CXO

BYOD lets IT exit the hardware business

While BYOD is a visible benefit for end users, it's also a win for IT in that it allows IT to exit the hardware business.

Consumerization and BYOD are often regarded as major headaches for IT management. Control of end user devices is largely ceded in most BYOD implementations, which brings with it all manner of risks ranging from infected devices parading over corporate resources to management headaches when users request support for an unfamiliar device. While BYOD is a visible benefit for end users, it's also a win for IT in that it allows IT to exit the hardware business.

Goodbye, hardware

While many larger IT organizations have outsourced hardware provisioning and management on some level, this option has generally been unavailable to smaller organizations. Even for larger companies, some level of IT involvement was necessary in the hardware process, whether it be basic sourcing or a full suite of services ranging from ordering, to inventory management, to provisioning and maintenance. With the popularity of BYOD, this process can be completely transitioned to end users. Somewhat surprisingly, even in organizations where no allowance or subsidy is provided for employees who provide their own equipment, BYOD programs are wildly popular.

In most cases, IT's role is limited to publishing security and hardware standards, and ideally providing checklists for getting employee-owned devices access to the appropriate software tools. The proliferation of cloud-based services has made this task even easier, and for some employees the only application required to access internal infrastructure is the lowly web browser.

Rather than managing a complete end user workstation, in this environment IT tracks software licensing and content stored on the device, an area that would likely require management whether the device were employer or employee owned to begin with. Hardware support goes from full service, to stocking a loaner laptop or two, perhaps a few common power cords, and directions to the nearest major retailers and repair shops.

Self-support

In several of the companies I've seen, IT articulates a very clear policy that support is the job of the end user, but also provides forums and self-help offerings that can be quite successful. Providing an internal site where users can exchange support tips and maintain FAQs on different devices allows the BYOD community to help each other for a minimal IT cost. For highly mobile users, BYOD may even provide service superior to that of internal IT. Far-flung remote workers who would have to mail their company-owned machine hundreds of miles can take a BYOD device to a local retail outlet or manage service directly with a vendor.

The BYOD future

Just as most employees would find it unthinkable to expect their employer to provide appropriate clothing for their job, save for very limited situations, increasingly we're going to see employees expect to provide their own personal computing devices, with the expectation that their employer provide proprietary tools to get their job done. Early moves into the space can help shape your company's BYOD future. Rather than creating draconian approvals and unreasonable demands, present BYOD as a privilege that requires some common sense and basic security precautions on the part of the employee, in exchange for access to corporate tools on the employee's device.

While there will certainly be bumps along the BYOD road, the opportunity to exit the business of directly acquiring, distributing, managing, and supporting end user hardware is a worthwhile exchange.

To see more on BYOD, check out our Special Features page.

To see our BYOD Executive Guide, click here.

About

Patrick Gray works for a global Fortune 500 consulting and IT services company and is the author of Breakthrough IT: Supercharging Organizational Value through Technology as well as the companion e-book The Breakthrough CIO's Companion. He has spent ...

32 comments
odetocentipede
odetocentipede

than the article. You have to question the content when the author barely gives lip service to the myriad of issues that impact BYOD. Data access, security, legal requirements, adequate support levels, software deployment, encryption recovery, patch management, license management, etc.. Sure, there is a place for BYOD, but the practicality of going whole hog as the author is implying, does not exist. At least not for companies that are large enough to already have the type of IT environment the author is referring to. The

nick
nick

As far as I can see. If you are going to raise a discussion you should be responding, bad form in my opinion. I am beginning to question the value that I am getting out of TR.

ggbyrne
ggbyrne

Repair and support are very serious problems for both the IT organization and the consumer. It cannot be avoided. Someone has to keep the gear working, answer the questions, shop for services. Consumers are easily drawn into expensive service agreements and without the buying power of larger IT organization these services are not at all competitive. (Apple won't cut a deal for Apple care on an individual basis). How much time and effort does a company want their employees investing in their own support? This is the ultimate in continually reinventing the support wheel one person at a time.

Darren B - KC
Darren B - KC

Once again, some inept fool at TR takes a fantastic LSD-induced leap into the absurd by making a broad statement without any real evidence to back it up. (Not that I'm surprised.) Seems like every time there's some tiny new innovation in the tech world, TR is there to blow the Trumpets of Doom for an entire classification of hardware or the careers of millions of people the world over. None of which ever comes to pass, of course. It's like the tablet bullshit... as soon as the first couple dozen people bought a tablet, TR was there to proclaim that "the WORLD is going mobile" and that the PC was completely finished and that there was NO reason for ANYONE to buy a PC, or for a PC manufacturer to build a PC ever again from that moment on! So, here we are now... with the dubious and potentially disastrous idea of BYOD, which is barely out of the gate, and now we're reading this equally dubious and potentially disastrous article about how IT can "exit the hardware business". Please, TR, keep the silly stuff on Failblog.org where it belongs, or perhaps The Onion.... this would fit in perfectly there!

pghegseth
pghegseth

The business may save the cost of the hardware price but the support for company owned or BYOD devices will never go away. The user will always need some help along the way. Help-desk workers with an expanded knowledge of a variety of hardware will be "in-demand" as (in my experience) the environment is still not at a point where self-help (such as a online forum or blog) provides sufficient immediacy. Users do not want to browse through a myriad of posting to finally stumble upon one of significance. They need their issues addressed in as simple a manner as possible and a phone call for help is as easy as it gets.

