Bring your own device (BYOD) has a couple of cousins. It is a bit confusing because the two are similar and share the same acronym: Bring Your Own Application and Build Your Own Application (BYOA).
K2 CEO Adriaan van Wyk points out in an InformationWeek commentary that both versions of BYOA offer some of the same advantages that enabled BYOD to make a big splash: Empowering employees, cutting the time between when a need is recognized and met, and saving the organization money.
Van Wyk offers four approaches that can make BYOA successful: Define which of the BYOAs the organization is using because building and bringing are different things; protect critical data; make mobility central; and put the power in the hands of the workforce.
The most interesting of the four is the first. Van Wyk cites Dropbox as an example of bringing an application. It is an instantaneous solution to a problem that can be utilized without bothering IT. The drawback is that it is not customizable:
This is where building your own application has a major advantage, allowing you to tailor the software to meet your company's needs exactly. Ready-to-use templates empower the organization to build custom applications quickly. This technology is easy to use, structured simply, and ready to be repurposed at a moment's notice.
The issue of security and Bring Your Own Application was tackled by Chris LaPoint, the vice president of product management for Solar Winds, at Signal Online. He pointed out that the trend has some security advantages.
Again, they follow the broader BYOD arena: In both cases, the element (the device in one case, the application in the other) will be used for work purposes whether or not IT approves or even is aware of it. Therefore, acknowledging that this is going on and having a plan in place provides a framework and at least some control.
LaPoint offers five best practices for securing Bring Your Own Application environments. They focus on visibility, control, support of commonly used apps, education of employees, and “creative” use of firewalls.
One tool aimed at controlling consumer apps coming into the enterprise is AppGuru, which is from LogMeIn. IT consulting firm Bocotek, which recommends the product, notes that studies show that employees bring an average of 21 apps to the workplace. AppGuru enables IT to “discover, secure and manage employee introduced apps.”
BYOD is more evolved than Bring Your Own Application which, in turn, is ahead of Build Your Own Application. In any case, the trends share many of the same inherent benefits and vulnerabilities. On the plus side, they are fast and inexpensive to use. On the negative side of the ledger is that they are more likely than purpose-built enterprise apps to be insecure and short on the type of features needed by enterprise users.
Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Intenet of Things, machine-to-machine communications and other emerging technologies and platforms. He also covers net neutrality and related regulatory issues. Weinschenk has written about the phone companies, cable operators and related companies for decades and is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.