The Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend is no longer a 'trend'. It has happened. Recent predictions from Gartner claim that global PC shipments will decline this year as tablet shipments increase, and there is anecdotal evidence that the majority of employees have accessed company-sensitive information on their personal device. Just look at any desk around you in your office and you will spot personal devices scattered among traditional work tools.
Whereas the BYOD phenomenon has previously been associated with a younger generation coming into the workforce, disrupting existing workflows and tools deployed in an office environment, it actually isn't. In fact, increasingly, it is the C-suite that is driving BYOD.
Picture the situation: a young recent starter asks the IT department to allow him to connect his Android smartphone to the VPN and for his work emails to be accessible via his device. The natural response from the IT department is to decline the request and point him towards company-mandated devices such as a BlackBerry.
Now imagine the CEO of the same company receives an iPad for her birthday and demands for it to be connected to corporate email and Board-level presentations made available via the device for her to review while on the go. IT cannot ignore this request and have to make it work.
The CIO and his IT department have a tough job in today's technologically converging world. While they are responsible for the control and deployment of every application and report, they increasingly also have to be the enablers of this brave new world.
Where the CIO thought he had the backing of the CEO when it came to controlling the younger workforce - millennial generation - with their disruptive ideas, bringing their own personal devices into work and demanding intuitive next-generation tools, he is, in fact, getting the pressure from both ends of the spectrum. And being forced to find a solution.
Need to evolve quickly
Now, the IT department still owns data quality, availability and security. And the CIO has the responsibility for managing these and reducing the risk of a security threat. Which is why they need to evolve as quickly as the technology industry does, working closely with the next generation of workers to manage the transition, instead of trying to control it.
We are used to using advanced, intuitive and personalised technology in our home lives, and expect to see this replicated in our working lives too. There are multiple benefits in evolving working technology tools and practices, but the CIO - for good reasons - tends to let the disadvantages outweigh the benefits. The main concern is obviously security. But if even the CEO (with whom the ultimate responsibility lies) is demanding her latest gadget be connected, then the CIO needs to find a solution.
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