BdeJong
BdeJong

The "new" tech savvy young professionals are renowned for breaking a PC/software in record time. Let's just be realistic here companies will not allow IT to say "sorry for your $100K sales pitch but we do not support your self bought device" or "you will have to go to the store, we will not help you, it's policy" Hence , IT will need to support a plethora of PC's/phones invest heavily in different licences (multi OS and device connection licenses) and troubleshoot if the issue is coming from the company or from the BYOD side. This means IT hours and education (more hours) and most of us do realise (user) hardware is the cheapest component in a network. So yes you can go the BYOD route and sometimes for good reason, but please do not package it to be something it is not. Regards,

dlovep
dlovep

Seems like the author is working very hard at a research paper rather than a real life experience, if you can outsource hardware why would there be any IT in the company? If everything's on cloudy why on earth you need a Workplace? To print business card or meet your client by yourself ? That's a real Big company your are working by yourself. Don't dream too much what technology can bring you, before you fired all those ITs. If you trust SAAS can handle everything, that will only make you worse, because you are not talking to human but machines.

nick
nick

"While BYOD is a visible benefit for end users. " I disagree with you there, it is a benefit for a subset of end users. You have made a sweeping statement that is certainly not true in all or many situations. Not all end users want to manage their own device, not all can afford their own device - even with tax concessions, not all need or want mobility. Some end users need high power workstations that due to bulk are not mobile and inappropriate to be anywhere but a fixed location. Some applications for example are not suitable for virtualisation or cloud computing. I think that if you had identified the scope of your statement I would not be so upset by it. "Hardware support goes from full service.....directions to the nearest major retailers and repair shops." I am astounded that you can even say this. An employee, on company time, taking time off to get their BYOD repaired or fixed is an astonishing waste of resources. Take out an executive for 2 hours and calculate the cost of that! Consider the scenario, typical of many repair centres, where your device dissapears into the service department for several days. Your employee is either non productive or relying on borrowed equipment, probably from IT. Sending someone off to fix their own device, it simply does not work in many cases. I would suggest that even if repairs were carried out in non business hours, not many employees would want to "waste" their personal time. I have seen situations where BYOD works very well, but these are currently the exception not the norm. I agree with a number of the other comments above, I "+"ed a couple of them.

Michael Kassner
Michael Kassner

I doubt seriously that anyone would allow their company to lock down their personal computer so it meets the authentication and authorization requirements stipulated by the company, let alone join the domain.

Gisabun
Gisabun

The title is misleading because users will still require IT manage hardware such as printers, networking equipment, servers, etc. An ex-boss of mine was at least right [from 2007] on one thing: as soon as you turn on the WiFi, problems will happen. Between security, stopping who and what can get on the network, and supporting them. Let alone it opens further inspection for PCI DSS and other regulatory issues. As soon as you open up BYOD, IT has to support not [maybe] a couple of OSs to maybe more than a dozen variants. Of course a further problem is what happens when the user leaves the company. How to remove company data off the devices. Can't just wipe the device. They may have personal information as well.

malid01
malid01

We also have BYOD here. It was also announced in bright colours.... but the downside was mentioned at the end: you have to pay for it yourself. If anything goes wrong, you are yourself responsible for replacement. To me, this just a very obvious move to save some money. And I disagree with the statement "the company does not pay for your clothing as well": I can not work without a PC and so this to me is a production facility that needs to be supplied by the company. You would not excpect the manufacturing worker to bring his own assembly line or the truck driver of a logistic company to supply his own truck.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

User "My Device isn't working". IT bloke. "Oh we do don't hardware anymore..." Pulease.

Organic53
Organic53

If anything, in regulated industries, BYOD has increased the need for IT to become involved in hardware. We now have to set standards and develop applications that will work with a 'standard' device. The whole issue of security is one that all companies should be aware of and is just complicated by portable devices (not impossible).

gearond
gearond

The Chinese Military . . . If all of my/you fellow tech people haven't noticed, our credit card numbers, passwords, company secrets, government secrets are being MINED from servers and personal devices. Until the time that EVERY device: USB Stick, cell phones, tablets, laptops, and servers, aren't running encrypted file systems and ram, we are just giving away our jobs, companies, and security (I'm a rather left leaning soul, but pragmatic about it). BYOD is a slippery slope that youthful and management enthusiasm has embraced w/o thinking it through.

