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If you are old enough to remember PCs coming into your business and the reaction most IT shops had to them, then Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and Cloud Computing services should seem like déjà vu. IT worried about PC security, backups and the lack of standards and all the while business people kept buying PCs and office productivity software. We thought PCs were coming in like a flood but they were nothing like the deluge of Smartphones, Tablets and Cloud based services.
I was in IT at the time and managed the early PCs and LANs. I had experience with mainframe security, backups and standards so when PCs started to arrive I put together similar policies to manage them. Many years later, concerns around PC Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) became a hot topic but we already had automatic image builds, backups, standards and security. Our TCO was already very low.
IT should take the same approach now with BYOD and Cloud that I took with the early PCs. Embrace them but put in standards for their usage. Users are not going to stop using email from their phone or storing documents on services like Dropbox – especially if they have no alternative. IT must set standards that are not burdensome and block user’s from the apps they are excited about. A BYOD policy, a paper deliverable, is just not enough to stem the tide. IT has to rapidly add value with BYODs to have any hope of controlling the corporate assets on these devices – e.g. company data.
On another note, if IT does not start deploying software with a compelling user experience expect the users to continue to migrate to cloud based services without the help, or control, of IT in droves.