To Boldly Go Beyond BYOD

To Boldly Go Beyond BYOD

Summary: BYOD is not only inevitable, it should be welcomed with relief by any CIO who remembers the difficulty trying to get workers to adopt mobile a decade ago. Here's how they can encourage it.


Every enterprise has a Chief Information Officer. How about (groan) the Starship Enterprise?

While there was no actual CIO on-board the NCS-1701, the choices from The Original Series are obvious: Chief Science Officer Spock or Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott.

Spock may have green-blooded logic on his side. But my vote goes to Scotty. Not only does Mr. Scott manage all of the Enterprise's technical infrastructure, but he's got the trademark pessimism of someone in that position.

How many times did we hear Kirk demand, "Scotty! We. Need. More. POWER!" and hear Scotty admonish him, "Captain - the Dilithium Chamber is already at maximum! She cannae hold much longer!"

Considering Scotty's Zero-for-347 record at predicting the Enterprise's imminent self-destruction, I've concluded that Scotty was, perhaps, just maybe, I don't know, just a wee bit overdramatic.

A Debbie Downer in a Glaswegian accent. In other words, a lot like your traditional CIO.

Worrying about network failures, hackers and budgets isn't as stressful as watching your ship potentially disintegrate week after week. But it still tends to put a furrow in the brow and streak the hair fifty shades of gray.

The problem is when that reflexive glass-half-empty 'tude starts to color everything you see. Take, for example, the trepidation with which many CIOs treat the twin trends of Consumerization of IT and Bring Your Own Device.

CIOs may rightfully worry about the security/infrastructure implications of allowing a sudden influx of employee-owned mobile devices onto their networks. But they also forget about all of the real-time business they can start to do without having to invest a single dime in new hardware.

"Captain! The offices have been breached by 5,000 employees carrying Galaxy S IIIs. Our anti-BYOD policy cannae hold out much longer!"

Heck, they even forget about all of the unsuccessful begging that many of them were doing a decade ago when they tried to introduce mobile devices in the workplace.

Not IT consultant Steve Romero. "It used to be a struggle to get users to adopt mobile devices," he reminded listeners during the Coffee Break with Gamechangers Radio show last week. "Today, half of the battle is already won for them [CIOs]. Workers now have the physical asset [their own smartphone or tablet] and a willingness to learn. But organizations don't look at it that way."

To borrow a metaphor from another Universe Far Far Away, it's as if someone had Jedi Mind-Tricked these CIOs to look only at Dark Side of Mobility.

But the Force is strong with Mobile. Even with the roadblocks thrown up by IT departments, workers are getting their way. Forrester analyst George Lawrie said during the SAP-sponsored radio show last week that 74% of corporate information workers use two or more devices for work, with 52% using three or more.

Based on history, he sees mobile's rise in the work world as inevitable.

"Why did client/server take off in companies? Because people already had a PC at home," said Lawrie.

The Final Frontier

And BYOD will be the way forward for most companies. But enterprises need to stop using Impulse Power and start operating at the Warp Speed of the consumer market.

"To be a business frontrunner, it's unacceptable to be a year or even six months behind consumer trends," said SAP CIO Oliver Bussmann during the same radio program.

Bussmann is an example of an IT leader who has shifted out of the traditional defensive mode of thinking for a CIO, i.e. minimizing problems and keeping TCO down, to thinking offensively, such as how can I deliver new technologies that empower workers and deliver ROI.

That's why Bussmann himself, not someone working for him, has been personally testing the Samsung Galaxy S III smartphone for the past several weeks.

This Android device - released in Europe today, and the U.S. later this month - is widely expected to be a hit. Bussmann has high praise for it.

"It's the perfect smartphone. I expect huge demand from my internal users," he said.

Besides keeping pace with the consumer market, companies need to move beyond simply tolerating BYOD to actively encouraging it.

This is why SAP - which has deployed more than 14,000 iPads, 8,000 iPhones and 1,000 Android Samsung devices to employees - is setting up centers to help employees test drive new smartphones and tablets and technical help with devices and apps when needed.

