By D.P. Morrissey
It’s understandable why many companies are initially reluctant to embrace what’s outside the typical scope of what is considered “acceptable.” There was a time when car seatbelts were considered radical, when bars and restaurants allowed smoking and when working from home was a remote idea. But policies change. Common sense, one hopes, eventually prevails. What was once considered foreign becomes rote. Using a personal smartphone for work-critical tasks is now commonplace. Buckling up is automatic. Smoking indoors has been snubbed out.
As CIO, it’s essential to act as a conduit of change by revealing how a simple change in policy makes sense—in terms of cost, time and competitive advantage.
Certain ideas may at first be rejected, but as a professional technologist, it’s a CIOs duty to inform the board and fellow executives why certain policies need to change and why other initiatives need to be embraced.
Owen Wheatley, an ISG director, shared his thoughts on how BYOD has impacted how people work, how organizations benefit from its use and how it can increase business agility.
The concept of BYOD is driven by three principal forces: First, the enhancement of mobile technology capability; second, the rise of the “personal cloud” in which most major software offerings are now available via the Internet; and third, the changing expectations of users who demand the same access to IT performance at work that they enjoy at home, Wheatley said.
“From the employer’s perspective, BYOD is an opportunity to enable a happy workforce, make employees more mobile and more motivated, with the associated increases in productivity and talent retention,” he said.
So what’s not to like about BYOD? Given the apparent benefits to both employees and employers, there should have been stratospheric adoption of BYOD across all industries, yet as recently as mid-2013, less than 10 percent of organizations had implemented formal BYOD programs. In the last two years that figure has grown, but some reports suggest it is still no higher than 60 percent. Considering the obvious advantages to BYOD, that seems low. So, what are the constraints and what does the future hold?
The most obvious constraint is security, Wheatley said. When a device has a dual use (work and personal) the company can’t be sure that the user has done everything required to keep that device secure for business use, he said. Conversely, users have concerns about keeping personal data private. On top of the risk of personal device hacking by malicious third parties, BYOD also raises the spectre of data theft by employees, who may be able to create their own wireless network and log into corporate applications without being monitored. Concerns about data security and privacy account for almost 80 percent of those organizations ruling out BYOD as a concept. Also, the cost of mitigating those risks (perhaps through a layered approach by deploying containers from the device to the network to the cloud) can be significant.
The proliferation of eligible devices, including wearable devices and the rise of the Internet of things, provides further motivation for the organization to consider including loss of standardization benefits, lack of control over hardware and the breadth of required support expertise.
In the Shadow of IT
Another source of trouble in the realm of IT takes the form of rogue IT. CIOs have undoubtedly spent many nights awake, wondering just how many unapproved apps live in enterprise clouds and on the workstations of tech-intuitive users.
Tim Kelleher, the vice president of IT Security Services at Century Link, however, posits that shadow IT just might not be as terrible as many are lead to believe. Rogue IT, in fact, might lead to innovation and competitive advantage, he said.
“While the natural tendency is to limit unauthorized usage,” Kelleher said, “rogue IT can prove very useful to organizations today, driving new levels of innovation and productivity.”
But he cautions that fear of the unknown always creates anxiety, so it’s important to quickly get up to speed on unauthorized activity. Education is also critical, making it possible to better match corporate strategies with these projects. Now is also the time to think differently about rogue IT, to understand its benefits and see how best to align the infrastructure.
IoT and You
There is little forgiveness for the slow in business. Just as evolution rewards the strong, businesses that embrace agility and IoT practices will be rewarded by leading markets and financial categories.
Early IoT leaders are more likely to digitally reimagine their businesses and produce substantial value for customers, not just value for themselves.
“The Internet of things is no longer a closeted discussion held in the IT function or at technology vendor conferences,” according to a recent survey from Tata Consultancy Services (TCS). “The topic has become the focus of passionate examination and spirited debate at the top-most level of a growing number of major companies around the world … The early IoT leaders are more likely to digitally reimagine their businesses and produce substantial value for customers, not just value for themselves.”
Among some interesting points in the report:
25% said their organizations take advantage of IoT to receive data from products to get a sense of how those products are performing, and the same percentage use it to monitor locations of stores, branches and offices.
40% said their companies will improve their product support and repair services through IoT because product usage by customers will be monitored.
29% said their organizations now will drive additional revenues by selling customer product usage data to third parties.
D.P. Morrissey is a freelance writer based in New York City. He writes about business and technology.