BYOD and cloud: The keys to making the IT department liked again?

Letting go of the physical infrastructure is key to the IT department being taken seriously - but can CIOs really make the jump?

Bring your own device (BYOD) and cloud are often seen eroding the powerbase of the IT department. As a result there is quite a lot of resistance to both of these concepts from IT professionals. But while this is understandable, it is misguided and unwise in the long run.

BYOD, for example, is seen as weakening the power of the IT team because the department no longer gets to decide what hardware gets bought or used in the office. That's bad for a couple of reasons, according to the naysayers.

Firstly, BYOD means no more chance for the IT manager to browse through laptop catalogues and daydream (and makes it much harder to keep those pesky Macs out, too). Secondly, it means the IT department loses what was a very handy bargaining chip when it comes to negotiating with awkward end users: because BYOD means IT is now the source of shiny new toys, users have no incentive to play nicely in the hope that IT will give them a decent laptop the next time around.

Similarly, cloud is seen as undermining the authority of the CIO and the IT department by reducing headcount: services in the cloud means fewer people on the ground maintaining infrastructure. And in the world of corporate politics it is never a good thing for the CIO to have fewer employees than the next executive. After all, who wants to be the CIO if it means sitting in a room alone re-reading your contracts with cloud providers?

Fortunately CIOs are taking the opposite perspective. Rather than hold onto their servers with a deathly grip they are happy to hand them over, and rather than mandating what hardware appears on the desks, they are willing to let end users choose.

I recently chaired a CIO event where most seemed positive about the impact of BYOD and cloud on the IT organisation. They saw embracing such strategies as a way of making it easier for the CIO – and by extension the IT department – to be taken seriously by the rest of the business. Not as a disaster, but as a new beginning.

"IT is no longer considered to be only the people who provide your desktop or who fix the server," said one CIO. By letting go of this infrastructure the IT department can be seen as embracing change, instead of protecting old roles. Rather than reducing the authority of IT or the CIO, cloud and BYOD, when used well, can enhance their reputation.


Steve Ranger is the UK editor of TechRepublic, and has been writing about the impact of technology on people, business and culture for more than a decade. Before joining TechRepublic he was the editor of


CLOUD is about control and cost reduction, and hoping the entity one is leasing out to will be bothered to do their job effectively and with care as well. Most end users and departments that rely on IT increasingly do not like IT because IT does things for itself instead of the users. The IT manager has to talk to the CFO, CEO, C_O, whatever, and costs are contained by limiting services and standards. Replacing one standard with another does nothing to resolve the issue of "likeability". Spell out how half these systems work and people will be even less happy. And they're already annoyed at new technologies' poorer performance (unless it's the contractor that came in and did a shoddy job in the first place, but workers tend to do the value they think others fathom them as worthy as being. If you're not thought of highly, will you perform better or worse than if you were?) Plenty of tangents, but my second through fourth paragraphs sum it up the best.


Although customer focus plays a big role, my job is not to be liked or unliked, or to have a large or small head count. My job it to provide efficient tech services and information security for my employer. How does consumerising what we do ensure that we are providing the best outcome? Less security, less control, blurred lines between business and personal information and systems, increasing information anarchy, but hey I don't want to be a nay sayer and it's sooo shiny, so let's surrender the corporate network! What a great idea! Seriously though, there is no doubt that we are in the middle of another tech revolution but as history testifies, it???s easy to lose your head at such times, so beware.


People often go by some external group's beliefs instead of doing their own research and needs. Like the economy in general, a business' lack of intellect and relying more on outsiders to decide how all should do things just ends up being nothing more than poor organization, handling, and direction.

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