The days of IT admins proclaiming designated platforms and devices for the entire organization are quickly dwindling.
Instead, businesses are embracing the BYOD trend — allowing employees to make some of their own decisions about which technologies they use.
Giving employees a say over business technology
The name for the trend arose from BYOB — as in “bring your own bottle” or “bring your own booze.” These days there’s a BYOx for almost any endeavor. But in business, BYOD stands for “bring your own device,” the idea that employees can bring their own smartphones, tablets — in some cases, even their own PCs — and other gadgets to work, for work. They’re no longer confined to a specific technology issued by the company.
Personal smartphones are the first and best example of rogue devices finding their way into business use, followed recently by millions of tablets such as the iPad. BYOD isn’t new, but the trend exploded with the introduction of the iPhone. Many organizations were (and some still are) entrenched in a mobile infrastructure built around the BlackBerry. But employees, having bought millions of new iPhones, wanted the freedom to use their shiny new devices for work.
Although BYOD is commonly associated with an employee-impelled movement, the term also applies to another technology trend — IT consumerization. Here, organizations choose and use technologies built with consumers in mind. These devices are popular with employees, but they typically lack the business features and enterprise controls IT admins are used to. However, when the company selects and distributes these consumer-based devices, IT managers still maintain some control over technology support and security.
At BYOD’s most sophisticated level, not only are consumer-oriented devices allowed within a business, but control over which devices are used is given to individual users. Most of us now live in a 24/7 connected world, and business is often no longer tied to a nine-to-five clock. Businesses embrace BYOD because they know that employees need the freedom to be productive from wherever they are — and on whatever device they have available.
The pros and cons of a business BYOD policy
Instituting a BYOD policy has numerous repercussions for employees, IT, and the organization as a whole.