Technalysis Research
Previous Blogs

April 8, 2014
Insider Extra: Qualcomm's Evolving Story

April 1, 2014
A Wearables Forecast

March 25, 2014
Measuring Success in Wearables? It's Thousands of Thousands

March 24, 2014
Insider Extra: Intel Strategy Moves Forward

March 18, 2014
IOT: Islands of Isolated Things?

March 11, 2014
Wearables Cautionary Tale

March 4, 2014
The New Platform Battle

February 25, 2014
Watch What Happens

February 18, 2014
Talkin' 'bout Touchpads

February 11, 2014
The MultiOS Conundrum

February 4, 2014
Computing Redefined

January 28, 2014
The Apple Problem

January 21, 2014
The 2-in-1s People Might Want

January 14, 2014
The Post Tablet Era

January 7, 2014
The Innovation Asymptote

December 31, 2013
Top 5 2014 Predictions

December 17, 2013
Holiday Shoppers Gifting Themselves

December 10, 2013
Companion Apps

December 3, 2013
Aisle Check

TECHnalysis Research Blog

April 9, 2014
BYOD Dilemma: Devices vs. Data

Though we’ve started to see a small bit of retrenchment from the most extreme examples, it’s clear that the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) phenomenon in the workplace is here to stay. Younger and older workers alike have become accustomed to using their own devices to do their work, particularly when it comes to smartphones and tablets, and IT departments continue to refine policies and procedures to adjust to this new reality.

But one of the remaining debates within BYOD is determining what, exactly, that IT needs to manage. Traditionally, IT focused on the management of the physical device, especially with PCs, doing everything from tracking the physical location and status of corporate-owned PCs, to ensuring that all the latest OS, anti-malware and application patches were installed. BYOD adds several new twists to that equation, however, with a significantly wider range of device types and platforms to support, as well as potential differences in ownership. Toss in the increased mobility of many BYOD devices, and the growing usage of all devices for personal applications, and you have the recipe for a very messy situation.

Not surprisingly, many IT departments, and vendors serving those communities, initially fell back on the types of solutions with which they were comfortable: tight management of the device and everything on it. Large numbers of companies built MDM (mobile device management) solutions to essentially bring the kind of strict management policies commonly associated with PCs to the world of smartphones and tablets.

But several problems popped up fairly quickly. First, people change their smartphones and tablets more often than they do their PCs, making it virtually impossible on any given day for a corporate IT department to really know what types of devices were walking in and out of their doors (let alone what kind of information was getting copied onto those devices). Second, the need for more granular control became readily apparent. The notion of remotely wiping devices of all data on them—particularly those that may have been purchased by the employee—surprisingly (cough, cough), did not sit well with most people. In addition, many employees discovered that they could use other types of mobile applications to open, edit and/or use their work-related data, making the range of applications in use tremendously more varied than it had ever been. This situation also created the need for yet another type of management tool: MAM (mobile application management). Topping things off is the fact that employees have now become much savvier about how to work around any limitations that IT might impose.

The end result is the somewhat chaotic mess we find ourselves in today. In fact, things have gotten so out-of-control in some environments, that there are increasing reports of companies starting to reign in at least some of the BYOD freedoms they previously doled out to their employees. After numerous refinements to existing tools and a multitude of new products and concepts—including the appealing idea of separate work and personal “containers”, each of which can be separately accessed and managed—things do seem to be moving in a better direction.

I would argue, however, that the real problem stems from looking at this challenge from the wrong direction—at several different levels. Instead of looking from inside IT out to these devices, the real answer is looking inward from the individual employees and whatever set of devices they happen to be using at a given time, to the corporate data and applications rightfully controlled by IT. The keys to the kingdom, so to speak, are access to the data and applications that employees need to get their work done. By essentially assigning different “keys” to different levels of data and access, and then doling out those “keys” to the appropriate people, IT can focus specifically on the assets they really need to manage, while still giving the freedom to employees to use whatever devices they want in order to get their work done.

Both vendors and IT have quickly learned that adding friction to a process that employees feel they need to be productive is an open invitation for those employees to work around them. So, rather than creating unnecessary and unproductive tension between employees and IT, both solutions vendors and IT departments need to create solutions that keep things clear to everyone that it’s not about the devices, it’s all about the data.

Here's a link to the original column:

Leveraging more than 10 years of award-winning, professional radio experience, TECHnalysis Research participates in regular audio podcasts in conjunction with the team at
  Research Schedule
A list of the documents that TECHnalysis Research plans to publish in 2015 can be found here.