The upshot of this post at The Wall Street Journal is that the concept of allowing or even encouraging employees to bring their own mobile devices to work is winning.
Whether to limit workers to corporate-issued gadgets or to open the flood gates to everything they own is a tremendously important decision. It's a particularly vexing issue simply because there are important benefits and drawbacks on each side.
The WSJ post said that companies that attended a conference in Palm Desert-which isn't named, for some reason-are testing technology and policies referred to as "Bring Your Own Device" (BYOD) or "individual-liable." The big attraction is that BYOD avoids the capital expenditure burden of giving an iPhone, Android, iPad or other device to employees. Other benefits include the fact that folks using their own devices generally are more careful with them.
The tighter control facilitated by the corporate-liable approach also cuts costs through tie-ins to enhanced security and sophisticated operational support systems/business support systems (OSS/BSS). Organizations can more easily do things such as limit the types of downloads and apps that are used and remotely wipe devices that go missing.
It is likely that the BYOD approach will win out. According to Victoria Barret at Forbes, the times are upon us. She posts that Bob Tinker, president and CEO of mobile device management firm MobileIron, told her that 80 percent of his clients have started a BYOD program.
It remains a dicey topic. Computerworld discusses a program at Unisys that discusses security and potential involvement of the devices in legal matters. All in all, it doesn't sound very attractive for device owners:
Initially at least, personal mobile devices will be permitted access only to specific applications such as corporate e-mail and calendaring, though access could be broadened in future, Titus says. Access to more sensitive applications will require a higher, multi-factor level of authentication, which could even include biometrics, Titus said. And before a BYOD policy can be rolled out worldwide, tweaks will need to be made to the AUA to accommodate overseas security and privacy regulations regarding issues such as the remote wiping of data, she said. So far, the pilot has gone very well, according to her.
The BYOD's siren song of reducing capex is strong, however, especially among small- and medium-size companies (SMBs). And, since it is assumed that people will inevitably use their own devices for work, companies should consider that they simply are doing the prudent thing by allowing employees to do so under some level of supervision.