#1bobcat
#1bobcat

Nice thought, like all users on one OS or a paperless system. It isn't going to happen! Especially true in a large organization. With a 1000 users there will always be exceptions. If you have to provide for even 10% exceptions, that is 100 systems to manage. Not a daunting task, but still requires resources to load, upgrade, repair, manage inventory, etc. I would suggest that it is easier in a smaller organization since you have fewer users and less chance of exceptions.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I wouldn't write off the site over a single author's unresponsiveness. Some consider their jobs done when the original content is up; others respond to each and every post, even if only to say "Thanks.".

ggbyrne
ggbyrne

Nick - I don't think that TR is really trying to stimulate discussion - they sell advertising and also sell placement of white papes and articles, almost all of which are marketing pieces intended to drive traffic to the author's website. At least this particular discussion is really good !!

nick
nick

IT has spent much of the last 20 years trying to reduce the cost of IT support by utilising a whole raft of measures which include, Standard software, standard hardware, standard OS's, bulk purchasing, reducing variation, planning and controlling changes (upgrades), centralising support into Service Desks etcetera.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Which assumes there's a repair shop nearby, much less a competent one. The closest repair shop to where I work is 20 miles away, assuming we're willing to call the Geek Squad at Best Buy "competent".

HAL 9000
HAL 9000

While that Device is away being repaired or worse still replaced with another one. I seem to remember not so long ago how [b]Big[/b] it was for TR to be insisting that All Data on Nonfunctional Devices be wiped before handing them in for repair. Didn't matter that the devices themselves where nonfunctional you had to wipe them before returning them. I can even remember cases where after the item was replaced the RE-Manufactured Device was sold to anyone willing to pay and that these had the previous owners Data on them. [b]Great.[/b] Now just what I want my companies Private Data passed around like a Merry Go Round on Staffs Personal Devices that fail. Where I work that's simply never going to happen but then again no HDD ever leaves this place in 1 piece and those that do leave here don't go out with any Platters, though with SSD type drives we are going to have find new ways to destroy drives when we get enough of them. At the moment however it's not an issue and personally I can not see any Staff handing over their broken personal devices to be destroyed. But maybe I'm just wrong. :^0 :D :^0 :D :^0 :D [/Maniacal Laughter] Col

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

I mean clearly thought out objective and realistic analysis of the issues. No need for all that. Download a nice little melody set it going then skip round your disk singing I can use my IPhone to it in a suitably childish voice. Go on do a pirouette and skip round the other way... See, simple and fun, none of that boring thinking stuff... Let the vendors do that for you eh...

andrew232006
andrew232006

If you want access to the company email on your iPhone or blackberry you have to let them load their policies on it, including an inordinately long unlock code, the ability for them to remote wipe your phone and, most disturbingly, back up your data to their servers. I don't check my work email from my phone.

tbmay
tbmay

My work tools belong to my employer. If they want me to do my job, they have to provide them. If they want me to use my own equipment, they have to accept they don't get to enforce policies on it. I don't work to finance the employer. Personally, I'd prefer they just provide the tools. I really don't understand why some people are so determined to use their own stuff for their jobs.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Unless its Do you want a job or not? Plenty of others out there on welfare who do. Come on, hand it over. I've always, wanted one of these. He titters in evil way. Personally I'd be very reluctant to connect my kit to some of the company networks I've seen. Some of the security has occasionally been done on the cheap...

BdeJong
BdeJong

However small companies have (usually) shorter lines more user influence and more exeptions than rules (roles are often shared) and less budget for BYOD management tools. That adds up to more BYOwns (%) and in other words, still a nightmare.

nick
nick

Thanks. Some of their authors generate really good discussions and take active part in responding that is a rewarding experience for everyone. That to me makes it worth having in my shortcuts. I just get dissapointed when others do not meet the same standard. Anyway I am off on holiday so will forget all about TR and IT in general for 2 weeks.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

It would be polite to have a back up to restore it.. Back up your data to their servers, can you imagine the consequences of that information being leaked? The threw the back up tape in the bin scenario, or sold off hardware without destroying the hard drive one. It would be carnage.

andrew232006
andrew232006

Well they could have not put the information on a portable hard drive in the first place. They could have encrypted it. They could have ensured it wasn't left somewhere someone could walk off with it without anyone knowing. I think a few people dropped the ball in this incident. They can't completely eliminate the risk of insider theft but they can limit who has access to critical information to people who need it and understand the risks. And they can limit what they can do with it to an extent by blocking USB transfers.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Often it's the people who pay most attention, to pseudo security, who drop the ball quick and far when it comes to basics. 22 character super-strength password, written on post-it and stuck on the monitor sort of thing.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Your laws on privacy are even more stringent than the EUs as far as I can make out. I don't get what they get out of a policy like that, that's commensurate with the risk, no matter how careful they try to be. What if an insider walked off with them, there's next to nothing you can do about that, apart from try and employ good people and cross your fingers real tight. Unless it was a spoiler. IT didn't want to do it, so they set up the nastiest set of restrictions they could come up with to put people off?

andrew232006
andrew232006

I have no reason not to trust my workplace but I don't trust any company not to make lapses like that. The government here in Canada recently lost a portable hard drive containing 500 thousand student borrowers financial information, including SINs, names, birthdays despite having some draconian security measures. About a year ago sony may have lost the credit card information of all their PSN customers. It often still only take one person to make a mistake.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

any outfit with the policies andrew describes is probably not going to overlook the physical security issues you mention.

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