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BYOD and IT's Most Vulgar Four-letter Word

Written by Aaron Suzuki, Founder & CEO, SmartDeploy

Seven years since it was first introduced to the technology zeitgeist by Intel, BYOD is here in full force, empowering today's workforce with the ability to work where they want, when they want and how they want, thanks to innovations such as smart devices, cloud storage and the growing consumerization of IT. In fact, 74 percent of organizations surveyed by Tech Pro Research are on a path to decentralizing their IT, either allowing their employees to bring their own devices, or planning to do so in the future.

But in pursuing BYOD, IT teams need to carefully navigate the unstable continuum between two extremes of decentralization. On one end, there is a centralized and closed-door end-user computing model, which sacrifices flexibility for security and control. On the other, it's total anarchy; a veritable Wild West, wide open to any and all devices and services that users might choose, putting the business at risk through a lack of control.

Risk is the most vulgar four-letter word for IT teams, but there is no one standard formula for minimizing it. Companies need to identify their perfect approach to control, planting their stake in the ground based on their own unique profile and pathway to productivity, as well as their industry-required degree of risk-aversion. This may be dictated by regulatory requirements, company culture and other elements that define the needs of both their end-users and their business.   

With this in mind, IT teams should know that there's no standard answer when reevaluating BYOD policies. If they want to find their own ‘sweet spot' of decentralization, three key aspects should be considered.

Foresight. No good policy is built with ‘now' in mind. A BYOD policy needs to evaluate not only the current state of play, but the hypothetical, future needs of a company, based on its demographics and existing employee habits, painting a picture of the devices that may need to be regulated in years to come. A policy created in 2010, for example, might have needed to account for the meteoric rise of Slack, or the mass adoption of enterprise cloud, at a time when these technologies weren't in widespread use for end-users.

IT leaders need to become future-gazers who are well aligned with the business in order to strategically plan for the devices and end-user habits on the horizon.

IT teams need to also keep the back-end in mind. It's not enough to draft policies that allow versatility and decentralization; the server-side infrastructure must be fully-prepared for the demands of the new end user computing model.

That could mean a stronger focus on cloud storage, allowing for greater mobility of devices. It could also entail greater security measures to manage the risk to existing infrastructure without having to inconvenience the end-user. IT teams must ensure that the level of decentralization they are aiming for can be handled by their back-end infrastructure, without over-burdening the team available to support it.

A BYOD policy shouldn't just be tailored, it should be clear and enforceable. Even while a majority of organizations have a BYOD policy in place, only half have a way of enforcing it. That means, realistically, that only a third of all organizations actually have a plan of action to address the risks of BYOD and shore up the organization's defenses.

When IT teams create or reevaluate their BYOD policies, they need to ensure that it has no grey areas so that the policy can be followed exactly as intended. And they need to have not only policies to manage their employees' use of devices, but technical tactics and solutions in place to detect, monitor and, if necessary, shut down rogue or unauthorized device activity across all endpoints in the IT ecosystem.

IT teams know that BYOD is here, and that they need to achieve some level of decentralization for their end-users. The good news is that, thanks to the flexibility enabled by mobility and the productivity offered by cloud, they can get on the offense, reexamining and creating new BYOD policies with these key points in mind. By creating more efficient and productive policies for end-users, IT teams can pre-empt end-user frustration and maximize compliance.

Simply having a policy in place without assessing these key areas can be as ineffective as having no policy at all. It's time for IT teams to ensure that they're covering every angle in their decentralization strategy, because without accounting for the specificities of their business, the door is wide open for risk. And that's a vulgarity no business should encourage.

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About the Author

Aaron has spent his entire career as an IT consultant. Rising at the age of 26 to the role of President for a regional Internet application development firm, Aaron led the company successfully through the economic downturn of the early 2000's. From there, he moved to a broader technology business opportunity, taking on the revival of an ailing Seattle-based IT firm where he acted as the Director of Business Development. Aaron co-founded SmartDeploy in 2009. As the CEO, he helps create and instill process in production and management. He is responsible for the ongoing operations of the business, including day-to-day management. Aaron drives the strategic direction of the company, and he is the primary liaison to the Advisory Board.  

Published Wednesday, August 17, 2016 7:35 AM by David Marshall
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