Brown’s Bytes – What’s the VIEW on BYOD?

Welcome to Brown’s Bytes! Your weekly insight from Mobliciti’s CTO Andy Brown. Follow #brownsbytes

30th November 2018

One of the topics we discussed on the panel at VIEW last week was the perennially thorny issue of BYOD.

It’s a question that can be relied upon to come up pretty much every time (almost with a groan these days), so why is that?

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) has been on the agenda for some considerable time now. In my previous life as a customer, this was something that started being talked about almost 10 years ago when the first iPhones and iPads started making their way into the enterprise.

At that time, everyone used BlackBerry and it was a corporate issued device for doing work (email) on. BYOB wasn’t really a thing; I can count on one hand the number of times someone asked if they could use their own BB device or activated something other than the approved device. Generally, this was because the corp devices were nicer than the consumer ones, as well as IT being able to lock it down even if you did try to activate your own one.

Cue the Apple revolution. Simply put: we couldn’t react fast enough to get these devices working as corporate devices.

However, senior figures in the enterprise started showing up with an iOS device and IT were told to JFDI (I will assume that acronym is one everybody knows).

And along came “Good for Enterprise”. The JFDI answer to BYOD was (and is) a very compelling answer to the problem:

1. Yes, you can bring your Apple or Android device
2. No, we won’t lock it down
3. Yes, we can protect just the corporate data using the “container”
4. Yes, security and compliance have just signed this off!

And so, BYOD was solved!

…until it wasn’t.

As with many JFDI initiatives, the rush to get the product out the door resulted in quite a lot of details being glossed over. The container let everyone treat these issues as a SEP (Douglas Adams fans will know this is Someone Else’s Problem). It kicked the can down the road but ticked the box to get the devices working.

10 years on those problems still haven’t gone away. Things like:

– Why do we still spend a fortune on corp devices?
– Should we reimburse staff for using their own device?
– How on earth do we support 50 different devices properly?
– How can we force users to patch their devices?
– How can we force users to upgrade to something easier to support?
– Who on earth owns the phone number now?
– Why has Andy just expensed a £1000 phone bill because he was working abroad?

I could go on.

As is often the case, BYOD isn’t a problem that can’t be solved. It’s just you have to solve all of it for it to be a success. If you don’t you just end up with a mess.

If you’d like advice and guidance on device policy and how we could help make BYOD a success, then please get in touch.