In the upcoming Calbar book, The California Guide to Growing & Managing a Law Office, I do a side-by-side comparison between the benefits and detriments of BYOD. I'm sure the same sort of comparison takes place in meetings at all kinds of companies. There's no doubt that on paper, many aspects of BYOD might yield productivity gains and other benefits for the enterprise.
[Note: In the book, I lay out information in the format of pros and cons because the goal is to inform a reader of the positives and pitfalls so they can make an informed decision.]
So, what's my opinion? If I was the consultant, in most cases, I'd likely fall into the 'against' column. Why? I'll get to that in a moment.
For those of you who don't know my background, at one time or another, I pretty much did every job on the operations side of IT before I ever became a lawyer. This allows me to look at facts through a wide-angle lens. The way my mind works, I literally imagine an issue as a 3-D photograph. Let's apply that to BYOD:
We start by playing 'swap' for a moment. Imagine coming into work one morning and all of the desktops are different brands and chipsets; some of them are Windows, but a mix of XP, Vista and Seven, others are Macs with various versions of the O/S and still others are Linux boxes. Now, you may actually see that in some concerns, for good reason. But I'm talking about literally a different box on each desk in the office.
That would be kind of hard to manage, wouldn't it?
Maybe it wouldn't seem like it to you, but again, I'm thinking very broadly. We're not just dealing with realities, we're dealing with expectations. What do I mean by that?
When I read most of the articles that address BYOD, they speak in terms of locking down various functions on a device, such as email, via Exchange, for example. But that''s not how I'm thinking; and it won't be how the employees/consultants will be thinking, either.
Nope. If it's a device supporting their job, they expect everyone up the chain to be able to support the entire device - not just components of it. And, the enterprise should expect this as well, since a non-functioning device will ultimately affect productivity.
It means that your help-desk, field service technicians, level II (and level III) support will have to be proficient with every make and model of Windows Phone, Blackberry, iPhone and - if you'll pardon the pun - every flavor of Android. Oh, and did anyone give any thought as to how you're going to back them up in such a manner that the company owns/controls the data?
That's what it means, Jelly Bean.
So, if you're considering BYOD, I hope the decision-makers are taking this into account and formulating policy. Never mind that I didn't get into the fact that, if litigation arises, staff may have to turn over their personal devices for imaging or examination. I also didn't get into how growth highly affects BYOD. We all know the person who runs out and purchases the brand-new, untested, unpatched version of X the moment it's on the market. Apple Maps, anyone?
I hope you bought the 1000-count bottle...