"They'll be just like Genius Bars," Bussmann said, referring to the Service centers inside Apple Stores.

Bussmann is setting up these 'Genius Bars' in three SAP offices - Mumbai, India, the U.S. headquarters in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania and the global headquarters in Walldorf, Germany.

Details are scarce today, but I hope to hear a lot more about SAP's "Genius Bars" within a month and share that with you. But this is the sort of best practice that progressive companies led by forward-thinking CIOs should consider adopting, not just as a way to boost employee satisfaction but also the corporate bottom line. I'd like to think even the dour Mr. Scott would approve.

Topics: ÜberTech, SAP

Eric Lai

About Eric Lai

I have tracked technology for more than 15 years, as an award-winning journalist and now as in-house thought leader on the mobile enterprise for SAP. Follow me here at ÜberMobile as well as my even less-filtered musings on Twitter @ericylai

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  • Good post...I completely agree

    Eric, I completely agree with you. As a Symantec employee I can see where the CIOs you describe are coming from. In reality, the concerns surrounding BYOD are much like those involved with driving a car. Are there potential hazards involved with both? Yes. But can those hazards be avoided? Sure they can! In both cases, preparing for the various hazards by being properly equipped with appropriate protections and tools enables one to reap the benefits of these activities without getting banged up. We recently acquired Nukona, which makes mobile application management, or MAM, technology. This is a great BYOD "accident avoidance" solution.

    Spencer Parkinson
  • Sorry.....I disagree.

    Any organization that pushes for BYOD is asking for major trouble.

    One, most employees will not be able to afford these devices, especially if that means buying a second device to keep personal and work related data separate. If the company offers to partially pay for the device, there still is the issue of using that device for both personal and work related functions. And who really owns that device?

    Secondly, and organization that deals with medical, dental, insurance, educational, or any other related industry that deals with HIPAA information, should not even consider BYOD. Do you really think that allowing personal devices to have this information will go unpunished? The legal ramifications of BYOD in these organizations is unthinkable and will subject the organizations and the employee to massive legal and financial hardships.

    I myself would never use a personal device for work related purposes. If the organization wants me to have a mobile device for work related activities, then they can issue me one. If demanded to use my own personal gear, I will refuse to do so. I will not even consider taking any chance of having any data on my personal device which may put me in legal or financial jeopardy.

    BYOD is a big liability, and it this "trend" continues, it will eventually die when the first legal action comes because data will have compromised in some way.
    linux for me
    • Hard for me to understand...

      ...some of your objections here. Let's address:

      "most employees will not be able to afford these devices" Really? A good smartphone costs $100, a tablet $200. PCs meanwhile start at about $4-500. And granted, mobile service plans are not cheap, but they're no more pricey than DSL.

      "especially if that means buying a second device to keep personal and work related data separate."
      The whole point is to minimize the # of devices carried. So the goal, not always reachable, is one device that holds both personal and work data, but is secured via MDM software.

      "If the company offers to partially pay for the device, there still is the issue of using that device for both personal and work related functions. And who really owns that device?"

      I refuse to believe that the ownership issue is a hard one to solve. Employee owns the device, but signs away some rights to employer re: corporate data when it is used for BYOD and/or subsidized by company. Employee keeps device/ph# when he leaves the company. SAP figured out how to do this, and it takes EU data privacy laws very very seriously.

      Your comments about how HIPAA - the equivalent of EU data privacy laws - basically should prevent any health-related organization from doing BYOD feels too strong, too. This is where group policies via MDM come in. Or for very strict organizations, they can keep everything on the server and use Citrix/virtualization to view the data, though there is a big usability price to be paid.

      I respect your opinions, but they definitely feel a wee bit cautious for 95% of companies out there. I'm willing to hear more, though...
    • Here's what the CIO of Lexmark thinks

      "Mobile is a part of everyday life and our employees want the same experience they have at home in the workplace. They DON'T WANT multiple devices."
      - Keith Moody, CIO, Lexmark, from SAPPHIRE NOW in Orlando customer panel, moderated by SAP prez Sanjay Poonen.