacle to their progress. We need to be seen as innovators and the folks who bring new ideas and solutions to bear, not as the people who are hindering the company’s progress. And we need to help educate our clients about to how to securely use iPads and other tools in a way that doesn’t put valuable corporate data at risk.

Ultimately, the question becomes one of vision. Is your vision to find creative ways to solve problems and leverage new tools and techniques to help advance your business agenda? Or is your vision to avoid risk at all costs? Remember the only way a turtle ever gets anywhere is by sticking out its neck! I’m not proposing taking wild risks without understanding the benefits and challenges associated with such risks. I am suggesting that we need to lead this conversation and help our stakeholders understand all the pros and cons of taking prudent risks so that they can make informed decisions. And once they do decide, we align with these decisions and find innovative ways to support progress.

Remember: Topics like BYOD are less about devices and more about mindset.

About the Author

Larry Bonfante is a practicing CIO and founder of CIO Bench Coach, LLC, an executive coaching practice for IT executives. He is also author of Lessons in IT Transformation, published by John Wiley & Sons. He can be reached at Larry@CIOBenchCoach.com.