Staff bringing their own mobile devices into the workplace is proving to be the most radical change in enterprise computing since the first PC entered the workplace.
While its nothing new that workers are increasingly bring their own devices into the workplace, most companies’ readiness to accept these changes has lagged. Staff are demanding the ability to access enterprise data and applications on these consumer devices – with all the security and HR complications that follow. Gartner describes it as "the single most radical shift in the economics of client computing for business since PCs invaded the workplace."
"With the wide range of capabilities brought by mobile devices, and the myriad ways in which business processes are being reinvented as a result, we are entering a time of tremendous change," said David Willis, VP and analyst at Gartner.
"The market for mobile devices is booming and the basic device used in business compared to those used by consumers is converging."
Unlike the early 2000s when most mobile technology was driven by enterprise requirements, consumer focused companies such as Apple and Google have taken over the industry. With this fundamental change, comes a six monthly generational refresh for consumer mobile devices, much faster than most IT departments are used to.
Staff actively work to cirucumvent rusty old enterprise systems, preferring to use their own high powered devices – as especially large problem for Gen Y.
With it, a BYOD software and hardware industry has sprung up to build enterprise functionality into these consumer first devices.
Much as in the 90s and 2000s the company car faded from popularity, to be replaced with mileage and petrol claim backs, the opportunity for businesses to potentially save money on mobile and computing devices is there – but the trade off is risk.
Willis believes that BYOD programs typically do not reduce costs. He believes the costs of software, infrastructure, personnel support and related services increase over time, and the evolution of file sharing, business applications and collaboration tools on mobile will cause costs to go up dramatically.
It is worth remembering that BYOD of traditional IT devices, such as laptops, has been occurring for the best part of 20 years – especially in the creative industries. All companies should have policies constructed by legal and HR departments to cover corporate liability and employee privacy implications, amongst other considerations.
"It won’t stop with bring your own PC," said Willis.
"Bring your own IT is on the horizon. Once these new devices are in the mix, employees will be bringing their own applications, collaboration systems, and even social networks into businesses."
Even those companies that choose not to employ a BYOD strategy, still need to adapt company policy to lay out guidelines for employees.