Consumerization

10 myths of BYOD in the enterprise

The consumerization of IT is upon us -- dragging numerous misconceptions in its wake. See how some recent reports have debunked a few common myths about BYOD.

With all the talk about the threat IT faces as the result of the ongoing consumerization of IT, this ought to surprise you: New data is out that shows the switch to consumerization is going more smoothly — and a lot more quickly — than most onlookers expected. Here are the top 10 myths of consumerization, debunked.

Myth 1: Most big enterprises are pushing back

Not so. In fact, studies are beginning to show a growing acceptance of consumer tech and software services in the enterprise. Avanade recently reported on its survey of more than 600 IT and business leaders. According to the results, nine out of 10 respondents said their employees are using their own tech at work. And 73% of those surveyed called managing consumer tech and personal software cloud services a top priority in their daily workloads.

Graphic credit: Avanade

Myth 2: Apple is the main encroacher

Not anymore. Android smart phones and tablets are now first place among devices your users bring in. That's second to RIM's BlackBerry and the Apple iPhone, respectively, according to Avanade's data.

Myth 3: Users will be wasting their time with personal devices and services

If you let your users bring their own devices, they'll be trading cows, updating friends on their lunch choices, and making fun of the boss publicly. Okay, that's a little strong, but it is a myth that personal devices are all for fun and games. According to IDC, the overwhelming use of personal devices and services in the workplace is for accessing enterprise-delivered applications. Surveys indicate that the top three are expense apps, CRM apps, and ERP apps. Not an angry bird in sight!

Myth 4: Android? Run!

It may be true that Android devices are most vulnerable to attacks by malware, adware, and spyware. But there are tools on the market to help secure enterprise Android users. There are also a number of simple ways to secure Android devices.

Myth 5: Most companies don't have the resources to deal with BYOD

A commonly held myth suggests that companies that are resisting the BYOD trend don't have the time or budgets to deal with it. Again, not so. According to figures from several analyst reports I looked at, the general agreement is that nearly 80 percent of enterprises will make investments this year to manage consumer technologies, with a quarter of IT budgets targeting consumerization straight out the gate.

Graphic credit: Avanade

Myth 6: Supporting consumer-driven technology will be too hard

Well, I suppose we'll see. But C-level execs and IT pros who are making the switch say it is easier than they thought. There is a whole little ecosystem growing around the consumerization of IT. Firms like Virtual Works (founded by Citrix founder and ex CEO Ed Iacobucci) and Good Technology are just two of the many systems that make it easier to deal with single sign on, SAML compliance, remote wiping — all the T's crossed and I's dotted.

Myth 7: Millennials are the driving force behind the BYOD trend

Another popular myth suggests that the rapid growth of IT consumerization is a result of companies courting young employees by allowing them to bring their personal devices to work. But the data from the Avanade survey contradicts this notion. Less than a third of those surveyed said their policies are designed to attract younger workers. Instead, they cited flexibility and productivity gains as the most potent benefits of BYOD environments.

Myth 8: IT will have to deal with a swamp of BYOD patches and fixes

Ninety percent of security vulnerabilities are patchable, stats reliably show. But often, though the CIO knows, the IT folk doing the real work haven't been clued in to what patches users need and when. You can't let unpatched devices lie, of course. It's critical to stay up to date on your patches. But these days, most are automatically deployed by the consumer tech maker or service in question.

Myth 9: Consumer devices have built-in safeguards that eliminate enterprise security concerns

If devices are left unmanaged, security breaches are an all-too-real side effect of the BYOD trend. Organizations need to work proactively to safeguard data and prevent attacks. A good first step is to establish a best practice system for users to keep their devices virus free, make sure they have remote wipe on their phones and tablets (if available), and enforce strong password protection. The InfoSec Institute offers a detailed list of measures IT can take to help secure employees' personal devices.

Myth 10: You can prevent BYOD in your organization

Nope. You can't stop it. It's game over and already happening, Virtual Works' CEO Ed Iacabucci told me recently, and he's right.  A wholesale revolution is coming — easily the size of the one that hit IBM-dominated mainframe shops in the late 1970s, when users first started sneaking in Apple II computers to run the killer app VisiCalc, the first spreadsheet. Hang on to your hats!

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About

Gina Smith is a NYT best-selling author of iWOZ, the biography of Steve Wozniak. She is a vet tech journalist and chief of the geek tech site, aNewDomain.net.

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