The BYOD culture debate – time to embrace the revolution

For some time now IT managers and IT decision-makers have come under increasing pressure to enable the use of personal devices in the work environment.

In just a short period of time ‘bring your own device’ has become common business parlance. But for businesses, simply allowing access of personal devices isn’t the answer. To ensure success it’s a question of enabling relevant, secure access across the entire network, while protecting corporate assets and delivering an optimal user experience.

In the end, it’s about creating a user-focused network that supports the next-generation mobility experience. People feel comfortable with and, want to use their own personal device at work.

This is placing huge demands on networks and on IT managers who need to identify and provision access for a multitude of devices, while maintaining a high level of security, performance and control.

The BYOD (bring your own device) model will inevitably demand new support and operational structuring requiring businesses to plan and budget accordingly.

In the future, for example, we will see people being given an "IT allowance" to buy their own laptops, smartphones etc… in a similar way to some organisations providing a car allowance.

Ultimately, productivity is not only going to be dependent on the freedom to choose a device, or the ease of access to information, or the quality of the connection when consuming bandwidth intensive content. It will largely depend on the tools available on those devices.

End users expectations based on their consumer habits, such as apps usage on their smartphones and the speed of deploying such services, places a level of demands and challenges on IT managers to provide a similar service level internal within their corporate infrastructure.

At Cisco we have encouraged and applied a BYOD policy since 2009. Giving employees the freedom to use their personal devices (tablets, smartphones etc.) alongside their work devices harnesses the power of accessing information whenever and wherever they want.

The traditional stereotype of the nine-to-five office job is no longer relevant in today’s business environment. Adopting mobile technology means employers can offer employees a better work-life balance beyond the traditional nine-to-five culture, we are seeing a shift from the workplace to a workspace.

From CIOs downwards, flexible working hours are hugely appealing to a lot of employees. It’s also important in driving a strong inclusion and diversity culture, attracting and retaining a broad demographic of staff.

Now, your work extends beyond your desk and PC- attitudes towards information access, mobile devices and social media have put pressure on businesses to adopt new technologies and improve IT infrastructure.

This shift is causing concern for companies without the IT infrastructure to support personal mobile devices and data.

This has led to a struggle in attracting top talent in competition with niche or global organisations that do have the capability to support the latest and greatest technology for employees.

This is where IT’s role in enabling the business transformation is pivotal, and what makes working in IT so exciting.

Ian Foddering, CTO of Cisco UK&I.

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