BYOD: Not living up to its aspirations?

A recent article on reports on a survey done by CompTIA on attitudes towards BYOD. The birds eye view is that the benefits of BYOD aren’t providing a substantial enough counterweight to the drawbacks of the strategy.

I’ve always used my own devices for work. Mostly because I’m a geek and I thought that the computers I was provisioned with by the organization I worked for were a bit rubbish, and that for most of the last 20 decades I’ve been senior enough in whatever position I held to use whatever I wanted without too many questions being posed.

It turns out however that there is a big difference between allowing the geek who runs the network to use their own device and allowing Mavis in accounting to use her own device. The main takeaways from the article were that:

  • Employees often gamed the system, so BYOD ended up costing more than shoveling a corporate approved standardized configuration in the direction of employees.
  • Employees don’t like the strings that are attached. It’s one thing to be able to bring a computer that you have complete sovereignty over to the office. It’s another to have IT have to install management and monitoring software to ensure that the organization’s compliance responsibilities are met. The “sell” on BYOD was that people got to use their own private machines. The reality was that while people are using their own machines, they aren’t really “private”
  • That productivity “improvements” have been hard to measure. While BYOD has been sold as improving worker productivity, it turns out that no one has actually proven this to be the case. In the survey, fewer than 50% believed there was any improvement to productivity.
  • Security is still a big problem. The CIO article quotes a Centrify report that found that the majority of BYOD devices have third party cloud storage apps like Dropbox or OneDrive installed, and that 15% of the BYOD users surveyed admitted that their password or account had recently been compromised.

The gist of the report seems to be that when looked at in detail, BYOD seems in some organizations to have cost more money than simply provisioning users with stock managed devices. By offering BYOD policies, IT departments are able to appear responsive to user desires.

However in the long run, the most reliable determining factor on IT policy isn’t the desires of the users (or the IT department) but instead the projections contained in the spreadsheets and databases used by the accounting department.

BYOD is always going to be around, but I suspect that the death of the “corporate desktop”, long predicted, isn’t going to happen anytime soon.

Discuss this Blog Entry 3

on Jun 17, 2014

I'm currently trying to configure NDES to allow iPads in our environment and can't find good documentation in this regard, any pointers

on Jun 17, 2014

Have you had a chance to look through this documentation?

on Jun 20, 2014

I tend to think that any discussion / article that tries to persuade a reader that there will be greater employee efficiency or productivity improvements is rarely going to be able to provide any backup for such statements.

I also believe that in the most part BYOD today is still very much focussing in on mobility devices such as smartphones and tablets and not necessarily the laptop computers. In which case, BYOD is typically about getting email and appointments on a handheld device that the end user prefers to carry with them. Certainly for me personally, I no longer carry a company provided mobile phone as I have found a preference with my own device and fund it myself.

Similarly Orin, like you I use my own laptop device as I also feel that it is better than the one that the company provides to me - it most likely (in my case) isn't better BUT I do prefer it and as I work for a software company that strategically is about running Windows for less, then I can gain access to the corporate content that I need via a desktop virtualization technology that the company is building. My laptop does not have to be managed or indeed monitored by the business as I am either working from home OR I use a guest WiFi network when in the office, with my virtual desktop having VPN capabilities straight from my device to securely gain access to corporate resources that I need.

I happen to believe that the laptop section of BYOD (BYOPC if you will) will be something that folks such as me will make use of for the short term as we find that our businesses can grant us access to use our own devices and as a result save money on capital expenses of hardware since most tech users would prefer their own in any case (note this is my opinion). For me, I find that because I use my own laptop device for work purposes, then I also tend to stretch my work day becuase an email comes in (as an example) while I am working on some personal projects, so I action the email (and maybe the 3 other things that I though of at the time).

This actually raises another key point I think which is that those companies that work with a plethora of contractual users (such as project managers, software developers, software consultants and such like) may find that using technology in the way that I am doing might just save them a small fortune in the hardware costs associated with these users. i.e. these guys are likely to have their own hardware since in many cases their very livelihood depends upon their knowledge and capabilities, so why not make use of it to host a virtual desktop at a samll %age of the cost of providing the entire kit and kaboodle?

Just a thought as we are always looking for ways to do more with less and save those all important $$$.


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IT pro Orin Thomas provides true tales, snafus, news, and urban legends for Microsoft Windows system administrators.


Orin Thomas

Orin Thomas is a contributing editor for Windows IT Pro and a Windows Security MVP. He has authored or coauthored more than thirty books for Microsoft Press, founded the Melbourne System Center,...
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