By RJ Bardsley
Quick question for you – have you noticed anybody at your company wandering around with strange electronic gear? Maybe you’ve seen the new entry level hires coming to meetings with their iPads or composing emails on their smart phones at the lunch table? If so, welcome to the world of BYOD – Bring Your Own Device, a new cultural trend that has emerged because of the advances in mobile and cloud computing that we’ve seen over the past few years in the tech sector.
My theory is that BYOD on the job happens for a couple of reasons:
- Existing technology infrastructure is poor and doesn’t accommodate any level of mobile computing. This often happens with new recruits at big companies – they’re given a desktop computer that can’t be moved without a trolley, yet they’re required to take notes during meetings or work remotely from home or the road. The solution? They bring in their own tablets or laptops and work off of them as necessary.
- Corporate technology may be jarring for some people. It could be that you’ve hired someone and asked them to move directly into a Windows/MSFT environment. But the tools they’ve grown up on are Mac or Android. These employees are expected to be extremely productive, and learning a new environment is certainly possible, but it would cut down on their productivity in the short term. What happens? They self medicate and bring in the devices they know they can deliver on.
- Identity. A lot of people view their mobile devices as an extension of themselves – particularly for smartphones. If your company issues Blackberry phones, don’t expect your younger employees to be happy about it. They’ll probably want a Samsung or an iPhone – and they’ll have no problem buying it for themselves. And guess what – they’ll also have no problem setting up corporate email and server access on that device. Odds are that they won’t even ask IT about it.
- Expectations and resources are not aligned. One of the exciting things about hiring young people is the creativity they bring to the job. However a lot of times companies don’t align the resources they provide these recruits with the jobs they’re asking them to do. Again, these folks usually don’t throw in the towel – they break out the Powerbook and drag it into the office. Bravo – these people are showing exactly the type of ingenuity you hired them for… Now get them the right devices and watch them fly.
So what is this BYOD culture doing to our companies and offices? It’s making them a little scary for IT and the CIO – all this differentiation is tough to administer and secure. But for the rest of the organization it’s doing a lot of good. It’s enabling people to think and work in ways that are best for them – this usually equals more productivity and creativity. The downside? BYOD costs a lot and the expense often falls on the employees who can least afford it. My recommendation? If you can afford it, give these guys a technology stipend.
A little bit about me: At the end of the day all you’ve got is your perspective… and this is my perspective on all things mobile. It’s not always pretty and it’s not always right… but I try to keep it funny and entertaining.